Injuries Piling Up for Florida Football During Spring Practice

Florida defensive back Bryce Thornton (18) and other defensive players gather for a drill during
Florida defensive back Bryce Thornton (18) and other defensive players gather for a drill during / Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun / USA

As the Florida Gators work through their spring practice schedule, Billy Napier's squad is already dealing with a rash of injuries across the roster that is limiting availability and reps for key players.

On the defensive side, sophomore edge rusher Kelby Collins returned to practice this week, though he was sporting a non-contact jersey. The specifics of Collins' ailment are unclear, but defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has voiced high expectations for the sophomore's development.

Unfortunately, the linebacking corps took a hit with the news that freshman Myles Graham will miss the remainder of spring drills after undergoing a back procedure last week. The former four-star recruit was expected to provide quality depth in 2023.

The defensive line rotation is also depleted as junior Justus Boone continues recovering from a torn ACL suffered prior to last season. While able to participate in a limited non-contact fashion, Boone will be brought along cautiously this spring as he targets a return for the start of the upcoming season.

Linebackers Shemar James (knee) and Derek Wingo (shoulder) were also observed working out in non-contact jerseys as they nurse injuries.

Offensively, the line has arguably been the position group hit hardest by the injury bug. Kam Waites is recovering from a calf strain, while Austin Barber nurses a shoulder issue that has severely limited his practice participation this spring.

In more positive injury news, senior cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. returned to full participation this week after being limited over the weekend.

The rash of injuries forced plenty of mixing-and-matching of personnel across position groups during the open viewing window. As Napier aims to build cohesion and install schemes, overcoming the personnel losses will make efficient practice reps more difficult.

Several other Gators are sidelined completely, including tight ends Keon Zipperer and Gavin Hill along with wide receiver Andy Jean.

As Florida preps for their first scrimmage situation this Saturday, maximizing reps for available bodies will be critical. The injury situation is far from ideal and will test the Gators' depth, while potentially expediting the development of underclassmen seeing increased practice snaps.