National Signing Day may be the day that Gator fans eagerly await in order to bolster the Gators’ 2015 recruiting class, but Jim McElwain just got a fantastic pre-NSD gift.
Supremely talented running back Jordan Scarlett has committed to Florida, just days after decommitting from Miami (on a visit to FSU, ironically enough). He gives the Gators their first running back in the Class of 2015, and their 14th player overall in the class.
When I wrote up my extensive National Signing Day guide, I had this to say about Scarlett:
“Scarlett is literally a terror for opposing defenses. While he doesn’t have the most amazing juke moves that some of these top backs have, he’s shifty enough on his feet to never let defenders get a clean shot at him, reducing their efforts to arm tackles; thus, he’s near impossible to bring down. Combine that with his 4.3 40 and ability to get to the edge and turn the corner, and you’ve got one of the best running backs in the country. Plain and simple.”
A lot of us who aren’t into recruiting rankings look at the stars beside a kid’s name and laugh when we think he isn’t properly evaluated, and Jordan Scarlett is no different. He’s listed as the 13th best running back on ESPN, and that’s more due to his small stature and lack of nasty moves. Those are the things that make eyes pop out of heads, and he doesn’t have them. But to hell with that; Scarlett was incredibly difficult to bring down in high school, and if he bulks up a little bit, he can become a beast. He’s not Chris Rainey, but he’s got comparable acceleration and makes little moves that throw defenders off; thus, the target they launch themselves at has moved, and they can’t get a good shot at him.
But no scouting report can convey just how badly Florida needed to land him. The fact of the matter is that Florida’s running back depth chart is very thin. Kelvin Taylor makes one dependable running back, Adam Lane might make two but who really knows… and then there’s a Grand Canyon sized gap. If one or both of those guys get injured or suspended, the Gators would simply be screwed. They would be, that is, without Scarlett.
This was a major get for Florida because of the need at the running back position, and not so much because of how good Scarlett is (and don’t get me wrong… he’s one of the nation’s best backs). This is a testament to Jim McElwain’s ability to recognize which positions are in need of being recruited most, as opposed to Will Muschamp blindly stacking up on the top recruits of the same two positions on defense. And of course, it’s a testament to McElwain’s ability to subsequently go out and get him, especially since he’s been committed to the Canes for several months now.