Notre Dame graduate transfer says he's UF bound


Notre Dame graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire told multiple media outlets late Saturday night of his plans to transfer to Florida.

The Associated Press/file
Published: Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 9:41 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 9:41 a.m.

Quarterback Malik Zaire, who graduated from Notre Dame last month, told multiple media outlets late Saturday night of his plans to transfer to Florida.

It was previously reported of mutual interest between Zaire and UF. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports was the first to report of Zaire's plans late Saturday night.

The SEC tweaked its graduate transfer policy Friday, making changes that would allow Zaire to land at Florida.

The Gators had been unable to add Zaire because two previous graduate transfers — linebacker Anthony Harrell and offensive lineman Mason Halter — failed to meet academic requirements after transferring to Florida in 2016. That put coach Jim McElwain's program on probation for three years.

The penalty was lowered to one year. The SEC remains the only Power Five conference with that kind of punitive system.

Zaire will compete for the starting job with redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask as well as Luke Del Rio, who started six games last season. Zaire missed most of the 2015 season because of a broken ankle and lost his starting job to DeShone Kizer in the 2016 season opener. The left-hander had 816 passing yards and six touchdowns in three seasons in South Bend, Indiana.

Zaire told Feldman he would be in Gainesville on Wednesday.

"I'm going in there to be a part of the team and do what I can to help the team win and win the team's respect," Zaire told 247Sports. "There's other guys out there on the field, too, So being a good teammate is first and foremost. Being a good teammate and letting the other things happen when they happen and continue to work hard. I think I bring some value and good things to the team, so I'm excited to be a part of that.”

McElwain, who is unable to comment on prospective student-athletes until they sign a letter of intent and attend class, released a somewhat tongue-and-cheek statement regarding the new rule.

“Yeah, our phone has been ringing off the hook this afternoon,” McElwain said. “There is a lot of interest in the Gators.”

Competition at the position will make the Gators better, McElwain said earlier in the week.

"We did it a year ago with Austin (Appleby) and he came in and ended up helping our program," McElwain said Tuesday. "What you are constantly trying to do is enhance each position group no matter what that is. Competition breeds quality.

“So whether it's that one or whatever one, I'm kind of all for it. I was the guy they always tried to replace every year at Eastern Washington, so I get it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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