It’s only July, but one of the top priorities for Florida’s 2010 recruiting class is starting to be discussed more and more.
Since Urban Meyer’s arrival more than four years ago, he’s tried to bring aboard an elite running back in one of his recruiting classes.
Meyer didn’t have much time to get an elite back in his first class, but in 2006 he and his staff missed out on C.J. Spiller (Clemson). In 2007, the Gators failed to get Armando Allen (Notre Dame), Noel Devine (West Virginia) or Caleb King (Georgia). But Florida did sign Chris Rainey.
Florida was spurned by Darrell Scot (Colorado) in 2008, and last year it was Trent Richardson (Alabama) and Jaamal Berry (Ohio State) who chose to play outside of Gainesville. The Gators were fortunate to get Jeff Demps in last year’s class, and USC transfer Emmanuel Moody was eligible to play last fall. And of course the Gators best runner was quarterback Tim Tebow.
Yes, the Gators had a successful running game (231.1 yards per game). Yes, Florida won its second national championship in three years. But Moody was only a fourth-quarter option and when Tebow and his bruising running style departs after 2009, the Gators will need the services of a bigger running back.
The clear favorite to join Florida’s class is Lithonia, Ga., Martin Luther King’s Mack Brown. The Gators have been on top for most of the recruiting season, but Georgia has popped up a few times when Brown has spoken with the media. He recently told Rivals.com that he came close to committing to Georgia after visiting but decided against it. Rivals ranks Brown as the sixth-best running back in this year’s class and as a junior, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Brown had more than 1,700 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns in 11 games.
A viable option the Gators once had was Niceville’s Roy Finch. Rivals rates Finch as the No. 3 all-purpose running back. Finch rushed for almost 1,300 yards as a junior and had 16 touchdowns. Unfortunately for Florida, Finch decided to verbally commit to Oklahoma. Despite being a huge Gator fan growing up, Finch never received an offer.
Florida also missed out on Kendrun Malcome (Georgia) and Storm Johnson (LSU) in the last week. Rumors spread recently that Malcome and Brown were a packaged deal, but Brown said that Malcome’s decision would not affect his.
Two of the top running backs in the country – Lache Seastrunk and Michael Dyer – both have the Gators on their short lists, but neither has made much noise about Florida. Dyer ranks them sixth, while Seastrunk has mentioned the Gators sparingly. Word is that both are very high on Auburn and like the idea of being a rushing duo like Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ronnie Brown were for the Tigers. Seastrunk has said that he’s planning to make the trip to Gainesville for Friday Night Lights, but nothing is certain. Both appear to be long shots.
A couple prospects to look out for are Opelika, Ala prospect Corey Grant, Corona, Calif.’s Jordon James and Springfield, Pa., Cardinal O’Hara back Corey Brown. Each has mentioned that they have interest in the Gators and have either visited or are planning to visit.