Emory Jones: The Next Great Florida QB?
When “the head ball coach” took the helm in Gainesville in 1990, the University of Florida wasn’t known as QBU by any stretch of the imagination. After Spurrier took over, he cultivated a culture of having great QB play in “The Swamp”. It started with Shane Mathews, transitioning to Terry Dean and eventually Danny Wuerffel, highlighted by a Heisman and a National Championship. Down the line there was Grossman, Leak till finally Timmy Tebow rolled into town walking on water and took the world by storm.
Since those days it’s been a mixed bag of mediocre, disappointing and head scratching. Yes Jacoby Brissett, Will Grier, and Jeff Driskel have made the league and stayed in it. Throw in Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks; the former who was drafted just 4 months ago. Drafted Florida QB’s rarely have the hype and love from the national media, even the great Tebow drafted in the first round was seen as a stretch.
Kyle Trask being drafted by the Bucs and getting to learn from about 1000 years of QB coaching and playing experience in Tampa might pave the way for him to make a real splash after the GOAT of the NFL QB game decides to hang up his cleats. Still he was only a second round pick, add in Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow to Kyle Trask and what do you get? Three Florida QB’s in the past 30 years that have made it in to the top two rounds of the draft. Personally, I have always been a bit disappointed by that, but at the end of the day I am a bit of a Florida homer.
What does this trip down memory lane and Florida QB history have to do with the upcoming season and the future? Enter stage right Emory Jones, a dual-threat quarterback with a rocket for an arm and legs to go with it. At 6’3 210 pounds and running a 4.7 40 Emory has size to grow into as he matures and the legs to make a guy or two miss.
In limited action so far in his Florida career, he has a passing stat line of 55/86 for 614 yds, 7/1 td/int rate, 64% completion percentage, and a 148-passer rating. His rushing stats are not too shabby as well, 98 attempts for a 5.6 yds per carry average, confirming his dual threat appeal. This coming season, Emory Jones will take over the reins in Gainesville. Projecting into the future that Jones’ dynamic playmaking ability serves up a great season, could Emory make it into the 1st round of the NFL Draft, then excel in the league?
How do you say he could possibly do this? It is simple, while his learning curve reaches his physical abilities Emory would reach the NFL at a time when spacing the field and being able to extend plays is more valuable than ever. Tebow was a few years too early for the shift in the pro game. A guy like Jones, if he continues an upward trajectory could slide into a starting role in the NFL with his skill set and have a special career. A look across the league you see mobile QBs like Lamar Jackson doing well. QBs being more elusive rather than having a true running skill like a Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Kyler Murray shows that having the ability to move around in the back field to extend a play is an absolute X factor in today’s NFL Game.
For this to happen a couple of things need to happen. Jones needs to progress into the role as a full-time starter. He will need to settle in quickly with Alabama in week 3. If he can get past that test in week 3 with his confidence intact and a reasonable performance, it could be a springboard for the rest of the season. If Jones can keep to a completion % around the 65 as he has so far in his Florida career, make use of his legs to keep defenses honest, we could see a fantastic statistical season. There is a possibility he returns for his senior season but that only better his chances to develop before going to the next level.
Not every great college player is great in the pros we all know that. My teenage self dreaming of seeing Danny Wuerffel shot putting ball all over the field and hoisting the Lombardi were not realistic. Absolute belief in Tim Tebow and his bad mechanics dominating the league for a decade danced in the heads of Gator fans but never really came to fruition. The convergence of the skills, opportunity, and evolution in the game of football at highest level, could finally deliver on the promise of a great Gator quarterback. Could we finally then see a highly rated QB from the Gators drafted in the top of the first round? I, for one am supremely confident.