UF notebook: Jones on comeback


Florida running back Matt Jones (24) is tackled by LSU Tigers safety Corey Thompson during the first half at Tiger Stadium on Oct. 12, 2013 in Baton Rouge, La. Jones was injured in this game.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

The news concerning injured former starting tailback Matt Jones continues to be positive.

The junior will miss spring practice still recovering from knee surgery, but should be full go just a few weeks after the April 12 spring game.

When Jones tore the MCL in his knee this past season, there was some initial concern the injury was so serious it might jeopardize his 2014 season, and possibly his career.

Now, Jones is on schedule to return before the summer.

“Matt Jones is progressing very well. He will be cleared for everything May 1,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “He will not go through spring. He will not go through non-contact. He will rehab there in the pit during practice, but extremely pleased with his progress and where he is.”

Orr out, others coming back

Starting defensive tackle Leon Orr will miss the spring after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a broken wrist he sustained late last season, Muschamp said.

“We got a second opinion of whether to have surgery,” Muschamp said. “He'll miss spring and be cleared May 1 for everything, but he would probably have had limited reps anyway with as many young guys as we need up front to get reps.”

Sixth-year wide receiver Andre Debose, who missed the 2013 season after undergoing ACL surgery in August, will be cleared March 28, Muschamp said, but will not have any contact this spring.

Redshirt freshmen linebackers Matt Rolin (knee) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder) will be cleared May 1, while redshirt sophomore linebacker Jeremi Powell (knee) is expected to be cleared June 1, according to Muschamp.

True freshman tailback Brandon Powell, an early enrollee, underwent foot surgery last month and should return in a non-contact role late in the spring.

“He has a pre-existing issue with his foot from high school, a small fracture,” Muschamp said. “We decided in February to go ahead and have surgery and put a pin in that. He will be cleared at the latter part of spring ball. He will be non-contact.

“To that point in January, he had done an outstanding job in our conditioning drills. Great change of direction and speed. He's one of the guys we're really excited about. It's unfortunate that something like that happened from high school.”

Another early enrollee, offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher (back), also will miss at least the first part of spring.

“Coming in, he had a little bit of a back issue and at this time has not been cleared for spring,” Muschamp said. “I don't know when he will be. We're going to get a second opinion sometime this week on some things. But he has not been cleared.”

The future status of redshirt sophomore tight end Colin Thompson also is uncertain.

“He has not been cleared because of foot issues,” Muschamp said. “The last opinion we got is that he needed to shut it down completely and we'll have another opinion when spring is over. He will not partake in spring.”

Garcia moves to center

In what could become a crucial move on the offensive line, starting guard Max Garcia is going to be tried at center this spring, a move that will allow Tyler Moore to go inside to guard after struggling at right tackle last season.

"Right now, we're going to play Max at center,” Muschamp said. “Cam Dillard at center. Trip Thurman at guard and center. Trenton (Brown) will play tackle and guard. Tyler Moore will play guard. Trip Thurman will play guard. Drew Sarvary will play guard.

“Kelleher would be an inside player if he were able to go at this time, and (Kavaris) Harkless will be an inside player as well. Rod Johnson in camp played both tackle and guard, but right now we like to rep him at left tackle."

On the defensive line, Muschamp said true sophomore Joey Ivie will see work at both tackle and end.

Return of the spring game?

Muschamp said he would like to end drills this year with a traditional spring game, something the Gators could not do a year ago because of so many injuries, especially on the offensive line. UF held a situational scrimmage, instead.

“I want to have a spring game every year,” he said. “Last year I just didn't feel like it was fair with six offensive linemen healthy to put those guys through that. You know, I want to have a spring game. I have all plans to have a spring game every year.

“I think it's important for those guys to get out in front of that crowd, the coaches off the field, and make them make calls and communicate and produce. There's no question. I want to have a spring game every year.”

Robinson progressing

Muschamp said he's been pleased with the offseason of true sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who was suspended from games twice last year, including the final two games of the season, for violating team rules.

“He's working hard. He's doing everything we've asked,” Muschamp said. “I'm real pleased with where he is. We've just got to continue to move forward. It's a huge spring for everybody at the wide receiver position and all positions, really.”

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