Versatile Florida running back Tovani Mizell likes Liam Coen’s offense

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023

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How would 6-0, 205-pound Florida running back Tovani Mizell, a recent Kentucky commit, describe himself to those who have not seen him play?

“I am very versatile. I have played a little receiver and have done that my whole life,” said Mizell. “I think I am hard to tackle. I have good hands and run good routes in the pass game. I run track, so I have good speed.”

Mizell, a one-time Georgia commit, ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the University of Alabama last year. He was timed in 4.37 seconds in the 40 at a Rivals camp. His fastest 100-meter dash was 10.8 seconds — and he was battling an injury then. He believes he can run a 10.5 100.

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He had 31 scholarship offers, including Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, USC, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Penn State, Oregon, Michigan State, Florida, Arkansas and Arizona.

The return of offensive coordinator Liam Coen made Kentucky even more attractive to the Ft. Lauderdale product.

“The way Liam Coen uses the passing game is what made my decision easier. I wanted to see how a program used running backs in the passing game. That’s what the league (NFL) is changing into. The more versatile you are, the higher you get drafted,” he said.

Recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow and head coach Mark Stoops both compared Mizell to Benny Snell, UK’s all-time leading rusher, who has played the last four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I had not watched him too much at Kentucky, but I had seen him in the NFL,” Mizell said about Snell. “The coaches said I had the same (body) frame as him but the difference was I have a little more speed.

“I have always been kind of fast. I have been running track since I was 7 or 8. Once I started putting on weight and filling out, I never lost my speed even as I was gaining weight and strength.”

Like many players, he’s dreamed of playing in the NFL since he started playing football at age 8. His parents told him football was a “dangerous” sport.

“They said if I wanted to be the best, I had to invest time,” Mizell said. “I have had Hall of Fame dreams and still do. Coach Coen obviously coached in the NFL with the Rams, a top team, and knows a pro-style offense that will make it easier to eventually transition to the NFL. (Running backs) Coach (Jay) Boulware also has experience at the highest level. To have an OC (offensive coordinator) and running backs coach who have been at the highest level sold me. And you cannot go wrong playing in the SEC.”

Mizell didn’t intend to commit to Kentucky or any school this early.

“They just offered due back in April. I really didn’t know much about Kentucky football but I did my research,” the Florida running back said. “I intended to actually commit late in my season. But Kentucky is just a perfect fit for me. My mom definitely was not expecting me to commit, but we sat down and talked about it as a family, and I just decided to go on and commit.”