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Kyle Trask: Nothing like the new norm

September 19, 2019
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With college football player's deciding to enter the transfer portal in record numbers, it has seemingly brought a version of free agency to the collegiate level. Much like in professional athletics, if a player is unhappy with their situation, now they can move on rather easily.

That wasn’t always the case in college football, where the NCAA's policy toward granting eligibility upon transferring wasn't anywhere near as liberal as it is today. Now, players can use the portal as essentially a second recruiting process and it has become a huge factor in college football.

Transfers from all positions are moving in and out of programs at an unprecedented rate. But there’s one position where the portal has become a gateway and that’s the game’s most glorified position.

Quarterback.

The newfound pattern of quarterback’s taking advantage of the portal has been noticeable.

Promising prospects who once thought a job would be theirs have become the norm in the portal, along with backups who see the light at the end of the tunnel with one program look to start a new with the next one.

Need proof, look no further than the SEC East where after picking Georgia over Florida, Justin Fields didn't last a full calendar year in Athens before deciding to transfer to Ohio State. That move in turn forced the hand of Buckeye's quarterback Tate Martell, who transferred to Miami after deciding to not even put up a fight for the OSU starting quarterback job.

However, there is an 'exception to the rule', and may be the most unlikely given the circumstances.

"You don't see this much, huh? It's a tragedy in college football. You don't see guys like him grow, learn, develop and believe in their school. He's a graduate. You see everyone's transferring here, transferring there. Believe in what you do. When your opportunity comes take advantage of it. You grow, you learn and now everybody got to see what type of quarterback we knew he was the whole time."
- Dan Mullen to ESPN sideline reporter Molly McGrath after the win over Kentucky

Florida’s Kyle Trask has been a backup quarterback on the roster for three years, but now it’s his time.

“Once he commits to something he sticks with it, that’s just the way he was raised,” said Gene Chessen, Trask’s youth football and 7-on-7 coach in Manvel, Texas. “He’s kind of a throwback… just the type of person he is.”

Chessen has known Trask and his family since he was his youth league coach. When he was 11, Trask was on the same team as Chessen’s sons, which is when their relationship began.

“He’s always been a very nice kid,” Chessen said of Trask. “Best way to describe would be he’s the type of young man you want your daughter to date.”

He said in youth league, Trask was already ‘big as hell’ and Chessen knew he would be a quarterback.

Throughout the years, Chessen watched Trask develop as an athlete and would eventually coach him again for Manvel High School’s 7-on-7 team as he was entering high school. Trask would impress in 7-on-7 throughout his high school career, but it still wasn’t enough to get him the starting quarterback job at Manvel.

That belonged to now Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, one of the nation’s most electric players. King was the much better fit for their offense, so Trask served as the backup for Manvel and never started. However, that wasn’t because he wasn't talented enough or capable.

“Kyle could’ve transferred to any high school in Texas and started,” Chessen said. “Period.”

Chessen wasn’t the only coach who thought that. He said during 7-on-7, opposing coaches would go up to him and express their shock that Trask never transferred from Manvel.

Trask would go on to stick it out at Manvel and backup King. He made the most of his mop-up duty, and he received a good amount of playing time due to Manvel dominating their competition. Chessen said during Trask’s senior year, he didn’t throw an interception while playing in relief of King.

His road to the University of Florida wasn’t expected.

Most would likely wonder how a high school backup found his way onto to the Gators' roster.

Florida’s coaching staff under the previous regime was out recruiting some wide receivers at Manvel when the guy throwing to them, seamlessly putting every ball on the money, Kyle Trask.

The high school backup found his way Florida’s campus and has been in the quarterback room since 2016. He redshirted as a freshman and as served as a backup to Feleipe Franks the last two years. With the Gators losing Franks for the season, Trask was thrown into the fire. His strong work ethic and attitude prepared him for the moment, something Chessen said he’s inherited from his parents and playing at Manvel.

His greatest strength as a player may be his ability to stay calm and not get flustered, according to Chessen. Case in point, Saturday night in Lexington.

Trask entered the game with the Gators down 11-points in the second half on the road. Often times, backups who enter a game after a starter goes down don’t have the best of fortunes. Let alone against a stout defense and in a hostile road environment. But Trask is different in many ways.

“A lot of players would have folded in that situation,” Chessen said.

The Texan did the exact opposite, rallying the Gators to an emotional comeback. Trask went 9-for-13 through the air, and scored the go-ahead touchdown on the ground to put Florida up late. He also made a heads-up pitch out to Lamical Perine while running the option, that resulted in a nine-yard score.

“Didn’t surprise me at all,” Trask’s youth league coach said after watching him lead the Gators from behind.

Chessen said despite not being a loud, hoo-rah type player, Trask has always been a leader since youth football. Now in college, he expects Trask to lead by example once again.

“I think he’s going to surprise a lot of Gator fans,” Chessen said. “They are in good hands.”

As Chessen looks back on when Trask was younger before he makes his first collegiate start, there’s stories the youth coach recalls. One in particular, was in youth league when their team had just lost to one of the best teams. Trask took quite a few hits and told Chessen after the game that he didn’t want to be quarterback anymore.

“He told me he wanted to play running back,” Chessen said. “I told him ‘Your hands are bigger than mine, your feet are size 13, you have all the make-up to be a great quarterback.”

Fast forward to when Trask was a senior at Manvel and needed a ride home from school his senior year. He had just received his Florida offer and knew he would likely on his way to Gainesville. Chessen was there to drive his son home, and offered to give Trask a ride home.

“So, you still want to be a running back?” Chessen jokingly asked Trask when he dropped him off.

“No, I’m pretty happy being a quarterback, Sir,” Trask responded.

Now on Saturday when the Gators take the field, Trask will be the one running the show. He’s stayed patient, continued to work and prepare for when the moment would come.

He’s done just about as much as he can for the program. But one thing that may be overlooked about Trask above all else, his loyalty to being a Gator.

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Kyle Trask: Nothing like the new norm

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