Sophomore spotlight: Kelvin Taylor

After coming just 35 yards short of becoming the first freshman to lead Florida in rushing yards since his father did, Kelvin Taylor is poised to take the lead of a deep running back group.

Taylor’s career got off to a slow start. He carried the ball five times in the season opener but saw just one carry over the next month. He got his break when Matt Jones went down for the season in Baton Rouge and from that point on averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry, while leading the team in carries over the last seven games as well. That performance earned Taylor a nod on the coaches’ Freshmen All-SEC team.

2013 Season Stats: 111 carries, 508 yards, 4 TD, 5 receptions, 37 yards

With Matt Jones still on the mend following knee surgery, Taylor has emerged ahead of the other running backs. The Gator legacy was Florida’s most effective runner last season but only carried the ball 20 times in a game on three occasions. Taylor’s yards-per-carry were actually higher (over 5 ypc) against AP Top-25 teams, showing that Taylor can be productive against top-tier competition.

Now, something that could hold Taylor back is Roper’s penchant for rotating running backs. No back had more than 120 carries at Duke while Roper was the offensive coordinator. Taylor is, undoubtedly, the most talented tailback that Roper has ever coached, so that philosophy might change. Taylor is used to being a workhorse; he was the focal point of the offense at Glades Day High School starting as an eighth grader.

Taylor can carry the load and Roper is likely to give him the lion’s share of reps this season.

But what about the new offense, you ask? Won’t switching to a spread offense hurt the running game?

Just the opposite, in fact.

Spreading the field will open running lanes for Taylor and the rest of the running backs. Rolling out in three and four receiver sets forces the defense outside the hashes, leaving open space between the tackles. Look at the season that Tre Mason had for Gus Malzahn’s Auburn attack last year. Mason led the Tigers to a SEC title, a berth in the national championship game and himself a seat at the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Spread offense does not mean you can’t be a physical running team. Taylor will give Florida the bite they need at running back and if he continues to improve and play his best games against Florida’s toughest opponents like he did as a freshman, he might end up getting his own invitation to New York for a certain award ceremony.

2013 Highlights:

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. Anything is possible. Taylor could have a breakout season and UF could pull an Auburn. I would think that Driskel is a better passer than Marshall, if he could be half the running threat that Marxhall is, that could open up things for Taylor. The key is whether UF can block anybody. There’s not one guy on the offensive line that has been close to being a good player yet. Even the most reliable of them, Garcia, was beaten badly last year. If they can block, maybe UF can return to Atlanta.

    • Really! You don’t think Green has shown that he is a top SEC lineman? Hump would have had a better year, last year, had he not played with a painful injury. Garcia played very well, as did Brown. Brown played Tackle and as he gained experience, he got better. He is better suited at Guard and I see him having a good year, inside. Moore will do very well at Guard as well. We have a very good lineup, if they can stay healthy and make it through camp, increasing their time as a unit.

  2. Kelvin looked faster, in the Spring. He’s a very instinctive runner, knowing when to make certain cuts and how to use his vision. I can’t wait to see what he does, this year, behind an improved OL and in a better scheme, with much better coaching. I predict that he will hit the 1,500 yard mark and will have many YAC’s! Lane will give us a nice 1-2 punch, as well.

  3. Gig Gator, No I don’t think Green is a top lineman. He showed great promise his freshman year, but has regressed since then. I don’t care why Humphries hasn’t played well, the fact is that he hasn’t. Moore was the object of derision because he was terrible. Garcia was very bad at tackle, he played matador to defensive ends. Maybe that’s because he was not playing his position, now he’s playing another position, center, that he’s never played before. I have no idea if Brown can play guard or not, so we’ll have to see. I do believe there’s a reason that you don’t see guys his height playing on the interior of the line. It’s because it’s much harder for a very tall person to get low enough, on the interior of the line the low man wins. None of these guys have even sniffed at being an All-SEC player. Auburn had a great offensive line, how many were All-SEC? I’d like to share your enthusiasm, but I like to have realistic expectations, and so far, there is not one offensive lineman on UF that has shown me that he’s going to become a great player. Maybe I’m wrong, Missouri certainly did well with their line last year, I don’t know if they had any great players on the line or not. Maybe someone else knows.