Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports

Gators' RB Mark Thompson made big splash in scrimmage

Having trouble picking a standout running back from a strong pack is not a bad problem to have.  Out of the Gator spring practice emerged a head-to-head battle between the one-year veterans and the newbies in competition to fill Kelvin Taylor’s cleats.  The Orange and Blue Debut on Friday displayed the ongoing battle between Mark Thompson, Jordan Scarlett, Mark Herndon, and Jordan Cronkite. 

Florida head coach Jim McElwain said explosive offensive plays stood out and it was good to see specifically Scarlett and Thompson get loose out in the Swamp.  Scarlett is coming in with some experience from his freshman year with nine appearances as a Gator.  He is a bruising 5’10 213 pound runner, who definitely needs to be wrapped up before he will go down.  He didn’t happen to be an extreme stand out at the Orange and Blue Debut.  Scarlett accumulated 7 yards in 5 carries. 

On the other hand, Thompson is a redshirt junior coming out of junior college in Kansas and he is someone who really stood out inside the Swamp Friday night.  It was Thompson’s first time playing in front of Florida’s fan base and it had to have put some extra energy and excitement into his game.

“Once I walked out there, the stadium wasn’t even filled up all the way, but I couldn’t tell,” Thompson said.  “There were a lot of people out there.  I just love the energy of the University of Florida.”

 One criticism on Thompson is he has never experienced the world of SEC play.  In the SEC, every day is game day and that may have been an adjustment for Thompson coming in.  But make no mistake; keep an eye on this 6’2 242 pound competitor.  He definitely looks the part.  Thompson snatched the first touchdown of the Orange and Blue Game with a 21-yard run.  Even when his line fails him, he just seems to bounce off tacklers. In only 5 carries he cranked out 46 yards.  For a big guy, Thompson has shown he is a heavy guy with sticky hands in the passing game and can move his feet. 

“Working on my hands and the catching game is something that I’m pretty good at and I work on every day,” Thompson said.  “Catching the ball, that’s a part of football just as blocking and running.  The more you can do, the better you’ll be off at another level, or on this team making plays for the coaches.”

The only thing working against Thompson Friday night would be his fumble that junior receiver C.J. Worton retrieved for a touch down. 

“Ball security is something we will talk heavily about obviously when we review the film,” McElwain said.  “I’m not happy with that at all.  But there are some guys that did some pretty good things.”

Running backs coach Tim Skipper has made it clear throughout spring practice that if you are ready to play, you will get out there.  Although Thompson emerged Friday night, these guys will not stop battling throughout the summer.

With competition comes greatness.  There will constantly be a fire under each one of these guys’ to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  With this strong fight going into the summer, there seems to be a brighter future ahead for the Gator offense.

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