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Treon Harris transfer will have little impact on Florida

01 January 2016: Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris (3) in action during the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl between the Michigan Wolverines and Florida Gators at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

The troubled tenure of former quarterback Treon Harris has come to an end at the University of Florida.

The news came earlier this week that the junior had been granted a release from his scholarship and he would be transferring after two tumultuous seasons in Gainesville.

Harris is the seventh quarterback to leave Florida in the last four years, following Jacoby Brissett (North Craolina State), Tyler Murphy (Boston College), Max Staver (Houston Baptist), Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech), Skyler Mornhinweg (Columbia) and most recently Will Grier (West Virginia).

Given the circumstances and Harris’ history at UF, however, his departure should have little, if any, impact on Florida’s roster in 2016.

There was a time — back in 2014 — when Harris looked like a promising candidate to end Florida’s quarterback woes. He made his debut appearance against Tennessee, replacing struggling starter Jeff Driskel and led a comeback win over the Volunteers on Rocky Top. He was later named to the SEC All-Freshman team that year after throwing for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns — adding 570 yards on 171 carries (3.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns on the ground.

Unfortunately, that success would not be sustained the following year.

Harris initially lost the quarterback battle to Grier (a freshman) to start the 2015 season, but was forced into the starting role when the NCAA suspended Grier for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs on Oct. 12. He ended up playing in 11 games for the Gators last season, only completing just over 50 percent of his passes for 1,676 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

He was unable to consistently find open receivers, make accurate throws and, essentially, put points on the scoreboard.

With four new, arguably more talented quarterbacks vying for the starting role in 2016 (transfers Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby and freshmen Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks), Harris was expected to switch over to wide receiver so he could still earn some playing time. Yet, success wasn’t guaranteed there, either, considering he had zero experience playing the position.

Overall, his struggles on the field were aplenty, but they weren’t limited to just the gridiron. During his two-year stint in Gainesville, Harris had several issues off the field, as well.

He was suspended three times — once in October 2014 while authorities investigated a sexual battery allegation against him (the complaint was later withdrawn and he was fully reinstated), again for one game last September (vs. Tennessee) for violating University Athletic Association policy and his latest for breaking the school code of conduct policy — a suspension that had still not been lifted when he made the decision to transfer.

Given these setbacks both on and off the field, it’s clear that the highly touted dual-threat quarterback out of Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School was ill-suited for coach Jim McElwain’s team. Harris’ shortcomings resulted in strong backlash from the Gator Nation, which was likely one of the reasons he decided to explore other options.

It’s unknown where he will land at this point, but one thing is for certain: his departure is a benefit to both parties moving forward.

Perhaps a fresh start will be what he needs to get his college football career back on track.

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