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Spring Review: Scarlett headlines a deep group of running backs

April 25, 2018
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***The summers most anticipated feature is almost ready to run. Be on the lookout for our Anonymous Player Parting Thoughts***

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As the Florida Gators football team heads into summer, we at Inside the Gators take time to look back at all spring taught us. We have talked a lot about different individuals and performances, but to really understand what strides were made during spring practice, we want to give a close, in depth look at each position group.

RUNNING BACK

Main Participants:

  • Jordan Scarlett
  • Lamical Perine
  • Malik Davis
  • Adarius Lemons
  • Dameon Pierce
  • Iverson Clement

Out This Summer: All indications are that Malik Davis is still recovering from an undisclosed injury suffered last season.

Arriving This Summer: No more freshman running backs are enrolling this summer

Departures: None as of now

Spring Recap: The running backs impressed from the first carry on the first day to the last snap during the Orange and Blue Game. The unit as a whole is arguably the deepest on the team. There is a pretty clear pecking order, but top to bottom there isn’t a whole lot of drop off as each athlete brings their own set of skills to the table to help give Dan Mullen a versatile, and more importantly, strong unit.

Position coach Greg Knox made just as much of an impression as his players from the beginning of practice. He, with his megaphone and general bellow, could be heard across the field correcting his players on every little nuance and step. It made a difference, as the loaded unit only got stronger as the spring went on.

Jordan Scarlett was facing some trepidation as he had been out for an entire year serving a suspension. With each carry though he exhibited signs of a motivated player with a fire under him. Scarlett has always been a downhill power guy, but as he’s spent the past year in the gym and grown he’s even more of a bruiser. What’s scary for opponents is that under Knox’s tutelage Scarlett has begun to understand the game even better, reading defenses and therefore has found a skill in being able to cut through easier. He’s finding lanes and knocking defenders down with his power then gliding through the open field. If his spring performance is any indication he could be on his way to a 1,000-yard rushing season. The only thing really standing in his way is his teammates who will justifiably demand touches of their own.

Lamical Perine has already shown he’s capable of leading this unit after doing so in 2017. There hasn’t been any sign of a power struggle between Scarlett and Perine, as the two seem to realize they can compliment each other. Due to Scarlett’s game changing ability, he will most likely receive the starting nod in most contests, but Perine is perfectly capable of stepping into that role if the situation arises. The junior spent the spring perfecting his own unique skill set and by the end of spring he was bouncing off tackles and sweeping around the edge with ease. He’s comfortable fighting through the trenches but looks most foreboding finding that outside lane where he can really slash a defense.

Malik Davis was almost a mirage during spring. He spent the entire month still recovering from an undisclosed injury that was suffered against Georgia last season. He spent most days in the pit working with other injured players and wasn’t able to do any work outs or drills (that were open to the media) with his teammates.

Adarius Lemons became a pet project at times for Knox as the position coach harped on the sophomore to complete every little thing correctly. As spring wore on Lemons displayed homerun ability, able to work his way to the sideline and rip off huge runs that leave the defense in his dust. While he isn’t a one-trick pony, Lemons isn’t quite as well rounded as his counterparts. However he can be a first and/or second down guy that gives defenses fits with a speed that blazes.

Dameon Pierce came in and immediately began looking for his place in this unit. While the depth is there making it feasible to redshirt Pierce this season, his talent makes it hard to keep him off the field. He was billed as a power runner coming in to Gainesville. Yet with each drill throughout spring practice he flashed signs of a shifty guy who can high-step his way through the tackles for a nice chunk of yardage.

Iverson Clement is a talented guy who has the misfortune of being apart of a loaded unit. He displayed some smart steps during spring and a nice burst that will serve as a good foundation as he develops. He can greatly benefit from a redshirt year however, not only to learn the offense but also to save his eligibility for a year when there isn’t so many top-loaded guys to compete against for reps.

Most to Benefit From Summer: Malik Davis can benefit the most from summer as he recovers. He will need the time to redevelop strength and work his way back into the unit, working up that lather that a running back needs. He will also need these next three months to have his teammates catch him up on the field with the offensive instillations.

Since we don’t know the details of Davis’ injury however, we can’t fully assume he will be able to make these strides during the summer. Therefore, the next one down the list who can most benefit from the time is Adarius Lemons. He can use the next three months to work on those small details Knox pointed out and learning the playbook, ready to come back in the fall as a reliable backup option for all situations.

Projected depth-chart heading into fall practice:

  • Jordan Scarlett
  • Lamical Perine
  • Malik Davis
  • Adarius Lemons-or-Dameon Pierce
  • Iverson Clement

This could change once more details emerge about the extent of Davis’ injury and his subsequent return. However the UAA says they expect all injured players to be fully able to participate by the time fall camp arrives.

The running backs have a chance to become a special unit this fall. They’re talented, versatile and deep, boding well for a rushing attack to put this offense on the right path.

Spring Review: Scarlett headlines a deep group of running backs

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