Former Florida running back Matt Jones joined the Gator Nation Football Podcast to discuss Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine as future NFL players, as well as the job Jim McElwain’s done with the Gators.
It was a breakout many Florida fans didn’t see coming. Matt Jones rushed for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns in 28 games in three seasons with the Gators.
He then really turned it on once he joined the Washington Redskins as a third-round pick in 2015. Jones rushed for 490 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie before the Reskins let Alfred Morris walk to the Dallas Cowboys and subsequently turned the starting job over to the former Gator.
Jones has rushed for 460 yards and three touchdowns in seven games this season despite being a bit banged up, though he confirmed to the Gator Nation Football Podcast that he’s healthy and ready to go.
Incidentally, when he joined the GNFP, Jones discussed the current state of the Florida football team — specifically its backfield.
Sophomore Jordan Scarlett leads the team with 468 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and true freshman Lamical Perine has been a pleasant surprise with 436 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage. Jones believes both of them could have bright futures in the league once their college days are over.
“I really love Scarlett, love the way he runs. And Perine, just seeing how big he is and how he can get downhill,” Jones said. “They have bright futures ahead of them. They just need to keep complimenting each other, because that backfield is dangerous.”
When they do get to the NFL, things will be a bit different. Jones shed some light on the differences between the college game and the pro game from a running back’s perspective.
“Knowledge, just gaining knowledge and being able to take a pounding,” Jones said. “It’s not such a big deal, but there are little things like learning the game and seeing where you fit in. [It’s about] learning how to be a protector in the backfield. It’s not a big difference, but take care of the little things, and the sky’s the limit.”
As far as the Florida team as a whole is concerned, Jones had plenty of positive things to say about the job Jim McElwain’s done in Gainesville. Jones never played for him; he was in the Will Muschamp era. But the former Gator can see the team loves going to battle for its head coach.
“The team is very competitive. I love the way they’re being coached by coach McElwain,” Jones said. “The players say he’s a real cool guy. He gets to know you personally and talks about life with you. Most coaches don’t, but he has a true relationship with the players. They love playing for him. He’s a nice guy overall.”