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Apparently the shoulder injury suffered by redshirt junior quarterback Luke Del Rio was worse than initially advertised. Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain announced Thursday that Del Rio will miss the entirety of spring practice after undergoing successful surgery on Wednesday.
Del Rio, who went 5-1 as a starter in 2016, first injured his knee in the third week of the season and was forced to miss the following two contests. Prior to his knee injury, he had six touchdowns to two interceptions and led Florida to a combined scoring margin of 101-14. Once he returned to action, he was never the same, throwing two touchdowns to six interceptions despite going 2-1 against SEC opponents. After going 19 for 37 with two picks in a 31-10 blowout loss to Arkansas, Del Rio was revealed as having a shoulder injury. He did not play again, despite being “available” for the 2017 Outback Bowl against Iowa.
The injury is to Del Rio’s left non-throwing shoulder neither the exact injury nor a timetable for his return has been provided.
Graduate transfer Austin Appleby led the Gators to a 4-3 record in his seven starts and was only able to muster a combined 29 points in devastating losses at Florida State and against Alabama in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.
Though Del Rio will be returning to Florida in 2017, he is not expected to earn the starting quarterback job, particularly now that he will be missing spring practice.
Redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask will be battling for the job this spring. Franks is expected to have the inside track on the position after serving as the emergency quarterback for the Gators most of the season.
With Del Rio sidelined, Franks and Trask should receive nearly every rep in practice. Three-star early enrollee athlete Kadarius Toney has also been assured he will get reps at quarterback this spring, though most expect him to eventually wind up at wide receiver.
The Gators will add three-star QB Jake Allen this summer, and he will have an opportunity to prove himself at that time along with Del Rio, who should be healthy enough to practice by then.