The Florida Gators have had their fair share of struggles when it comes to recruiting running backs in the past but have seemingly climbed over that hill in recent weeks.
Getting the ball rolling on July 30, the Gators received their first running back commit since the 2019 cycle – when Nay'Quan Wright announced he would continue his playing career in orange and blue – with Terrance Gibbs pledging to Florida. Adding a high ceiling ball carrier to the mix, coach Knox refused to stop there.
A few hours later, Florida would earn another commitment at the running back position when 2024 Gainesville prospect Jerrick Gibson announced his allegiance to the Gators during Florida's Friday Night Lights event at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Believing to have grabbed an elite prospect that has yet to reach his full potential at the high school level, Dan Mullen and company felt comfortable with their evaluations to target Gibson before he began to climb up recruiting boards.
Now, less than a month later, that climb has begun. On Wednesday, 247Sports released their rankings for the class of 2024 and tabbed Gibson as the No. 1 running back, the fourth-ranked player from Georgia and the 16th overall recruit the cycle has to offer.
Given his youth but relatively developed skillset, the four-stars ranking comes as little surprise for those who have seen the talented youngster operate in person.
Showcasing impressive agility in the open field, Gibson possesses light, quick feet that allow him to make opponents miss in the open field, both traits that Knox looks for in backs he targets. During the Elite Underclassman camp in Orlando, Gibson showcased polished route-running skills for a running back and was included as a top performer by SI All-American.
Continuing to impress during camps held at the University of Florida this offseason, Gibson received what he would coin his "dream offer" from the Gators on June 25 following a conversation with coach Knox.
“I was very happy. I was jumping up and down, finna jump out the roof. It still feels unreal, like I grew up watching this team, so it’s like a dream come true. I set goals for myself, and I’m doing it. I’m making my family proud and everything. It’s a blessing,” Gibson told AllGators in an exclusive interview following the offer.
As the 2021 season rapidly approaches, Gibson continues to display more elements of his skillset. While his elusiveness stands out in Gibson's talent, the sophomore ball carrier can do more than just run around defenders, also exemplifying an ability to run through contact with above-average power.
Fitting the mold of versatile backs that Knox has looked to stack the ball carrier room with since he arrived in Gainesville, Gibson's prowess as a receiving option slates him to be a dangerous all-purpose back that can play a substantial role on all three downs.
Despite Knox's misses in the past, his efforts to bring in elite backs continue, and his success rate starts to look up, with the nation's 16th best recruit being a foundational piece in the turnaround.
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