It was rumored for months and on Monday it became official, Malik Zaire is now a member of the Florida Gators. Head coach Jim McElwain confirmed it via his Twitter account.
Excited to officially welcome Jake Fruhmorgen & Malik Zaire to the @GatorsFB family!! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/2rcuOARu7Y— Jim McElwain (@CoachMcElwain) June 26, 2017
Now that Zaire is officially on the Gators’ roster, he’s a leading contender to start at quarterback this fall. Florida returns Luke Del Rio, who had offseason surgery on both shoulders, and they’ll compete with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. Kyle Trask, another redshirt freshman, is in the mix, too.
So, for Zaire, this was an outstanding opportunity and you’d have to consider him the leader in the clubhouse at this point. If Zaire can quickly learn UF’s playbook in fall camp, he’ll be tough to unseat.
Florida’s offense was a disaster in 2016 with Del Rio and Austin Appleby taking turns under center. The Gators ranked No. 107 in the country in scoring offense. For this team to take the next step, McElwain needs a competent performance from his offense.
Zaire won the starting job at Notre Dame in his junior season but was unfortunately injured in just his second start and missed the rest of the season. Zaire’s injury coincided with DeShone Kizer’s emergence. In parts of three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Zaire completed 59 percent of his passes for 816 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 324 yards.
In addition to Zaire, the Gators also announced that former Clemson offensive lineman, Jake Fruhmorgen, has also transferred to Florida. Unlike Zaire, a graduate transfer, Fruhmorgen will have to sit out a year.
Zaire’s addition should make Florida’s quarterback battle a lot more interesting later this summer.