Montrell Johnson Jr.
Florida running back Montrell Johnson Jr. (2) runs up the field against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

“Ray Charles can see those guys had production” coach Jabbar Juluke talks running backs; Anthony Richardson Makes Surprise Appearance

Thursday, Gator football participated in their third spring practice as they close in on their annual Orange and Blue game.  A competitive period between O-line and D-line caught the attention of many. Since camp started coach Billy Napier emphasized the need to compete and there no better way to get your hands dirty than battling in the trenches.

Kentucky transfer Kiyaunta Goodwin and junior Princely Umanmielen highlighted the battle with an impressive rep by both individuals.

However, as the Gators continue to figure out rotations between both position groups, there is one group that looks the most promising heading into the 2023 season.

Luckily, Florida will bring back one of the most productive running back rooms in the country. Running back coach Jabbar Juluke says he is pleased in the progress in what he is seeing thus far.

The second-year assistant is looking forward to see the continued growth not just on the field but off it as well.

Florida Gators Running Game Reloads

Juluke and the Gators will look to take advantage of one their biggest bright spot from a season ago, the running game. However, they will introduce four new starters on the offensive line.

Fortunately, coach Rob Sale said earlier this week that “five equals one” as getting those three hundred pound lineman downhill will speed up chemistry and continuity.

This means junior running back Montrell Johnson Jr. and sophomore Trevor Etienne will look to continue to be key components in Napier’s offense. With a year under their belt, Juluke said he feels the duo will take more of a leadership role this season; a task Johnson will not shy away from.

Johnson and Etienne returns to Florida’s backfield after combining for 1,560 rushing yards and 16 rushing scores. The two standouts accounted for the majority of the teams’ rushing attack.

While, the Gators finished top three in the SEC in rushing offense last season. Johnson and Etienne helped the Florida running attack lead the conference in rushing yards per attempt.

Yet, Florida will be integrating new talent to add depth just in case Etienne or Johnson needs a breather. Especially, with the departure of Nay’Quan Wright and Lorenzo Lingard.

Now, graduate senior transfer Cameron Carrol and incoming freshman Treyaun Webb are primed to fill those roles. Cameron wore a non contact jersey during Thursday practice and Juluke said he has accepted the challenge to compete.

Juluke continued to mention the former Tulane transfer will add experience and leadership to the roster.  As to Webb’s transition thus far into the team, Juluke said he has been impressed with the youngster’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Anthony Richardson Surprises the Media

One of the highlighting moments during Thursday’s practice was to see none other than former Gator quarterback and NFL prospect Anthony Richardson make a surprising entrance.

Richardson quietly entered Florida’s press conference in the midst of Johnson’s media availability. Johnson tried his best to answer questions before being overwhelmed with laughter. Richardson observed and waited until the last moment to ask Johnson the question we have all been waiting for.

How does it feel to be one of the best running backs in the nation?

Johnson response was nothing short of what you expect a Gator leading rusher would say.

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