Gators should have depth to hit the ground running


With the expected return of Matt Jones, the Gators have excellent depth and experience at both tailback and fullback entering the 2014 season.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 8:07 p.m.

Bowl games are considered a reward for a successful season. What they really are is a primer for the next season, with all those extra practices playing a role in player development.

Unfortunately for Florida, there will be no bowl experience this year coming off the school’s first losing season since 1979. So, getting ready for the 2014 season is on hold until the spring.

But the Gators’ inactivity in December doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to 2014 and projecting how the Gators might look at each position. This is the second of a 12-part series:

Tailback/fullback

Who’s gone: Sophomore fullback Rhaheim Ledbetter, who announced on Instagram he has decided to transfer.

Who’s back: Tailbacks Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Matt Jones, Valdez Showers and Mark Herndon; fullbacks Hunter Joyer and Gideon Ajagbe.

Who’s new: Tailback Adam Lane, a true freshman who redshirted in the fall and will try to work his way into the playing rotation. The Gators would love to welcome an early enrollee — dynamic Miami Central tailback Dalvin Cook — but that is appearing less and less likely to happen, with Miami and Florida State moving in strong on the early UF commitment.

What’s next: The health and injury problems that sidelined No. 1 tailback Matt Jones cleared the way for true freshman Kelvin Taylor, a five-star recruit, to emerge as the Gators’ most consistent playmaker on offense in 2012, and he’s the leading candidate to be the starter in 2013 even if Jones makes a healthy return from knee surgery. Taylor is not the only tailback to gain more reps in Jones’ absence last season. Mack Brown also got more carries and proved to be a steady, reliable runner for the Gators, sharing playing time with Taylor. If Jones comes back 100 percent, the Gators will be deeper and more experienced at tailback than they’ve been in quite some time. And, there are other options than just the top three. Showers, UF’s best backfield threat on the perimeter, will continue to get some carries and catch some passes out of the backfield. And Herndon, a former walk-on from Ocala, is another tailback the coaches trust. Lane is an interesting prospect at the position. He’s short, but very thick and strong and is potentially an explosive runner. The Gators also will have depth and experience at fullback with Joyer and Ajagbe returning. The question with them is will their position be all that relevant if the Gators do go to more of a spread, up-tempo offense under the new coordinator?

The skinny: With the expected return of Jones, the Gators have excellent depth and experience at both tailback and fullback. The only thing missing is a home-run hitter at tailback, something Cook could give UF if he does end up enrolling at UF for the spring semester.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top