Published: August 8, 2013   |
Updated: August 8, 2013 at 06:05 AM
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida suffered another injury in a preseason filled with issues when further examination of senior WR Andre Debose revealed he has a torn ACL and is done for the season.
Debose could receive a sixth season through a medical redshirt. He also missed his freshman season with a torn hamstring and has had an injury-filled career since originally being recruited in 2009. Debose returned four kickoffs in his career for touchdowns — tying the SEC record — and his 27.4-yard average per kickoff returns ranks second in the league all-time.
Debose tore the ACL in his left knee on Tuesday night. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Wednesday it was “tweaked’’ but he had walked off the field on his own. Further examination Wednesday, however, revealed the injury was more serious.
“I know that Andre is disappointed,’’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “He had been doing very well in camp and we were more than pleased with his effort and attitude. Andre was hurt in a non-contact situation. He just planted his foot and there was a tear.
“He will have surgery after the swelling goes down. It is unfortunate, and you feel bad anytime that someone is injured, and the coaching staff and our team will be very supportive in assisting Andre during his recovery.’’
Debose played in 31 games, with eight starts. He had 29 catches for 543 yards and four touchdowns — all coming in 2011, his best season as a receiver.
It was on kick returns that he made his mark, tying Brandon Boykin (Georgia), Willie Gault (Tennessee) and Felix Jones (Arkansas) with four TDs.
Last season, Debose set the Gators’ single-season record for kickoff return average (28.3 yards) and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, the longest return in the game’s history.
Debose said last week that he realized this was his last go-round and he was preparing to have a big year.
“I feel like I’ve worked hard to get ready,’’ he said. “I think this could be a big year for me. ‘’
There’s still a chance he could return next fall, if the NCAA allows an extra year.
Bulls to emphasize TE in offense
TAMPA — University of South Florida junior TE Mike McFarland was beaming when asked about training camp.
“It has been going pretty amazing,’’ he said.
Sure enough, it’s a great time to be a tight end at USF.
First-year Bulls coach Willie Taggart has a history of emphasizing the tight end. At Western Kentucky, TE Jack Doyle, now a rookie with the Tennessee Titans, was the Hilltoppers’ leading receiver the past two seasons with 52 and 53 catches, respectively.
Taggart learned that tight end emphasis under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, and the philosophy is now prevalent with the San Francisco 49ers, where TE Vernon Davis is flourishing.
“Our offense kind of revolves around the tight end,’’ said McFarland, who had just four receptions last season, even after making several head-turning catches during the 2012 spring game. “Just to be associated with this type of offense … it just gives me chills to think about the things we can accomplish.”
TURNOVER EMPHASIS: USF’s defense had just nine takeaways last season (seven fumble recoveries, two interceptions), so it’s not surprising first-year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is emphasizing turnovers. The lofty goal might seem shocking.
“We’re trying to get to 58,’’ Bulls LB Reshard Cliett said.
The Football Bowl Subdivision record for takeaways is 57 by Tennessee in 1970.
Fisher won’t miss player tweets
TALLAHASSEE — While Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said it wasn’t his decision to ban Twitter, he probably didn’t start sobbing when he was told the FSU “Unity Council,” made up of underclassmen, decided to institute that policy for the 2013 season.
As much as Seminole fans might enjoy those late-night Twitter barrages from the likes of James Wilder Jr., who became so prolific at tweeting you half expect him to have @IAm_Wilder32 on his uniform this fall, it really doesn’t do a whole lot of good (or any, really) for the team, in Fisher’s eyes.
The Unity Council apparently feels the same way.
“They thought it eliminated clutter and things that go on,” Fisher said. “That was not me ... and that was their decision to try to eliminate some of the social media to keep guys focused.”
POSITION CHANGES: Fisher said redshirt sophomore Giorgio Newberry will be moving from defensive end to tight end for the 2013 season. It bolsters a position that saw one tight end (Kevin Haplea) suffer a season-ending injury and another (Christo Kourtzidis) transfer in the offseason.
“It was something we were planning on doing anyway,” Fisher said. “(For his) presence and size. For his future. I think he could be a defensive end, but I think he can be a tremendous edge blocker. He’s a big guy — 6-6, 285.
“When you watch film, if you don’t have that big, physical tight end ... you have to be able to handle those (defensive) ends. Those ends are getting bigger and stronger. If you want to be able to get those edges, you’ve got to be physical.”