Halapio to make return for UF

Florida's Jon Halapio is expected to start Saturday against Tennessee.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.

Although two starters — cornerback Marcus Roberson and offensive tackle Tyler Moore — have appeared “gimpy” in practice, Florida coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday he expected the Gators to be close to full health for Saturday's game against Tennessee.

Roberson has been nursing a sprained knee, while Moore continues to deal with an ankle he sprained in the Miami loss two weeks ago.

“Roberson, I think he'll still be able to play,” Muschamp said. “He was a little gimpy yesterday, but should be OK. Tyler Moore the same.”

Muschamp said quarterback Jeff Driskel (knee) and offensive guard Jon Halapio (partially torn pectoral muscle) should be good to go Saturday. Halapio is making his return after missing all of camp and the first two games.

“Halapio has looked really good,” Muschamp said. “Driskel has looked really good. We should be healthy heading into the game.”

Halapio partially tore a pectoral muscle while bench pressing this summer. He said he could have played in the Miami game two weeks ago if he was needed. He will be wearing a brace in Saturday's game.

“It's like an upper-body brace, I'd say it's like a sleeve kind of thing,” he said. “I put it on and then I have two straps that pull my shoulder across my body so my posture is right. So it prevents me from going all the way out here (shoulder moving out), and stuff like that, and from tearing it in the game."

Halapio said he's missing some strength in the muscle and there is a risk of reinjuring it by playing.

"They said that just because of the time period it happened, that I don't have that much time for me to develop the strength that I have, that it can tear off again,” he said. “Whether if it was going to be 50-percent intact, or 100-percent intact, it's still going to be weak, so it could still tear at any time.

“So, they're telling me that that's the down side of it. But the brace helps really well. Practicing last week and this week was a confidence-booster for me, so I don't have any concern of tearing my pec."

Halapio, a senior, is considered the leader of the offensive line and its strongest and most physical player.

"It's tremendous (having him back),” fullback Hunter Joyer said. “He's one of the guys we look to on the offense. He's a leader on the line. The other guys on the line look up to him. We kind of need him out there. It will be nice to have him back."

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