Jordan Scarlett took a leap of faith of sorts when he signed on with Jim McElwain and the Gators in the class of 2015 after originally being committed to Miami. McElwain hadn’t yet coached at Florida, but from Scarlett’s standpoint the new coach at Florida was in a much sturdier place than the hot seat fitted for then Hurricane coach Al Golden.
Scarlett met the coaches at Florida and that was enough for him.
“I was originally committed to Miami, but they were going through a coaching situation and I wasn’t sure of the head coach was going to be stable or not,” Scarlett said at Florida’s media day on Wednesday. I met Coach Mac at the end of my recruiting process. He and Coach Skipper were some guys that made me comfortable at the time. I was ready to support the movement of the Mac Train and get it started right here at the University of Florida.”
After coming on board, Scarlett had visions of grandeur as a freshman, as do most high profile prospects when heading to the next level. By the end of the season he saw action in nine games and had 34 carries. Both were numbers he expected more of.
It wasn’t a fun ride in those terms for Scarlett, but as time passed, he used it as motivation and moved on.
“It was frustrating coming from being the man around my (high school) team to back to square one,” he said. “It was a humbling experience and I got to take some mental reps watching Kelvin Taylor do his thing in the games. I decided to lock in in the film room and take what I can out of last season.”
Scarlett says he is now locked in on his sophomore season and is getting better in the things that will allow him to get on the field.
“I think I’ve definitely improved a lot more on my pass blocking and run blocking,” Scarlett said. “I’ve been working on my catching out of the backfield a lot more. Hopefully I will get the opportunity this fall to show it.
Nothing is going to be given to Scarlett. Kelvin Taylor carried the load over 70% of the time in terms of running back carries in 2015. Taylor is gone but Scarlett will be competing with fellow sophomore Jordan Cronkrite and junior college transfer Mark Thompson for the rock in 2016.
No sweat for Scarlett, who has changed his tune and gone from frustration to team player and he likes his running back mates.
“It’s really fun,” he said about the running back group which also includes senior Mark Herndon and freshman Lamical Perine. “Day in and day out we compete with each other and make each other better. You can’t ask for much more. At the end of the day when we move on to the next level we can say we had been there before and around a lot of guys that are great caliber of backs.”
That closeness has led to spur of the moment competitions within the group. One summertime competition lit up Gator Nation Twitter when Scarlett and Thompson got matched up in a 100 yard race in The Swamp and was posted to the social media outlet.
“We are very competitive team all around,” Scarlett said laughing about that race. “Sometimes we get to talking to each other. Coach Mac likes us to be competitive like that, so we just keep it going all the time.”
Making life even better is the relationship the backs have with Tim Skipper, who coaches the position for the Gators. You can ask every one of his position players and they all say about the same thing about their coach.
“The way we look at Coach, it isn’t really like a ‘yes sir, no sir’ coach, he kind of bonds with us to where we feel comfortable with him like a brother,” Scarlett said. “He makes us feel comfortable so we are all ready to work out and have fun with what he preaches.”
Scarlet says that he doesn’t have any personal goals. He just wants to “do whatever it takes to get my team to a national championship”. Along those lines, he likes the way the offense is shaping up compared to the end of last season.
“I think this offense will definitely be a lot better than last season” he said. “We will definitely bring a better running attack to the team. The offensive line looks a lot better this year and we have a very solid quarterback group too. I am ready to see what this offense can do.
Scarlett’s mindset has come a long way from a struggling freshman that felt like he was underused in 2015. He continues to work his body for optimum performance and said that he is now weighing in at 215 pounds and still as fast as ever.
He’s got big time speed to go with the size and expectations should be high for 2016 for a guy that is back on track.