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SDS’ top 25 players of 2012: No. 19 Mike Gillislee

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SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to that sexy No. 1. We don’t just rank stats or project players at the next level based on athletic superiority, but we rank players based on the season they had in 2012. I know you’ll agree with every single one…

No. 19 – Mike Gillislee, Florida, RB

2012 Stats: 244 carries for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns; 16 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown

Why he’s worthy: If you’re looking for the lifeblood and the heartbeat of the 2012 Florida offense, there’s no need to look further than senior running back Mike Gillislee. The first-year starter proved why he should have been the featured back over jitterbugs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey last season in Charlie Weis’ identity-less offense.

Gillislee entered ‘12 with no starts and lofty 1,500-yard, 24-touchdown goals. And while his numbers may be a disappointment for him personally, they were a very pleasant surprise for Will Muschamp and Florida fans. And for an offense that was 12th best in the SEC and the country’s 118th best pass offense, Gillislee was the only certainty Muschamp and Brent Pease could rely on each and every Saturday.

Gilly carried an SEC-high 244 times. He logged 22 more carries than Todd Gurley and 40 more carries than Eddie Lacy. He was the true definition of a workhorse for the Gators, a team with a finesse running game in 2011.

Gillislee notched five 100-yard games, including his best game against LSU, where he carried 34 times for 146 yards and two second-half touchdowns. His 100-yard games came against Bowling Green, Tennessee, LSU, Jacksonville State and Florida State, and he scored multiple touchdowns against Bowling Green, Texas A&M, LSU and FSU.

Muschamp raved about Gillislee’s unselfishness before, during and after the season, and to wait three years on significant playing time and to be the featured back shows Gillislee’s patience.

Gillislee was the SEC’s leading back through the first half of the season until defenses learned to stack the box against the running game, making Jeff Driskel and the wide receivers move the football through the air. That didn’t happen, and teams not named FSU started to suffocate Gillislee because of it.

Gillislee should make an impact at the next level, as he’s a very fresh senior running back only having taken significant carries as a senior.

The Countdown

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports





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