VIDEO: Florida Gator Marcell Harris To Miss 2017 Football Season With Torn Achilles Tendon
By By Will Pantages and Harry Fodder, Florida Gators // July 26, 2017
Former Tiger chauncey gardner may play key role
ABOVE VIDEO: Marcell Harris one week prior to tearing his Achilles Tendon at the 2017 SEC Media Days.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Marcell Harris’ 2017 season is over before it began.
The Florida redshirt senior safety, who was one of three players representing the Gators at the SEC Media Days, has been lost for the year with a torn right Achilles tendon he suffered last Wednesday participating in team run activities.
“As a coach this is one of the hardest things you are faced with,” Head Coach Jim McElwain said.
“Here is a kid who has made great personal growth during his time here and has really matured both on and off the field.”
“It is tough to see a player invest so much in himself and his teammates and have this happen, but I do know that we will support him every step of the way as he works through this injury.”
Harris played in all 13 games last season and started in eight at safety.
Overall in 2016, the Orlando, Fla. native totaled 73 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack, two interceptions, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In addition, he scored the first touchdown of his career on special teams at FSU on a fumbled punt.
Harris has appeared in 37 games during his career at UF.
WHAT EFFECT DOES INJURY HAVE ON SECONDARY
Harris stepped into the starting free safety spot last year when Marcus Maye suffered a broken arm and figured to be there when Florida opened its season Sept. 2 against Michigan in Arlington, Texas.
Harris was at the forefront of two of the biggest plays of the 2016 season: the epic goal-line stand on the final play at LSU to clinch the Southeastern Conference East Division, plus another goal-line denial against Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
The injury to Harris leaves a pair of seniors, strong safety Nick Washington (38 games) and cornerback Duke Dawson (37 games), as UF’s most experienced players returning in the secondary.
Sophomore Chauncey Gardner, Jr., the Most Valuable Player of the Outback Bowl after intercepting a pair of passes and returning one for a touchdown, is next and definitely in the frontline mix.
Those three figure to be on the field with the first-team defense when practice starts next month, though the Florida coaching staff may take its time figuring where they’ll line up.
ABOVE VIDEO: Cocoa grad and Sophomore Gator Chauncey Gardner, Jr., the Most Valuable Player of the Outback Bowl after intercepting a pair of passes and returning one for a touchdown, is next and definitely in the frontline mix.
Gardner spent the entire spring working at the corner opposite Dawson, but his MVP performance in the bowl game came while playing safety after Washington missed the final three games with an ankle injury.
Dawson, who played safety as a freshman in 2014, could be in conversations for the safety spot.
After those three, a handful of Gator defensive backs will have to grow up quickly.
Sophomore Jeawon Taylor appeared in 10 games last season, but almost all on special teams before his season ended with an injury against FSU that kept him out of spring practice.
Senior Joseph Putu had a similar experience to Taylor, playing almost exclusively on special teams, but without the injury.
Quincy Lenton spent his true freshman season redshirting, while classmate C.J. McWilliams suffered a knee injury last summer, spent the fall rehabbing and missed the spring.
Unless Gardner or Dawson move to safety, that’s a lot of inexperience on the back end. Then again, is that any better than inexperience in man coverage on the corner?
Pick your poison.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY SPORTS