GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel is back on campus this week and got a chance to meet with new Gators coach Dan Mullen and take in practice Thursday.
Wuerffel likes Mullen’s track record of developing quarterbacks and, like many, is confident he can elevate the Gators’ long-stumbling offense again.
“Man, I was at practice yesterday and the electricity, the energy, just very impressed with that. I think he’s the right guy for the job and things are off to a great start,” Wuerffel said Friday.
Wuerffel was speaking before hosting a tryout camp for the flag football team he’s captaining in an upcoming national tournament put on by the American Flag Football League.
He touted Mullen’s track record coaching a variety of quarterbacks at Utah, Florida (as offensive coordinator for the Gators’ last two national championship teams) and Mississippi State and finding ways to get the most out of them.
“He’s done such a marvelous job in so many places of taking the quarterback that he has, figuring out the unique and special part of that guy and maximizing that,” Wuerffel said. “He’s done it with several different people in different places, and so I’m really, I think all of us are excited to see that here and to see that come to pass, if you will, and to be able to have some success throwing the ball and scoring points.”
Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 while leading the Gators to the program’s first national championship. He passed for 3,625 yards, 39 touchdowns and 13 interceptions that season.
For perspective, Florida quarterbacks combined last season for just 1,975 passing yards, 10 TDs and 10 INTs, and two years ago Gators QBs combined for 2,805 yards, 18 TDs and 15 INTs.
Mullen had Wuerffel speak to the team after practice Thursday.
His message was simple …
This program is bigger than any one individual.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) March 22, 2018
“I think it’s hard for all of us in life, to recognize all the things that we have and talents and time and money aren’t just for ourselves. Especially when you’re part of a program,” Wuerffel reiterated Friday. “There’s no greater team sport than football. You’ve got to realize it’s not about you. You need to learn it on the football field and we all have to learn it and keep relearning it in life.”
As for his participation in the American Flag Football League’s U.S. Open of Flag Football tournament, Wuerffel has lined up a collection of former Gators, including Brandon James, Frankie Hammond, Major Wright, Chris Doering, Travis McGriff, Moses Jenkins and Taylor Jacobs (as an alternate).
They start play April 15 in Bradenton, Fla.
Wuerffel said a friend of his affiliated with the league reached out to him to gauge his interest.
“This whole thing kind of came out of nowhere for me,” he said. “I first wasn’t even interested in doing that, but as it unfolded, I understood that the way that this new league is coming together with this tournament and the rules are unique, I got real excited about it and the competitor sort of came back alive inside of me. I started calling some guys and we picked up some pretty amazing athletes, and it’s just a lot of fun.”
He was asked the last time he did anything competitive with football.
“Probably ’02 or ’03 with the Redskins if you don’t count backyard with the kids, but we get pretty competitive,” Wuerffel joked.
“We’re taking it pretty serious. It’s a pretty intense tournament. You’ve got on one side Michael Vick and a bunch of guys playing that are pretty amazing, so we’re trying to put together a team and learn some of these concepts and make a good showing.”
Wuerffel, now 43, said he’s gotten out with some friends in Atlanta to throw the football and warm his arm up. That’s required some ice bags afterward, but he’s hoping to get in form over these next few weeks.
He likes the idea of being able to play football against without facing a live pass rush, but he acknowledged the challenge getting players from different areas on the same page in that time.
“Vince Young formed a team with Texas and they had their opening playoff this weekend and they lost, which got us all pretty scared, like wait a minute, ‘We better figure this thing out because you don’t just show up and think you’re going to [win],'” he said. “I tell you, there’s tremendous athletes in the flag football world. It’s easy to miss that because it’s not high-profile, but you go to some of these tournaments and boy, there’s some freaky good athletes.”
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