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‘The kid is going to be special’: Jadan Baugh predicted as SEC breakout freshman

On3 imageby:Zach Abolverdi05/06/24


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Gators had four selections on the 2023 Freshman All-SEC team, which led the league and marked the most for Florida since 2012. ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic won’t be surprised to see UF’s Jadan Baugh on this year’s team.

The true freshman running back and early enrollee had one of the top performances in the Orange & Blue Game, rushing 12 times for 77 yards. The manner and style in which Baugh ran the ball caught the attention of Cubelic.

“This No. 13, Jadan Baugh, whoa,” Cubelic said on his latest podcast. “This is the part that probably takes me most off guard because … when I just watched it, I thought he looked good and I was like, ‘Man, that jump cut was incredible.’ Or like, ‘Look at that. Wow, this kid got some power or his kid can get North and South in a hurry.’ I didn’t realize he was 237 pounds doing the things that he was doing.

“He looked explosive, he looked agile, had great body control, change of direction seemed to be easy for him. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about No. 13 Jadan Baugh for Florida coming out of that spring game. Because what I saw wowed the hell out of me now and I think a lot of other people should probably feel the same way.”

Former Florida running back Earnest Graham, whose son Myles Graham is a freshman linebacker at UF, shared a similar reaction to Baugh’s spring game highlights on social media. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry with his longest run being 25 yards, and he had another first-down carry of 14 yards.

After watching him in action, Cubelic is convinced that Baugh will be breakout freshman in the SEC.

“I’m just telling you guys right now, mark it down right now, mark it down that I said it right here coming out of spring ball. Jadan Baugh is going to be one of the surprise freshmen in the SEC that we’re talking about at the end of the season. The kid is going to be special,” Cubelic said. “I’m confident that he’s gonna be that.”

“And then when I talked to some folks down in Gainesville, the one thing they talked about, ‘Man, he’s a load Cube. This kid, he’s massive. He’s a big thick kid.’ Once again, when you saw him making the moves and running the way that he did, he didn’t come across that way. So, I just think this is a young man that after a couple of weeks could really be helping this Florida offense out and could help them with depth and just give them a totally different dynamic.”

Baugh didn’t just show out in the spring game, either. He also scored three touchdowns in the second scrimmage of spring camp.

Cubelic is high on not only him, but Florida’s running back room as a whole despite the loss of Trevor Etienne to Georgia.

“Did Etienne add a little bit more explosive capabilities? Yes, he did. Do I like him as a tailback? 100%, yes. Would it bother me if I was a Florida kid and he went to Georgia? Sure would. Yeah, absolutely. And I know there are players on this team that are bothered by that for a fact. But Montrell Johnson is as steady as you’re going to get at tailback. And for the stretch play and the inside zone play that they run, his downhill, hammer style is gonna fit it perfect. You’re still going to get the split zones and the bootlegs and the throws off that. You’re going to get counter and power, Montrell’s great with all of that.

“But you have a couple of other guys that I think are going to help at this position. KD Daniels did some good things in the spring game. True freshman, No. 21. He’s got some juice. He’s got some explosive capabilities. Treyaun Webb played a little bit last year. I think he gives a guy that can help. … Good running back depth, but a running back that you know you can lean on early and you don’t have to force the carries into your young backs. … You got Montrell to lean on before you have to go to those guys. They can be luxury players early before they find out whatever role it is that they’re gonna have.”

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