Despite suffering what was described as a serious knee injury during the Florida Gators‘ bowl game, senior linebacker Antonio Morrison‘s name appeared at the top of the team’s depth chart on Monday, and he was named a starter for Florida’s 2015 season opener against the New Mexico State Aggies.
Morrison, who has been non-contact in practice for the summer and fall after sitting out the spring while rehabilitating, is completely ready to go, according to head coach Jim McElwain, who cautioned that he may not see the field for a full compliment of plays.
“Yeah, he is [ready to play]. It’s unbelievable what he’s done,” McElwain said. “I’m really proud of what he’s done, to see him recover like this. It obviously won’t be one of those deals where he’s playing 80 or 90 plays, but at the same time, he’s prepared himself and he’s ready to play and we’ll have a plan for that.”
McElwain added that recovery from Morrison’s injury is normally prescribed as 10-12 months, but he was able to complete it in six.
“We had the doctor in a bunch, probably more so for me not believing it. And yet, the strength levels, all the tests, believe it or not it’s actually tighter than the other one. That’s a credit to him and what he did in the offseason to prepare himself to help this football team.”
That was far from the first time McElwain praised Morrison during his recovery. Just three weeks ago, McElwain said observers should not “downplay” Morrison’s injury, noting that he had “two surgeries on the same knee off the same injury.”
“The guy who has really [impressed me] – God, I can’t tell you what a great job he’s done to put himself in position to have an opportunity to play this season – is Antonio Morrison. He’s well ahead of where we anticipated. He will be out of any contact drills but he will be able to do some non-contact stuff moving forward,” McElwain said earlier this month.
“He has had a huge impact as guys have seen how hard he has worked, what he has invested and what he was willing to do to define who he is and what he’s all about. I just can’t say enough good things about that. Too early to say he will play but just know this, the fact that he will be out there is short of a miracle based on his knee. How hard he has worked to be a part of this family, I can’t tell you how good that makes us all feel.”