Florida loses another DB: C.J. McWilliams for season with ruptured Achilles

By Adam Silverstein
August 6, 2019
Florida loses another DB: C.J. McWilliams for season with ruptured Achilles

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

As if the Florida Gators’ defensive backfield was not thin enough, a player expected to be in competition for a starting role has now gone down with a season-ending injury. Redshirt junior C.J. McWilliams, who was projected for significant playing time in the slot or “Star” position, ruptured his Achilles in a non-contact session and will sit out the entire 2019 campaign.

“It was early in practice, [he] planted, drove and felt a pop,” head coach Dan Mullen explained.

Though this will be McWilliams’ first medical redshirt, he will need to apply for a sixth year of eligibility following the 2020 season if he so chooses as he took a non-playing redshirt in 2016.

McWilliams, one of three defensive backs missing from practice last week, played in nine games for Florida last season. He started the LSU and Vanderbilt contests and also saw extensive action on special teams. He struggled at times in 2018 and was often targeted by opposing offenses but was expected to make strides this offseason.

Redshirt freshman linebacker David Reese previously tore his Achilles this summer.

Also absent from practice last week were junior Brad Stewart Jr. and sophomore John Huggins. Mullen did not update Stewart’s status but was asked extensively about Huggins, whose status is in limbo as he faces off-field problems that are often referred to by the program as a “family issue.” Though Mullen did not elaborate on Huggins’ issues or his status, he also refused to rule out his eligibility to play this season.

McWilliams is the third talented defensive back who has become unavailable for the Gators this season. Junior Brian Edwards transferred following an offseason arrest for first-degree misdemeanor battery as he was accused of choking his girlfriend (charges were dropped). Incoming four-star Chris Steele also transferred, claiming an offseason incident involving his roommate and the staff’s lacking response to his roommate requests as a primary reason; others close to the program and the transfer process believe the Californian was also homesick.

The already-lacking depth in Florida’s defensive backfield is slowly but surely fading away with the season just over two weeks away. The good news for the Gators is that their starters are all healthy at this time and expected to be one of the nation’s strongest units should they remain that way through the season.

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