Marco Wilson has been through this before, so he’ll know when he’s ready. And he’s ready. Now.
“One-hundred percent,” the redshirt sophomore Florida cornerback said Wednesday. “It’s great. I’m ready to go.”
Wilson, of course, is talking about the status of his surgically repaired left knee, the one he injured (torn ACL) in the first defensive series in the second game of the season against Kentucky last September.
Coming out of the spring, in which he was limited and held out of all contact work, there was some doubt whether Wilson would be full-go by the start of preseason camp July 26. But he has erased that doubt here in early June.
“I’ll be ready for everything (when camp opens),” Wilson said.
Wilson says he’s actually good to go right now. If camp opened today, he’d be 100 percent.
And he knows of which he speaks — because he’s been through this before.
“I know what’s going on. I know what to expect, where I’m at,” he said.
In his junior season at Fort Lauderdale American Heritage he tore the ACL in his left knee. He had surgery, went through the rehab process and returned for his senior season, helping lead the Patriots to a state championship.
He followed that with an outstanding freshman season with the Gators that saw him start 11 games, lead the team in pass break-ups with 10 and earn a spot on the Freshman All-SEC team.
Wilson had big plans for the 2018 season, but those vanished early in the second game with one hit — one possibly late hit — by a Kentucky receiver.
“The receiver was doing a little extra blocking after the play and I wasn’t really expecting him to come with two hands (and hit me),” Wilson said. “I was just trying to step into the ground at the same time and I just sort of fell over.”
Just like that, his promising true sophomore season was over — and the Gators were missing one of their best defensive players.
“It was super disappointing,” Wilson said. “I love football and not being able to play for a whole year sucks, obviously. It hurt me every week to go out and be on the sideline because I’m not used to that. Sitting out and watching people do what you love and knowing you can’t do it, it hurts.
“It was really hard. It was just mentally challenging. Now, I’m mentally stronger and physically stronger, too, after all the rehab I’ve gone through. It’s been good being back, getting back here and getting back to the grind with my team. It’s been really good so far.”
Wilson is back. He’s sure of it. Because he knows his knee — and he’s proven it to himself on the practice field, where he’s been going full speed in passing drills against the quarterbacks and receivers.
“Yeah, I’m good with all that,” he said. “I’m super excited to get back playing.”
The Aug. 24 opener will be special for Wilson. Not only is he returning after missing last season, he’ll also be going against his hometown Miami Hurricanes, the same team his father played for in the early 1990s.
“It’s a good matchup,” he said. “It should be exciting.
“I’m going to be like an uncaged animal. I sat on the sideline too long not to go out on that field and make plays.”
Wilson said he knows it’s imperative that he stay on the field this season. Same goes for CJ Henderson, the Gators’ other starting cornerback.
“It’s super important just because of the depth,” he said. “And also because we’re leaders out there on the field. Without us, there’s definitely something missing.
“We need to stay on that field and stay healthy and be able to help our team win a championship.”