The Florida Gators will be without leading receiver Tyrie Cleveland and backup defensive tackle Kyree Campbell this week when they host LSU.
Cleveland suffered a high ankle sprain late in a win over Vanderbilt last Saturday. Undeterred, the receiver tried to gut it out this week in practice, according to McElwain, but was officially ruled out of the contest on Wednesday.
“To this guy’s credit he was in there working his tail off trying to get back to play,” McElwain said. “It’s one of those deals when you go through that, he’d do anything to go out and get on the field and I think that speaks not only for him.”
The problem for Cleveland is the possibility of making his injury worse by playing. Cleveland leads the Gators in receptions (15), yards (326), yards-per-catch (21.73) and touchdowns (2). His 98-yard touchdown reception against LSU last year was the offensive play of the game and he’s been Florida’s lone deep threat on the season. Florida would love to have him this week against LSU but risking making the injury worse and potentially affecting his availability for the rest of the year isn’t worth the risk to McElwain.
“The one thing is, you know, when you’re truly hurt the thing you can do is make it worse and prolong it,” he said. “I’m a believer that, you know what? When it’s right and it’s ready, he’ll be out there.”
Florida will also be without backup defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, who played more snaps than he had all season against Vanderbilt last week. With Khairi Clark limited by a calf injury, Campbell was thrust into a larger role. He suffered a knee injury last Saturday and had the knee scoped this week.
“I think there’s an outside chance he might be back next week based on what he had done,” said McElwain. “He had it cleaned up and should be in pretty good shape.”
Clark is progressing well with his injury and will play more than the 19 snaps he was limited to last week against Vanderbilt. Campbell missing the game will put more pressure and playing time on freshmen TJ Slaton and Elijah Conliffe.