The running back position is one of the deepest positions in the Florida offense. The Gators only lost one running back from last season and he didn’t even play the entire season. The top two running backs in the depth chart are pretty much solidified but the third running back in the depth chart is wide open. A senior and two freshmen will compete for that third spot in the depth chart. The running game is expected to make a huge jump compared to last season. With a more experienced group and improved offensive line, the Florida rushing attack could be one of the best in the SEC.
RS Senior- Mark Thompson
Junior- Jordan Scarlett
Sophomore- Lamical Perine
Freshman- Adarius Lemons
Freshman- Malik Davis
Florida Gators Camp Breakdown: Running Backs
Going into the 2016 season, there was a lot of hype and expectations, around the signing of Mark Thompson. Thompson was a top five junior college football recruit and the number one ranked JUCO running back in the country. A lot of people were excited to see the JUCO RB but were disappointed with the results. Thompson wasn’t named the starter but he wasn’t even the backup running back. The coaching staff was very frustrated with his play as he struggled to hold on to the football. Thompson looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane. Thompson’s fumbling issues have gotten so bad that some believe that he won’t even be the third running back in the depth. Florida signed two four-star running backs last class so if Thompson doesn’t stop fumbling the football, one of those freshmen will take away his playing time.
Before the 2016 season started, Jordan Cronkrite was named to be the starting running back but was injured before the season start, giving Jordan Scarlett the starting job. Scarlett took advantage of his opportunity and became Florida’s premier back. The former Army All-American rushed for 889 yards and six touchdowns last season. Scarlett is projected to rush for over 1,000 yards and around 10 touchdowns. He is expected to leave school after this season for the NFL Draft. Scarlett has really hit the weight room and has added more strength. Scarlett can do a little bit of everything but he is more known for his power. He is one of the top power backs in the country. Really tough to bring down and always falls forward for an extra 1-2 more yards. A lot of eyes will be on the South Florida native.
Lamical Perine came into the University of Florida as a guy that wasn’t expected to get much playing time or maybe redshirt. The Alabama running back surprised everybody and not only made a name for himself, he became Florida’s backup running back. Perine is back for his sophomore season and looks to improve on his stellar freshmen year. The Perine from last season looked a bit chunky but that was his game. Now, Perine has slimmed down but also added muscle. The Gators backup running back would be the starter in most SEC schools but Perine will have to wait at least one more season until he becomes the starter at Florida. Perine is another power back that can block well and, catch passes out of the backfield. Perine had 91 carries for 421 yards and four touchdowns in his freshman season.
Adarius Lemons was a four-star running back out of Clearwater High School in Central Florida. Lemons could get some decent playing time as a freshman but the road to Gainesville wasn’t an easy one. Lemons had a lot academic loops he had to go through before the University of Florida admissions would even consider him for their school. The ESPN 300 running back had to stop playing football his senior year and attend another school to improve his grades. Fortunately, all of that hard work in the classroom was worth it as Lemons signed with the Gators on National Signing Day. With Lemons on campus, the Gators have added another versatile weapon on the team. He’s an explosive playmaker who can also handle a ton of carries if needed. If Lemons keeps his grades up, he could see the field quickly and make a big contribution to the team.
While Malik Davis wasn’t the featured back in Florida’s 2017 class, the Gators had landed another top tier running back. Davis was a four-star running back out of Tampa Jesuit High School in Central Florida. Davis doesn’t have the size and strength that Lemons has but Davis is a speedy back. He is one of the fastest players on the team as he clocked running a 4.47 40 yard dash. In his high school career, Davis had 831 carries for 7,029 yards and 83 rushing touchdowns. As a freshman, special teams is the quickest route for playing time with a crowded and loaded backfield. Most college coaches don’t like redshirting running backs so expect to see Davis on special teams as a gunner given the speed he brings to the table.