At least one college football analyst doesn’t see Malik Zaire as the starting quarterback for Florida this season.
Tom Luginbill said Wednesday on “The Roundtable” on WJOX-FM in Birmingham, Alabama that he doesn’t see things working in Zaire’s favor at quarterback with the Gators.
“I don’t think Zaire has any chance of being the quarterback there,” Luginbill said. “I’m shocked by that move. I don’t understand it. There’s not a fit. It’s not an easy offense to learn in three weeks.”
Luginbill compared Zaire to another recent former Notre Dame quarterback who left to go elsewhere as a graduate transfer.
“I said the exact same thing about Everett Golson when he transferred to Florida State,” Luginbill said. “Everett Golson got beat out. So did Malik Zaire. I really think that it’s probably Feleipe Franks in the lead (for the Gators’ starting quarterback position).”
Florida has largely struggled at quarterback since former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season, though the Gators have still managed to be a contender in the SEC for much of that stretch. With better quarterback play, though, Luginbill believes Florida can return to more national prominence.
“You win 19 games in your first two years and you’re essentially below average at quarterback,” Luginbill said. “What does that tell you about the rest of their roster? If you get a quarterback to emerge? They’re a College Football Playoff team right now.”
Florida has gone 10-4 and 9-4 with two SEC East titles the past two seasons – the first two years as coach for Jim McElwain. It’s widely believed that the Gators could win it a third straight year, though the SEC media recently selected Georgia instead.
Zaire officially joined the Florida roster as a graduate transfer from Notre Dame on June 20 and will have one season of eligibility with the team.
Zaire, who is 6-foot and 225 pounds, spent the past four seasons at Notre Dame before receiving his release from the school late last November. He graduated from the school in December.
Zaire was a part-time starter during his time with the Fighting Irish but largely played behind DeShone Kizer in each of the past two seasons. He threw for 816 yards and six touchdowns over the past three years.
Kizer, who was one class younger than Zaire, was taken by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of April’s NFL draft.
At Florida, Zaire will compete with Franks, as well as Kyle Trask and Luke Del Rio for the Gators’ starting quarterback job.
Zaire, a Dayton, Ohio native, was a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports Composite. Before signing with Notre Dame, he also had offers from Alabama, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin, among others. Florida did not offer him at the time.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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