Florida may have missed on flipping Georgia Tech running back commit Jahmyr Gibbs, but the Gators simply went out and added someone better.
Former Miami Hurricane running back Lorenzo Lingard has announced his intentions to transfer to Florida on instagram. The former five star prospect played sparingly with the Canes, carrying the ball seventeen times for 136 yards, all in the first three games of the 2018 season. We can reasonably assume that his lack of playing time was a factor in his decision to enter the transfer portal earlier this week.
Next on the docket for Lingard will be the filing of his waiver claim to the NCAA for immediate eligibility. You never know how the NCAA will rule with these things, but since he seldom saw the field in 2019, I would think he’d have a slightly better chance than most. But if he doesn’t get it, Florida will still be in good hands at tailback with Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis back, as well as rising sophomores Iverson Clement and NayQuan Wright.
Here’s where things get interesting. Lingard has spent two years at Miami. But he only played in three games in 2018, which is one short of the NCAA mandated maximum of four in order to not burn a year of eligibility. Now, that four game rule only works once; you can’t play four games for an infinite number of years and keep getting extra years of eligibility. But Lingard also asked to redshirt in 2019, and though he did see the field for four snaps, he did not accumulate a single statistic. That means that one way or another, Lingard will have at least three years of eligibility in Gainesville, and in theory, potentially four years if the NCAA decides that neither his three game 2018 season nor his four snap 2019 season should count as a year of eligibility. It’s highly doubtful Lingard will stay four years if he’s as good as advertised- but the notion is not altogether impossible, either.
As for what Florida is getting? There’s a reason Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Georgia and Texas all wanted Lingard. It’s the same reason he was invited to the US Army All-American Bowl. He’s a strong downhill runner who can also make you miss in the open field, a combination that can be deadly with a competent offensive line to run behind. He boasts tremendous vision and toughness, and if he stays healthy, could jump up to a first round NFL Draft pick with a couple of strong seasons. Watch for yourself.
Lastly: credit to Greg Knox for landing him. Knox has taken a beating from Florida fans (myself included) for his various misses on the recruiting trail, but the bottom line is that as long as it’s done legally, the sequence of events that brings a talented player to Gainesville really, really doesn’t matter. Aside from his history of knee injuries, Florida landed precisely the same player they were seeking on the recruiting trail two years ago, and possibly with an added element of hunger to boot. So give Knox some credit.
And of course, Lorenzo: welcome to Gainesville.