Florida quarterback Emory Jones has earned playing time every season since his true freshman year in 2018, but this year he will finally get the chance to play big minutes. Gators head coach Dan Mullen has said a lot of positive things about his dual-threat QB this offseason, being especially complimentary of Jones’ willingness to develop over the years.
“He has continued to develop throughout his career. He has got a strong arm and he is a dynamic playmaker with his feet and he has experience,” Mullen said of Jones. “If you look at his progression, I mean, he came in as a very celebrated high school player, highly ranked. I think for a couple years now, he’s learned, he’s grown, he’s developed.
“He’s a completely different player than he was when he walked in, in his understanding of the game and in his maturity. … I think Emory has shown maturity from early on. It wasn’t, ‘I have to play from day one.’ It was, ‘I have to continue to be developed from day one to prepare for my moment and my time.’ And that’s what he’s been able to do.”
Jones has thrown for 613 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception on 55-of-86 passing (64 percent) in his UF career, while rushing for 514 yards and six touchdowns on 92 carries. In other words, there’s some significant in-game experience already in place for Jones, who looks to make the most of his opportunity in the Swamp.
Jones replaces second-round draft pick Kyle Trask, who was presumably drafted to replace Brady in a few years in Tampa Bay. Trask was more of a pocket passer with enough athleticism to run when needed. But Dan Mullen is no stranger to dual-threat quarterbacks: Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback and $160 million man Dak Prescott came up under Mullen’s tutelage at Mississippi State. Mullen has also coached Alex Smith and Tim Tebow, among others, so Jones has a tremendous opportunity to be successful as the starter this season.
Jones said he is ready for the challenges that being the number one guy poses.
“I’ve been a backup so long you get used to being cool with everybody and not really being as demanding as you have to be,” Jones said. “That was one of the biggest jumps for me, is just making sure I’m in the place where when things aren’t going good, I can step in, have say-so and everyone listens to me and get us back to where we’re supposed to be.
“We’ve just been grinding, going at it, just keeping our head down, trying to get better.”
Florida kicks off the 2021 season with Florida Atlantic on September 4.