Former Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio joined 1010XL Radio in Jacksonville Thursday night to discuss a variety of topics, beginning with his playing career which was marred by injuries.
“So, I walk-on at Florida and Will Grier is going to be the guy, but like most things, it doesn’t go according to plan and he gets suspended and I see my opening and win the starting job,” Del Rio told 1010XL Radio. “People don’t realize this, but the first two games of my career were the only two games that I wasn’t injured in any way and I had six touchdowns and one interception.
“It sucks getting hurt, it’s never fun and I feel like I lived in the training room my last two years. I couldn’t catch a break.”
Time and again, Del Rio’s body betrayed him.
“I went into my final year last year and said I was going to be a great teammate and I was going to be there for whomever was starting,” Del Rio said. “If it’s not me, I’ll be a great backup and try to get the guys ready because I was experienced at that time. I then got put into a game, led us to a comeback, and then shattered my collar bone the next game.
“I then had the decision: do I want to play again? I really had no desire. It wasn’t like, ‘screw football, I never want to see it again;’ it was more, ‘I’m good and I had a great experience.’ I’m really pleased and happy with my college career, even though statistically it didn’t end how I wanted it. I’m just fine with how my career went.”
Del Rio was, and still is, close with former Florida head coach Jim McElwain; he talked about their relationship and McElwain’s tenure in Gainesville.
“I’ve known Mac for a long time,” Del Rio said. “I went to Alabama’s camp when I was in tenth-grade and that when I first met him. We kept in touch and he was my first offer when he was with Colorado State. So, we go way back.
“I definitely had a better relationship with him than I think anyone else on the team. I liked him a lot. Whether he was a good, or bad head coach is indifferent. I liked the man and I enjoyed playing for him.
“Did I agree with every decision that he made, no, but I’ve never agreed with every decision that any coach has made and I played for Coach (Nick) Saban.”
What about Florida fans’ criticism of McElwain?
“I don’t think that it’s fair to criticize somebody based on their record alone,” Del Rio said. “Obviously, we want to win and that is the goal especially if you are a diehard fan and there are not a lot of Gator fans that aren’t diehards.
“I understand the frustration, but if Dan Mullen this year doesn’t win 10 games what are they going to say? Coach Mac won 10 games his first-year, is that the bar? Is that where he has to reach?
“That defense that Coach Mac inherited his first couple of years, that hid a lot of youth and that hid a lot of ugliness to that team, the weaknesses to that team. It’s almost like we won too early, so the expectations were a little skewed, but I enjoyed playing for him and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Del Rio also shared his thoughts on the Feleipe Franks vs Kyle Trask quarterback battle currently going on in Gainesville.
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