- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
No. 33 Mack Brown
Redshirt junior running back
Expectations for 2013: The coaching staff wants the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Brown to start living up to the hype that surrounded him when he signed in 2010 as the nation’s No. 4 running back and No. 34 overall player. Brown has been a disappointment in his three previous seasons, rushing for 171 yards on 40 carries, but he had a good spring and beat out highly-touted recruit Kelvin Taylor for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind starter Matt Jones. Jones and Brown are the only true tailbacks on the roster who have carried the ball in a game.
Best-case scenario in 2013: If Brown can hold off Taylor -- right now his edge is knowledge of the offense and pass protection -- then he can have a season in which he carries the ball 50-70 times as Jones’ backup. Brown is also a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield, and coordinator Brent Pease said he wanted to incorporate more of that element into the offense. Brown is not going to overtake Jones, but he is playing the best football of his career.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: There’s still a bit of uncertainty surrounding Brown because he has largely been invisible in his first three seasons. He admitted that he had a hard time dealing with a broken ankle he suffered as a redshirt freshman and it took him a while to recover mentally. Can he be trusted to handle the top spot behind Jones? He has shown on the practice field he’s up for it, but doing it during the season is another matter.
Future impact: Brown has one more season remaining after 2013 and has to continue to improve or he risks getting passed on the depth chart by Taylor and freshman Adam Lane in 2014. Carries could be hard to come by with so much talent in the backfield.
25mGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough