Florida Gators add transfer quarterback Malik Zaire from Notre Dame

By Adam Silverstein
June 3, 2017
Florida Gators add transfer quarterback Malik Zaire from Notre Dame

Image Credit: AP

It took a bit longer than both parties would have liked, but quarterback Malik Zaire is finally headed to the Florida Gators as a graduate transfer.

Zaire, a former four-star prospect who suffered through injuries while spending four seasons at Notre Dame, anticipates arriving in Gainesville, Florida, on Wednesday, according to a late-night tweet from Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman on Saturday. The signal caller confirmed as much to 247Sports’ Luke Stampini less than an hour later.

Zaire will immediately become a contender in Florida’s starting quarterback competition once he enrolls.

Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks is considered the favorite to start after leading the competition in the spring, but redshirt freshman Kyle Trask and 2016 starter redshirt junior Luke Del Rio, who missed spring practice due to a pair of surgeries, are also in contention for the job.

Del Rio is not expected to regain his starting job, but head coach Jim McElwain made it clear he would be part of the competition in the summer and fall.

With Zaire in the fold, the Gators are in a win-win situation as he would either be good enough to earn the starting job or serve as additional competition for Franks. Even if Zaire does not win the job, Florida has not had a quarterback start every game in a season since 2010, mostly due to injury.

“I’m going in there to be a part of the team and do what I can to help the team win and win the team’s respect,” Zaire told 247Sports. “There’s other guys out there on the field, too, so being a good teammate is first and foremost.”

Because of his own injuries, Zaire has never attempted more than 40 passes in a season. When he was the planned starter for Notre Dame in 2015, he completed 65 percent of his throws for 428 yards with four touchdowns.

He posted a 86.4 completion percentage (19 of 22) while throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Texas that year, playing as more of a drop-back passer. The prior season, Zaire started the 2015 Music City Bowl against LSU and completed 12-of-15 passes for 96 yards with a touchdown while rushing for 96 additional yards and another score. In that contest, he performed as more of a read-option signal caller.

Zaire, a lefty, has never thrown an interception in 98 collegiate passes over three seasons. According to Feldman, the quarterback “spent much of the past five months in Arizona training with private QB coach Dennis Gile, refining his mechanics with an emphasis on becoming more consistent.”


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