Things Just Got Alittle Tougher For the Gators
How things can change. Just last week redshirt senior starting safety Marcell Harris was at the 2017 SEC Media Days representing the Florida Gators and today has been lost for the entire 2017 season. Harris tore his right Achilles tendon during “team-run activities” on Wednesday and will be out for the year.
“As a coach this is one of the hardest things you are faced with,” said head coach Jim McElwain in a statement. “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 started eight of the 13 games he played in 2016 and was expected to move into a permanent starting role in his final season with Florida. Considering the numerous losses the Gators have already suffered on defense due to early departures and graduation, this is a major hit for a unit that was focused on rebuilding itself with new personnel and a new coordinator entering 2017.
One of three returning starters in 2017, Harris has played in 37 games over his three active seasons after taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2013. He will likely apply for a medical redshirt to obtain an additional year of eligibility.
Florida must now figure out how to retool its already-in-flux secondary, which loses one of two seniors on the back end. Sophomore defensive back Chauncey Gardner, who played in all 16 games as a true freshman and started UF’s final three contests at safety 2016, was expected to play cornerback in 2017. It would not be a surprise to see him move into Harris’ vacant spot at safety.