In correlation with his Wednesday press conference, Florida head coach Will Muschamp revealed the Gators' updated depth chart.
Although much of it was in line with what Gators fans had expected following spring practice, there was one particularly unexpected personnel shift on the offensive side of the ball. Kelvin Taylor was not listed as the second-team running back as many might have predicted.
Instead, redshirt junior Mack Brown is currently slated as the backup to emerging sophomore Matt Jones, which raises an interesting question.
Are Gators fans wrongfully casting off Brown as an afterthought?
His past stats would suggest otherwise. Brown has only rushed for 167 yards on 40 carries in his collegiate career. These are hardly the numbers one would want to see for a reliable complementary back.
Look deeper than that, however, and you will realize that Brown simply has not had the chance to show what he's capable of achieving.
Since his first season in Gainesville, Brown has been forced to battle for playing time with Jones, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee and a slew of other players. In 2010 alone, Brown had less than one percent of the Gators' total carries from scrimmage and had potential playing time stolen by Trey Burton and Jordan Reed thanks to heavy use of the Wildcat.
It's not as if Brown was some random recruit out of high school either. He is an alumnus of the Under Armour All-American Game, and Rivals.com rated him as a 4-star prospect in the 2010 high school class. There is definitely talent waiting to be let loose.
Unfortunately, his 2013 fate will more than likely rest in the hands of Taylor. Coach Muschamp said during the presser that Taylor, although gifted physically, has to "continue to progress, more than anything, mentally with the offense." It is this current lack of mental understanding of his offensive scheme that has kept Taylor behind Brown thus far.
Should Taylor figure things out before and during fall camp, however, all signs point to his role being that of Jones' immediate backup and an offensive contributor. There's a reason why he was ranked as one of the top ten overall recruits by ESPN scouts. He has the raw athleticism and toughness needed to be a star running back, and he also has the family pedigree of his father, former Gator and Jacksonville Jaguar Fred Taylor.
Personally, I cannot see any other scenario taking shape. Even Coach Muschamp suggested during the press conference that this latest depth chart is "not worth the paper it is printed on." The Gators faithful have been expecting big things from Taylor for months, and they should get their wish next season.
So where does that leave Brown? He should at least get a few carries during the course of the season, even if it is during garbage time in a blowout victory. In terms of being an important contributor, however, he is not likely to be in the fray. He would need Taylor to literally make no progress to legitimately stay ahead of him, and the only other possibility for extended playing time would come via an injury to Taylor or Jones.
Thus, we end up at the question that was originally posed. Are Gators fans overlooking Brown? In reality, it does not really matter either way. Some certainly are, but it looks like we will not have the chance to see Brown attempt to prove them wrong.
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