Florida has been in search of an every-down running back ever since that every-down running back was quarterback Tim Tebow.
It looks like senior Mike Gillislee is going to be that guy in 2012.
Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp told Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun that Gillislee is leading the competition at running back.
“Mike has distanced himself to be that guy,” Coach Will Muschamp said.
Well, that's what I would term as a "ringing endorsement." Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the 5'11", 200-pound senior will top the Gator depth chart when toe meets leather this fall.
“We need to start creating some separation there (between the backups) because when you get in the season, those reps, practice reps, become hard for everybody to get,” Muschamp said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
Those backups include sophomore Mack Brown and senior Omarius Hines. Hines is a converted wide receiver and will likely still get touches in a variety of roles.
Gillislee is a bigger back, which is a departure from his predecessors at the position—Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.
But can he handle it? Gillislee has been banged up throughout his three-year Gator career, despite the fact that he's only eclipsed 10 carries in a game one time since the start of 2009.
The quarterback position will get all of the publicity, but finding a steady, consistent running game will likely determine whether the Gators get back into contention in the SEC East, or sputter to a mid-level bowl for a second straight season.