Florida Gators redshirt sophomore running back Adam Lane Jr., the most valuable player in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, has been granted a release by the program to transfer to another school due to a family issue.
“Adam Lane has some family issues that he is dealing with and wants to be closer to home,” head coach Jim McElwain said in a statement released by the school. “As you’ve heard me say many times, family comes first in this program and we will grant him his release and we will do everything we can do to help him.”
Lane had a career day in Florida’s final game of the 2014 campaign, taking 16 carries for 109 yards and his first career touchdown against East Carolina.
He had been waiting to play in the Gators’ offensive backfield for quite some time, taking a redshirt in 2013 and only seeing action on special teams until the eighth game of 2014. He got a total of eight carries as a reserve rusher in the regular season but made the most of his opportunity in the Birmingham Bowl. “It just built a bigger fire inside me and made me want to work harder. I took the opportunities that I did get and made the most of them,” he said.
Lane (5-foot-7, 226 pounds) has long been a Florida fan favorite due to his size and bowling-ball style; he was compared positively to Maurice Jones-Drew, though their running style was far from identical.
Speaking with the media this spring, Lane felt like he had finally made an impact on the Gators and found a spot where he could be effective with the team.
“At times you can get frustrated, but I knew that I could be patient and just play my role on the team and my opportunity would come eventually, and it did,” he said.
Lane even shrugged off jokes made at his expense after a brown streak was shown on the back of his white uniform pants during the game; he seemingly had an unfortunate accident he had while on the field. A Florida trainer quickly wrapped a towel around Lane, who went back to the locker room, changed his pants and reemerged to return to action.
“It was the best thing that could have happened. It got a lot of attention and just put me in a place where I was out there publicly and people knew who I was,” said Lane this spring. “I really didn’t get a lot of grief from it. A lot of people were really more focused on how well I did in the game than anything. I feel like it was that way because I embraced it.”
An undisclosed leg injury kept Lane out of some spring practices. He would have entered the season behind junior Kelvin Taylor while competing with freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite, both of whom are in line for potential playing time this season.
The Gators will now need Scarlett and Cronkrite to develop quickly. Florida wants to play three running backs in every game in 2015, and with Lane now off the team, the already-thin position has removed one of its layers.
The Gators may look to have sophomore Brandon Powell, a favorite of McElwain who was moved to wide receiver this spring, take more snaps at running back. Another option is senior walk-on Mark Herndon, who impressed the previous coaching staff but still saw limited action early in 2014.
As Lane is from Winter Haven, Florida, a transfer to Central Florida would make the most sense.
Updated on Monday at 2:30 p.m.: Lane is transferring to Eastern Kentucky, which is not at all closer to his home, according to the Lakeland Ledger.