Few options remain at RB for Gators


The Gators are looking to sign at least one running back for 2015, and just a couple targets look like legitimate options for them at this time.

Lakeland Christian’s T.J. Simmons committed Monday to UCLA, the school that had been his leader since May. Florida was his early favorite, but there seemed to lack mutual interest from both sides as his recruitment played out.

Clemson-Florida battle brewing for Ray-Ray McCloud III. (Photo by Zach Abolverdi/The Gainesville Sun)

With Simmons officially off the board, Ray-Ray McCloud III (5-10, 180) is the only uncommitted and quality RB recruit that UF appears to have a chance with right now.

The Under Armour All-American from Tampa Sickles has visited Gainesville four times since March. His most recent trip took place June 5, and he also came for the spring game and to watch a practice.

Clemson is the biggest threat to Florida for McCloud, but the Gators are currently considered his top team.

UF is on the outside looking in for top prospects Damien Harris, Jacques Patrick and Jordan Scarlett, who decommitted from Florida Atlantic on Friday.

However, Miami commit Dexter Williams told 247Sports last week that his immediate family wants him to go to Florida. He’s also teammates with Gators commit Jalen Julius, who is pushing him toward UF as well.

More running back targets could emerge for Florida between now and signing day, but McCloud and Williams are the ones to watch heading into fall.

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  1. Running back is always a priority.There is not a running back on the team that has yet proven he is an elite back. Until that happens, UF is not “loaded” at running back. Both Brown and Taylor have been average, not bad, but nothing special so far in their career. Matt Jones had a serious enough injury to make the possibility of him never becoming a great back a real possibility. That’s a shame since he was going to get the chance last year to become the guy at UF until his injury. Adam Lane and Brandon Powell have yet to play a down, so we have no idea what they will do. I would say Georgia is “loaded” at running back since they have at least one elite back in Gurley. He’s good enough to carry a team on his back, as shown against UF last year, even when not 100%. maybe Taylor can become that kind of player, but he hasn’t shown that yet. I think a great running back would have carried the Gators to victory over Georgia Southern, the gators didn’t have one then. It’s been reported that Taylor is quicker and faster and he was only a freshman, so there’s reason to hope. I just think it’s important for UF to get Williams.

  2. Taylor has been average? for a freshman he was quite good and if he would got more playing time some different results may have happened. He is much better than Matt Jones- Jones fumble against Miami was a nightmare

  3. ntcrze, I have to disagree with your Gator RB assesments:
    imoho, UF has the best RB corp in the SEC for 2014. Others might say Bama or UGly, with legitimate reasons, so we’ll just have to wait and see…

    ‘B’-RB Mack Brown 5-11 215 rsJr 3L – 3.8 ypc, UA-AA – career slowed by injury. Other offers included: Bama, Mich, Okla & Tenn

    RB Mark Herndon 5-9 198 Jr 2L *** – ST’s & Backup RB – 8.0 ypc,
    A former W-O that earned a ship and is now into the playing rotation.

    RB Matt Jones 6-2 226 Jr 2L **** – 2013 starter before knee injury – 4.7 ypc ~ He was not in Spring practice while rehabbing MCL.

    RB Kelvin Taylor 5-10 214 So 1L ***** Fr All SEC – 4.6 ypc
    (done behind a battered and injury depleted OL including both starting tackles going out for the season)

    RB Adam Lane 5-7 222 rsFr SQ **** ‘The Wreaking Ball’
    – 2013 Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Award.
    Lane showed what he can do in the O & B game, to anyone that was paying attention. And the Gator LB’s uniformly said that he’s the toughest guy on the team to tackle.

    #34 RB/KR/CB Brandon Powell 5-9 177 **** – Named 1st Team 8A All State. Named Broward Co. (Miami) 8A-7A-6A PoY.
    HS Sr 141 for 1,339 yds, 9.5 ypc, 20 TD’s. Rec- 21 for 289 yds, 2 TD’s. KR 452 yds, 1 TD + 3 Ints on defense.

    #50 QB-PP Deiondre Porter 6-1 170 – Fla. 6-A 1st Team at QB.
    SAK — QB-CB-WR-RB-KR + Track 10.3 100-M – R – 1,499 yds, 20 TD’s – P – 150 of 263, 3,199 yds, 33 TD’s, 8 Ints. + Tampa Bay ‘Iron Man’ Award. >>> He led Florida HS his Sr year in Total Offense with 4,698 total yards and 53 TD’s.

