Clemson picking off Florida RBs


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, 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.


  1. I have been asking this once Harper went to Clemson. There seemed to be a pattern there. Crazy they are going there over all 3 major instate schools. Their running backs coach must be a great assistant to have on staff.

  2. While I dont like loosing good players, I wouldnt want to get a guy that isnt totally invested. Players know that florida will be deep with talent in many positions and the true gators will come aboard and not be afraid to compete for their positions. Look at Brantley. He was invested and patiently waited for his chance. I think we will be glad he did. Go Gators!

  3. RB hasn’t been a focal point of the Florida’s offense in forever. I think most of the top RB recruits have noticed this and have decided to go to a place where their talents can be better showcased. Kids want to go to a school where they can win, but they’d rather play for coach that can get them in the NFL more than anything else.

  4. Anyone that has spent 5 minutes in Clemson, SC can easily understand the draw. The campus is gorgeous. The school is almost as academically fine as UF. But it is less than half the size and you get out of state – understand – you actually get to leave Florida.

    So you are not a number at the factory in Gainesville. Ever been to a UF graduation??? Compare it to Clemson where 96% of all atheletes actually graduate.

    WHile Urban Myer is the best – Sweeny and his group are home for many. Clemosn captures the heart. And for many kids – that is the ticket. Clemson has phenominal traditions, an alumni support group UF wishes it had, fanatical football fans and they are on TV several times each yr.

    Very hard to compete against.

  5. Yeah, Dorsey didn’t get into Michigan. But, there’s no guarantee he’d have qualified at Florida. So, he’d probably be in a similar situation had he stayed committed to Florida. Either way, he needed a team like Florida, more than Florida needed him.

  6. Phil….duh….the exact reason Dorsey’s offer was pulled by the UF coaches. No chance of getting entry in Gainesville…and now Ann Arbor. I am sure FSU will quickly scoop him back up and he will make in “free shoe” purchaing there.


  8. Someone is erroneously convincing these guys that UF is not the place to be if you’re a running back. But I will assure you that Urban has been looking for that “horse” to ride since he’s been here and it has just worked out that the committee thing has been the answer. Without Tim, there will be alot more emphasis on the running back position. But if is that they are indeed afraid of the depth chart, then they belong someplace other than the University of Florida anyway. THE BEST COMPETE…NOT RETREAT.

  9. I gotta say, I wonder if it’s at least partly because Stan Drayton, whose RB corps didn’t exactly set the world on fire the first time around, is coming back. I am still scratching my head about that rehire. But I have to assume Meyer knows what he is doing.

  10. go after Savon Huggins of NJ, a 5-star RB who says he welcomes competition. I remember how Clemson promised Harper he would start in game one(over an established CJ Spiller!). They kept the promise, the wide-eyed FR fumbled vs. Bama, and Clemson started off their season with a resounding loss on the way to another mediocre season. But some kids don’t care about championships, I guess.

  11. Some guys want to be a big fish in a small pond. They are more focused on getting to the NFL than winning championships. The running game at Clemson gets a lot of love in the press because that’s all they’ve got going for them, they are not a championship team.

  12. I believe it was coach Spurrier that asked the question “If Georgia always seems to have the better recruiting class, then how come they can’t beat us?”…I believe he later said it’s all how you coach them up.

  13. Did your 5th grade teacher help you right that don? Sounds like the same stuff everyone who is too ignorant to come up with their own stuff says. Get a little more original than that.lack of human deciency? Yeah I forget how terrible of human tebow was, what with all those terrible missionary trips and preaching to inmates etc. Where was his deciency during all that?

  14. what you think Clemson is paying recruits…….LOL! So what’s to say that Florida who keeps pulling off ridiculous classes/all-time classes doesn’t look a wee bit shady. You know I wonder if Tommy Bowden had not been so dumb if he had actually played spiller in that BAMA game if it would have opened up their Offense… He got the ball like 5 times that game and 2 were kick-offs…He still had a TD and 150 apy’s and a kick returned for touchdown….How stupid is that. clemson is good They just had to build under a coach that isn’t diva. Florida has that in your face style I think Clemson is going to very rapidly be on the same level before long actually i would pick Clemson over Florida this year if they played Clemson Defense is nasty. All we have is all freshman. I know we got great players but we got to be realistic that we are also on the rebuilding block.

  15. Bellamy is a good RB and if he had the HEART of a Champion he would not have cared who was already recruited by Fla. I don’t know what motivates kids, so I won’t say he was afraid of the intense competition he would have faced at UF but I will say Clemson has two pretty goo RB on campus right now so it won’t be -walk in and start there either. I don’t buy the thing about Drayton either, but the jury is out on that one. Bellamy doesn’t expect a Championship at Clemson, He may not even see an ACC Championship. So you never know what motivates people. I hope he’s happy with his decision in four years.

  16. Until an Urban Meyer offense produces a 1000 yard rusher for a season, he and we will live with the reputation of an offensive attack that favors a running quarterback over running backs. Our top rushers through our four glory years with Urban have mostly been Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, who lined up at RB plenty of times but was known more as a wide receiver. Reputation aside, what the Meyer spread does for running backs and receivers is develop them into full-orbed football players: able to run, catch and block. Hence Louis Murphy might have been only a fourth round draft pick for Oakland but performed better than most first rounders and made some incredible blocks for teammates. Any worthy back desirous of an NFL future should look favorably upon the Gators.

  17. The fact of the matter is lots of kids come to Florida and choose other schools. As a recruit to FL, your made very aware very early in the process that your competing against some of the best talent in the country. Some kids thrive in that environment and some kids don’t. Clemson is a pretty little school with a rich history of rock rubbing and even getting some players to the NFL, “Rub On.”