Tim Tebow prefers Malik Zaire over Feleipe Franks in Florida quarterback battle

By Adam Silverstein
July 21, 2017
Tim Tebow prefers Malik Zaire over Feleipe Franks in Florida quarterback battle

Tim Tebow is preparing to split his time between baseball with the St. Lucie Mets and his job as a college football analyst with ESPN and the SEC Network. While getting back into football mode, Tebow was recently asked about the quarterback situation at his alma mater and whether he believes one of the two main competitors has a lead in the battle.

Graduate transfer Malik Zaire is expected to go up against redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks for the starting job once fall camp begins. For now, though, all one can do is speculate whether head coach Jim McElwain goes with the signal caller who went through spring practice or the one who just joined the program a few weeks ago and has only participated in workouts with the team.

Tebow believes he knows which way McElwain will go when push comes to shove later this summer.

“I do think Feleipe Franks has a very bright future, but you have to lean a little bit towards Malik if he’s able to compete well and show his stuff in fall camp,” Tebow told the 247Sports College Football Podcast. “This is a player I’ve been around. I know him pretty well. He’s pretty talented. But where he can change the game is with his athleticism with his legs. If you go back a couple of years ago to the way he played in the bowl game against LSU, and that was a really good LSU defense, you could see the potential that this kid has.

“Coach Mac is a very good coach, especially [good] at coaching quarterbacks, and he’s going to do a little bit of what Dan Mullen does and play to his quarterback’s strengths, and I think that could give Malik a chance to have a special season.”

Zaire did impress at times while leading Notre Dame, though injuries and losing a quarterback competition cost him opportunities to truly shine. Tasked with mostly running the ball in the 2014 Music City Bowl, he threw and ran for 96 yards each with a touchdown both throwing and rushing. In his start against Texas to open the 2015 season, he completed 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns. Besides those games, Zaire has hardly seen much action. In fact, he’s only thrown 98 passes over three seasons, though he does have six touchdowns and no interceptions for his career.

Franks has not taken the field since joining the Gators ahead of the 2016 season, though he flashed during the 2017 Orange & Blue Debut spring game and appeared to be leading the quarterback competition prior to Zaire joining the program.

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