Jordan Scarlett fought his way to the top spot on the depth chart last season after being in a four horse race to start the year. In a talented group of running backs, Scarlett was able to stand out and make a difference. In just his second spring on campus, he says that things looked pretty god on day one.
"I would say for me personally it feels a lot slower, like the game slowed down a lot to me,” he said when asked about approaching his junior season. “And I think as a team we're looking pretty sharp for the first day. We didn't have many mistakes. I didn't see any false starts. Probably had a couple holes but you know, it's great getting back out there. And I liked the way we looked."
Scarlett will be able to further hone his skills under the direction of new running back coach Ja’Juan Seider. Seider is well versed on Scarlett having recruited him since he finished middle school from down in Ft. Lauderdale. Now he’ll get to coach him up and will bring a new set of coaching skills to the table for Scarlett to learn from.
"He's a pretty great dude, you know I knew him for a while now so when I got to finally find out he was my coach, it was a great thing to hear,” Scarlett said of Seider. “And so far he's been teaching me a lot of things at running back, just as far as the little things as footwork. It helps my vision, or my initial step in being patient. You know just the little things that help me work on being a better back. "
There is always a period of adjustment when spring ball starts and he saw that on Tuesday.
"It's kind of helped me get back into the swing of things,” he said about the first day back. “You know as a running back, you have to get used to carrying the ball and get used to the blitzes and all that stuff. So just getting back into the swing of things, and I'm glad to be out here."
Scarlett will have a more veteran offensive line in front of him than he has seen in the last two years. Hopefully that translates to more and bigger running lanes. It also means that the comfort level between the running backs and the offensive line should be improving as well.
“Coach Seider, he's trying to teach us that we need to be a student of the game more,” Scarlett said. “And learning our offense line’s blocking schemes and their footwork so we can just be a step faster and ahead of the game. So we know what's going on before the snap is even going so what happened out there was done.
"It's something I've done before in the past but I haven't made a big emphasis on it, so this year I'll try to make it a big thing."
Part of the maturity of the guys up front is that as they get older they will be more physical and aggressive. The bigger and stronger they get, and the surer they are of what they are doing, leads to no hesitation in doing their assignments and better overall play up front.
“I've noticed that he's trying to get that across to them,” Scarlett said of head coach Jim McElwain expressing his desire to be a more physical front. “And I think that will help me out a lot, you know, with those guys attacking the line of scrimmage like they did."
Scarlett is feeling that sense of urgency from the linemen that he likes and he knows that is coming directly from offensive line coach Brad Davis who has earned a quick reputation as a no-nonsense guy.
“They feel more experienced, the guys are moving a lot faster, they're taking constructive criticism,” he said of his monsters in the trenches. “And I like the new coach too, he's a great guy, he has a lot of energy and he's just pushing those guys through the hard work. I know it's hard out there."
"He's really tough, you know. Even on the field and even when we're in the media room, he doesn't let off the gas at all. When they're looking sleepy, he's on them. When they're up, he's on them."
And what running back wouldn’t want that from the group blocking ahead of him.