Florida Gators OL Rod Johnson on retirement: ‘It can be taken away from you in just one play’

Less than one week ago, Florida Gators redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Roderick Johnson, a promising talent and the team’s best returning starter on the unit from a season ago, was told he must retire from football after being diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis.

For the first time since the announcement, Johnson has decided to speak at length about the issue by releasing a statement through the school.

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Two of Florida Gators’ six ‘healthy’ scholarship offensive linemen underwent surgery

Two of the six “healthy” scholarship offensive linemen the Florida Gators will bring into summer workouts underwent surgery early this week.

According to head coach Jim McElwain, who met with the media ahead of a speaking engagement at the Titletown Gator Club in Gainesville, sophomore tackle David Sharpe and redshirt sophomore lineman Antonio Riles each had (relatively) minor surgery following spring practice.

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Florida Gators OL Roderick Johnson’s career over after cervical stenosis diagnosis

Updated on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Roderick Johnson, a promising talent and the team’s best returning starter from a season ago, will likely retire from football and end his career after being diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, the program announced on Tuesday.

Johnson, who started three games for Florida in 2014 and was expected to be an NFL prospect as soon as next season, received the official diagnosis on Monday. His medical condition was not discovered until he suffered a “stinger” in practice on April 3 that resulted in numbness of his hands. An MRI was done to ensure there were no other underlying medical issues, which is when doctors uncovered the cervical stenosis.

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McElwain: ‘Doesn’t look great’ for Florida Gators offensive tackle Roderick Johnson

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.

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Florida Gators 2015 Orange & Blue Debut Preview: start time, TV schedule, live stream, who to watch

OnlyGators.com will offer a complete recap of the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut later Saturday evening following its tape-delayed replay on the SEC Network. More information below.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: Cloudy, 82 degrees, winds west/south-west at 7-8 mph
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Live online/mobile (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network +
Live TV (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network alternate (“whip-around” coverage)
TV (9:00 p.m. tape delay): SEC Network
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

EXPANDED VIEWING INFORMATION

Television:
Florida’s 2015 spring game will not air live in its entirety on television but rather on tape delay at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Live “whip-around” coverage will be available on the SEC Network‘s alternate channel (where available) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Online:
While the game is not being offered live on television, you can stream it live online (and via your mobile device) via SEC Network +. The game may be immediately available for replay via SEC Network + at the conclusion of the spring game.

EVENT FORMAT

» Florida will field an orange team and a blue team, which will square off over four 12-minute quarters and an un-timed overtime.

» Between each half, the Gators will hold a 12-minute halftime.

» There will also be a running clock for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, likely with some additional kicking and special teams work.

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Florida OT Rod Johnson out indefinitely, dealing blow to Gators’ already-thin offensive line

Lack of offensive line depth was a known – and thoroughly discussed – issue entering spring practice for the Florida Gators. As it turns out, it has now become an even bigger problem for the program after redshirt sophomore left tackle Roderick Johnson was ruled out indefinitely on Monday.

According to head coach Jim McElwain, who did not address the media on Friday due to the holiday weekend but held a press conference on Monday, Johnson was banged up during Friday’s practice, suffering a “stinger-ish type deal” that caused his fingers to go numb. Doctors that evaluated Johnson “found out there were some things that he might have had well before” the stinger in his shoulder area. Further evaluation is now needed.

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Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain counters Will Muschamp, calls roster ‘really insufficient’

Will Muschamp was humble when he departed the Florida Gators, but he did not leave without making one definitive statement about what he was leaving behind and how well the team would be positioned entering 2015.

“They’ve got a deep and talented roster, so don’t let that new guy tell you they don’t have any players,” Muschamp warned with a smile last November.

Well, let’s just say that now over three months into his tenure with the Gators, new head coach Jim McElwain does not necessarily agree with Muschamp’s parting statement.

“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt and right now, quite honestly, the hand we were dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas,” he said Friday.

McElwain was responding to a question about Florida’s offensive line, which returns just eight scholarship offensive linemen (seven healthy this spring), most of which were relatively inexperienced and had not seen much game action.

But his comments were about other parts of the roster, too, as offensive line is not the only position where depth is a major concern for the Gators. UF entered the spring with three scholarship running backs (one of whom has been moved to wide receiver) and six scholarship linebackers, neither position deep enough for McElwain to be worry-free entering the season.

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Readers’ Choice: Lack of depth at offensive line, linebacker could hurt Florida Gators in 2015

Over five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com has handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the first in five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

Submit your requests via e-mail, Twitter or this comment section.

There is simply no hiding the fact that Florida has massive holes at two important positions on its roster entering the 2015 campaign, ones that will make it difficult for head coach Jim McElwain to turn things around in year one.

The Gators will enter spring practice with eight scholarship offensive linemen on the roster, two of which have NFL potential – sophomore offensive tackles Roderick Johnson (redshirt) and David Sharpe – and another with starting experience in redshirt senior left guard Trip Thurman. The other five have either seen limited action or never stepped on the field.

Though Florida has plenty of bodies immediately across the line of scrimmage on defense, the linebackers backing them up make for an even thinner position group. Returning for his senior season and leading the way is Antonio Morrison, and the steady improvement of junior Jarrad Davis should help mitigate some losses. The other four scholarship players have spent the vast majority of their time on special teams.

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