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April 15, 2014

Five to Follow: Backfield

The 2015 recruiting cycle is in full swing and Florida currently sits with six public commitments. The next big event on the calendar as far as prospects are concerned is the spring evaluation period, which runs mid April through the end of May. This week Inside the Gators will unveil a position-by-position look at the top pre-spring targets in our Five to Follow series.

Up today are the running backs.

With Matt Jones, Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane and Brandon Powell remaining on the roster after this coming season, Florida isn't hurting depth wise at running back. However, after losing out on Dalvin Cook during the last recruitng cycle, the Gators are in need of a breakaway type of back.

Here are five pre-spring top tier prospects to watch at the position.

Inside the Gators' pre-spring top five lists are based on national ranking and of course whether or not Florida is showing interest at this time. One player having an offer this early doesn't necessarily mean he will be a higher priority throughout the process. Therefore it doesn't mean he will be rated higher on our list. What you see here is solely the opinion of the staff of Inside the Gators and does not represent the opinion of the University of Florida or anyone associated with the Gator program.

Chandler Cox | Apopka (Fla.) | 6-foot-2, 220-pounds

What was Said: "I have seen the facilities and all that before," said Cox. "I got a chance to go to the broadcasting area because that is what I want to study in college. To see that and for them to care about what I want to do in college and to make sure I get over there was something special to me. That's something I really loved about today (Saturday)."

Related: Cox has no favorites

Competition: Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The Skinny: Early on Cox seemed like a slam-dunk to the Florida Gators. Fast-forward after a few visits out of state and a few other programs have also worked themselves into the conversation. Cox grew up a fan of Florida and has visited UF many times in the past already and the Gators are still one of his top schools.

Damien Harris | Berea (KY) Madison Southern | 5-foot-11, 205-pounds

What was Said: "I'm going to wait until National Signing Day," Harris said. "I already made a decision and backed out of it once so why rush it. Why not take all the time that you need so that you can make one hundred percent sure. The decision is hard enough in itself and having a time period where you have to make a decision makes it even harder so why not, maximize all that time, use all five visits, and talk to coaches before making a decision, so I'll wait as long as possible."

Related: 10 schools in the mix for Harris

Competition: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Southern Cal.

The Skinny: The Gators are one of a few schools being talked about when it comes to the nation's top running back. He visited UF last month while down in the Sunshine State and came away highly impressed with the Gators. Currently the former Michigan commit has 10 schools sticking out and is no hurry to make another decision. The Gators have done a great job with Harris so far, but there's still a long way to go and are by no means the favorite.

Watch video highlights of Harris by clicking here.

Ray Ray McCloud III | Tampa (Fla.) Sickles | 5-foot-10, 180-pounds

What was Said: "It's wide open right now," McCloud said in regards to his recruitment, "but I'm narrowing everything down, visiting schools, and just taking it from there. I haven't thought right now of which schools are in the picture. I'm going to visit the schools and narrow it down from there."

Related: Four-star visits Florida again

Competition: Clemson and Florida State.

The Skinny: McCloud honestly could have just as easily been put on the list as a wide out or cornerback - he is that good of an athlete and plays many different positions on the field. Florida made a big move for this Rivals250 athlete this spring after hosting him on campus three times. There is no timetable for a commitment at this time, but Florida is absolutely a big player here, if not the team to beat.

Watch video highlights of McCloud III by clicking here.

Jacques Patrick | Orlando (Fla.) Timber Creek | 6-foot-2, 232-pounds

What was Said: "I am going to narrow it down to five over the summer," said Patrick. "I know that Florida State will definitely make the cut."

Related: RCS Orlando: Patrick talks top 10

Competition: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee and Central Florida.

The Skinny: If it seems like Patrick has been around forever it is because Florida offered him back when he was a freshman and Gainesville is a place he's visited countless times in the past. Florida State has been the heavy favorite for a while now, though he's never named them as his leader. Florida can absolutely make a push if the Gators make Patrick a priority and the offense shows improvement on the field this coming season.

Watch video highlights of Patrick by clicking here.

T.J. Simmons | Lakeland (Fla.) Lakeland Christian | 6-foot, 195-pounds

What was Said: "Ohio State, Clemson, and the University of Florida are sticking out the most, but who knows who will come in during the spring," said Simmons of his early top three. "I have a great relationship with a lot of those coaches at those schools. Those schools have been recruiting me for a long time and I am close with those coaches."

Related: Rivals250 back has three standouts

Competition: Clemson, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.

The Skinny: Simmons is only about two hours away from Gainesville and he's made the trip to UF countless times already. The new look Florida offense is something Simmons fits into perfectly and he is well aware of that. This Rivals250 back has a strong chance of ending up a Gator if Florida wants him badly enough.

Watch video highlights of Simmons by clicking here.


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