Jeff Demps will highlight a backfield in 2011
Will Muschamp is quickly building a powerful backfield in Gainesville. Much like Nick Saban has had the last few years with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, the Gators are poised to have a very talented backfield for the next few years.
In 2010, the Gators were able to land highly-touted Mack Brown, who ended up red shirting last fall. This year’s class adds Mike Blakely, ranked the sixth-best running back in the country by Rivals. Muschamp was still not content, adding verbal commitments last week from Matt Jones and Mike Davis for the 2012 class.
Both Jones and Davis have a lot of upside and plenty of offers thus far, so these are big wins for the Gators.
A lot can happen between now and next year, but getting in early is key. We all know that some of the players create the drama of committing and decommitting. However, getting to them early plays a lot towards getting them enrolled in January, which is very beneficial.
Muschamp has suggested that he wants a strong running game in his new pro-style offense, and the current list of running backs enrolled or verbally committed will certainly help. Brown, Blakely, Davis and Jones are all just under the 200-pound mark. However, they should all exceed 200 pounds once they land in Gainesville and start working out with Mickey Marotti.
In 2011, the Gators will have the privilege of also having Jeff Demps in the backfield. Demps will most likely be the starter and share time with Mack Brown, and will provide the speed on the corner that no one can match. If Brown shows strength between the tackles, the running game in 2011 should be promising—probably not flashy or pretty, but promising.
If you add Hunter Joyer to the list, the backfield adds a solid fullback who will help the young runners develop. I also would not be surprised to see one of the current tight ends on the roster transition into a fullback role.
The tight end position is currently loaded with talent. The position just does not demand a three- or four-man rotation. Transitioning one or more over to fullback would add some more depth. Both positions require a lot of the same skill sets.
Weis would love to see his fullback be able to get into the flats and make some catches, so look for this position to start being a conversation piece as the Muschamp era continues. For the past six years, the fullback position has been an afterthought. Not any longer.
Remember, John Brantley will need a strong running game to help him in the early going. Brantley's confidence level is going to be low when he steps into The Swamp the next time, and he will need an instant running attack to let him gain his composure and confidence.
Muschamp’s priorities are showing already in Gainesville as his team takes shape, and the backfield looks very promising.
You can also read this article at GatorRaid.com.