The Florida Gators coaching staff entered spring with their fingers crossed and bated breath. The numbers at key positions were low and they knew that needed everyone to stay healthy if they were going to be able to make it out of spring camp alive.
For 90 percent of spring practice that was the case. Then, last Friday, Rod Johnson went down with a stinger — a common football injury, but one that is exacerbated in Johnson’s case due to previous injuries.
“They went in and found out there were some things that he might have had well before from that area,” Jim McElwain said a week ago.
It turns out to be more serious than just a common injury and the look of worry, change of demeanor and seriousness that came over McElwain when asked about Johnson following the Orange and Blue Debut was telling.
“We actually should get the final doc probably on Monday there,” he said. “Doesn’t look great and one thing I’ll tell you this about any player. I will never, ever put him out there in harm’s way.”
Johnson was scratched from the last week of practice while the medical staff continued to run tests and X-Rays on him. McElwain said the process would be thorough and that Johnson would seek several opinions.
“We’ve got a medical staff that looks at everything. We send the things all over the country to specialists and I’ll have more on that probably Monday,” said McElwain. “Life’s too short, man. Ain’t gonna do it, ain’t gonna do it to a young guy.”
His teammates were less grim. Treon Harris noted that losing Johnson on the right side of the line was a big loss to the team and that they need him back.
“I expect him to be back,” said Harris. “I pray every day that he comes back. We need him. Whatever happens, happens, but I hope he can come back.”
McElwain was asked directly if the injury could end Johnson’s career. “Well, every injury is.”
Losing Johnson would be a devastating blow to an offensive line unit that will already probably be one of the weakest on the offense. Florida will know more on Monday about the future but McElwain’s demeanor on Saturday didn’t sound like he was expecting good news.