With the start of spring practice inching closer — March 9 — we’ll take a look at the state of each position. We focus on the running backs today, and shift to a different position each weekday leading up to the start of spring practice.
Guys to watch
Jordan Cronkrite, 5-11, 205, So.
Jordan Scarlett, 5-10, 198, So.
Mark Thompson, 6-2, 228, R-Jr.
Case Harrison, 6-0, 198, R-Jr.
Mark Herndon, 5-9, 198, R-Sr.
Tyriek Hopkins, 5-8, 175, R-Fr.
What to watch for
Keep an eye on the competition to be Florida’s featured running back. This will be one of the most competitive position battles of spring practice. With the departure of Kelvin Taylor, it leaves the spot wide open. Sophomores Jordan Cronkrite, Jordan Scarlett, and incoming JUCO product Mark Thompson each have a chance to win the job. Cronkrite and Scarlett have the experience with one season in Florida’s system under their belts. Cronkrite, a four-star prospect out of Miami-Westminster Christian, ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries and also caught a touchdown as a freshman last season. Scarlett, a four-star prospect out of Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas, ran for 181 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries as a freshman last season. Thompson is more of an unknown, as he ran for 1,298 yards and 18 touchdowns on 268 carries for Dodge City Community College (Kan.) last season.
The three do have something in common, though. They each bring a physical running style. Thompson, an early enrollee, is an intriguing player with his impressive 6-foot-2, 228-pound frame. But Cronkrite and Scarlett were coveted prospects coming out of high school and should have a better understanding of the offense than Thompson. Although only one will be the Gators’ featured back, expect all three to get playing time this season. Coach Jim McElwain has made it known that he likes to use multiple backs rather than have one carry the load.
Scarlett didn’t get many carries last season, but he still averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman. With his mixture of strength and speed, Scarlett has the look of an elite SEC running back. More carries could be all Scarlett needs to make that projection a reality as a sophomore.
Is Mark Thompson good enough to pass Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett on the depth chart and become Florida’s next featured running back?
“I just think people are going to have to really, really load that box up now to come tackle us. We’re going to bring the wood a little bit and we’re going to start moving some piles forward.” — Gators running backs coach Tim Skipper on signing day
GATORS SPRING PREVIEWS