Gators fall injury updates: Florida LB Antonio Morrison well ahead of schedule but non-contact

By Adam Silverstein
August 5, 2015

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain kicked off fall camp for the football program on Wednesday. Though he did not say much in his opening press conference, McElwain did address the health status of a number of players, namely senior linebacker Antonio Morrison.

Overcoming behavioral issues to standout for the Gators in 2015, Morrison seriously injured his knee during the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, an injury that has yet to be disclosed by resulted in two offseason surgeries, McElwain noted Wednesday.

“Let’s not downplay what this injury was, OK? Let’s not downplay – he’s had two surgeries on the same knee off the same injury,” he said.

Despite the setback, Morrison has impressed McElwain with his work ethic and served as a great example to his teammates. Though Morrison will be non-contact for fall practice, McElwain appeared to indicate he’s optimistic that Morrison will get on the field in 2015. When, exactly, is another question altogether.

“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.

“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.”

Anyone expecting Morrison to suit up in September will be disappointed, but it does not sound like an October return is out of the question for the standout linebacker.

Opening statement

“Always an exciting day. We just left our first meeting. The optimism in here is awesome. The excitement that’s in the air is awesome. Guys are ready to get after it; they put in a ton of work. They put in a ton of work for 15 opportunities – that’s what it is – 15 opportunities to play the game, put in over 300 days of work just for 15 opportunities. …

“We got a long, long ways to go as we integrate all the new guys into what we’re doing. I’m really proud of our older guys as far as indoctrinating the newer guys into what our expectations are to be a Gator and really be a part of the Gator brand. That’s something we’re excited to see.”

Bits and notes

» As expected, McElwain also announced that redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee will be full-go for fall. McGee broke his leg in Florida’s 2015 season opener and missed the entire campaign after transferring from Virginia.

» Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip) is being held out of practice as he continues to recover from offseason surgery. The Gators are calling it “a wait and see situation” before he’s cleared to return to the team.

» Redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio, a walk-on transfer from Oregon State who joined the team this offseason, had an appendectomy and will be missing in action for the start of Florida’s fall camp.

» McElwain is pleased at how the players attacked the weight room this offseason: “I think you’re going to see a lot of guys that have significantly changed the way their body looks. I think that’s a credit to what our guys are doing in the weight room but more so what their personal commitment was to put in the work in the weight room. It will be interesting to see how they’re carrying their new weight. That’s going to be interesting.”

» The Gators will practice with a split squad on Thursday with the older players and younger players taking separate turns on the field.

» Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins (biological father) and special teams coordinator Greg Nord (mother) each lost parents over the last few days. Collins was in North Carolina visiting with family and unable to participate in UF’s media day.


  1. Marc says:

    Not quite sure I understand the reference to “15 opportunities”. Can someone fill me in?

  2. dpres02 says:

    He’s showing optimism and faith. Couple things we haven’t seen in quite some time…

    • Blind Willie says:

      That is not true. The same type of words were said last year, and every other year by coaches at every university. The Gators were downright cocky at SEC Media days in 2014 with Will Muschamp telling everyone that UF was a “very good” team and Hargreaves saying the Jeff Driskel was “the best quarterback in America.” No, there’s nothing new, it’s just the same words in a different year. Every coach has the goal of winning it all, they wouldn’t be a head coach for long if they came out and said their goal is to have a winning season, even if doing so would be a great feat.
      No my friend, nothing has changed. They are, after all, just words. Words don’t excite me, actions do. The real season starts with East Carolina where words won’t matter anymore. That’s when we’ll start to learn if anything is different. Until then, we’ll hear a lot of words, but by now you should have learned that players and coaches only tell you what you want to hear, and the words are the same in Gainesville, Ann Arbor, Tallahassee, Coral Gables, or anywhere you care to listen.

      • MAR says:

        Blind Willie, I agree with most of that, but you are not completely right. There is one coach in Columbia, South Carolina, who does not just throw words around to excite the fans. The OBC calls it likes he sees it. Sometimes he has seen it wrong, but most of the time he is spot on. Yes, Will Muschamp was all words pre-season along with most, if not all other coaches. Jimbo Fischer is the scapegoat for your point this year. Have you heard what he is saying about this year’s team?
        He must have a little more skepticism than what he is spewing given the talent loss due to attrition and female beatings.
        However, not so much for the most honest coach in the game. If Steve Spurrier thinks his team doesn’t have it, then he will tell the fans not to expect much.

  3. Blind Willie says:

    What everyone should have figured out when a wall of secrecy was thrown up concerning Morrison’s injury was confirmed today. Morrison’s injury as not just an ACL. and he may never play football again because his injury may be a career ending one. It’s not a blow to Florida because he’d be in an NFL training camp right now if he hadn’t been injured. You can’t mope about something you never had. It’s sad that the injury happened, but that’s the risk you take when playing a violent contact sport. It happens.

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