    #3 QB-DT Treon Harris 5-11 200 **** – U.S. Army All-American. Florida 4-A State champs in 2012-13, 2011 runner up as a Soph.
    P – 126 of 201, 63% for 2,113 yds, 28 TD’s, 4 Ints. R – 633 yds, 9 TD’s As a 3 year starter: P – 75 TD’s to 17 Ints. — R – 2,344 yards with 42 TD’s. HS 3 year Total Offense – 8,238 yds with 117 TD’s.

    2015 Recruit – #15 Ath/CB Jalen Julius 5-11 173 **** – (ESPN 181/300) SAK – HS – CB, WR, RB 6 ypc, KR 2 TD’s. A documented 4.31/40.

    Florida is LAY-O-DED with players that can run the ball, and that’s not even including both Driskel and Grier…. I like getting a quality full time RB in every class, but with that roster, IF we skip a year here and there it’s not a big deal.

  4. Da-muddler Quoting what some one did in high school does not mean they will be a great player in college. giving the reason of an injured offensive line does not mean someone is a great back. UF’s line was good enough to open holes on Georgia Southern, but UF’s backs were not good enough to take advantage of them. When an IF runs for 100 yards against Alabama, then I’ll see the evidence, but talking about what someone, like you quote about Lane, doesn’t mean anything. You have to do it on the field, so far, no Gator back has been exceptional in a real game. Recruiting rankings are interesting, but they don’t mean a whole lot. I hope I’m wrong, but I think we may see an example of that this year in a real game. Scout rated Driskel as the number one quarterback in the class of 2011, a guy named Coker was rated the 44th best in the same class. Who would you bet on to be the better quarterback when UF travels to Alabama on September 20? It’s nice to think that highly-rated recruits will always be the deciding factor, but as Alabama learned against Oklahoma this year, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the field. I’m sure no one would say that Saban isn’t good at developing players, irrespective of what Spurrier says. I think he was just having fun with his crack about Saban anyway.

  5. There is always a lot of if’s…..but I agree that we have to get at least one. What would happen if one sustained a serious injury and another transferred for playing time reasons, not to mention the most consistent guy we have graduates after this year.
    Regarding KT, I also believe EVERYTHING he got last year was pretty much on his own. He would have been a 1000 yard rusher behind almost any other offensive line in the SEC last year. I also believe Mack Brown might have also.

  6. da muddler I don’t believe Jalen Julius ran a 4.31. If he had, every team in the country would be after him. Why do I not believe it? The fastest guy in the 2013 class ran a 4.37. His name was Kermit Whitield. I believe that is true from watching him in the National Championship game. It is not the first time, or will it be the last, that a reported time is just B.S., it’s something to be expected.

  7. Kelvin Taylor finished 186th in rushing in college football. I guess elite means something else than what I learned in school. I thought you actually had to do something to be considered elite.

  8. Other than a legacy RB recruit in Taylor, I think Coach White may be having difficulty relating to younger RBs in HS. Still writes handwritten notes to kids and parents. Need more coaches like our TE and CB coaches that can relate and develop relationships with today’s black athletes. Recruiting is a young man’s game. Do not like that many of the top RBs are choosing to go elsewhere. State of Florida had several good ones last year and they went to FSU, UGA, and Miami. Glad we picked up Powell late, but very small back. I’m hoping Taylor has a breakout year like his father did and buys us some time. If McCloud goes to Clemson, may need to reevaluate RB coaches ability to develop relationships with top RB recruits during recruiting process. No first or second round draft choices at RB position, unless count Tebow and Harvin under Meyer.

  9. We’re very deep at RB this year with Taylor, Brown, Jones, Lane, Showers, and the new, young scat-back who came in this year. One of the best-looking and most versatile backfields I’ve seen at UF in a long, long time IMO.

  10. Good point Todd, however I believe Showers will be in the slot based on spring ball. I still would like to see him get a few reverses and maybe some pitches off misdirection plays. It seemed like every time he touched the ball last year he gained 8 to 10 yards.

