When UF quarterback Kyle Trask handed the ball off to running back Jordan Scarlett at the 45-yard line, it appeared he was going to be tackled immediately.
But then he noticed an opening, a small hole just big enough for him to escape through. So he took it, and he kept running.
He saw nothing but open field in front of him as he raced up the sideline. He made it 27 yards before being pushed out of bounds by defensive back Shawn Davis.
Three plays later, Scarlett received the ball again. This time, he ran seven yards and stopped after crossing the goal line for the touchdown. It seemed as if the player that had been suspended before Florida’s season opener in 2017 for his alleged involvement in a credit card fraud scheme had never left.
Although his squad — the Blue team — lost to the Orange team on Saturday in UF’s annual spring game, Scarlett shined in his return to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“Overall I feel like I had a pretty good performance,” he said.
While he didn’t put up the numbers he usually does in games, with the glorified practice feel the spring game had, Scarlett’s numbers are still respectable.
The redshirt junior scored two touchdowns with 57 yards on 10 carries. He received the ball more and ran for more yards than any running back on the Gators’ roster. The only player to record more rushing yards was Orange team quarterback Feleipe Franks, whose stats were boosted by a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Scarlett’s other touchdown run came toward the end of the second quarter on a 1-yard run up the middle. After he scored, Scarlett and the Blue team players on the field sat in the end zone and played a small game of duck, duck, goose in celebration.
Before his suspension in 2017, Scarlett looked poised to take over as Florida’s leading running back, rushing for 889 yards and playing in all 13 games during the previous season.
Following that breakout campaign, the credit card scandal involving him and eight other teammates almost derailed all momentum the running back had, and his status on the team was left in the dark.
But after agreeing to be placed into a pre-trial intervention program, Scarlett was reinstated to the team in January by first-year coach Dan Mullen.
With a promising spring game now behind him, Scarlett is ready to get back on the field in a meaningful game and help increase Florida’s productivity in the backfield. With fellow running backs Adarius Lemons, Malik Davis and Lamical Perine all expected to contribute this season, having Scarlett back will help round out its rushing attack.
“It felt great being out there,” he said. “Getting back in the swing of things and getting a couple of carries for positive yards.”
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Running back Jordan Scarlett is expected to be the bell-cow back by our sports editors.