Redshirt Report: Lingard's offseason work has already begun

Jan 12, 2021 | 0 comments


During the beginning weeks of the off-season, Inside the Gators will take an in-depth look at how last season went for Florida's 2020 signees and transfers. Normally, the focus is on those who redshirted, but since the NCAA mandated that the 2020 season was 'uncounted' as far as eligibility is concerned, essentially every player redshirted.

Up next on our Redshirt Report series, today, we focus on how this past season went for running back Lorenzo Lingard.

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When Lorenzo Lingard signed with Miami out of high school, he arrived in Coral Gables as a highly regarded five-star prospect, the No. 2 rated running back in the nation. After two injury-plagued, unproductive seasons which saw him fail to breakout with the Hurricanes, he decided to transfer to Florida for a new beginning.


Unfortunately, this past season in Gainesville was more of the same.

However, it was a loaded running back room, a lack of practice time to gain reps in an offense that was new to him, and a late camp ankle injury hampered his development more-so than a lack of talent or reluctance to put in the necessary work. 

As a matter of fact, last week while others were enjoying their time away from school taking vacations or hanging out at home, Lingard was busy utilizing the services of Brad Lester at Athletes Elite Performance in order to up his game and compete with a loaded 2021 Gators running back room.

A former Auburn running back, Florida fans might remember him from Auburn’s 10-point win over the 2006 Gators squad in Jordan-Hare when he posted over 100 yards from scrimmage.

With a degree from Auburn in kinesiology, Lester’s slowly built his business up over time. He has trained running backs such as two-time All-Pro Alvin Kamara and the Seattle Seahawks’ Chris Carson. Recently he’s worked with Doak Walker Award winner Najee Harris. His clients train in all aspects of being a complete back, such as pass-catching, weight training, speed drills, and pass protection.

His coach at Auburn, Eddie Gran, stressed the small things to him and now he emphasizes that to his clients. He always tells them “these small details are going to make you a first-rounder” or a starter in Lingard’s case.

Lester and Lingard speak often. He provided some insight into the running back’s progress and where he sees the Orange City native going forward.

Despite earning immediate eligibility, Lingard didn’t see the field much during his first season in Gainesville. However, Lester said lacking a full spring practice and his injuries hampered him in terms of settling in or establishing his position in the offense.

“All of that hurts. When you have that limited time and limited reps, your chances are really rough,” Lester said. “The coaches are going to go with who they know and who they trust at that point.”

However, Lester raved about the young man, especially his work ethic. He said Lingard goes 100 percent, even in warmups.

“It’s like you have to slow him down,” Lester said. “Because he’s always looking to work.”

Players who give it their all and are willing to grind for the results are obviously the type of guys Dan Mullen wants on campus with his mentions of “relentless effort.”

Lingard needed more acclimation to the system and the 2020 season provided him a good opportunity to do so, according to Lester. Plus, his physical ability can help set himself apart. One aspect in particular is his acceleration. Something Lester found similar to one of his previous clients.

“A lot of guys don’t have that,” Lester stated. “He has the ability that guys like Alvin Kamara have where he can make that one step or make someone miss, get up the field and accelerate.”

In addition to the speed, Lester points out Lingard’s ability as a pass-catcher and noted how he’s shaped like a receiver but runs downhill like a running back. A good example of Lingard’s acceleration and downhill running is his one rush of the Cotton Bowl in the fourth quarter.

The redshirt sophomore took a handoff to the right and used his acceleration to get around the corner. After he rounded the corner, he barreled through the remaining Oklahoma defense for a 13-yard gain at full speed. He didn’t try to put the moves on anyone.

Another plus for Lingard? Lester finds him, mentality-wise, similar to the man from Alabama: Najee Harris. He loves how humble the two of them are. If Lingard’s supposed to work out at 2 p.m. then he’s there stretching at 1:15 p.m. or 1:20.

“He's one of those guys he's always early, always doing what he’s supposed to do and never complains,” he said. “Everything's ‘Yes sir. No, sir.’ And that's where he and Najee are very similar. They're both very respectful people, very humble people and they're always looking to work. Somebody like that you can't help but want to help.”

However, there is a place Harris clearly has the advantage in and that is size. Lingard needs to put on no more than five to 10 pounds in Lester’s book. They’re really pushing him in the weight room to ensure that happens.

“He doesn’t have bad size, he’s already tall,” he said. “(But) he has to fill out more than that. And that just comes with getting in the weight room. He’s already going to physically look different just by getting more and more aggressive in the weight room.”

Lester posts videos and photos of his clients’ workouts on his Instagram page @thespeedgenius and Lingard is featured often. Videos of him running drills, doing clean-and-jerks along with working tires are all on it. One in particular showed him shoving a tractor tire back and forth. For Lester and other coaches, the tougher the workout means the easier the real thing will be.

“Those tires are like 300 or 400 pounds,” he said. “… and he had resistance bands on too. If he can control his body and really sit back and punch and just get used to doing reps there. Imagine what happens when you get a blitzer coming in full speed at you. And he’s 100 pounds less than that and you don't have resistance bands on. Now, you should be able to move them any way you want.”

Lingard needs to make the necessary improvements and build on what he excels in. Because the cupboard in the running back room is full like mom went grocery shopping. He’ll be competing for touches with mainstays like Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce and Nay’Quan Wright. Not to mention former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Demarkcus Bowman joins the squad for next season via transfer from Clemson.

But that’s why Lingard’s making these consistent five-and-a-half-hour trips: to gain that edge, to compete and earn the carries he thinks he deserves.

According to Lester, it shows how dedicated he is.

“He said ‘I’m not worried about it. I’m ready to out-work everybody.’” Lester said regarding their discussion about the depth chart. “That's big for me to hear a guy come in and say he's not looking to transfer or he's not looking to run from the competition. He's just looking to work. And just to get better and just trying to find ways to get better.”

According to Lester, he’s in great hands with running backs coach Greg Knox — who served as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn during Lester’s time there. He just hopes Knox and the rest of the staff see Lingard’s progress and dedication.

The spring will be the biggest indicator as to how far he came and the ground he still needs to make up.

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