Here’s a statement people never thought they’d be saying: Clemson is actually beating Florida for commitments in its own state. It’s hard to believe, but the Tigers have come into Florida’s backyard and snatched some of the top running back prospects the Gators have been after in the last few years.
Clemson got another one Sunday when Punta Gorda Charlotte running back Mike Bellamy verbally committed to the Tigers. Remember Bellamy? The same prospect who littered his Facebook account with pro-Gator rhetoric months ago. The same Bellamy who told multiple media outlets that Florida was the school for him.
Well, that same Bellamy took a look at Florida’s depth chart and went elsewhere. According to Rivals.com, Bellamy is the 13th-best prospect in the country, but he’ll have to deal with another crowded backfield at Clemson. A crowded backfield that Florida’s coaches — and fans — are all too familiar with.
Here’s a list of running backs that were high on Florida’s board that have ended up in Clemson that last few years:
Marlin Lane — Lane will join Bellamy in the class of 2011. The Daytona Beach Mainland running back was high on Florida last year, but committed to Clemson over the summer. His relationship with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who has done a tremendous recruiting job since taking over for Tommy Bowden, was a major plus for the Tigers. Lane has recently said he’s looking around, but it doesn’t appear that Florida is on his short list. As a junior Lane rushed for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jamie Harper — The Jacksonville Trinity Christian athlete was one of the top 2008 running back prospects in the country and Florida was in the thick of it until running backs coach Stan Drayton left. Dan Mullen headed up his recruitment, but Florida couldn’t make Harper’s final list on National Signing Day. Clemson and Florida fought for the top spot for so long that year, but the difference was that Clemson never left his short list. Harper rushed for more than 400 yards at Clemson last year. As a high school senior Harper rushed 1,437 and 19 touchdowns.
C.J. Spiller — Spiller was easily the biggest miss for Florida at running back since Urban Meyer took over. The 2007 prospect was the top running back in the country after his senior year of high school with 1,800 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Not only was he homegrown (Lake Butler Union County), but Meyer and his staff were on him almost as much as Tim Tebow. Tebow even tried recruiting him to Florida. He would have been in the same class as Tebow and Percy Harvin! Everyone thought Florida was a lock on National Signing Day until Spiller pulled the shocker and went with Clemson. Things got interesting with Spiller when rumors spread after his first year that he was interested in returning to Florida and going to UF. That never worked out. Spiller stayed and was drafted in the first round of April’s NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.