Florida's depth at running back took a hit Tuesday.
After missing all of spring practice due to arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in January, true freshman running back Michael Blakely has decided to transfer.
"Mike has come to the conclusion that the University of Florida is not where he wants to play football," coach Will Muschamp announced Tuesday. "We wish him the best of luck."
Blakely is the third freshman, and second true freshman, to transfer from Florida this spring.
Blakely, who committed to the Gators while former coach Urban Meyer was in charge, is more of a spread offense running back, but ended up signing with Florida, despite knowing that a new pro-style offense would be installed this spring.
The 5-foot-9, 198-pound back was ranked the No. 7 running back coming out of high school by ESPN.com and ranked 74th in the ESPNU 150. As a junior, Blakely carried the ball 189 times for 1,323 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 313 yards and two more scores.
Blakely fit Meyer's spread, but it seems he wasn't ready for Charlie Weis' pro-style, even though he never really gave the offense a shot. Blakely missed all of spring recovering from shoulder surgery and wasn't able to work into the flow of the offense.
By all accounts, he reported to practices, but it appears he didn't feel as though he fit into Florida's new offensive philosophy.
“Everyone at Florida has been very supportive of me in my time here and I'm thankful for the experience that I had, but I've made a decision to continue my college football career somewhere else,'' Blakely said in a statement.
It's unknown where Blakely will transfer to, but if he decides to immediately go to a Football Bowl Division school, he'll have to sit out a year, per NCAA rules. There's also the idea that he could transfer to a junior college and return to the FBS afterward.
Keep an eye on Auburn here. Blakely was very close to committing to the Tigers before he chose Florida last fall.
So how much does Blakely's absence hurt Florida's running back situation? It certainly doesn't help, but Florida has more than enough bodies to throw out onto the field. However, there is uncertainty with a couple players.
Seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps will be the primary running backs, but for Florida to generate a power running game, bigger backs Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown have to return from their spring injuries and contribute this fall. Gillislee was bothered by a stress fracture, while Brown broke his fibula. Both are expected to make full recoveries by the start of fall camp.
Where Blakely would have fit into the mix is a bit of a mystery. According to sources close to Florida, Blakely never really bought into the idea of playing in a pro-style offense once he saw what the offense could potentially look like on the field. That's not a very good attitude to have if you can't even get out and participate.
If Blakely wasn't invested in how things were going at Florida, this moves benefits both parties.
Florida will enter next season with two running backs in Gillislee and Brown. The Gators will also welcome freshmen Matt Jones and Mike Davis, who were both recruited by and committed to Muschamp. That will give Muschamp four running backs that suit his offense.