UF’s Easley decides on NFL
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013 at 3:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 at 3:40 p.m.
Less than a week after sustaining a season-ending knee injury, defensive tackle Dominique Easley has already started planning out his future, and it does not include playing again at Florida.
Although Easley, a true senior, is eligible to redshirt this year and return next season for a fifth year, Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Easley has already made the decision to go pro.
“Dominique is definitely going to the NFL next year,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now, going and preparing him for April and get ready for that (the NFL Draft).
“He and I talked briefly about it and that’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”
Muschamp said injured wide receiver Andre Debose, also out for the year following ACL surgery, has not made a decision yet whether to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility that would allow him to play next season.
Muschamp said the fact Easley has torn his ACL in both knees will not damage his chances of having an NFL career.
“He’ll have plenty of interest (from teams),” Muschamp said. “He'll be a productive guy on the next level. He's a really good football player. He's extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself and how he plays the game and approaches the game. He'll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him."
Easley had ACL surgery for the first time after injuring his left knee in the 2011 Florida State game. A week ago today, Easley tore the ACL in his right knee in a non-contact situation in practice. He also tore the medial meniscus in the knee.
Easley is the third Gator to suffer a season-ending ACL injury since the start of camp in August. Debose and true freshman linebacker Matt Rolin had ACL surgery in August after injuring their knees only days apart in camp. Both were non-contact injuries.
The Gators have had numerous other injuries this season, including losing starting quarterback Jeff Driskel (broken leg) and starting offensive tackle Chaz Green (torn labrum) for the season.
Muschamp was asked Monday if all the injuries — the three torn ACLs in particular — have led him to reassess and reevaluate how things are being done on the practice field and in the strength and conditioning program.
“We’re constantly looking at those things,” he said. “You go back. I went back. You’re always looking from a strength and conditioning standpoint the things you’re doing. I did data research after Matt and Andre both had ACLs (within a few days), totally non-contact situations, plant and change direction.
“No. 1, football is a very violent game. Guys have gotten stronger, their bodies have gotten stronger. Sometimes it’s harder for their bodies to hold (up), based on the orthopedic surgeons I talk to. Sometimes things just happen.”
In Muschamp’s first two years at UF, the Gators had only two ACL injuries, one to Easley and the other to outside linebacker Ronald Powell, who tore his in the 2012 spring game (and would re-tear it in practice last fall.).
“That was it,” Muschamp said. “(Now), we’ve had three in two months. There’s nothing that we can look at from a standpoint of strength and conditioning that shows any information that would show you something’s not going right.
“We also look at shoulder injuries. We’ve had six since we’ve been here in three years and four of them had labrums coming into Florida. That’s a pre-existing situation.
“Two (ACLs) in three years is good. Two in three months, then you’re scratching your head a little bit about how you practice and are you practicing the right way. It’s three non-contact situations. That can happen going to class.”
Muschamp said when it comes to injuries, the evaluation process is ongoing.
“We constantly evaluate those situations. Absolutely,” he said. “And making sure we’re doing the right things.
“I’ve pulled our medical staff in, our strength staff in. I’ve consulted with outside orthopedics to make sure, and watch the film in certain situations. There’s nothing we’re doing wrong.”
Easley’s injury last Tuesday occurred after late-afternoon rain showers. But Muschamp said the field conditions were not a factor.
“No,” he said. “He was changing directions. It wasn’t anything. He didn’t slip.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.