Tim Skipper’s phone rang and the voice on the other end of the phone was familiar. The Rams had been blown out by Utah in their bowl game 45-10 and this was the call that Skipper had been hoping for; Jim McElwain wanted Skipper to join him and help rebuild the Florida Gators.
“In fact, I don’t even know if he told me I was coaching running backs. He told me I had a job here, and I came,” Skipper said. “No hesitation, to answer your question. I don’t even know when that came up in the conversation. I found out when I got here.”
When McElwain took the head-coaching job at Florida, the rest of the Colorado State staff was left in uncertainty. They didn’t know who the Rams next head coach would be or if their former boss would want to bring them with him to Gainesville. Skipper — who has spent time coaching on both sides of the ball — was the only coach to get the call from Mac.
“Coach Mac kind of calls me that handy man,” Skipper said. “If the toilet’s broke, he’s going to call me. If he’s got something going on, he’s going to call me.”
Skipper was excited to get the call and enthusiastic to get going as soon as his plane touched down in Gainesville, even if he didn’t know what position he was coaching. “I think the school sells itself, the community, everybody here, the tradition, it really does,” he said. “That orange and blue means something.”
Finding out that he would be coaching running backs only stoked that excitement more.
The Gators will return Kelvin Taylor, who finished second on the team in carries (116) and yards (565). There’s also talented freshman Brandon Powell, who’s a versatile back that can be used at receiver as well. Adam Lane made the most of his biggest opportunity in the Birmingham Bowl, carrying the ball 16 times for 109 yards and a touchdown on his way to being named the MVP of the game.
“We’ve kind of got a little combination of thunder and lightning,” he said “You got Adam Lane in there, you got Kelvin Taylor and you got Brandon Powell, who brings a lot to the table. So it’s going to be fun.”
Skipper spent the past two seasons coaching linebackers for McElwain at Colorado State but Mac isn’t worried about Skipper making the transition back to the offensive side of the ball. Skipper has a long history coaching running backs that includes teaching Ryan Matthews at Fresno State and his father has served more than 30 years coaching the position in the NFL.
“He’s a guy I felt could coach any position because of his background. You wanna talk about a guy that does a great job of developing young men. That’s a key.”
Before Skipper gets his hands on the “thunder and lightning” backs that he has on the roster he’ll need to recruit. Early Thursday morning he was in the home of current Miami commit Jordan Scarlett. Scarlett is thunder and lightning all in one and the main running back the Gators are trying to secure this recruiting cycle.
There are 19 days until national signing day and Skipper is already working to make his mark as the Gators’ new hot recruiter. After signing day, he’ll take over the position that has the most talent ton the offensive side of the ball and he’s more than ready for the opportunity and the challenge.