Gators RBs Brown, Showers ready for opportunity

By Adam Silverstein
August 28, 2013

Florida Gators redshirt junior running back Mack Brown has not carried the ball more than 10 times single game since he was a starter and highly-rated prospect for Martin Luther King High School in Lithonia, GA, back in 2010.

Redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers has not even lined up in the offensive backfield since 2011, during his senior year at Madison School in Madision Heights, MI.

Nevertheless, both will be counted on Saturday to help lead the Gators’ rushing attack even though neither – nor sophomore walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Mark Herndon, for that matter – has much experience running the ball on the collegiate level.

“I’m just a humble guy, ready for my opportunity,” Brown said on Tuesday. “I learned when your opportunity comes, you got to seize it.”

A four-star recruit who wanted to play for Florida since he was five years old, Brown is listed first on the Gators’ depth chart and should receive the majority of the carries on Saturday even though offensive coordinator Brent Pease claimed Tuesday that Florida would run the ball by committee and rely on the “hot hand.”

“You can get a lot of carries, but it’s what you do with the carries,” said Brown, who also admitted that he will be a bit nervous when he starts in the backfield against Toledo.

“[I am] because usually I’m on the bench the whole game and will probably get in the fourth quarter. But now starting the game, you got a little butterflies in your stomach. But I’m ready. When Saturday comes, the butterflies are gone. It’s time to fight,” he said.

Showers understands what fighting is about. He’s been doing just that as he hoped to earn an opportunity to play in the Gators’ crowded secondary.


A star running back in high school who rushed for 2,024 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior season, Showers was unexpectedly asked by the Florida coaching staff to move to tailback during fall practice and accepted the role without hesitation.

“Coaches asked me if I wanted to play a little offense with Matt Jones going down and everything. I said, ‘I don’t have no problem helping out the team.’ … It’s always a good thing to have the ball in your hands. It’s not a bad move at all,” he explained.

Showers initially converted to defensive back at the behest of college recruiters and due to advice from his head coach, who said he should try it in order to give himself the best chance to succeed at the next level.

Unfazed by the challenge of competing at a new position within a talented unit, Showers accepted the assignment despite never losing his desire to get the ball in his hands.

“The way I picture things it probably never went away, scoring touchdowns. That’s something you can’t let go. Even on defense, when you get interceptions, I’m looking to score. That’s pretty much how it is,” he said.

“Offense comes natural to me, so [transitioning] wasn’t hard at all. It’s just pretty much knowing what to do as far as…it’s easier than defense. … It’s just knowing that you’re the one who is going to be getting hit instead of [doing the hitting].”

It is unknown if Showers’s move will be permanent, though the coaching staff appears to believe playing offense in an Omarius Hines-type role gives him the best opportunity to contribute to the Gators on a game-by-game basis.

And with so many young, talented players in the secondary, they’re probably right.

Showers can only hope the final two years of his career are more productive than Hines’s, who was also caught between positions and – while he certainly had notable highlights – never stood out as a big-time contributor at Florida.

One Comment

  1. Michael Jones says:

    Never did figure out why Hines would make magic almost every time he touched the ball but got so few touches a game.

    Showers sounds like he has the pedigree to succeed at running back. He also wouldn’t be the first guy that the majority of recruiters mis-evaluated.

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