Emory Jones got his first chance to be Florida’s starting quarterback this season after serving as the Gators’ backup for three years. But after an inconsistent and overall disappointing season, the expectation after the season was that Jones would be entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. But recent development seem to allude to the possibility of Jones sticking at Florida under new head coach Billy Napier.
In December, GatorsOnline’s Nick De La Torre reported that Jones was planning to enter the portal. But over the last two weeks, Jones remained in Gainesville and was still taking classes at Florida.
“Emory’s here,” Napier said Friday morning of Jones’ status at Florida. “He’s in class, he’s participating. He’s doing a fantastic job with all the things we’ve asked him to do. And I would hope our fans and all the people out there would understand what a big deal that is. This is a guy who’s a class act. It’s been very impressive to me the caliber of person he is. He’s managed a very difficult situation well. … This staff has given each one of these players a new beginning, kind of a fresh start, and I think that it’s important our fans know that.”
Napier: Jones has ‘been great so far’ with new Florida staff
Through three weeks of this season, Jones had yet to throw for 200 yards, and had two touchdowns and five interceptions through the air. He had 74 yards rushing in each of those three games and added two scores on the ground, but he was inconsistent as a passer.
Jones had games where he looked like a brilliant playmaker for Florida’s offense. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions with 144 yards rushing in a Week 4 victory over Tennessee. Against Samford in November, Jones threw for 464 yards and six touchdowns, adding 86 yards and a score on the ground.
Overall, Jones threw for 2,734 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 13 games. He also had 759 rushing yards with four touchdowns on the ground. With Napier taking over for Dan Mullen, Jones has maybe thought twice about his future plans.
“[With] Emory, I think he cares about [the University of Florida],” Napier added. “It’s important to him to represent this place the right way. And he’d be the first to admit he’s played really well at times and has struggled at times. I think for me as a coach going forward, in particular with the quarterback, you’re the teacher, they’re the student. I’m going to work with those guys exclusively every day, alright. So when the team struggles or the player struggles, it’s important that you take ownership of that as the teacher. And certainly we’ll have that approach.
“But we have a lot of work to do to get ready to play winning football, and certainly a lot of that has to do with the quarterback position. As far as Emory is concerned, he’s been great so far.”
Florida backup quarterback Anthony Richardson remains on the roster. Richardson showed flashes of being a dynamic playmaker, even taking over for Jones on multiple occasions before injuries shut him down. The Gators also added a transfer commitment from Ohio State’s Jack Miller, further crowding the quarterback room.