Florida Gator Running Backs: Good Enough for a Nickname?

ZeptogatorCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2008

In the Book of Revelation, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in dark detail. Conquest, War, Famine, and Death were their names. 

Their powers were equally disturbing. Each rode a different colored steed and carried different weapons of mass destruction.

Interpretations abound about these dangerous fellas. One even suggests that they were four kings rather than doom-and-gloom horsemen.

In 1924, the Four Horsemen moniker referred to Notre Dame's legendary backfield.  Some guy named Knute Rockne was the coach back then and led them to an undefeated season that year.

Charles Bachman, a disciple of Rockne, became the head coach of the Florida Gators in 1928 and was within two failed extra-point attempts of completing a perfect season. The Gator backfield was known as the Phantom Four. Florida has yet to have an undefeated season.

In the 1960's and '70s, several NFL teams christened their defensive lines as the Fearsome Foursome.  The New York Giants, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, and Los Angeles Rams all laid claim to that name.

In modern times, we have the Fantastic Four, a superhero team from the pages of Marvel Comics. Mr. Fantastic was the super-smart and stretchy leader, Sue Storm was his Invisible Woman, her little brother Johnny was the Human Torch, and Ben Grimm became The Thing.

Extraordinary powers and legendary performance are usually required to earn a nickname. Are the Florida Gator running backs deserving of such recognition?

As a running back, Percy Harvin has run for 538 yards and nine touchdowns this year.  He averages 8.8 yards per rush. He also has impressive numbers as a wide receiver and dabbles as a quarterback or punt returner from time to time. Some call him the Perfect Weapon and defenses fear Percy-cution.

Jeffrey Demps has 582 yards, seven touchdowns, and 8.4 yards per rush. He has also blocked two kicks this year. He is known as the Fastest American Teenager Ever.

Chris Rainey leads the Gators with 655 yards on the ground, averages 7.9 yards per carry, and has scored four touchdowns. Like Demps, he also contributes to the special teams. Rainey's speed is already an urban legend, and he never backs down from a challenge.

Emmanuel Moody has 417 rushing yards, one touchdown, and a respectable 7.3 yards per rush.  Moody lacks the world-class speed of his colleagues, but is a tough runner and is difficult to bring down. He's the quiet one who runs over people.

Combined, these four running backs have totaled 2,192 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 8.1 yards per carry.

Unselfish, speedy, and balanced are good ways to describe this group, this band of brothers, this no-name foursome who are often overshadowed by their already-legendary quarterback.

These four weapons have destroyed Florida's opponents this year. Like Marvel's First Family, they too have superpowers: lightning quick speed, elusiveness, strength, and toughness. Defenses are playing Russian roulette, unsure which bullet will torch them next. Pick your poison.

This dangerous backfield is what the Gators were lacking in 2007 and was the biggest question mark going into 2008. Now, running back is arguably the best, strongest, and deepest position on the Florida roster. Yet, it is still often overlooked.

And for this new Phantom Four, this speedy, hard-working, unselfish group toiling in the shadow of football's Superman, that is probably just fine.