The Way I See It -- Running Back

Much has been made the last several weeks or so regarding the running back board for the University of Florida. Will the Gators take a running back in the class of 2011? For that answer you might want to study the recruiting history as it pertains to the running back position.

The Contenders:

Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte superstar Mike Bellamy -- Bellamy, a 5-10, 175-pound speed demon, checks in as a five-star back and the nation's No. 2 ranked tailback.

Jersey City (NJ) St. Peters Preparatory Mr. Everything Savon Huggins -- Huggins, a 6-0, 200-pound all-purpose back, checks in with five stars currently ranked as the nation's No. 6 ranked tailback.

Bradenton (FL) Manatee rock star Mike Blakely -- Blakely, a 5-9 195-pound machine, checks in with four stars currently ranked as the nation's No. 25 best tailback.

Early on in the recruiting process Mike Bellamy was all about the Gators. Right up until Georgia's top ranked running back decided to announce for the Orange and Blue (Mack Brown) at last year's Friday Night Lights. Once that went down we saw Bellamy seemingly grow apart from the Gators and eventually announced for the Clemson Tigers. Fast forward and Blakely has started to talk about wavering from the Tigers and wanting to keep his options open moving forward. Georgia will/should land Isaiah Crowell. Bellamy is not the kind of back that Alabama recruits. Florida State landed James Wilder. Bellamy has no interest in Miami. Who does that leave as an option "IF" he truly waivers from Clemson? As far as I can tell it leaves only the Florida Gators.

Savon Huggins and the rest of his family recently visited Gainesville for his first visit. He was truly blown away with the staff, facilities and The Swamp. Was it enough to sway him to the Southeastern Conference? Had Huggins wanted to pull the trigger it would have gone down but that was not going to happen. The fact is he has long been a Rutgers lean and I don't think this visit changed that more like a speed bump on his way to Rutgers. Will he make a return trip to Gainesville for an official visit? That is the plan but make no mistake about its Rutgers and then everyone else for his services. Official visits have changed many recruits opinion's in the past and it is recruiting so you never know but this one looks very slim as of today.

Mike Blakely has been lighting up internet message boards since his performance over the No. 2 ranked high school program in the country last Friday night (Plant). A three-team race between Auburn, Florida and South Carolina at this time and I don't see any other team being able to get in the mix on this one.

Blakely loves Auburn and the early opportunity of playing time. By my count he has visited Auburn at least three times so far and should make it back for his official visit during the season. He has gone back and forth between the Gators and Tigers for the better part of the last several months. One day its Auburn the next the Gators. All the while his best friend and big brother Ace Sanders is tearing it up in Columbia (SC) for the Gamecocks. Ace isn't his real big brother but might as well be because the two are that close. They are close enough that if Ace called Mike today and said come play with me it would be over. Ace would not do that and in fact has told Mike you must do what is best for you and South Carolina might not be what's best for you moving forward. What do the Gators have going for them? Blakely has long been a fan of the Gators program since he was little. The biggest thing with Blakely is he does not want to come sit the bench for two years in Gainesville. True or not it's what he feels and Auburn has done a great job of explaining that to him or making him think that's what will happen. The fact is if you are good enough to help the team and contribute you will play regardless of class. It's been proven each and every year Urban Meyer has been in Gainesville. This will all come down to the confidence that Mike Blakely has in himself and those close to him when making this decision. If he doubts for one second that he will play and play early in Gainesville then he will end up at Auburn. Again, this happens all the time with kids ending up picking schools they don't necessarily want to attend. It's about the path of least resistant for some players and that is not a knock on any of those players but it does happen.

Could Bellamy stick with Clemson? Could Huggins end up at Rutgers? Could Blakely end up at Auburn? Yes, yes and yes. Is it likely? Now that is a different question but if it does let's take a look at the evidence for a second. The Florida Gators have inked a running back as far back as Scout will allow me to check in each recruiting class going all the way back to 2002. The Gators have signed 13 running backs dating back to that 2002 class nine years ago, how many can you name?

The Gators will sign a running back in the class of 2011 even if the three above opt out and end up elsewhere. They are going to land a top flight running back in this year's class. A little bit of patience will go along way as the Gators inch closer and closer to National Signing Day.


2010 Mack Brown
2009 Mike Gillislee
2008 Jeff Demps
2007 Bo Williams, Chris Rainey
2006 Mon Williams, Chevon Walker, Brandon James
2005 Kestahn Moore
2004 Markus Manson
2003 Skyler Thornton
2002 Ciatrick Fason, DeShawn Wynn

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