  11. Although Brown has had a so so career thus far I wouldn’t discount his ability He is very much like Gillislee in the fact that he is a tough and shifty runner between the tackles. If the offensive line plays slightly better my guess is that he will average around 5 ypc.
    I could see our ground game similar to that as a chisel, KT and Brown, followed by a hammer, Jones and Lane. Has anyone heard how Jones is coming along from his injury ?

  12. ntcrze – Career Yards per Carry at UF:
    Mack Brown rsSr 3.8 ypc (unlucky with injuries, limited duty)
    Matt Jones Jr 4.7 ypc (strong runner, very productive before MCL)
    Mark Herndon Jr 8.0 ypc (Spot duty and ST’s, but the kid can play – 3L)
    Kelvin Taylor Soph 4.6 ypc (Voted Fr All SEC, by the other SEC coaches)
    Adam Lane rsFr – (names like the ‘Wrecking Ball’ don’t just happen)
    Brandon Powell Fr – Miami 8A-7A-6A PoY — FL HS 1st Team 8A.
    Ignoring the facts to claim that UF; “There is not a running back on the team that has yet proven he is an elite back.” is ….. everyone can figure out what that is for themselves… ;~))
    And a long list of other available Fr.
    You insinuating that what a kid did in HS means nothing, is what really means nothing. Ignoring what a true Fr RB does against a top SoS on a ‘team’ that went 4-8 is silly. What the Gator defense and the Gator coaches say means a lot more to me than what you say does. Oh btw, Lane was offered by Saban, but that doesn’t mean anything.
    I would not trade Driskel for Croaker, and neither would our coaches. Lucky for me, what you ‘choose to believe’ or choose not to believe, affects absolutely nothing.
    * yeah gatorj, pretty funny imoho. 4.6 ypc – Fr All SEC, doesn’t mean a thing….
    Against SECe-C Mizzou – lead the team with 13 carries for 74 yards (6.2 avg) 1 TD. Made his first career start against UGly and led the Gators’ rushing attack with 20 carries for 76 yards…At SCa, he rushed 21 times for a career-high 96 yards and scored 2 TD’s. With only 4 starts as a tFr, he finished 2nd on the team with 508 yards on 111 carries (4.6 avg) with 4 TD’s. (ntcrze sounds clown-U-ish to me) ;~)) PS – Taylor surpassed NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as the state of Florida’s all-time leading career rusher as a HS junior, but nothing ‘Elite’ there either…. rotf-lmao

  13. It is very rare to have a “proven” elite RB on your roster, because almost any elite RB will go out in his Junior season. A kid would have to had to have performed at an elite level in his freshman or sophomore season to qualify.

    BTW, I think Taylor did actually perform at an elite level. NTCRZE cited that Taylor was 186th in rushing last season. He only started for half the season! Behind a decimated line with a 3rd string QB! That’s awesome!

    We also have excellent depth with Brown, Jones, Lane, Powell, and Showers. I’d say we are definitely loaded at RB. And Ray-Ray McCloud would help perpertuate that. Go Gators!

  14. It also seems like we are finally seeing the effects of the devaluing of RB’s in the NFL. I noticed that quite a few of the DB/RB prospects are preferring to be recruited as a DB if they can cut it. Look at the contracts for Revis, Haden, and Sherman compared to what Ben Tate and Chris Johnson just got. Even though RB is still a glamour position, I think kids are wising up that the money for that skillset is at the corner or WR. It might be something Muschamp can use, since it looks like he’s really good at recruiting DB’s. Come to try out as a Corner, if you don’t make the cut, you can play RB.

  15. Guys, the number of yards is not critical, if T aylor finished 250th and made eye popping plays, that would be one thing. But i consider an elite back to be someone that can take it to the house at anytime and carry his team on his back when necessary. I’ll gice an example of a play that I think an elite back would have made and taylor was just an average back. I remember UF was pinned down near their goal line by Georgia Southern and the Gators gave the ball on outside sweep that was blocked magnificently and was wide open for a 96 yard dash to the end zone. There was nothing but green grass in front of Taylor, but he wasn’t quick enough and didn’t have the speed to exploit the opportunity. I know a back like Gurley would have ate that up. All I hear about is if this and if that. When Taylor actually makes a play to win a game, then I’ll be sold, but right now he’s just another running back.

  16. ntcrze, – ” When Taylor actually makes a play to win a game, then I’ll be sold, but right now he’s just another running back.”

