Roberson making way back


Florida's Marcus Roberson runs upfield after an interception that was called back during the second half against Tennessee on Sept. 17 last season.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.

Other than tackling, Marcus Roberson is back on the practice field doing the things he does — covering and battling wide receivers, breaking up passes, playing with great passion and energy.

Watching him now, it's hard to fathom that just three months ago there were concerns that he might never be able to play football again.

Will Mushcamp got that sinking feeling about his star freshman cornerback when the medical report came in the Sunday after the South Carolina game in November.

“Oh, for me (it was a career-threatening injury),” Muschamp said Monday. “When they came in Sunday morning and told me, it was scary, it really was.

“Any time you deal with the head and neck, football is over as far as I'm concerned. But our medical staff does a great job. They put him through every test you can imagine, took all the pictures and did all the stuff you do.”

After starting the first 10 games as a true freshman last season, Roberson injured his neck in the Nov. 12 game.

Muschamp said he doesn't know the medical terms for the injury, but that there was a “displacement in the neck area, a very serious issue.”

Roberson spent six to eight weeks in a stationary brace, then six more weeks in a less confining neck brace.

Even though doctors told Roberson that in time he would recover fully from the injury, Muschamp said he was concerned about Roberson's well-being during the initial stages of recovery.

“Marcus is a competitor. Any time you take that away from somebody, it's very frustrating,” Muschamp said. “He was hurt. He was down bad. I was worried about him as a human being. He was really depressed about the situation — something he loves and cares about so much maybe being taken away from him.”

Roberson has not been cleared to participate in any contact work this spring, but he's doing everything else working with the No. 1 defense. He's going through all the drills (other than blocking and tackling) and is participating in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 matchups against the offense.

Roberson has even been physically mixing it up with some of the wide receivers.

“He's moving around fine,” Muschamp said. “It's just a contact issue. We're not going to have him do any contact. That's just shadow boxing as far as playing one-on-one (against the receivers).

“He's a guy you're glad to see back out there. More than anything for him. Football is important to him. He likes playing the game as you can see out there. It's very hard on him to be non-contact. He's a competitive guy and he likes to play the game.”

Muschamp said he's hopeful Roberson will be cleared for full contact by the time preseason camp opens in August.

He said one thing Roberson will have to concentrate on in the offseason is improving his overall body strength.

“Strength is the No. 1 thing,” Muschamp said. “When you're in coverage against some of the bigger wideouts, getting pushed, you've got to be able to withstand that. Strength is the No.1 thing, and physical tackling ability.

“Marcus has the want to. It goes back to strength, getting stronger, his body maturing. Marcus is 18 or 19 years old. He's in that growth spurt where he's going to continue to get stronger in the weight room. Overall body strength he has to improve on.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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