Redshirt junior Justus Boone eager to get back on the football field in 2024

Redshirt junior Justus Boone has found significant development both as a football player and a human being throughout his three years at the University of Florida. It didn’t come without facing adversity, however.

In fall camp of 2023, Boone suffered a torn ACL during a post-play celebration in one of Florida’s preseason scrimmages, which sidelined the South Carolina native for the entire year. Expected to be a major contributor on the Gators’ defense a year ago, Boone was simply heartbroken.

“I can’t even put into words how hard it was,” Boone said. “This is my family. Like honestly, my family away from my family. It’s hard being away from my real family, so I take pride in the family that’s here. So, it was just very tough. Over my years, I’ve put my head down and I’ve progressed each year. And I’ve worked hard to be in a position that I’ve been put into as far as being a leader, being a part of the defense. And just to have it kind of stripped away from you in the moment is very devastating. But I can honestly say that I’m at peace with it and I found a lot of peace during my time of rehabbing and while it happened.”

The road to recovery was not smooth sailing for the 6’4, 267-pound edge rusher. Wanting to physically be there for his teammates, something as simple as putting a smile on his face was difficult for Boone.

“It was probably weeks and months where it was really hard for me, because I love these guys more than anything,” Boone said. “It’s my home away from home, my family away from my family, so it just meant a whole lot to me. I take a whole lot of pride in what I do for my team and the type of energy and image that I bring to them, so it was just like very challenging because I just didn’t like for them to see me wounded and I didn’t like being as physically active or as physical interactive with them as I wanted to. So yeah, it was just probably the biggest thing, just being able to face them every day and come in here with a smile on my face and knowing that I got to work hard so I can get back and be what I needed to be.”

Boone leaned on his relationship with God and belief in himself throughout these challenging times.

“I just learned I’m a lot more tougher than I thought I was,” Boone said. “I wouldn’t say that I don’t think I’m a tough guy, just seeing myself push through some things that have been really challenging and that I didn’t just honestly see myself pushing through, but I was consistent and I was faithful and I believed that I could do it, and I’m doing good.”

Looking back on his injury from less than a year ago, Boone now views his circumstance in a positive light. While still limited in practice, Boone developed stronger leadership skills in his time off the field, focusing on not only returning 100% physically, but mentally as well.

“I feel very good,” Boone said after Florida’s 6th spring practice. “Honestly I can say that my injury gave me a different perspective, as far as coming from a leader, being a teammate, and I honestly can see things from a different point of view. I was able to see things from a different point of view, so I honestly think I’m better for them, I’m more equipped for them. Although I may not be 100% back physically, I’m 100% mentally, and I’ve gotten stronger over the past few months, and I’m continuing to get stronger.”

Boone is back on the football field working with his unit in limited fashion. The Gators don’t plan on rushing him back, but he’s ahead of schedule and expected to play in Florida’s week one game against Miami.

“No words, man. I honestly just can’t express enough how much I love this team, love this facility, love this school, love just everything about it,” Boone said on the feeling of returning to the gridiron. “And every day I just pour myself and I give everything I got every day for the team, for myself so that I can repay them what I feel that I owe. Honestly, I can’t even put into words how excited I am to be back and how eager I am to be back.”

Head Coach Billy Napier has spoken highly of Boone throughout his two years in Gainesville, claiming he’s one of his favorite players he’s ever coached. Boone acknowledged that Napier’s guidance has played a critical role in the person he is today.

“It feels really good,” Boone said on the support of Napier. “Coach Napier, since like he got here my second year, he’s been like mentoring me. Like, when he first got here, I wasn’t always with the best crowd, I was still a little young, not necessarily doing everything I had to do, and he just kind of stepped on me a little bit, told me that ‘Hey, come on, I see a lot of you and you could do better.’ And I appreciate him for it, and I believed in him and I started to believe in myself, and I made the changes that I needed to make.”

Boone has logged just 267 snaps in his collegiate career but is expected to play a significant role off the edge in 2024. Gator Country will continue to track his development on the field as we creep closer to fall camp.





Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.