As reporters waited for Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain to make his scheduled 11:45 a.m. appointment with them for a Monday press conference, McElwain himself was apparently breaking a little news with an unlikely source — SEC Network pundit and syndicated radio host Paul Finebaum.
That news? That redshirt junior quarterback Luke Del Rio will start for the Gators on Saturday against Vanderbilt.
McElwain would later confirm the decision to start Del Rio in his weekly press conference, saying Del Rio will get starter’s reps in practice this week.
Del Rio was inserted in the second half of Florida’s 28-27 victory over Kentucky after redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks struggled to move the offense for much of the night to that point. And while Del Rio would rifle an interception over the middle on his first offensive series, the Gators would ultimately embark on two touchdown drives with Del Rio at quarterback — even though he threw a total of one pass on the first of those two, and freshman running back Malik Davis’s legs did more of the heavy lifting on those drives than Del Rio’s arm.
Del Rio entered 2016 as Florida’s starting quarterback, but has not started since a disastrous outing at Arkansas in November 2016, and had his redshirt sophomore season sideswiped by injuries — first, a knee injury suffered against North Texas that sidelined Del Rio for nearly a month, and then a shoulder injury that lingered, hampering him against the Razorbacks and leading to surgery after the season that kept Del Rio out of the mix at quarterback during the spring.
Del Rio starting against Vanderbilt will make 2017 the eighth straight season in which Florida has started multiple quarterbacks.