Florida’s Mornhinweg transfers, leaving Gators with two QBs
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is down to two scholarship quarterbacks with the departure of Skyler Mornhinweg to Columbia University.
Coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday on a Southeastern Conference coaches’ call that Mornhinweg had left the program.
He’s the fifth scholarship quarterback to leave Florida in the last 30 months, following Jacoby Brissett (North Carolina State), Max Staver (Tyler Junior College), Tyler Murphy (Boston College) and Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech).
Mornhinweg’s decision leaves the Gators with just redshirt freshman Will Grier and sophomore Treon Harris on scholarship.
Citing NCAA rules, McElwain declined to confirm a report that former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson visited Florida on Tuesday. Golson visited Florida State on Monday and reportedly has other trips planned.
If the Gators don’t land Golson, they do have a backup plan. Former Alabama and Oregon State quarterback Luke Del Rio is expected to enroll at Florida later this summer. Del Rio is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguars coach and current Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. He played high school ball in nearby Jacksonville and Denver.
Golson is transferring as a graduate student, meaning he would be eligible to play immediately.
He helped Notre Dame to a perfect regular season and Bowl Championship Series title game appearance against Alabama in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. Golson was suspended from school for an academic violation in 2013, but returned to Notre Dame last season and threw for 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also had 22 turnovers and shared the quarterback job with Malik Zaire in Notre Dame’s 31-28 victory against LSU in the Music City Bowl.
"The one thing that we are doing, however, and it’s irregardless of whatever position it is, we’re always looking to help the organization fill holes where needed," McElwain said. "Obviously (Golson) mentioning us is something that’s exciting, and at the same time, we’re doing it at a lot of different spots.
"So heading into this year, it’s got to be one of those things that’s evolving as we go. There’s some really good opportunities."
Florida certainly has a need.
Former starter Jeff Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech after the season, and Mornhinweg followed him out the door after failing to move up the depth chart in spring practice.
A redshirt junior and the son of longtime NFL assistant Marty Mornhinweg, Skyler started the final three games in 2013. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 344 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception. He got in one game last season, but just to run out the clock in a lopsided victory.
Mornhinweg will play for new Columbia coach Al Bagnoli, who took over after 23 seasons at Penn.
So McElwain needs help. He has five quarterbacks on the roster, but three are walk-ons. Although McElwain wants to sign a scholarship quarterback every year, he failed to land one in the two months he was on the job before signing day.
"We look every single day to try to better the organization," McElwain said. "If they’re a fit, we’ll go ahead and do everything we can to get our balance back to where it needs to be. … We wish (Mornhinweg) the best. Would love to have him stay here. Obviously as it sits, we’re right now with two scholarship quarterbacks.
"Moving forward, as you guys all know, that position, especially in this league now, you need to have some depth. We’re constantly looking at that spot as well as some other spots on the roster to try to make sure that we get some needed bodies in those areas."