Emmanuel Moody didn’t care much for sharing. Recruited from the lone star state, he had expectations of becoming the next feature back at USC. Instead, he became another piece of a “running back by committee” offensive scheme. He finished his freshman season with 459 yards on 79 attempts, the second leading rusher on the squad, despite an ankle injury forcing him to miss the last 4 games of his first season. But by the following spring, after descending on the depth chart, he chose to no longer exist in the shadow of others, and was destined for the state of Florida.
Florida was the defending national champions, and possessed all-world quarterback Tim Tebow. But as strong as the Gators were in many categories, they lacked a true running game and a feature back. In regards to Moody, it was a likely match made in heaven. But now that he’s seen the playing field of his new home, did he make the right decision? His new program has just one loss, same as his old, but they are marching into the National Championship game. If it was a quest for a ring, apparently the Swamp was a great selection. But when it comes to playing in the shadow of others, nothing has changed.
Moody considered himself the forgotten man in the 2007 USC spring camp, but is virtually invisible in the 2008 Gators offense. Tim Tebow and wide receiver Percy Harvin are easily the offensive stars, with Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey the featured tailbacks. His numbers are nearly identical in his first year at Florida as they were at USC (417 yards on 57 carries), though he’s averaging more yards per carry against Florida’s opponents. He again missed 4 games, and his best output was 116 yards against the Citadel, in a game where he scored his first and only touchdown since leaving Southern California.
The youth of the Trojan stable drove Moody out, but what he finds in Florida is more of the same. Demps is only a freshman, and Rainey a sophomore. Just as none of Southern Cal’s backs were short on eligibility, neither are his new teammates in Florida. By mid January, Moody may be fitted for a ring. But if his intention was to spotlight his talent, he may find the dark cloud of competition has followed him to another coast.