VIDEO: Jim McElwain Announces Luke Del Rio As Gators Starting Quarterback For Week 1
By Scott Carter, Florida Gators.com // August 19, 2016
son of Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio
ABOVE VIDEO: Prior to the start of fall camp, now Gators starting QB Luke Del Rio discusses his camp battle with Austin Appleby and his overall impressions on what he can bring to the Gators offense in 2016. The son of former Jaguars and now Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, Luke handles himself like a pro.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA (FLORIDA GATORS) — The secret is out……And like Gators head coach Jim McElwain said earlier in the week, the Gators will start a quarterback in the season opener Sept. 3 against UMass.
McElwain announced Thursday afternoon that redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio is that guy. Del Rio and fifth-year senior transfer Austin Appleby opened preseason camp competing for the job.
“Luke is going to work as the starter the rest of camp and start in the season opener barring any unforeseen development,” McElwain said. “Our other quarterbacks remain in the plans and are ready to move forward and help the Gators any way they can.”
Del Rio emerged as the front-runner for the job in the spring when he went 10-for-11 for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the Orange & Blue Debut. A fifth-year senior transfer from Purdue, Appleby joined the Gators in January but had significant ground to make up on Del Rio, who sat out a season ago after transferring from Oregon State.
True freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask arrived at the same time as Appleby and continue to factor into the mix during preseason camp. However, Del Rio’s grasp of the offense and experience in the program gave him a clear advantage.
“He’s about business,” junior offensive lineman David Sharpe said at media day. “He comes in and works and tries to have fun with it. He just has those leadership qualities that guys respect.”
The 6-foot-1, 213-pound Del Rio began his college career at Alabama as a walk-on in 2013 after graduating from Valor Christian (Colo.) High, where he shared the backfield with Stanford running back and Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey as a senior. McElwain, then coach at Colorado State, offered Del Rio his first scholarship.
After a season at Alabama, where he was tutored by Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, Del Rio left for Oregon State. He played in three games for the Beavers in 2014, completing 8 of 18 passes for 141 yards.
Following a coaching change, Del Rio transferred to Florida in the summer of 2015 and served as a scout-team quarterback and veteran influence in his position group. The son Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, Luke has been around the game his entire life.
ABOVE VIDEO: InsidetheGators.com captures the Florida Gators as they go through workouts on Thursday
“It’s definitely something I’ve looked forward to,” Del Rio said last week of the opportunity to start at Florida. “Everybody is more comfortable in the offense. People say that a lot, but it really does matter. Summer workouts we really harped on the passing game.”
“It feels like a totally different team, to be honest.”
Del Rio, who was placed on scholarship recently, passed for 2,275 yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions as a high school senior. He played previously at Episcopal High in Jacksonville when his father was head coach of the Jaguars.
Del Rio will try to stabilize a position that has been inconsistent for the Gators in recent years, marked by the transfers of six players who started at quarterback since 2011.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE FLORIDA GATORS SPORTS