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Florida running back Adam Lane to transfer due to "family issues"

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The offensive hero of the Gators' Birmingham Bowl victory will seek greener pastures.

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Florida running back Adam Lane has asked for and received a release from his scholarship, according to GatorZone.

Jim McElwain issued a statement on Lane's transfer:

"Adam Lane has some family issues that he is dealing with and wants to be closer to home," McElwain said. "As you've heard me say many times family comes first in this program and we will grant him his release and we will do everything we can do to help him."

Taking McElwain's statement at face value, we can obviously feel for Lane in a time of stress. But Lane is from Winter Haven in Polk County, just two hours from Gainesville, and the only FBS schools closer to Winter Haven are UCF and USF, each just about an hour away; only those destinations that would make logical sense if continuing to play football at the FBS level and proximity to home are Lane's twin considerations.

Lane had also dealt with at least one family issue before: He missed Florida's true 2014 opener against Eastern Michigan, with Will Muschamp explaining after the game that Lane had a family issue that Muschamp urged the running back to return to Winter Haven to resolve.

While there's nothing to suggest Lane wouldn't have had a role in Florida's offense in 2015 — especially after he ran for 109 yards and a touchdown in Florida's 28-20 Birmingham Bowl victory this January, earning MVP honors — he was likely a distant second on the Gators' depth chart entering this fall, thanks in part to an injury that limited him this spring. With a newly rededicated Kelvin Taylor as Florida's presumed starter and talented freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite breathing down Lane's back, any visions of being more than the Gators' No. 2 runner were likely folly.

And it's entirely possible that Lane just missed his window to contribute meaningfully in Gainesville. Though he told reporters this spring that he didn't intend to transfer, and was excited to contribute to McElwain's program, Lane never really broke through under Muschamp, despite being the first player in the 2013 recruiting cycle to commit to the Gators (perhaps to the program's detriment); a series of injuries forced him to redshirt in 2013, and inexperience related to that loss of a year helped keep him well behind Matt Jones and Taylor in the pecking order.

As a punishing, diminutive runner often likened to Maurice Jones-Drew, Lane seemed to fit Muschamp's run-heavy offensive ethos better than McElwain's more versatile attack — but exactly two-thirds of his carries as a Gator came in Florida's bowl game last season, after Muschamp's departure.

Of course, as he goes, Lane will also be remembered for the amusingly crappy fate that befell him in that Birmingham Bowl, as he was caught on camera with pants stained brown after a touchdown drive. While Lane embraced the incident with a remarkable sense of humor, calling it "the best thing that could have happened" in regards to getting his name out in March, there's little doubt that the scatological fact of his performance in that game outweighed his statistical contribution for most — and because that was his finest game as a Gator, Lane will leave Florida known better as "the guy who pooped his pants during a game" than as a running back who had one strong game or a young man cited for leaving a bowling alley without settling his tab.

A player who can handle that sort of purported public embarrassment in stride, though, is one worth rooting for — and we wish Lane the best in his future endeavors.

Lane's departure leaves Florida with just three recruited scholarship running backs, though walk-on Mark Herndon earned a scholarship in 2013 and likely still does today. And it probably means that Taylor's role, and the role of whichever freshman steps up to back him up, will be larger than expected this fall.