Florida Gators Running Backs Evaluation

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TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 02: Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby (12) hands the ball off to Florida Gators running back Jordan Scarlett (25) during the 2017 Outback Bowl between the Florida Gators and Iowa Hawkeyes on January 2, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Florida Gators had a successful 2016 season in the backfield. Two stars led the way behind the quarterback, and the Gators are looking to repeat that success in 2017. Both backs contributed heavily to the offense last season. The running back corps in Gainesville provided much needed help from the backfield and led a successful trend for the future backs that play for the Gators. Heading into 2017, this Gators team will be relying heavily on the backs to produce even more than they did last season. With two new quarterbacks potentially debuting, the experience for the running backs is crucial to the Gators’ offensive success this upcoming season.

Florida Gators Running Backs Evaluation

For starters, Jordan Scarlett is a tremendous back that can carry the ball most of the game. The Gators relied on Scarlett a ton last year, and the same will be seen this season. Having two running backs in 2017 will be crucial, as Florida will look towards a different offensive scheme next season. Joining Scarlett in the backfield will be LaMical Perine, who like Scarlett, can run the ball heavily. Both of these backs will receive their fair share of carries during every game. The opener against Michigan will be interesting to see how Head Coach Jim McElwain decides to use both of his backs to take pressure off of the quarterback.

The situation at running back for the Gators is simple. Start one and keep the other as a reserve. Having a two-back system has become a trend in recent years, and has worked well for a number of teams. Remember, offense wins championships. If both of the Gators’ tailbacks can go pound for pound rushing the ball, this offense could be deadly next season.

Let’s take a look at how the starters at the running back position fared for the Gators last season.

Starters

Jordan Scarlett finished the season with 889 rushing yards on 179 carries and racked up six touchdowns. Scarlett is a back that can get into open space and be gone to the end zone in an instant. Many people around the Gators team are raving about him for 2017, and they have good reason to. Scarlett is a guy to watch for a breakout season for Florida.

Lamical Perine finished the 2016 season with 421 yards on 91 carries and brought in just one touchdown. Word around Gainesville is that Perine is absolutely running his heart out at spring practice and heavily contending for the starting spot with Scarlett. This running backs battle is going to be fun to watch. But as for Perine, he is a back who can come in and run the entire game and keep the offense rolling.

Backups

Mark Thompson finished 2016 with 299 yards on 68 carries and two touchdowns. Thompson is also a player to watch that could contend for the starting job this season. He certainly has the potential to be the starter, and could set his team up for success with his versatile running ability.

Overall Evaluation

The Gators are set to go in the backfield for next season. Whichever back earns the starting spot, the other two guys shouldn’t worry. They will receive viable playing time as well as the starter. This running backs class receives a B+ grade. It could be better with an elite 5-star guy, but these backs will work for 2017.

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