The future at Florida’s running back position will be sitting in the south end zone Saturday night.
And it isn’t 2012 commitments Matt Jones and Mike Davis or Keith Marshall, the nation’s No. 1 tailback and UF’s top visitor this weekend.
We’re talking next year.
The Gators plan on taking two running backs in 2013, and the four top candidates will be in the stands together when the Gators take on No. 3 Alabama.
“The coaches told me they want two backs in my class,” Adam Lane of Winter Haven, Fla., said. “They said I’m one of the main four guys they’re looking at right now. Me, Derrick Henry, Kelvin Taylor and Greg Bryant. So as of now it’s pretty much a race of whose gonna commit first.”
They all hail from the Sunshine State, and at some point in each one’s recruitment, Florida has led.
That doesn’t come as a surprise to Henry.
“I heard Florida’s been their No. 1,” said Yulee’s Henry, who shocked the recruiting world when he committed to Georgia in July. “I can understand why because they’re trying to get two elite backs and how they want use them sounds good. And they’re showing it on the field. So who wouldn’t want to go?”
Henry did in the beginning, and the lifelong Gator fan still has UF in consideration. He’s watched all four games this season and has seen the coaching staff’s pitches come to fruition.
“They’re doing what they said would (with the running backs),” he said. “The offense that they put in is doing very well, and I’m loving it.”
American Heritage running back Greg Bryant is the only one who currently has UF with an outright lead. He couldn’t be reached for comment but has said that the play of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps this year sparked his interest.
Florida was the early favorite for Taylor, who is the son of former Gator Fred Taylor and naturally grew up rooting for UF. But after a trip to Tuscaloosa, the Glades Day star made the Crimson Tide his co-leader.
“I went up to Alabama this summer and I loved the atmosphere,” said Taylor, who plans to wear neutral colors for the game. “They have the same things Florida does — great coaches, great program and they work hard. So I had to put them in my top two.”
Taylor said his father gives great recruiting advice, but he doesn’t force the issue of following in his footsteps.
“I’m sure he would like to see me in a Florida Gator uniform,” Taylor said, “but he just tells me to pick the best school for me.”
The Gators were also the front-runner for Lane‘s services back in June, but he has since changed his approach to the process.
“I actually sat down with my mom and dad and we talked about not naming a leader so I don’t rush into anything,” said Lane, who will have UF in his top five along with Georgia Tech, South Carolina and South Florida. “I was just going off pure emotions. I still need to study Florida’s background and education.”
Henry wants to study the Gators on the field, and this weekend will be the perfect opportunity.
“This game will probably show me if Florida is for me,” he said. “Playing a team like Alabama and being able to see how they game plan and use their backs, it will help determine my decision moving forward.”
Despite the obvious competition for the two spots in 2013, the running backs said they don’t feel rushed to make a commitment before the others.
“My mom gets into all the message boards, and there are sometimes when you feel a little pressure,” Lane said. “But then I come back to earth because if I’m gonna pick a school I want to wait and make sure I don’t have any regrets at the end.”