Chris Dunkley suspended, Gators banged up

Chris Dunkley and Andre Debose, Florida’s top two wide receiver recruits over the past few years, have both failed to make much of an impact early in their career as Gators.

With a new offense being installed in Gainesville during spring football practice, it seemed like the perfect chance for both young pass catchers to carve out a spot in the rotation.

But that hasn’t happened.

Dunkley, a 6-foot, 172-pound redshirt freshman, has been suspended from the team indefinitely, head coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday.

“Chris has been suspended from the team at this point,” he said. “He just academically needs to handle some things.”

The prized player from Pahokee struggled to make it on the field last season after a hamstring injury limited him in fall camp.

The injury lingered throughout the season, and Dunkley redshirted while some of Florida’s other true freshman receivers earned playing time and saw some game reps.

Debose, like Dunkley, was limited by a hamstring injury early in his career.

As a true freshman, Debose spent his first year on campus recovering from hamstring surgery while taking a redshirt.

Last season, he flashed his explosive play-making potential on a pair of kickoff-return touchdowns, but failed to break out offensively after injuring his ankle on a return against Mississippi State.

This spring, he’s been limited by another ankle sprain.

And he’s far from the only Florida player who has had a tough time getting on the field in spring football because of an injury.

The Gators are dangerously thin on the offensive line right now, with only six scholarship players currently competing.

“I may line up at left tackle,” Muschamp joked, talking about Saturday’s spring game. “I wouldn’t want to be the blind side there, but…”

As he’s reiterated all spring, Muschamp won’t rely on injured players when it’s time to decide starting lineups next fall.

He understands injuries are part of the game, but if he can’t evaluate a player in practice then he’s not comfortable just putting them into a game when they’re healthy, no matter their experience level.

Still, the new head was surprisingly even-keeled despite his team’s injury concerns.

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “The kids will work through it, and we’ll manage it. That’s what we’ve got, so we’re going to do the best we can with what we have.”