JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Backing up comments from new Florida running backs coach Greg Knox last week, head coach Dan Mullen said Monday he thinks talented young rusher Malik Davis can potentially be in the mix in 2018 after sustaining a serious season-ending knee injury as a freshman.
“I think so. I think his surgeries and rehabs have gone well. It’s certainly not something we’re going to push,” Mullen said. “But I think he’s coming along very nicely. Obviously, it is something we probably wouldn’t consider to even start evaluating until we get into August and see where he’s at.”
Specifics of Davis’ injury were never released, and his family has declined to speak about his recovery process out of respect for the running back’s privacy.
So it has been unclear what kind of timeframe he’s facing for recovery and a return to the field.
Davis rushed for 526 yards and 2 touchdowns on a team-leading 6.7 yards per carry prior to the injury.
He had five straight games of at least 90 rushing yards, and his average in those games (99.6 YPG) had him on pace to become the first Florida freshman to lead the team in rushing since Fred Taylor in 1994 and the first Gators back to rush for 1,000 yards in his first college season since Emmitt Smith in 1987.
Florida will have ample depth at the position with 2016 starter Jordan Scarlett back from suspension, junior Lamical Perine returning with two seasons of significant experience and a group of intriguing young rushers in sophomore Adarius Lemons and 4-star freshmen Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement.
But Davis was one of the few highlights on offense for the Gators last season, and Mullen acknowledged the potential he sees in the rusher.
“Pretty explosive player. Got speed, got explosiveness and can make things happen. I like playmakers,” Mullen said. “If we’re going to put the ball in your hands, No. 1, you better take care of it, and No. 2, you need to do something special with it. He’s a guy that can hopefully do both for us.”
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