Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Are Gator Running Backs Ready to Shoulder the Offense?

The loss of Trevor Etienne to heated rival Georgia stings. However, this Gators running back group is experienced and ready to compete.

Much of the talk centering this Gators running back core has been about the loss of Trevor Etienne. However, the Gators running back room still finds itself with premier talent. Bringing back starter Montrell Johnson Jr. will go a long way toward providing stability. Treyaun Webb is taking steps towards meaningful playing time as well. This group shouldn’t give Florida fans too much to worry about. Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism comes from the health of Cam Carroll. Transferring over from Tulane last year, fans were widely disappointed when a knee injury sidelined him. A veteran presence, this Gators running back group now has both veterans and young talent to be a strong point on this team. With the loss of some offensive weapons, it will be imperative that this position group leads the way. Fans should expect this Gators running back group to carry the bulk of the offensive workload.

The Unquestioned Starter

Johnson Jr. is the unquestioned starter on this team and should shoulder the majority of the carries. Following Billy Napier from Louisiana Lafayette, this will be his third year in the system. Coming off nearly 1,000 yards on the ground last season, Johnson will most likely be one of the focal points of this offense. Often overlooked is the fact that one of Johnson’s strengths is pass protection. He is a very good blocker. Johnson helps the offense even when the ball is not in his hands. He is also a solid pass catcher out of the backfield. Expect his receptions to increase. With a talent like Etienne departing, Johnson will have to be a complete back.

Although he will have help from some young talented players, the bulk of the offense will rest on his shoulders. With a likely future in the NFL, look for Johnson to capitalize on the increased workload. Gators coaches have long raved about his abilities on the field, now Johnson must equate that in the locker room. A true veteran on this Florida squad, Johnson has been part of the struggles these past two seasons. Forgoing an early chance at the NFL, Johnson came back to do one thing, win.

The Returning Sophomore

Getting the chance to play and receive some carries last season, Webb should see a much bigger role. Slated as being the second back on the depth chart, Webb has a chance to be a key piece. He had opportunities to carry the ball during SEC play. This allowed Webb to feel how the game was played at the highest level. Now being looked at as a big contributor, Webb must capitalize during the Orange and Blue game. The Florida Spring Game is on Saturday, April 13th. It will be Webb’s opportunity to show that he can step up behind Johnson. Webb had one of his biggest games against Vanderbilt and received some carries against Tennessee and Georgia. Using last season as a learning curve, Webb can now implement these lessons on the field.

A highly-rated recruit coming out of high school, Webb had the chance to learn the system and bide his time. Now in his second year in the program, Webb will be looked upon as a leading figure on the field and in the locker room. Looking to compete with Carroll for extended carries, Webb has a leg up due to the injury Carroll suffered. A true sophomore, now is the time for Webb to make his statement as a key contributor. Look for Webb to receive the bulk of the carries as running back two on the depth chart. Having the opportunity to learn under Johnson will do wonders for his development. Although not at the level of Etienne, Webb should still serve as a solid complementary back to Johnson.

The Former Transfer

Carroll transferred to the Gators from Tulane last season and suffered a significant knee injury in August 2023. Brought in to be a valuable change of pace, Caroll decided to return to Florida and get his chance to play in the Orange and Blue. With multiple seasons of over 100 carries at Tulane, Carroll came to Gainesville with significant experience. Finally returning to full health, Carroll is poised to make the impact that fans expect of him. Carroll can serve as a mentor to younger backs such as Webb and Jadan Baugh. He is exactly what the Gators’ running back room needs. With Johnson back, Carroll won’t serve as the starter, however, he will have an important role, nonetheless.

When he was lured over from Tulane out of the transfer portal, the Gators envisioned him as a perfect change of pace back. Able to come in on some crucial third downs when Johnson is gassed, Carroll’s experience allows the Gators to rest easy. One thing that many Gator fans were worried about was the lack of big-game reps behind Johnson. With Carroll, the younger backs get a mentor and another player to model their game after. Carroll will likely be an important piece to this Gators offense, even if he doesn’t receive the bulk of the carries.

The True Freshman Early Enrollee

After flipping his commitment from Arkansas to Florida, Baugh, a rising freshman, decided to enroll early to take part in Spring practice. Turning heads so far, Baugh could set himself up for some early playing time. With plenty of rave reviews from both the coaches and reporters at Spring practice, Baugh seems to have done himself a favor by enrolling early. With no set-in-stone number two option behind Johnson, there is no reason to believe Baugh can’t play early in the season. Rated as a 3-star from 247Sports, Baugh was a big commit late in the recruiting process. A true athlete, Baugh found himself lining up at several different positions while in high school. Thanks to his versatility, he should find himself on the field in some way. Whether that is at the running back position or on special teams, Baugh is setting himself up for meaningful action.



Photo courtesy: Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK


More Posts

Send Us A Message