With spring football coming to an end and the Florida football staff coming off of the recruiting trail, we have a little more insight on the recruiting board for the Gators. With that in mind we can take a look at the running back position, one where the Gators would like to sign two big time players, with speed and hopefully some size and power to them as well.
The Gators set out to sign two running backs in 2014, but that didn't work out. With a senior in Mack Brown, and junior Matt Jones possibly playing a bigger role at the ‘B' position, signing two running backs in 2015 is imperative.
The Gators are looking first and foremost for speed and the group they have pinpointed so far certainly meets the speed criteria. Before, size was imperative, but with the new offense speed is the main criteria and size is a welcome bonus. There is plenty of speed and a good deal of size in this group.
A trio of backs seem to be front runners as the most likely to be in the 2015 class. They may waiver a little here and there, but the guys most likely at this time would probably be two of the three listed here.
Ray Ray McCloud (5-10, 180) of Tampa (Fla.) Sickles is a terrific athlete that has been offered at multiple positions by major programs. McCloud ran for over 2300 yards as a junior and looks bigger than the 180 pound listed weight. He is super quick and his ability to stay on his feet after contact set him apart from most. He isn't the highest rated on the board, but he will likely rise in the rankings once he is seen a little bit more. McCloud visited Florida twice in the spring and the Gators appear to have a lot of what he is looking for in a college program.
T.J. Simmons ( 5-11, 190) of Lakeland (Fla.) Christian is a straight line speed burner. Listed at 190, it is believed he is pushing 200 pounds now and is a 10.6 second 100 meter guy. Simmons camped at Florida last summer and the Florida staff immediately made the offer. Simmons missed his sophomore year with a knee injury after running for 1200 yards as a freshman. He ran for over 1200 as a junior and is expected to carry a huge load for Lakeland Christian in the fall. He is as put together as any back you will see with his kind of lean body.
Nyheim Hines (5-9, 180) of Garner (NC) is another burner and track guy. Florida running back coach Brian White visited Hines twice this spring and knows what he is capable of. The speedster scored 60 touchdowns as a junior and is a touchdown waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. Hines has never visited Florida but told me he is eager to get to campus in Gainesville sometime this summer.
Jacques Patrick (6-1, 210) of Orlando (Fla.) Timber Creek is the highest rated running back in the state and a prospect Florida would love to turn their way. The four-star and tenth ranked back in the country on Scout, Patrick had a brief flirtation with the Gators in the spring but seems to have cooled a great deal since. He has an October 27th commitment date set and the Gators will continue to work this big back as long as they can.
Dexter Williams (6-0, 190) of Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange recently committed to Miami and it was a real surprise to a lot of people. There was a point where Florida seemed the team to beat for the four-star back, but Williams' recruitment got hot so fast there was hardly time to speculate on him and where he might end up before he committed to the Hurricanes. He's a terrific athlete all the way around and a combine star with his quickness and speed. It is an uphill battle for the Gators but one they will likely continue to fight.
Damien Harris (5-11, 198) of Berea (KY) Madison Southern is the nation's top rated running back and from the heart of basketball country. The Gators will get a shot and his recruitment has been a little bit of a question mark since his stock started to rise a couple of months ago. He's a big back with big time speed that uses that speed to miss contact rather than making people miss.
Jaason Lewis (6-3, 234) of Virginia Beach (VA) Ocean Lakes is another big time back that Coach White is working. The biggest on this list, Lewis made an early commitment to UCLA and has backed off that commitment in the last week. He says that Florida is one of the teams he is now looking at. The four-star back is an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well.
Johnny Frasier (5-11, 205) of Princeton (NC) is an electric back and again from basketball country. He is an exceptional pass receiver and another one that smells the end zone every time he touches the ball. At 205 pounds he can turn into a power back when needed. Currently Florida State and Georgia are a couple of his top teams, but he told me this month that he is interested in Florida and will likely come to visit. The number three back in the country on Scout will be a huge get wherever he lands.
Bryce Love (5-10, 180) of Wake Forest (NC) is yet another from basketball country that the Gators covet. Good friends with Hines above, Love is also a national track athlete that has run for over 4500 yards in his first three years of high school. He's pretty open in his recruitment at this point and the Gators will pursue him accordingly.
James Allen (6-0, 180) of Citra (Fla.) North Marion has camped at Florida a couple of times and is certainly someone the Gators know. Allen has several big time offers already, but not one from the Gators. He is a speedy play maker, but may need to fix things in the class room before getting a big time look from Florida. Still, he is a pretty local talent that has some very good skills at the position. He covets the biggest thing they are looking for which is good speed.
Markeis Hallback (5-11, 190) of Moore Haven (Fla.) was paid a visit from Brian White last week. He's an explosive back that Joker Phillips has been recruiting for a while now. He camped in Gainesville last June and they want him back to see him again. No offer yet, but this kid is talented and has about 10 offers right now and gaining fast.