Rankings, Implications, & more

Derrick Henry

Florida has been blessed with some outstanding running back recruits over the last few seasons. How do they stack up against one another? The Gators game against Tennessee this weekend could have implications when it comes to recruiting because style points matter. Sleeper tackle Delroy Baker, who's committed to Indiana, has a new home. All this and more in this week's notebook.

In honor of the FoxSports Ultimate 300 that was released on Wednesday I decided to do the same with the running backs from the state of Florida.

Well, sort of.

It's been a crazy good couple of years for this position from the Sunshine State. Last year it was Alex Collins, Derrick Henry, Kelvin Taylor and Greg Bryant. This year you have a handful of special players like Sony Michel, Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook. Next season there's Jordan Scarlett and Jacques Patrick.

So I decided to rank them (below), one through 10 regardless of class, as if they were all coming out together.

These are my rankings, not FoxSports.

How would you rank them? Click here and let's see how you would rank these top 10 running backs from the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015.

1) Sony Michel (Plantation American Heritage) Class of 2014
I said it before and I will say it again; Michel is the top running back to come out of the Sunshine State in a while. He's a special talent that can do it all. Michel spurned his childhood dream of playing for the Hurricanes and selected the Georgia Bulldogs.

2) Alex Collins (South Plantation) Class of 2013
People were very surprised last year when we named Collins the top back in the state and gave him a fifth star. Then fans were even more stunned he picked the Razorbacks over Miami. The early returns are terrific for Collins at Arkansas.

3) Joseph Yearby(Miami Central) Class of 2014
Of the 2013, '14 and '15, Yearby is my favorite running back. I scratch my head as I place him third on this list. All this kid does every time I see him is dazzle a defense. When I watch him I see some Barry Sanders in his game. I think this kid is going to have a special career for the ‘Canes.

4) Derrick Henry (Yulee) Class of 2013
This was a running back that I was not high on at all until I watched him play live last fall. He may not be the most graceful but Henry is very effective. He's intriguing because of his size and style. Most think he would never succeed at this position in college. He will prove all the naysayers wrong in Tuscaloosa.

5) Dalvin Cook (Miami Central) Class of 2014
Cook shares time at Central with Yearby. How special is that? He's had a super start to his senior campaign and many feel he looks better than Yearby up to this point. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Yearby have more success in college but Cook should have longer term upside. He's headed to play for the Gators.

6) Bo Scarborough (Bradenton IMG Academy) Class of 2014
See Derrick Henry. On the surface they almost appear to be the same prospect. I have not seen him play real football in person (only 7-on-7) but I will soon. I know there are some that have already commented in this state that he is everything people say he is – big time. For now Scarborough is committed to the Crimson Tide.

7) Jordan Scarlett (Ft. Lauderdale University School) Class of 2015
There's no doubt with a big junior season Scarlett could vault up this list. He looks (body wise) like Trent Richardson at the same stage. He has everything to be special but needs to put it all together and play with more consistency.

8) Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade Glade Day) Class of 2013
Like I said last season Taylor should be the safest bet of this bunch. He had a super high school career and now is in Gainesville learning how the college game works with the Gators. It will be interesting to see if he really works his way into the rotation at Florida this weekend against the Vols.

9)Jacques Patrick (Orlando Timber Creek) Class of 2015
This kid is a bulldozer and certainly the most powerful back of this bunch. He doesn't horse around with the pigskin in his paws, as Patrick is a legit downhill north-south runner. How good has he been? Patrick's first two offers were from FSU and Florida after his freshman season.

10)Greg Bryant (Delray Beach American Heritage) Class of 2013
Bryant is a versatile back that can do it all. He runs with tremendous power, has good speed and can catch the football. Notre Dame signed Bryant as well as Tarean Folston (Cocoa) this past season.

Note – Where would you put Duke Johnson on this list? He was a part of the Class of 2012 and had a brilliant freshman season at Miami last fall. I toyed with the idea of putting him in here but it really wouldn't be objective after watching him play last season in Coral Gables. But he would obviously be near the top of this list because I was sky high on him when he was coming out of high school.


Crossroads for Will Muschamp?
The Gators won 11 games last season. It wasn't pretty but they counted.

Florida won with great defense, a good running game, their special teams playing special and not turning the football over.

Now they sit at 1-1 after a bye week following a bad loss to their rival, the Miami Hurricanes.

The Volunteers wait. They come to the Swamp Saturday afternoon to open up SEC play. Sure the Tennessee game is always big. But this one seems a little bigger. Still on the schedule are LSU, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.

Tomorrow has the feel of a "crossroads" game for the Gators, especially when it comes to recruiting. Florida will be hosting four 2014 recruits on official visits and many others will be in attendance on unofficial visits.

The Gators need more than just a win. They need to show some firepower on offense and they need the Swamp rocking.

This hasn't been a Gator offense with many explosive plays in the passing game. Sure their identity is to run the football. But their style of play keeps lesser teams in games longer. They lack a quick striking offense and big plays.

