Updated: Sep 20, 2019
No Transfer Portal for Kyle Trask, who loves his school and followed his heart
It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through. – Wintley Phipps
PHOTO BY TIM CASEY/UAA COMMUNICATIONS
KYLE TRASK TAKES THE SNAP AND GOT THE JOB DONE IN LEXINGTON
By BUDDY MARTIN
With his friend and teammate Feleipe Franks anguished and moaning from the pain of a dislocated/fractured ankle, lying face down and weeping in the grass of Kroger Field, Kyle Trask faced his crucible. Take the keys, jump behind the wheel and drive us downfield, despite the wretched emotion of the moment. And lead. Could he?
Patience. Preparation. Poise. The Texas native was ready, had deliberately plodded his path as a backup, coached to be ready at all times.
In the allegory of the Tortoise and the Hare, Trask would obviously not be playing the role of the rabbit. If ever there was ever a poster boy for the Boy Scouts’ slogan “Be Prepared,” it was him. And on a mid-September night in Lexington, Ky. his time finally came.
It was once written by a Harvard academic, “One of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative events and to learn from even the most trying circumstances.”
Such was the case of Trask, whose new role was birthed out of chaos and misfortune.
Trask remained calm and steely eyed as the occasion unfolded as he took the field.
He was walking into a cauldron: His team down 21-10, four ticks into the fourth period, taking over an offense that had been sluggish.
For six years Kyle Trask has waited in line to hear his name called. In this age of non-commitment wafflers, the real story is that he WAS even still around to take the snaps and not already gone over the Transfer Portal Wall. Transfer Portal? Perish the thought.
“I never even considered it,” Trask said.
Lesser men would have cut and run. After all, he had been in moth balls longer than your grandma’s favorite quilt. But he wasn’t going to bail on his teammates and school.
Not Kyle Trask, self-described Gator lifer.
Not Kyle Trask, who already has his bachelor’s and is working on a masters in sports management – and is as proud of his school’s Top Ten academic rating as its Top Ten football ranking.
Not Kyle Trask, who never wavered in his commitment when asked by Coach Dan Mullen at the end of last year, ”Whatta you want to do? Where’s your head at?”
“It was going into my redshirt junior season and he’s asking me where my head’s at because the transfer portal is a big thing. I told him I was 100 percent a Gator. I’m going to be ready when my number gets called,” Trask said. And ready he was.
Suddenly thrust into the national limelight after what had looked like an eternal incubation, Trask delivered big-time. Zip, zip, zip – his passes, mostly to Van Jefferson, taking the Gators downfield immediately for a score. On the option play, Trask is tackled, twists and then pitches back to the traiing Lamical Perine. Touchdown. 21-16, five behind Kentucky.
Was he nervous with so much on the line? No, said his coach. No, said his teammates. “We knew Kyle would come through for us,” said WR Josh Hammond. No said the 6-5, 239 pound red-shirt junior. He wasn't leaving Florida.
With just over six minutes to play, Shawn Davis made his second interception of the night, and with a help of pass interference and targeting call, plus a 31-yard catch by tight end Kyle Pitts, Trask kept it up the middle for four yards, a TD and what would prove to have been enough for the winning score.
In a little over 10 minutes The Tortoise outscored the Hare 12-0. He took his team back into the lead and Hammond wound up adding seven more on a Jet Sweep or good measure in the 29-21 – 19 unanswered points. The eternal backup would now be elevated to the starter, with some help probably from Emory Jones.
This was a grand moment. But as pointed out by many others and even referenced by Dan Mullen, “we’ll see” how he reacts as The Man.
Recently graduating academically for UF, he must now graduate from Clipboard U as the beloved backup quarterback – always the most popular guy on a team – and into to the hot seat as The Florida Gator Starting Quarterback.
The question is how Trask will fit into this team as a starter. Maybe pretty good. He releases the ball quicker, which is a blessing to the inexperienced offensive line, and is a more accurate passer. He knows the offense and runs it confidently.
While his legs are not weapons, they can help fulfill Mullen’s mandate that his quarterbacks be a “willing runner.” Behind him is the quicker, more elusive Emory Jones, who Mullen says will see more playing time. “And I may even put them in the game together,” he said, creating one more look to deceive defensive coordinators.
Can he lead? Did we see enough of sample size?
Dameon Pierce says when Trask came in the huddle, "We just kept with the game plan. We didn't change anything as far as play calling. Execute at a high level, we made some changes that needed to be made and we went out and made plays."
The way Trask showed compassion to the injured Franks impressed Pierce. "I love it... when Feleipe was hurt, he was one of the first guys out there checking on Feleipe and making sure he's straight. Il ... That's one of the leaders on this team and we respect Feleipe and we love him. Kyle was just the next man up and he went out there and played very well."
Now that the job has finally landed in his lap, he will have to answer those questions.
For the first time since he was on the Freshman “A” team in Manvel, Texas, Trask will be a starting Saturday at noon against Tennessee. He has waited more than six years for this moment. Will he be different as a starter? What if he gets the jitters?
“If he looks nervous,” Mullen said in semi-jest, “I’ll put Emory (Jones) in the first play.”
Nah, I don’t think so. Pretty Kyle Trask’s battlefield promotion is permanent.