    Me and Kelvin don’t lay awake at night worrying about what you are sold on,,, or for. I doubt that anyone else does is either.

    Mack Brown 5-11 209 rsSr 3L > 3.8 ypc
    Matt Jones 6-2 225 Jr 2L > 4.7 ypc
    Mark Herndon 5-9 195 Jr 2L > 8.0 ypc
    Kelvin Taylor 5-11 214 So 1L > 4.6 ypc
    Adam Lane 5-7 222 rsFr > The Wrecking Ball > HS Soph 12.5 ypc > Jr weightlifting Silver Medal
    Brandon Powell 5-9 177 Fr > 9.5 ypc > 9Florida 8A HS 1st Team

  17. Zach, How alarmed should we be that the Gators’ 2015 Rivals recruiting class team ranking is #36 with only 2, 4 star recruits. This compared to Alabama’s #1 ranking and 2, 5 star recruits and 13, 4 star recruits seems to be an un fathomable gap. Duke is even at # 20, which is 16 spots higher than UF

  18. 66, forget rivals and instead use ESPN, while trusting our coaches to know.

    15. UF – 9 — 0 – 8 – 1 – 0 — 7 ESPN Top 300’s
    8 OG-12, 9 WR, 9 Ath, 9 S, 15 Ath, 15 S, 8 QB-DT, 7 TE/H, 39 DT
    The only 3 star is (imo underrated) DT Andrew Ivie. His HS coach says that he’s farther along (better) than his 4 star DE Gator brother was at this point. Andrew’s a 4 star before or by NSD.
    UF is the highest ranked class that has fewer than 10 verbal’s in their class.
    UF is also ranked higher than some with twice the number of verbal’s.
    18. MsSt – 18 (for example) – 11. Tenn is only 4 spots higher with 19 in their class.

    IF you’re a doom & gloomer, then stick with the ‘half-asleep’ twits at rivals recruiting. Just MOHO of course…. ;~)

  19. Glitch – 8 OG-12, 9 WR, 9 Ath, 9 S, 15 Ath, 15 S, 8 QB-DT, 7 TE/H, 39 DT.
    Correction: 8 OG, 12 WR, 9 Ath/WR, 9 S, 15 Ath/CB, 15 S, 8 QB-DT, 7 TE/H, 39 DT.

    * DT Andrew Ivie is listed by rivals at 6-1 265. >>> Updated elsewhere at 6-2 285.
    And oh BTW, he finished at #5 at the recent FL state weightlifting competition.

    Keep in mind that 3 of the 9 are Nike ‘Opening’ invitees, including the QB-DT to Elite 11.
    4-5 are HS AA’s, but rivals only has 2 of them rated as 4 stars,,, so go figure.

  20. There’s not a lot of in between this year as far as recruiting goes. If, and I believe when, this team wins 9 or 10 games, the caliber of this class will be one of the all time best ever. Names like Cowart, Jefferson, Ivey and Campbell are all heavy Gator leans.

  21. ntcrze, I get your point. Taylor hasn’t taken over a game and run down any opponents throat. But you rarely see that in a true freshman. Fournette or Scarborough, maybe. Gurley wasn’t that great as a freshman. I thought Crowell was the better back. But I think Taylor projects pretty favorably to other RB’s from their freshman years. We’ll see how the Roper offense uses him. I think Taylor can be pretty good in a zone-blocking scheme. I really see him and our offense taking off this year.

  22. I’m not sure that KT will put up “elite” numbers this year because of Brown, Jones and Lane will have to get their share of carries if this offense is to operate at it’s full potential. Lane and Jones are probably better in pass protection although it appears with a moving pocket and mostly quick reads this won’t be as much as an issue.
    I see KT putting up somewhere around 700-800 yards with a 5-6 YPC average though and running freely in the second level plenty of times because of the quick passing game and zone blocking. He has elite vision though and is already one of the best talent wise in the country if you ask me.

  23. The gators need to put the full court press on RB Jacques Patrick of Orlando Tymber Creek. We gave him a player of the week award last year ar the Orlando Touchdown club. in person he reminds you of Georgia’s Gurley because he is so well muscled and strong.

  24. Gators are not getting g 5 star players right now…..it’s not going to happen. Teams can win and rebuild without stockpiling 5 stars, not to mention, how many of these can’t miss guys pan out? Maybe half? Focus your attention elsewhere staff!