GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jordan Scarlett spent his freshman season learning the ropes from Florida junior running back Kelvin Taylor, now a rookie on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.
On Saturday, Scarlett surpassed Taylor’s sophomore production with a career-high game against South Carolina. Scarlett rushed for 134 yards in Florida’s 20-7 win over the Gamecocks.
“I didn’t realize I had a career high until I got into the locker room,” Scarlett said after the game.
Scarlett and Taylor were both highly-touted recruits and came to UF two years apart with high expectations. Taylor rushed for more than 500 yards as a freshman and sophomore before he became just the second Florida player since 2004 to have a 1,000-yard season.
Taylor’s success in 2015 relegated Scarlett to a reserve role, which was difficult for him to accept at first.
“Last year I felt like I was going to come in, be a big-time player and have 100-yard games all the time,” said Scarlett, who rushed for 181 yards as a freshman. “It was a humbling experience. Coach (Jim) McElwain taught me a lot. I got to learn a lot from KT.
“I got to see how KT fought against adversity with good defenses. This year, I’m feeling prepared. I just feel like it’s my time.”
Scarlett came into this season as part of four-man rotation and averaged 54.8 yards through the first five games. But he has rushed for 101, 93 and 134 yards in three of the last four games.
“I definitely feel like I’m over the hump of hoping and wishing for the big game,” said Scarlett, who leads the team with 617 rushing yards. “Now I’m just here to play ball. I hope the coaches see that in me too and we can go on this run that we’re about to go on.”
McElwain and the staff appear to be going away from the running back committee and giving Scarlett a larger workload. He had a career-high 26 carries against Georgia and received 20 carries Saturday against the Gamecocks.
“I believe that my coaches finally trust in me and they let me carry the game a little bit,” Scarlett said. “But I don’t want to get too complacent and start thinking I’m supposed to get all those carries every game.
“We got a lot of great backs behind me and I know how this rotation is, so I’m just here to play my part. When they give me that opportunity, I’m going to definitely take it.”
— Ashlyn Sullivan (@ashlynrsullivan) November 12, 2016