The Florida Gators believed the injury bug that ravaged their roster – with 10 starters and 15 total players suffering season-ending injuries in 2013 – had left Gainesville, Florida for good. Instead, it appears as if it was just hibernating in the offseason.
Florida redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee, a graduate transfer from Virginia in his first year with the program, broke his tibia and fibula during Saturday’s season opener and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.
McGee, UVA’s leading pass-catcher in 2013 who was expected to play a big role in UF’s new offense under the leadership of coordinator Kurt Roper, did not even have the opportunity to catch a pass before going down with the injury during the first quarter Saturday’s season opener.
“We lost Jake McGee for the year – broken tibia and [fibula]. I’m so disappointed for him, a guy that came in here, and it’s very difficult to come into a situation for one year. He’s done it as well as you can imagine,” head coach Will Muschamp said after the game.
“This guy is a total team guy, tough guy, and I think we’re going to do the surgery [Saturday] night. I’ll know much more Monday where we are.”
Projected by many analysts as a potential selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, it is currently unknown what McGee plans to do about his future. He would be eligible for a medical redshirt should he decide to stay in school but that is likely a decision that will be made after he undergoes surgery on the broken bones.
Redshirt senior Clay Burton, who hauled in a team-high seven receptions for 42 yards in the Gators’ 65-0 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles, will take McGee’s place as Florida’s primary pass catcher at the position. Burton entered Saturday’s game with three receptions for his career, more than doubling his total in a single afternoon.
“Clay’s played well for us. We got all the confidence in the world [in him],” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that’s continued to make plays for us. Clay’s a really good football player, a very valuable member of our organization. He’s got really good hands. He really understands, offensively, what we’re trying to do and the things we try to do with him. He’s got a huge role moving forward in what we’re doing. That’s a very critical position for us.”
The Gators, which lost 15 players (10 starters) to season-ending injuries in 2013, hoped to be over the injury bug when they entered 2014 as healthy as any Florida team has been in recent memory.
McGee’s broken leg, coupled with an chipped ankle injury suffered by junior left tackle D.J. Humprhies (which will keep him out 2-3 weeks), is more of the same for UF.
“It’s not anything serious. There’s no surgical issues there,” Muschamp noted in regards to Humphries’s injury. “There’s going to be some swelling and it’s going to be sore, but no surgery is needed. He’s going to be back.”
Update: McGee updated his post-surgery status Sunday morning.
“Successful surgery. I appreciate the love and support from everyone. I am doing great and will kick this rehabs butt with a smile on my face,” he wrote on Twitter.