After officially becoming immediately eligible to play yesterday, transfer Florida Gators running back Lorenzo Lingard, formerly of the Miami Hurricanes, is poised to make a serious impact on not only the Gators offensive backfield this season, but the offense as a whole.
A five-star running back out of University High School (Orange City, Fla.), Lingard was set to make an impact with the Hurricanes after signing with the team following his recruitment in 2018. However, due to an unforeseen injury during his freshman season, Lingard was unable to make much of an impact.
During the following season, Lingard was still recovering from a torn MCL suffered during his freshman season and was ultimately redshirted, appearing in only two game before the Hurricanes' coaching staff decided it would be best to sit their star running back, saving him a year of eligibility.
In all, Lingard accumulated 17 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns in his time at Miami.
For the Gators, their running back depth chart has been a point of contention entering the year. For starters, the team lost running back Lamical Perine to the NFL earlier this year, a four-year starter at the running back position who arguably set the tone for the Gators offense for much of the season.
While the team wasn't able to effectively run the ball last season much, Perine still gave the team a chance with the opportunities presented to him.
Now, the team will need to adjust their depth chart, especially with Lingard squarely in the fold now. While rising junior running back Dameon Pierce is the unquestioned starting running back at the moment, the team will need to adjust in order to fill out the depth - or lack thereof.
Last season, the Gators' backfield was dominated by Perine. Behind him, however, left much to be desired. Between backup running backs Pierce, Malik Davis, Iverson Clement and Nay'Quan Wright, the four combined for 103 rushing attempts and 445 yards while adding five touchdowns on the ground.
For context, Perine accounted for 132 carries for 676 yards and six touchdowns on his own. With a revamped offensive line and Lingard, those issues should be resolved.
The former five-star running back was one of the most explosive players in the nation less than three short years ago, making plays from all areas of the field coming out of high school and reportedly ran a 4.27 40-yard dash during his freshman season at Miami.
Offering great speed and elusiveness and a skill-set that should benefit the passing game, Lingard could see action in the Gators' gameplan rather quickly. Last season, the Gators saw first hand how important having a running back that can catch the ball is with Perine accounting for 40 receptions for 262 yards and five touchdowns on the year in 2019.
As Pierce is more of a physical, down-hill runner, Florida will find a way to allow the two backs to complement each other.
Lingard is extraordinarily fast, however, he is no one-trick pony. Along with speed, Lingard possesses fantastic power at 6-foot-0, 201-pounds, he has the ability to run through players if needed. This will allow the Gators to use the running back position in multiple situations - on all three downs, and within the red zone.
Ultimately, while the opening-day depth chart could still include Peirce at the top, there is an argument to be made that, while he is expected to make more of an impact this year, Malik Davis could take a backseat, or at the very least a co-backup position with Lingard.
Lingard will be able to supply the Gators with another competent player in the backfield, one, they hope, will become a big-time playmaker in the Orange and Blue for years to come.