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Former Clemson RB Demarkcus Bowman to transfer to Florida, per reports

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The great white whale of Florida’s 2020 recruiting class will be a Gator after all.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former Clemson Tigers freshman Demarkcus Bowman will join the Florida Gators via transfer, according to reports from Gators Territory and 247Sports.

Bowman entered the transfer portal earlier this week, and was considered a near lock to ultimately transfer to Florida. That he has done so just days after entering the portal is the surprise here — along with the news breaking during Florida’s game against South Carolina — rather than the decision itself.

And for Florida, it’s a coup to celebrate.

Bowman was one of the most celebrated recruits in the Class of 2020, finishing the cycle as the nation’s No. 20 player overall and No. 3 running back per the 247Sports Composite rankings, and his commitment to Clemson over Florida was considered a significant loss for the Gators at the time. It would remain maybe the sore spot of Florida’s recruiting efforts last cycle, too, as Florida continued to pursue Bowman — a star at Lakeland High School, where the Gators have had both historic and recent success finding elite talent — despite the extreme difficulty of prying Clemson recruits from the Tigers’ clutches in recent memory, failed to sway him, and ended up with no high school running backs in its still-stellar recruiting class.

But Florida has since restocked its running back room via the transfer portal, first landing former five-star Lorenzo Lingard after his departure from Miami and now bringing in Bowman. (The sad commonality between both players, though, is heartache in their families: Lingard’s decision to enter the transfer portal was driven in part by a desire to be closer to his father, who is on dialysis and dealing with other health problems; Bowman is transferring after the death of his Atlanta-based grandfather, who was the family member physically closest to him in South Carolina.)

Bowman played sparingly in Clemson’s first two games, accruing 32 yards on nine carriesm and it seems unlikely that Florida or Bowman will pursue an NCAA waiver that would theoretically allow him to play right away, even considering his documented reasons for transferring. But it bears mentioning both that the NCAA has been more lenient on transfers in 2020 than in years prior thanks to the all-encompassing chaos of the season and that Florida pursued a similar waiver for Georgia transfer Brenton Cox, Jr. a year ago after his transfer during fall camp — and, in the form of Dan Mullen, was publicly miffed about the lack of transparency regarding it.

If, as seems more likely, he simply waits until 2021 to suit up for the Gators, Bowman might still have a full four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA provisions for this season include the extension of a free year that does not count against eligibility to all college football players, meaning that Bowman could enjoy the best of both worlds in regards to his status as a college football player: No incrementing of college eligibility, but a year of progress that will still allow him to eventually enter the NFL Draft at the earliest possible juncture in 2023.