This running back is expected to be one of the SEC’s biggest impact transfers

·3 min read

With the passing of the one-time transfer rule, which allows players to transfer to new schools once without sitting out, college football has crossed the Rubicon. The transfer landscape resembles another round of recruiting or “free agency” as others have described it.

Last week, the SEC confirmed it will allow players transferring within the conference to play immediately, essentially opening the door for all new faces within the league to play in 2021.

One of those players is former Clemson running back Demarkcus Bowman. Florida heavily recruited the five-star Lakeland prospect coming out of high school, but he chose to sign with coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. After appearing in just two games and rushing the ball only nine times, Bowman entered the transfer portal and returned closer to home with UF.

He faces competition from an incredibly deep running back room, which features two upperclassmen, Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis; a redshirt sophomore who had a standout 2020 season, Nay’Quan Wright; and another former five-star transfer, Lorenzo Lingard, who saw just five attempts with the Gators in 2020.

Still, Bowman’s talent is undeniable, and it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t break through and get some opportunities. For this reason, CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee lists him as one of the SEC transfers expected to make the biggest impact in 2021.

The Gators couldn’t muster up much of a running game last year, but that is going to change in a big way in 2021 thanks to the presence of dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones, who’s a much different player than ex-Gators quarterback Kyle Trask. Bowman was the No. 20 overall player and third-ranked running back in the Class of 2020, but didn’t see much playing time at Clemson behind star Travis Etienne. While there are experienced running backs in Gainesville like Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis, there hasn’t been a true No. 1 during any of coach Dan Mullen‘s three years leading the program.

Sallee is right that the run game has largely been an afterthought under Mullen, especially over the last two seasons. Florida found some success on the ground in 2018 but with deteriorating offensive line play and the emergence of Trask in 2019 and 2020, much of that dissipated.

That’s expected to change this year, as running the ball is a key part of Jones’ game. Florida will likely implement a lot more option looks this season, and that should benefit the running back group as a whole. It still needs to figure out issues along the offensive line, which has been disastrous at creating holes for the run game, but with the talent in the backfield, UF should see some improvement next season.

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