How recruiting can help improve Florida's quarterback position

A look at Florida's biggest position of need for 2016 and how the Gators are addressing it in recruiting:

Biggest need: Anyone who followed Florida football in 2015 knows that the offense spiraled downward after starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for the year by the NCAA for testing positive for a banned substance. The offensive line started to regress even more and Treon Harris just never looked comfortable with an offense that needed him to throw the ball downfield more.

Harris went 3-3 as a starter after taking over for Grier for the LSU game on Oct. 18. While Harris was decent in the loss to LSU (271 yards and two touchdowns), his numbers really suffered in November, as he completed just 51.7 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns and four interceptions in four games. Offensive line issues certainly didn't help Harris, but his inability to either see or get the ball to open receivers really hampered the offense's ability to evolve, especially against more talented defenses.

In Harris' last three games (all losses) he threw just one touchdown and two interceptions, and he completed less than 40 percent of his passes in the final two. In those two games, Harris completed nine and eight passes, respectively. Without a serviceable backup to replace Harris, the Gators were handcuffed to Harris, no matter how he played.

Grier has since decided to transfer, while coaches hope that walk-on and scout-team quarterback Luke Del Rio, who sat out last season after transferring from Oregon State, can push for the starting job this spring. He's more built to run Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's true vision of a more pro-style, downfield passing offense than Harris, but saw little time at Oregon State after transferring from Alabama. -- Edward Aschoff

Recruiting scoop: Florida’s lack of depth at the quarterback position probably cost the Gators a few games last season. Harris wasn’t able to run McElwain’s system nearly as effectively as Grier. With Grier transferring, quarterback was a huge area of need for the Gators. Florida went out and was able to get Feleipe Franks, the fourth-ranked pocket passer in the ESPN 300, to flip his commitment from LSU. Florida also landed another commitment from three-star quarterback Kyle Trask, who is something of a project because of his lack of experience on the high school level. Franks and Trask are both already on campus and enrolled in school.

The Gators also landed a graduate transfer from Purdue, Austin Appleby. So what was once the thinnest position on the team will now have four scholarship players on the roster for spring football. And while it’s always difficult for a freshman quarterback to play in the SEC, at the very least there will be enough players to have an open competition. -- Derek Tyson