SPRING: Coach Drayton talks running backs

The running back situation in Gainesville has been plagued by a few nagging injuries this spring. Markus Manson just recently suffered a mild concussion, Kestahn Moore injured his back early on, and Billy Latsko has been bothered by a tight hamstring. Gator Country caught up with Running Backs Coach Stan Drayton to get his thoughts on who will step up and earn the starting role this fall.

JR: Coach how would you assess the running back situation at this time?

SD: It's kind of hard. We've had the injury bug early. Kestahn Moore is out; Billy Latsko has been messing around with a hamstring. We've got a bunch of limited guys taking a bunch of reps. So right now, I'm going to say we've got some guys in DeShawn Wynn who's coming to work, who's gotten better I think; Markus Manson got hurt, before he got hurt he was doing pretty good; Eric Rutledge is kind of steadying the boat right now. But all-in-all we've got a long way to go. We're nowhere near where we need to be right now. We're being challenged every single day to get better. With that in mind, as long as we have the mindset to get better, then we're going to be okay.

JR: How do you feel Moore is coming along? Is that something to worry about?

SD: It's not serious; it's more precautionary for us...the measures that we're taking with him right now. He's going to be fine. As a matter of fact, we've just gotten some great feedback from the doctors. You never know, we may see him back out there as early as next week practicing again, so it's not THAT serious. It's more precautionary. He's the guy right now that's the tempo-setter of that group, so we're taking some extra measures to make sure he's healthy.

JR: Do you think we're going to see the Three-Headed Monster again this year, or do you believe someone is looking to step up and snatch that position?

SD: I would love for someone to step up. Period. Now if it's three guys stepping up, that's even better. That's what it's all about. At this level, you gotta have a guy who starts it off for you that's THE guy. And then everyone else behind him...CAN'T be a drop-off when it's their time to go in. So I'm waiting for the Three-Headed Monster to be better all around. I want them ALL to be guys. That's our goal, and I guess we'll just have to wait and see, right?

JR: You mentioned Latsko had a hamstring bothering him...is that something that's just recently become an issue, and how serious is it?

SD: He just had a little soreness back there. Again, we just took some precautionary measures with that. He's the captain of that group, and we know what he can do. So just a couple of days rest was needed for him to rest up and get better.

JR: I've noticed you're using Tony Gay a lot out there. He seems to have stepped up into a bigger role with these injuries...

SD: Well, he kinda had to with all the injuries and all that stuff. He's a guy who is a one-speed kinda guy, always working hard. So we don't have any problems throwing him in there because we don't lose the speed of the offense or the tempo of the offense. He knows his stuff, and he's not going to make too many mistakes. So with that being said, we don't have a problem at all giving him too many reps.

JR: If you had to pick one of the backs to be THE guy this fall, at this point in the game, who would you say is your frontrunner?

SD: I think it would be unfair to say right now...it really would. I need to get them all there and get them healthy. And that day is coming. They're getting better and they're getting healthier, so that day IS coming. There's going to be a definite competition at the position. That's the honest to goodness truth right there. We just have to continue to push these guys on and off the field and see who's going to step up and be THAT guy. And it'll be a fair match when everybody's healthy.

JR: What is your early assessment of Chevon? Is he coming along at all?

SD: Chevon's a freshman. Early on we saw some signs of him being able to do things, but right now he's playing slow football. He's gotta learn everything. So he's a freshman right now, and we're not expecting a lot out of him right now. But if he shows up and he's THE guy, we don't discriminate now. If he's THE guy, then he's THE guy...we definitely don't discriminate.

JR: We definitely saw that with Moore last year.

SD: Oh yeah, definitely. We'll pull the trigger. Right now he's playing slow football, and he's got to continue to get in those books and learn. So we'll see.

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