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Chomping at Bits: Florida's diverse running backs compete for starting job

The Gators have several running backs vying to replace Kelvin Taylor.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Florida has diverse options at running back: The Gators return sophomores Jordan Scarlett, Jordan Cronkrite, and fifth-year senior and former walk-on Mark Herndon. But the running back getting the most attention might be early enrollee and Dodge City Community College transfer Mark Thompson. Thompson is a "big dude," in the words of fellow running back Jordan Scarlett, and has had teammates jokingly ask him if he is supposed to be a linebacker. At 6-foot-2 and 242 pounds, Thompson is at least three inches taller and 29 pounds heavier than the next member of the Gators' backfield. The sophomore Jordans will figure heavily in the competition as well. Jordan Scarlett averaged more than five yards per carry in his limited playing time last season while Jordan Cronkrite was the second most productive running back on the team behind Kelvin Taylor. Cronkrite is presently getting the majority of first team reps. Herndon, the smallest of the group, has been praised by coaches for his work ethic. (Chris Harry, Florida GatorsIan Cohen, Independent Florida AlligatorJesse Simonton, Miami Herald)

Spring practice notes and video: Florida held an open practice yesterday. (Zach Abolverdi, SEC Country)

Austin Appleby glad for opportunity with Gators: The fifth-year senior Purdue transfer is enjoying the warm Florida weather and learning from head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Appleby believes being the most experienced of Florida's quarterbacks makes him a valuable addition to the team. Appleby of course wants to play for the Gators and win the starting job. He realizes some of the mistakes he made at Purdue, including forcing passes and trying to overcompensate for a Purdue defense ranked 111th out of 128 FBS teams. Appleby notes the difference in players at Florida, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. (Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel; Graham Hack, Independent Florida AlligatorZach Abolverdi, SEC Country)

Freshman linebacker David Reese expected to contribute early: With the Gators' lack of depth at linebacker, Reese needs to be ready to play in the fall. Reese is the only healthy true middle linebacker available for spring practice. Senior outside linebacker Jarrad Davis has taken Reese under his wing. (Robbie Andreu, Gainesville Sun)

Florida track and field hosting Pepsi Relays this weekend: It's the first home meet of the season for the Gators. In addition to the collegiate competition, the meet will host eight men's teams and ten women's teams ranked in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings, numerous professional clubs, past Olympians and World Champions, and Olympic hopefuls from around the world. (Lauren Staff, Independent Florida AlligatorZach Dirlam, Florida Gators)

Former Gators' basketball coach Lon Kruger in Final Four: Kruger took a Florida team with few marquee recruits to the Final Four in 1994. A recap of Kruger's time with the Gators and his reputation as a nice guy sees him being called arguably America's 'most under-appreciated college basketball coach.' (David Whitley, Orlando Sentinel)

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