It’s no secret Florida coach Dan Mullen faces a tall task when it comes to reviving UF’s offense. With uncertainty at the quarterback position in addition to an overhaul of the playbook, the Gators simply can’t afford any setbacks from a personnel or development standpoint, especially with a critical summer of development ahead.
So Monday night’s news was encouraging for Mullen and Co.
Two Gators who were unable to participate in the spring — offensive lineman Brett Heggie and running back Malik Davis — announced on their respective Twitter accounts that each had been medically cleared to return to football activities.
A freshman last season, Davis was one of the lone bright spots of Florida’s offense in 2017 as he rushed for 526 yards across seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in UF’s 42-7 loss to Georgia.
Davis’ tweet — “All the work in darkness gone come to light #allcleared U N C A G E D” — seems to imply he’s ahead of the timeline projected by Mullen during his spring speaking tour.
Speaking in Jacksonville after Signing Day to assembled fans, boosters and media, Mullen said the Gators didn’t foresee evaluating Davis until Fall camp.
“I think his surgeries and rehabs have gone well. It’s certainly not something we’re going to push,” Mullen said. “But I think he’s coming along very nicely. Obviously, it is something we probably wouldn’t consider to even start evaluating until we get into August and see where he’s at.”
And Heggie’s impending return gives Florida more depth along the offensive line, as the redshirt junior out of Mount Dora started seven games for the Gators in 2017 before he too suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“100% cleared. Go Gators #TrustTheProcess,” Heggie wrote on his Twitter account.
Like he did with Davis, Mullen cautioned reporters at a speaking engagement in May that Heggie likely wouldn’t be cleared until prior to the start of Fall camp, adding he foresees Heggie playing a significant role for Florida this season.
“He’s a smart guy. He’s worked at snapping the ball, which is a skill, and (he has) toughness. That center, really, you’re talking about a guy that holds the whole group together — toughness, leadership and athleticism. Center is such a critical position and one you’ve got to have a lot of depth at. So we’ve got to have guys that can snap,” Mullen told Ryan Young of SEC Country. “You can’t do anything if you can’t snap the ball, so we’re going to look at him at center when he comes back.”
With Heggie projected to compete with redshirt senior TJ McCoy for Florida’s starting center role this season, Mullen and offensive line coach John Hevesy are continuing to see the revamped strength and conditioning program pay dividends.