The Florida Gators already incredibly thin offensive line was dealt a serious blow on April 3 when redshirt sophomore left tackle Roderick Johnson, the unit’s best returning player from a year ago, was ruled out indefinitely after suffering a stinger in practice.
Johnson was knocked out of action on last Friday when he got banged up in practice and noticed that his fingers were numb. Doctors that evaluated Johnson “found out there were some things that he might have had well before” the stinger, according to head coach Jim McElwain, and it was determined that further evaluation was needed.
On Saturday following Florida’s 2015 Orange & Blue Debut spring football game, McElwain sounded extremely pessimistic about Johnson’s prospects of playing this season – or possibly ever again.
“We actually should get the final [prognosis] on Monday. It doesn’t look great,” he said.
“I will never, ever put him out there in harm’s way. We’ve got a medical staff that looks at everything. We send the things all over the country to specialists. I’ll have more on that probably Monday. Life’s too short, man. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to do it to a young guy.”
Pressed for specifics, McElwain would not provide any. He did not say on his own that Johnson’s injury was career-threatening, but he certainly did not rule out the possibility either.
“Every injury is [career-threatening], you know?” he quipped.
The Gators entered spring practice with eight scholarship linemen, seven of which were healthy enough to take the field. With Johnson out, Florida operated with just six bodies on scholarship during its spring game.
More important than the Gators’ numbers at offensive line, though, is Johnson’s health. A four-star recruit out of Delray Beach, Florida, Johnson took a redshirt in 2012 but impressed tremendously during his redshirt freshman campaign in 2013.
A favorite of offensive line coach Mike Summers, Johnson became Florida’s most experienced returning player at the position as five linemen (all of which started games last season) either graduated or decided to turn pro. He was seen as a sure-fire starter at left tackle, one of few positions the Gators believed they had locked down on offense entering the 2015 campaign.