Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at RB Mike Gillislee
1,104 yards, 10 TDs; 15 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD
Role in 2012: Gillislee stepped in as Florida’s feature back and responded with the first 1,000-yard season by a Gators running back since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.
The good: The biggest concern was that Gillislee wouldn’t make it through the whole season healthy because he was bothered by a chronic ankle problem in 2010 and 2011. That turned out not to be an issue, but he did have minor groin and hamstring injuries and still played in every game. He was a tough inside runner who always managed to find a crease and get positive yards. He only lost 34 yards all season. Plus, he was at his best in big games, like LSU (146 yards, 2 TDs) and Florida State (140 yards, 2 TDs).
The bad: Hard to find much wrong with Gillislee’s performance. We’re nitpicking here, but he didn’t have very many long runs. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, which was the second-lowest among the SEC’s top 10 rushers, and his 235 carries were by far the most of the SEC’s top 15 rushers. He occasionally missed a hole, but that’s something that happens to all backs. There were also several games where he was a non-factor (Louisiana-Lafayette and Missouri).
Crystal ball: Nobody outside of Gainesville knew who Gillislee was before the 2012 season began. By the middle of the season, however, his stock had risen so much that Scouts, Inc.’s Todd McShay had Gillislee rated the 11th running back and projected him as a fourth-round pick. That’s after having him ranked as the No. 26 running back before the season began. Gillislee might not be a feature back in the NFL, but he’s good enough to be a second or third back in an NFL rotation.