Florida starting CB Jaydon Hill suffers season-ending injury in preseason camp

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida cornerback and projected starter Jaydon Hill will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Jaydon Hill, a projected starter for Florida, has suffered a knee injury in fall training camp and will miss the 2021 season. 

The junior cornerback tore his left ACL in practice Sunday and is undergoing physical therapy to prep for surgery, his father, Freddie Ingram, told The Gainesville Sun. UF coach Dan Mullen confirmed the injury Thursday.

“It was very tough to get that call from him,” Ingram said. “I guess the toughest part for me was Jaydon is not that emotional, but I just knew when he called he was upset about it. 

“This was his first time being a full-time starter, so he was looking for his big year and had a great team. So I’m just hurting for him. As a parent, when your child is hurt you’re hurt.”

Ingram said Hill did not injure the same knee from high school. He tore his right ACL as a senior, eight days after committing to the Gators, but Mullen stuck with him. 

Mullen and his staff are offering that same support to Hill and his family this time around. 

“We’re just so happy with Florida. They have been really helpful and reaching out to us and showing their concern,” Ingram said. “So that helps out a lot, when you know your son is in great care with the coaches and medical staff. 

“They have a great rehab group and he trusts those guys and he feels good about the situation, so we feel good about the situation. They’re really behind him and just make us as a family feel really positive about the situation.”

The 6-foot, 182-pound Hill made five starts last season, finishing with 14 tackles and seven pass breakups in 12 games played. He made 10 appearances as a true freshman in 2019 and totaled 11 tackles. 

“Massive disappointment," Mullen said of Hill's injury. "He's been through this once and came out on the positive end on the other side. I think he understands how to come through it, what he needs to do and how he can get through it and how it’ll improve. I think with him knowing the program, knowing the defense, knowing his maturity, he’s a guy that’s going to be pretty comfortable, I think, saying, 'I put myself in the position to be a starter. I had this little setback, but I’ve worked hard.'

"If you’ve done that, if you know the path of hard work, how to get into that role, when you get knocked off course, you know how to get back there. If you were just handed something, maybe it was harder. But he’s worked his tail off to earn everything he’s gotten here."

Florida defensive back Jaydon Hill (23) breaks up a pass intended for South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith (13) during the second half of last year's game in Gainesville. Hill tore a knee ligament last weekend and is out for the season.

Mullen added that Hill "absolutely" has a shot to start next year and expects him to get back to full-speed. Ingram said his son has already turned his attention to 2022. 

“When it first happened it was really a shock to him, but now he’s in good spirits,” Ingram said. “We talk to him a lot on FaceTime and he’s laughing while he’s doing pre-rehab. I think we’re going to go down and stay a couple weeks with him after the surgery just to make sure everything’s good. 

“But he’s been through it before and  should be ready to go for next season. He’s a hard worker and he has flipped his mindset to, ‘This is what I have to do now.’ So it’s just all about doing that.”

With Hill sidelined, Florida cornerbacks Avery Helm, Ethan Pouncey and Jason Marshall Jr., a five-star freshman, will be competing with recent transfers Jadarrius Perkins and Elijah Blades to start opposite Kaiir Elam.

“There’ll be a bunch of guys," Mullen said. "You’re still in training camp. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for guys coming in. We have Perkins, transferred in, going to have an opportunity. Obviously, Avery Helm who I think is going to be extremely talented. Might just have to accelerate his career to get him on the field.

"Pouncey coming off the surgery is really kind of getting back to the player we thought he could be. There’s going to be some of those young guys that might just get a little more opportunity than they were expecting at this point.”