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March 1, 2011
Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Florida opens up Spring Practice in about two weeks, which means its time to take a look at each of the position battles on the roster. Today, we take a look at the most important and interesting position battle -- quarterback.
The Starter: Senior John Brantley projects as the starter heading into camp after a disappointing junior campaign, but he'll have to hold off highly touted true freshman Jeff Driskel, the top rated quarterback in his class. It should be Brantley's job to lose, though head coach Will Muschamp said all the jobs on his team are open right now when asked about a potential quarterback controversy.
The Challengers: The two players who challenged Brantley for snaps last season -- Trey Burton and Jordan Reed -- could both be moving to other positions for good and don't have the passing pedigree to operate Charlie Weis' offense. Driskel will have a chance to come in and impress the coaching staff right away to earn a leg up on Brantley as well as fellow freshman Jacoby Brissett, who won't be on campus until the fall.
Major Spring Storyline: Can Brantley restore his confidence, hold off Driskel and win over teammates and fans? He'll be the only quarterback on the three-deep who has thrown a pass at the college level when the season opens up in the fall, but it's hard to make a case that he should be the starter based on last year's results. Brantley has a lot of hearts and mind to win back this spring, starting in his own locker-room.
Coming out of Spring: How fast will Driskel develop? Even if Brantley emerges from Spring Practice with a tenuous hold on the starting job, will Driskel develop fast enough to force a switch in the middle of the season? It's impossible to say how ready or polished Driskel is without seeing him ever play a game in The Swamp, but assuming Brantley doesn't make a huge leap in his game within an offense that better suits him, Driskel will have a chance to progress at his own pace and eventually replace Brantley.