The recruitment of ESPN150-rated inside linebacker Alex Anzalone was a shock, as he flipped from Notre Dame to Florida in the late stages of the 2013 recruiting cycle.
Now, however, the early enrollee’s spring ends in an equally as shocking fashion. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Anzalone was slated as the backup to starting middle linebacker Antonio Morrison in Spring practices. However, coach Will Muschamp and his staff will have to wait until the fall to get him back on the football field after he tore his labrum in his right shoulder.
He already had surgery on Monday.
“It’s a freak deal,” Muschamp told ESPN. “It was in a tackling drill. He just got hit on it the wrong way. Disappointed for him but he’s going to be a really good player, so we’re going to be fine.”
The rehabilitation time for a torn labrum is generally set at six months, but obviously a strict regimen will fast-forward that process. While, of course, sustaining such an injury is never ideal, but at the very least Anzalone went down early enough in the Spring that he will be ready for the season.
Following the graduation of team leader and starting middle linebacker Jon Bostic, sophomore-to-be Antonio Morrison was moved from his spot at backup weakside linebacker to first-stringer in the middle. Last year’s starter at the weakside, Jelani Jenkins, is also headed to the NFL Draft, freeing up the position for Michael Taylor. Beyond those two, Muschamp will look towards Darrin Kitchens and Neiron Ball, who both have starting experience and who can both move between all three linebacker positions.
The position is not exactly one that Muschamp is worried about heading into a 2013 season loaded with expectations. However, as talented as Anzalone is, he was going to be able to make a name for himself as a true freshman in The Swamp.
He still may, but now it depends upon how well he rehabs his shoulder, as opposed to how well he learns the playbook or brings down running backs in practice.