Recruits need to be sold on the fact that you will put them in the best possible situations to showcase their talent. More importantly, if you are Florida, it is very important to back up what you tell recruits you are trying to land. Yea, you play great defense and have one of the best units in the nation. Your special teams are terrific. But the Florida offense is downright ugly and has been under this regime. It's a new era of football and recruiting. Yeah, winning is important. But style and the manner in which you win is very important in recruiting.

"Florida needs to put on a show," said Jason Higdon, a southeast recruiting analyst for FoxSports. "The Swamp needs to be electric. Everything will be on display for a lot of recruits who will be there watching and they will be watching everything. Florida just can't win 21-17. They need to display a good product offensively because there will be a direct correlation to their performance and recruiting. These are top tier kids and they will be at this game, It is a big deal."

Five-star prospects, defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga.) and safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), are set to make their official visits to Florida. So too are four star linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfeild, Ill./South) and three-star tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Ka.).

On top of that there will be a ton of top-notch recruits there from the '14, '15 and '16 classes. Committed Florida seniors such as cornerbacks J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla.) and Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), offensive lineman Travaris Dorsey (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines), defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater, Fla./CCC), and quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Day) are all scheduled to be there. So is Virginia Tech commitment, wide receiver Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen) and the much coveted uncommitted offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence).

Maybe even more crucial are the 2015 and '16 kids expected. It's these kids where a lasting impression will go a very long way. Expected to be in the Swamp on unofficial visits are some elite sophomore and junior recruits like quarterback Christian Alexander (Lakeland, Fla./Christian) and Feleipe Franks (Crawfordville, Fla./Wakulla), offensive linemen George Brown (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winston Woods), Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla.) and Jake Fruhmorgen (Tampa, Fla./Plant), athlete Deon Cain (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Bay Tech), wide receiver Nate Craig (Dade City, Fla./Pasco), defensive ends Jordan Woods (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Christian), Byron Cowart (Seffner, Fla./Armwood)and CeCe Jefferson (Glen St. Mary, Fla./Baker County), linebacker Jeffery Holland (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy ), running back Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) and cornerback Kevin Toliver (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy).

"I believe the 2014 kids have a general idea of where they are going," Higdon said. "Those '15 and '16 kids are like a soft piece of clay that is not molded yet. They will look back at this game and what happens and what they see and there will be some kind of impression. They will at some point envision themselves in that uniform or running out of that tunnel l. So how they play and the atmosphere in the stadium will be important for Florida with these kids. And I think it's important that Florida plays well in all phases of the game."


Baker sits
Many out there don't know much about Delroy Baker. In my opinion he's one of the most under the radar guys from the Sunshine State in this 2014 class. Over the summer this three-star offensive tackle stunned the college football world by committing to Indiana over Florida.

Yeah, you read that right. And the Gators are still after him only those Florida coaches will have to travel a little farther to see him. Baker followed his head coach Ryan Hearn from Ocala West Port to St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut. Hearn took the Admiral Farragut job over the summer.

"There, [West Port] I was kind of a father to a lot of kids and Delroy was one of those kids," Hearn said. "So when I took this job he decided to come down here. The thing is he can't play in the games. But he is practicing and looks great."

Baker, now 6-foot-6, 290-pounds, will graduate in December and enroll at Indiana in January. The Hoosiers play in a spread attack as does Hearn. The new offense at his old school is a wing-T. That's another huge reason why Baker elected to head south to St. Pete.

"Delroy practices with us every day and looks great," Hearn said. "A lot of the time he's working with himself and things for the spread offense. And of course he gives us looks on defense on the defensive line. Sometimes he just destroys what we are trying to do. He is so big and has a 7-foot-1 wing-span."

There are still many in this stay scratching their heads as to how the Gators lost Baker, especially considering when he used to live 30 minutes away.

"It's because of one thing and one thing only," Hearn said. "[Indiana offensive line coach] Greg Frey. It was Greg Frey being Greg Frey and he beat everyone on Delroy. And he also loves it up there. I asked him where he would want to go if Frey wasn't at Indiana. He still said Indiana."


What's going on outside the state?
There are a handful of good recruits making official visits this weekend outside the state of Florida.

Four-star defensive end Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee) is visiting Georgia.

Offensive linemen Gary Brown (Tampa Alonso), fresh off his visit to Iowa State last weekend, will make an official visit to Georgia Tech this weekend.

Wide receiver Kenric Young (Gainesville, Fla.) was also in Ames, Ia., last weekend. He will make an official visit to Indiana this weekend.

Three-star running back Madre London (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) will make an official visit to Wisconsin.

Jamie has been covering college football recruiting since 1992 and is entering his ninth year with Scout.com and FOXSportsNext. He's currently a National Recruiting Analyst and Manager for the state of Florida. Jamie is also covering the NFL Draft for the network.
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