Part 1: Quarterbacks
Today: Running Backs
#42 Billy Latsko (Graduation)
#21 DeShawn Wynn (Graduation)
Back in '07
#45 Bo Howard
#25 Brandon James
#49 Andrew Johnson
#02 Markus Manson
#33 Kestahn Moore
#29 Eric Rutledge
#28 Chevon Walker
#27 Mon Williams
Incoming (As of Right Now)
Chris Rainey / Lakeland, FL (Lakeland)
Bo Williams / Oakland Park, FL (Northeast)
What We're Losing
Just like I mentioned with the quarterbacks, the Gators will be losing not one, but two players with big game experience and several starts under their belts for the 2007 season. Senior FB Billy Latsko and Senior RB DeShawn Wynn, who the Gators will be losing to graduation next season, combine for 81 appearances over their time at Florida, being vital parts of the Florida offensive attack along the way.
Wynn has rushed for 2077 yds on his career, including 2 600+ yard campaigns in 2005 and 2006. He has scored 28 touchdowns in his 4 years, 25 rushing and 3 passing. After a pretty strong performance in Baton Rouge last season, Urban Meyer stated that "Florida has found a running back." Wynn was the feature running back of the offense from that point forward.
Billy Latsko does not have too many stats to show for his time at Florida, only compiling 19 rushing yds and 188 reception yds over his career. He spent most of his time as a blocking fullback, though, which didn't allow him to have any kind of impressive numbers to show for his time on the field. In a complicated blocking scheme like the one Urban Meyer employs with his spread option offense, a good blocking fullback could be hard to find. Florida will miss Latsko's determination and experience at the position.
Who Will Make an Impact in '07
Just like we saw this season with the Florida offense, several different names should carry the rushing load for the Gators in 2007.
First off, despite not being listed as a RB on the roster, freshman (sophomore) Percy Harvin was supposedly to be used "just like Reggie Bush at USC" - which means that he'll play running back quite a bit since, well, Bush was a running back. Harvin ran the ball 41 times this season for a total of 428 yards and 3 touchdowns, including long runs of 67 and 41. He'll be a huge part of the Gators rushing attack in 2007.
Kestahn Moore and Markus Manson are two guys who have had game experience at Florida, with Moore appearing in 23 over his career and Manson making his presence known in 12 during his tenure. Moore filled in for Wynn this season during an injury, rushing for 282 yards on the season, while Manson mysteriously remained in Urban Meyer's doghouse (I've heard fumbling and blocking weaknesses kept him in it). Both could be semi-impact players in 2007, but will they?
Mon Williams, in addition to having an awesome first name, can open eyes as well with a quick and shifty running ability. Against Western Carolina, his biggest output of the season, Williams rushed 9 times for 95 yards - and in the process looked a lot like former Florida RB Ciatrick Fason (IMO). He should see some snaps next season.
Brandon James may just stick to punt returns, but could see some time out of the backfield with his speed and agility. This season he only ran the ball 3 times, despite returning kicks in all but 2 games.
Looking at this, it's pretty clear that there will be a battle for snaps next season among several worthy candidates.
Who We're Bringing In
Chris Rainey is a 5-star recruit out of Lakeland Senior High, and is described by Scout.com as a "shifty runner with outstanding quickness and good straight ahead speed." It's been said that he could also play WR, DB or kick-returner if needed. In other words, the kid's athletic. Real athletic.
Bo Williams is also a pretty speedy RB out of Oakland Park, FL. He is listed at 6'1 and 205 lbs, so he's got a little size to him as well.
Stay tuned. Up next: Wide Receivers