The Florida Gators will be adding plenty of talent by way of the 2021 recruiting class this season, but their biggest prize will likely come via the transfer portal in running back Demarkcus Bowman, a transfer from the University of Clemson last season.
Bowman, 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, originally signed with Clemson as a part of the 2020 recruiting class. While he did attend the school for several weeks, playing in two games, accounting for 36 yards on nine carries.
After a couple of months at Clemson, however, Bowman opted to transfer out of the university, citing personal reasons and wanting to be closer to family.
"The only reason I came to Clemson is so my mother's dad could watch me play," Bowman told David Hood of TigerNet in October. "He stayed in Atlanta, but he passed away and that really hurt me. He was my closest family to me up there and I just didn't feel comfortable anymore. I just want to go to a school closer to home."
During his recruitment, Bowman was viewed as one of the top running backs in the country. A consensus five-star recruit out of Lakeland (Fla.), Bowman was the 20th-best player in the nation, and the 391st-best recruit all time. Simply put, he's a stud.
Now, after heavily recruited the do-it-all running back during this past cycle, Florida finally gets its man, and what he will bring to Florida this upcoming season will certainly be nothing short of miraculous.
The Five Play Prospect series, which we began on AllGators last year, breaks down five clips of each enrolled prospect's high school film, to paint a picture of the strengths in their game and what they can continue to develop at Florida.
Here, we will break down five segments and plays from Bowman's senior season at Lakeland to illustrate what he could bring to the Gators program.
While not the most pointed-out trait about Bowman's game, it certainly is present within the majority of his highlights. Bowman is able to use his strength to effortlessly break arm tackles and shift in and out of traffic with ease.
In the above clip, Bowman does a great job of not only finding his outlet but exploding out of the hole as he sees it.
Once there, a defender attempts to go low, arm tackling the running back, but he evades it with ease, causing the defender to bounce right off. A second attempt by another defender is fruitless, too as Bowman spins away from the tackle, eventually running along the sideline for a Lakeland touchdown.
Another aspect of Bowman's game that is shown in the above clip is his lateral quickness. Not only is he able to keep his balance as the defender attempts to cut out his legs from under him, but he is also able to use his lateral quickness to evade another defender.
Possessing the ability to break tackles at the line of scrimmage and beyond will become very useful in the coming years, and Bowman certainly has a knack for doing so.
Perhaps the most talked-about aspect of Bowman's game is his speed, but particularly his long speed. Bowman shows off his speed in the majority of his highlights and it is easily the most "fun" part of his game.
In the above clip, Bowman shows off his vision from the onset of the play and hits the hole with swiftness, able to outrun the entire defense on the way to the end zone.
During his recruitment and his short stint at Clemson, Bowman was often compared to former Clemson and Buffalo Bills running back CJ Spiller. Spiller was known for his long speed, and Bowman certainly compares to him greatly in that respect.
While he is able to showcase his long speed quite often, in order to get to that point in the open field Bowman must be patient at the line of scrimmage, and he showcased plenty of that during his senior season at Lakeland.
In the above clip, Bowman appears to be caught dead to rights behind the line of scrimmage, but he stays behind his blockers until an outlet is made available, giving him the time he needs to get up the field. This sort of patience and vision is rare for a young running back to possess.
Oftentimes, a fast and powerful back will simply attempt to bulldoze his way into an already-filled hole. Bowman also again shows his skills to juke players out of their shoes for good measure as he is attempting to reach the end zone.
While Bowman certainly has the ability to be a patient, dance-around-the-line running back, he also possesses the ability to be a one-cut-and-go running back, too. In the above clip Bowman showcases that ability to a T, able to quickly see the hole upon receiving the handoff, and bursts through with plenty of explosion.
After getting through the hole, there's no more stopping him. Bowman is off, utilizing his aforementioned long speed to outrun the competition on the way to the end zone.
The final trait a program needs to see out of its star running back is his ability to catch passes. Bowman didn't often showcase this ability while at Lakeland, but he did on occasion and coaches have seen him in action since while at Clemson during practice and other offseason activities.
The above clip, however, illustrates what Bowman could bring out of the backfield and as a receiver. While he was left completely open by the opposing defense, his ability to track the ball over his shoulder with genuine ease is comforting to programs looking to field him.
During his time at Florida, he will certainly be asked to catch passes out of the backfield, becoming a true three-down back at the collegiate level.
In just his final three seasons at Lakeland, Bowman put up gaudy numbers, accounting for 5,172 rushing yards on 460 carries (11.2 rushing YPA), while achieving 71 total touchdowns (70 rushing touchdowns). His numbers would have any coaches turning their heads, which is why he was so heavily recruited in the first place.
Bowman fits with Florida perfectly, and he will likely be expected to play sooner rather than later as the program shifts its gears towards a more run-game heavy offense following the departure of quarterback Kyle Trask and the arrival of rising redshirt junior Emory Jones, a dual-threat quarterback.
It is unclear what running backs will be returning to Florida, however. Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis carried the load for the majority of the season, the latter running back used as more of a pass-catcher than a true running back, and Nay'Quan Wright will certainly remain in the mix.
The Gators' backfield could also feature another former five-star prospect in Lorenzo Lingard, who was granted eligibility last season, but played sparingly, if at all, during the season while he learned the Florida playbook.
In all, Bowman will add a workhorse type of running back to the Gators' backfield, likely giving them one of the best running games in the SEC.