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Florida lands Miami transfer running back Lorenzo Lingard

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First you win the game, then you reap the spoils.

Florida International v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Florida Gators opened their 2019 season with a win over the Miami Hurricanes in Orlando. They’re opening the 2020 offseason by landing a Miami transfer from the Orlando area — and one who could be a big part of their offense going forward.

Former five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard announced his intentions to transfer to Florida via Instagram and Twitter on Friday, just under a week after reports suggested he was leaving Miami via transfer.

Lingard finished the 2018 cycle as a top-25 recruit, and began it as a primary target of the Jim McElwain-era Gators — before, that is, McElwain and Florida parted ways, leaving Dan Mullen to clean up that class. Hailing from Orange City in Volusia County, he was considered a player that Florida and Miami would battle for prior to his February 2017 commitment to the Hurricanes; Florida securing a commitment from Dameon Pierce, McElwain’s firing, and Mullen focusing on other priorities made Lingard an afterthought for Florida as of the Early Signing Period.

And Florida fans could be forgiven for forgetting — or not knowing about — Lingard altogether, as his Miami career was promising but pockmarked by injuries. As a freshman in 2018, he tallied 136 rushing yards on just 17 carries, scorching Savannah State for 82 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries, but did not play in the Hurricanes’ final six games; in 2019, while recovering from injury, Lingard appeared to meet all the conditions for a redshirt season he reportedly asked for, playing just a handful of snaps in a few games and never recording a carry or catch.

That redshirt season would have helped him stay in Miami’s plans for multiple years. Now, if it was truly certified as such, it could allow him to transfer to Florida and play right away, something that might also be possible through the NCAA waiver process.

If Lingard is not cleared to play right away, he should still have a minimum of two years of eligibility remaining, though he would also be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft by virtue of being three years removed from his high school graduation.

And Florida could use an instant-impact transfer at running back, where its depth chart at the moment would seem to consist of Pierce, a reliable backup who has yet to be put in a featured back role; Malik Davis, whose career appears to have been more or less sideswiped by multiple serious injuries; and Iverson Clement and Nay’Quan Wright, little-used youngsters. Lingard joins that group as by far the best-rated prospect as a high schooler — in fact, he would be Florida’s best-rated player since Martez Ivey, a top-10 prospect nationally — and could bring explosiveness and versatility to it.

Lingard is also just the latest big name to join Florida via transfer since Mullen’s arrival, joining wide receivers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes and defensive ends Jonathan Greenard and Brenton Cox. And if Lingard (and Cox, and Grimes) finish their collegiate careers with flourishes like the ones Jefferson and Greenard provided routinely in 2019, then Florida will be getting about as much value out of the transfer portal as any team in college football.