Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A Florida quarterback is transferring. This time, it’s junior Treon Harris, who went 9–6 as a starter during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. This isn’t a particularly devastating loss for the Gators — Harris’s dismal 50.6 completion percentage last fall ranked 115th out of 124 Division I quarterbacks who attempted at least 14 passes per game; he wasn’t going to be Florida’s answer at QB anyway — as Harris was in the process of moving to wideout. The junior’s departure raises an unsettling question, though: Is the Florida QB position … cursed?
Since Tim Tebow left Gainesville in 2010, the Florida signal-caller has seemingly become the Defense Against the Dark Arts post of college football:
Some turnover at quarterback is unavoidable, but Florida’s retention rate is positively Brownsian. At this point, Harris is just another tombstone in the Gators QB graveyard, and Florida should commission Nike to make a Brownsesque jersey commemorating all of Tebow’s failed successors. Jim McElwain’s squad is suffering from the Curse of Tebow’s Absence. Or maybe it’s the Curse of Cam Newton’s Transfer, or some kind of compounded megajinx, like two air masses combining to start a tornado. Whatever it is, something is cosmically wrong with the Florida QB position. (Good luck, Luke Del Rio!) To celebrate this schadenfreude-laden development, let’s count down our favorite former Florida gunslingers of the past five years.
5. Jeff Driskel, 2011–2014
Recruited by Charlie Weis, widely considered the class of 2011’s top quarterback prospect (ahead of players like Braxton Miller, Cody Kessler, and Brett Hundley), and hailed as the “perfect mix of Tim Tebow, John Brantley,” Driskel offered Florida fans the savior they needed for the post–Urban Meyer era. Alas, he never blossomed under the offensively challenged Will Muschamp — the Gators made the 2013 Sugar Bowl in spite of Driskel, not because of him — and ended up transferring to Louisiana Tech in 2015. With the Bulldogs, Driskel enjoyed his strongest collegiate season and was drafted by the 49ers in April. Given Colin Kaepernick’s woes last season and Blaine Gabbert’s history of professional ineptitude, Driskel could see meaningful NFL action this year, which would’ve seemed inconceivable after he posted a raw QBR of 1.7 in a 42–13 loss to Missouri two years ago.
4. Max Staver, 2013
Truth be told, I had totally forgotten about Staver until today. Mr. 68 and Breezy was Muschamp’s “no. 1 target at quarterback for 2013,” which is probably the most inauspicious endorsement possible for a QB prospect. Despite prototypical size, Staver lasted less than a year in Gainesville, transferring to East Mississippi Community College, then to Tyler Junior College, and, later, to Houston Baptist University. Good news: He’s still playing for Houston Baptist! Bad news: He’s definitely not going to play in the NFL.
3. Skyler Mornhinweg, 2013
Ah, who could forget the halcyon days of Skyler Mornhinweg? Son of Marty, owner of an 0–3 career record (including the Gators’ only loss to an FCS team in school history!), eventual transfer to Columbia — with Muschamp’s Dilferian grasp of the quarterback position, how can you not be excited for Brandon McIlwain at South Carolina.
2. Jacoby Brissett, 2011–2012
The crazy thing about a lot of these guys is that, despite coming into Gainesville as blue-chip recruits, they generally showed no potential whatsoever. This wasn’t the case for Brissett, whom Gator Nation views as The One That Got Away. After getting mixed results at Florida in 2011 and 2012, Brissett kicked off the wave of Muschamp QB transfers by taking his talents to North Carolina State, where he enjoyed two pretty strong seasons (including a dazzling outing against no. 1 Florida State in 2014) and displayed incredible physical ability — enough for the Patriots to take him in the third round of this year’s draft.
1. Will Grier, 2015
Perhaps the most intriguing hypothetical of Florida’s QB graveyard is, “What if Grier hadn’t been on the juice?” Under McElwain, last year’s Gators jumped out to a surprising 6–0 start, headlined by a beatdown of then–no. 3 Ole Miss in October, only to have Grier incur a one-year PED suspension before a showdown with undefeated LSU. With Harris thrust into the starting lineup, Florida finished the season 4–4, and Grier promptly bolted for West Virginia back in April, starting this grisly cycle anew.