"I've got two great running backs in front of me," Mike Gillislee said." I feel like we're all the same kind of running back. With me being a little bigger, I guess I do (give defenses a different look)."
Up from 175 when he came to college to his current weight of 205 pounds, Gillislee was the biggest positive for the Florida offense in Baton Rouge. He carried the ball nine times for 56 yards. Two weeks before the loss to LSU, Gillislee carried the ball six times for 84 yards and a touchdown against Kentucky in mop up duty.
Throughout his career, whenever Gillislee has been given an opportunity, he has produced.
"He's one of the guys that we recognized that played the way you need to play (against LSU)—with some toughness," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "He's a guy that plays great on special teams. He's a guy that we need to get some more touches."
With Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey failing to top 200 pounds, Gillislee has the build that can break arms tackles and create extra yardage. It's not just Gillislee's weight, but he is an aggressive runner that will take on the hit because he knows it isn't his style to outrun defenders.
It's his vision that gets the most compliments from his offensive teammates. The Gators can run him outside of the tackles, as offensive coordinator Charlie Weis chose to do against LSU, but he can cut the ball back inside when he sees an opening.
"If there's just a little gap in the defense that he wasn't supposed to be running in, he'll just see the opening and take advantage of it to get as many yards as he can," Florida center Jonotthan Harrison said.
That's what has earned Gillislee the extra carries. Rainey and Demps keep the defense honest with their speed and ability to make defenders miss, but it's Gillislee who can find the tiny holes and squeak into the second level.
"I've got pretty good vision," Gillislee said. "When I see something, I try to hit it as quick as I can. I just go with my instincts."
Gillislee said his mindset to be a team player kept him level headed despite his lack of touches. He didn't complain or demand the battle, instead choosing to stay in his playbook and learn from watching Demps and Rainey.
"I feel like any time I run the ball, I never know when I'll get to again, so I try to run it as hard as I can when I've got it," Gillislee said.
His running style has his teammates wishing he would be on the field, too.
"He's a hard runner and a hard worker," Harrison said. "He's just bringing that extra little 'oomph' that we need in the backfield. He's getting more reps in practice and is going to get some more playing time, coach was saying."
When he steps on the field Saturday with the game still in doubt, Gillislee is ready to prove he's there to stay. Working hard off the field the past two seasons has put him in position to excel and see more time.
"I've just been waiting my turn," Gillislee said.
And it's finally here.