Florida Gators Facing Major Questions at RB, Matt Jones Out For Opener

By Patrick Schmidt
Matt Jones-Florida Gators
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators running back Matt Jones is officially out for the Gator’s season opener against the Toledo Rockets next Saturday, but it won’t be top running back recruit Kelvin Taylor who will see an expanded workload in his absence. Mack Brown will be the starting running back vs. the Rockets, while Taylor is behind a former walk-on and a converted safety on the depth chart.

Redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers, who was playing safety as recently as a week ago, and sophomore former walk-on Mark Herndon, who earned a scholarship earlier this week, will be the top backups to Brown. The son of former Florida back Fred Taylor came to Gainesville as a five-star recruit and the No. 2 running back in 247Sports’ composite rankings, but despite enrolling early and competing in spring practice, finds himself in Will Muschamp’s doghouse.

The talent is not in question for Taylor, who was one of the top prep rushers of all-time, but his issues with ball security will keep him on the sidelines until further notice. The depth chart should serve as a wake up call to Taylor, who can’t rely on his star rating and last name to walk into a position at a team with championship aspirations.

Kelvin Taylor-Florida Gators
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jones continues to work out, as he continues to recover from his viral infection that has kept him out for all of Fall camp. I think Jones can be an upgrade over last year’s leading rusher Mike Gillislee, but it is still unsure how much time he will miss.

“He’s doing very well,” Muschamp tells Michael DiRocco. “He’s really progressing well as far as they’re putting more on him each day as physical activity and lifting and different things. I’ve been very pleased with how he’s progressed.”

Jones is questionable for the Sept. 7 game against Miami in Sun Life Stadium, and the Gators will be hopeful that he can shake off any rust and look in mid-season form against the Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, Taylor, according to GatorBait.net is under evaluation for a possible redshirt — which has to be a disappointment for all parties involved — and a possible transfer can’t be ruled out with five-star back Dalvin Cook coming next year.

Is this just a case of a freshman experiencing growing pains, or a sign of things to come?

Don’t push the panic button just yet with Taylor. He is a special talent, and will get on the field this year; I don’t think he will redshirt. That is just overreacting to a rough start to what will be a promising career.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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