The injury nightmare for Florida fans has been confirmed: Star defensive lineman Dominique Easley suffered a torn ACL during non-contact drills in a recent practice. Rumors of the tear had first been reported by Zach Abolverdi.
However, during the weekly SEC teleconference, coach Will Muschamp only told reporters that Easley had “tweaked” his knee and would be missing a few days of practice. Florida fans took a deep sigh of relief. After all, a season-ending injury to Easley would serve as the second to a headline player in less than a week. Quarterback Jeff Driskel broke his fibula against Tennessee and will also be watching from the sidelines.
Following recent tests, unfortunately, Muschamp released a statement communicating the bad news.
“Test results have revealed that he suffered a tear of both his ACL and medial meniscus, which will require season-ending surgery,” Muschamp said in the statement.
“I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season.”
After Muschamp’s initial announcement of a “tweak,” Easley had issued an extremely cryptic tweet. He explained that he was thanking fans for their support, but that God has different plans for him.
“Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process.”
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Easley had been penciled in as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick in 2014. He was tied for the team lead with four quarterback hurries this year.
“Dominique is a guy that has a great motor, great enthusiasm as you can see on the field,” Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “I think that’s a contagious thing. I think he’s been very disruptive to many teams in the backfield. He plays the game the way we want guys to play on defense.”
This is not the first ACL tear for the young star. Easley tore the ligament in his left knee against Florida State in 2011 but returned in time for 2012. This most recent tear is in his right knee.
Along with Driskel, the Gators have also lost offensive tackle Chaz Green (torn labrum), receiver Andre Debose (torn ACL) and linebacker Matt Rolin (torn ACL) for the year.
Muschamp and the Gators healthy enough to take the field travel to Kentucky for an SEC East showdown on Saturday.