The journey to the NFL has been a long and winding one for Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask. He began his career as a backup and had not started games in high school since his freshman season.
There wasn't an obvious path to the pros for the young signal-caller but after nearly two seasons of high-level play, his prospects of reaching the highest level of football have turned from bleak to an absolute. While it is typical for a quarterback to rise quickly in the view of NFL scouts, Trask's ascension will be special to look back on.
In five years with the Gators, Trask wouldn't get his first true test of serious playing time until his redshirt junior season. Following an injury to former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks during the team's Week 3 matchup against the Kentucky Wildcats, Trask would start for the remainder of the season, and the entirety of the 2020 season.
Trask, with the help of the team's defense, would go on to lead a remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter of the contest, scoring 19 unanswered points en route to the team's 29-21 victory.
While he would complete just nine out of 13 of his passes for 126 yards during the contest, Trask's ability to manage the game and get his team in a favorable position was what ultimately led to the success he had in the future.
From that game onward, Trask would complete 237 out of 354 (66.9%) of his passes for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. While he would dwarf those stats during the next season, it was the 2019 campaign that really allowed everyone observing to get a true look at what Trask brought to the table.
Trask, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, was not a mobile quarterback. In fact, during the 2019 campaign, he would run the football 33 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns (subtracting sacks). His out-of-pocket activity wasn't great and was solidified as a pocket passer who could manage a game well.
In 2020, Trask would take his game to new heights. While he never added a threatening mobility factor, he would in turn raise what he was good at to another level. Completing 301 out of 437 (68.9%) of his passes for 4,283 yards, 43 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, Trask became one of the best quarterbacks in college football and a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Whatever team opts to select Trask during the draft will be getting a game-managing star. While that label would scare off even the most casual of fans, it really shouldn't. Last season, Trask did just that - managed the game. He was able to take what a defense gave him, not force many throws into bad situations and win due to his ability to see the field, process, and take on the challenge in front of him.
Following the team's November victory against Georgia last season, then-offensive coordinator Brian Johnson spoke on the label of game manager as it came to his quarterback.
"It’s our job at that position to manage the offense," Johnson began. "That can mean a variety of different things -- making the right play at the right time, understanding what the team needs at that moment, putting us in position to be successful, move the ball and score points.
"We always take that as a compliment and it’s something he’s done a fantastic job of understanding the flow of the game, understanding how to play complementary football and putting in position to be successful on offense.”
Ultimately, Trask's ceiling could be limited, if only due to his lack of mobility and the elite traits that many starting quarterbacks in the NFL possess. His ability to manage the game well, along with putting his team in the best position to succeed could, however, give him a great shot at earning a starting role at some point in the future.
It's a gamble, but if anyone has proven onlookers wrong over the years, it's Trask.