Florida Gators sophomore running backs Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite are quite impressive in person. At 5-10, 195 pounds and 5-11, 205 pounds respectively, the two sophomore running backs look the part of a SEC running back, yet they’re overshadowed by the new guy in town, who’s shadow might literally be able to cover both of his running mates.
Mark Thompson, a junior college transfer from Dodge City CC in Kansas, towers over the running backs he’s competing with in spring practice. Listed at 6-2, 228 pounds, Thompson has actually bulked up to around 240 pounds since arriving on campus in January.
When asked if there’s a running back that Thompson’s size could compare to, senior linebacker Jarrad Davis could only think of one, former Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who David faced twice in his career, most recently in the SEC Championship game.
“That’s an SEC back, right there,” Jim McElwain said of Thompson. “He looks the part. Now we’ll find out when we get pads on.”
Thompson has experience. He carried the ball 268 times for 1,298 yards and 18 touchdowns (tied for third most in the NJCAA) in 2015. More importantly, Thompson arrived in Gainesville focused and hungry.
“I like the way he carries himself around the building,” Davis said of Thompson. “I like how he works out and he kind of reminds me of myself a little bit, like I’m looking in the mirror. That guy, I feel like he’s going to be special.”
Thompson looks impressive on the field. Without pads, or “in underwear” as McElwain called it, Thompson was fluid going through drills and showed quick feet. He moves like a back much smaller than him but that size begs the question of what will happen when the pads come on.
“We’ll find out when we get pads on,” McElwain said Wednesday. “I did even notice today when he was hitting a couple inside zones and hitting a cutback, the guy that was kind of coming down questioned a little bit. He could see a little bigger body there.”
There will be players thinking twice when they see Thompson hit the hole, maybe even make a business decision when it comes to trying to tackle someone the size of smart car but you can bet that person won’t be Jarrad Davis, who’s already looking forward to his first collision with Thompson.
“I’m ready to put the pads on so I can see what it’s going to be like me vs. him,” Davis said eagerly. “If you wanna be the best you gotta beat the best. I’m not saying I’m the best but he could be the best so I wanna see what he can do and hopefully he can take me to another level and I’ll take him to another level.”