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Trask looking to make most of opportunities at quarterback this spring

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During his recruiting process, quarterback Kyle Trask flew mostly under the radar in his time at Manvel (Texas) High School where he served as a backup.

However, soon Trask got the attention of Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier, and the two Florida coaches were impressed watching him work out at Manvel High. UF then invited Trask to Gainesville for a private workout and then its annual Friday Night Lights camp in 2015, and the two-star signal-caller was later offered after he checked all of the boxes.

Trask then committed to Florida, just days after receiving the offer.

“Hats off to Coach Nussmeier and Coach Mac for having enough guts to sign a kid who wasn’t a big-timer, who wasn’t a full-time starter in high school. Hats off to them for having enough guts to trust their eyes,” Kirk Martin said. “They listened to me telling them, ‘Hey, this guy fits what y’all do. He can flat-out play.'”

Later in the 2016 recruiting cycle Florida picked up a commitment from four-star Feleipe Franks, also an early enrollee, as well as adding Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby – letting a battle at the quarterback position play out during the spring. While Luke Del Rio and Appleby mainly worked with the 1’s and 2’s on offense, Franks and Trask both battled for the third-string role at quarterback, often alternating reps. Eventually, Del Rio and Appleby would go on to see all of the game snaps in 2016, while both freshmen signal-callers redshirted.

However, Trask wasn’t and hasn’t been discouraged, according to Martin. Serving as a backup to eventual Houston signee D’Eriq King at Manvel, Trask competed for the job the whole way through and never opted to transfer to another high school.

“In today’s age, if you sign a five-star – you sign two five-stars, if you make one the starter the other one transfers,” Martin said. “Well, Kyle Trask ain’t going nowhere. You can sign whatever five-star you want. He’s going to be there until the end of the day competing for the job.”

Overall, redshirting was a decision that Martin felt was beneficial for Trask.

“He gets five years of college paid for instead of four,” Martin said. “He gets to continue to grow and mature. I think that might be better for him in the long run. Kids get caught up in playing now, and they’re not ready and they’re not ready.”

Although Florida stuck with its two veterans as its top two options last year, Trask opened up plenty of eyes during spring practices with his polish as a passer and arm talent. Memorably, former Florida cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor delivered high praise to Trask, an early enrollee. In the Orange and Blue Debut, Trask looked calm and collected, completing 4 of 7 passes for 63 yards.

“He’s highly intelligent and his work ethic is what will get him ahead, because he will study not only the playbook but his opponent,” Martin said. “He’s got a huge arm and he makes good decisions from a quarterback standpoint. … He throws the ball with a lot of velocity.

“You don’t want a guy who holds onto the ball too long, you want a guy who’s decisive and makes the throws. Kyle can fit the ball in there. He can make every throw – the 22-yard comeback or the 43-yard fade route.”

By the fall, Florida eventually turned to Franks to work with the second-team offense when Del Rio was sidelined with knee and shoulder injuries.

“Talking about Kyle, every day he goes out, every snap is a new adventure because he doesn't have the library of snaps of some of the other guys that have played a lot of snaps in high school,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said. "Kyle is a guy that when you tell him it one time, he gets it right now. He can process information very, very well, his accuracy is unbelievable and he's just done a really, really good job for a guy that doesn't have a ton of snaps. When you put him in situations, he reacts very, very well."

In addition to needing to gain more experience from reps, Trask also had room to grow as far as his leadership and vocalness in the huddle.

"Trask, he's a very patient thrower and he's got a good arm,” running back Jordan Scarlett said. “I just think that he needs to bring on a more leadership role and get more vocal like Feleipe and then he'll be good."

Added wide receiver Brandon Powell: “They are in the meeting room, Trask is kind of a quiet dude, but Feleipe he is always jumping around, but we respect both of them.”

Developing more of that leadership role in the huddle should come with time, and Trask will have plenty of opportunities this spring to prove that he’s grown in that area. Although Feleipe Franks received the first snap with the first-team offense last Tuesday, Florida alternated both signal-callers with the first- and second-string offenses during the first week of the spring as Trask remains close behind.

With a strong spring, Trask can make the competition at quarterback this offseason even more interesting.

“That’s what fuels Kyle Trask, is just the opportunity to get to compete. That’s why they signed him, obviously,” Martin said. “They signed him because he’s got all the tools and he’s just a worker. He’s not involved in all these other peripheral things that sometimes kids get caught up in, like the hype and the facade of being an athlete. You want a kid who’s really about the grind. He loves football.

“He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid. He’s had to scratch and claw for everything he’s ever gotten in life. That makes him who he is.”

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2016 SIGNEE REDSHIRT REPORTS:

QB Feleipe Franks

WR Dre Massey

WR Rick Wells

OL Brett Heggie

DE Jordan Smith

LB Jeremiah Moon

CB C.J. McWilliams

S Quincy Lenton

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