In defense of Treon Harris

Posted at 8:07 am on 02/08/2016 by Buddy Martin
The news popped up Friday on GridironNow.com that Florida quarterback Treon Harris was likely going to be switched to wide receiver and when the deafening cheers from Gator Nation finally subsided, I couldn’t wait to break it to my pal Randy.

“Well, are you and your buddies all happy now?” I said to Randy, mockingly. “You finally got Treon Harris off the field as a quarterback!”

Randy is an attorney, a long-time diehard Gator fan and normally a balanced, fair, keen observer who has often been willing to look the past sins of Florida football and basketball players and coaches.

For a moment one night, Randy almost levitated with anxiety and frustration during one game when he called to say: “I can’t watch this anymore. Treon is giving me a massive migraine headache."

Granted, it was a downgrade coming off the high of Will Grier’s winning performances against the likes of Tennessee and Ole Miss. Treon took over the wheel of that sleek sports car that had raced to a 6-0 record and a lofty No. 7 ranking and nearly crashed it into the wall on several occasions. He played well at times, but was inconsistent, 8-6 over two seasons as a starter and just 3-3 in his last six games with only four touchdowns and less than a 48 per cent completion percentage.

But does a guy ever get credit for being there when he’s needed and giving the best that he’s got to give?

Randy paused. “Well, there are 21 other positions on the field to play and I wish the young man well. And I really appreciate that he gave his best. Maybe that’s all he had to give, even if it wasn’t good enough.”

Feint praise, but nonetheless praise from a critic.

Even though Harris had come out of the bullpen when everybody else had either withered away or been suspended for substance abuse, he never got his loyalty badge for always showing up — just as he had done the season before when he’d become the last man standing.

Even his harshest critics had to admire Harris spinning out to his left and hitting his high school buddy Antonio Callaway in stride on a 66-yard touchdown strike to help beat Georgia. And, by the way, taking his team to an SEC East division title.

“Yeah,” they’d say of the 5-11, 195-pound sophomore, “but he’ll never be anything more than a mediocre quarterback."

Mediocre? You don’t know mediocre. I give you the decade of the fifties with such unforgettable quarterbacking talents as Doug Dickey, Dick Allen, Bobby Lance and — even though he was scrappy and I liked him — little Jimmy Dunn. 

Coach Bob Woodruff was so smart that he even started all-SEC, all-pro (Chicago Bears) running back Rick Casares at the position for a while, which was sort of like putting Johnny Bench on the mound.

Then from the late eighties, I give you the unspectacular Rodney Brewer, Kyle Morris, Herbert Perry, Lex Smith and then Donald Douglas, who was the best of that bunch.

We can point back to 1963 as the reversal of fortune for Florida upon the arrival of Steve Spurrier, who begat Shane Matthews, Terry Dean, Danny Wuerffel, Jesse Palmer, Noah Brindise, Doug Johnson, Rex Grossman and the like. That also led to the three Trophy Heisman Trophymen — Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow — with their statues in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Maybe he was no statue quarterback, but as for Treon -- he came, he saw and he served.

It appears to be a fate accompli that transfer/transfer Luke Del Rio the best shot at Treon’s job this spring.

But I give you this warning:

The Florida Alligators seem to eat their quarterbacks. Since the Tim Tebow days we’ve seen four of them transfer as starters for other teams and one of them go on to win a Heisman Trophy, a national championship, most likely an NFL MVP and maybe a Super Bowl at yet another school. (Of course, he was basically asked to leave Florida.) And a fifth is waiting in the wings.

Yeah, we all know about Cam Newton. But what about Jacoby Brissett to North Carolina State, Tyler to Boston College, Jeff Driskel to Louisiana Tech and now Will Grier to ???? And don’t forget Marty Mornhinweg to Columbia.

If this position change comes about, the Luke Del Rio era will be about to begin.

Paraphrasing the words of Richard Nixon, you’re not going to have Treon Harris to kick around anymore.


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