GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Freshman linebacker Nick Smith won’t be active when Florida starts preseason camp in less than two weeks after he sustained a knee injury during a recent offseason workout.
Fernando Smith, the linebacker’s father, said his son is set for further tests Monday to assess the severity of the injury, but it is believed to be a meniscus tear of some degree.
“They won’t know until they go in there Monday. There’s some tear in it,” Fernando Smith said. “Hopefully in 6-8 weeks he should be able to bounce back and make a decision on what he wants to do.”
Smith, rated a 3-star linebacker by the 247Sports composite, signed with the Gators after racking up 96 tackles (15 for loss), 3 forced fumbles and an interception last fall while helping Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando to the Florida Class 8A state championship game.
Prior to this setback, he was hoping to make an immediate impact as a rotation option behind Florida’s young starting linebackers.
The elder Smith said Nick told him his knee “gave out” while taking a step during a workout last week.
“He’s got good spirits. The first thing that came out of his mouth to me was, ‘Dad, I don’t want to hear nothing but positive things,'” Fernando Smith said. “Like I told him, it could have happened doing any drill; it just so happened [to occur] now going into your freshman year. So let’s get it cleaned up and come back stronger.”
Fernando Smith played seven seasons in the NFL as an outside linebacker and defensive end after being drafted in the second round in 1994 from Jackson State.
The family had hoped that Nick, a talented point guard in high school as well, also might get involved with the Gators basketball program. But any conversation with the coaching staff about that possibility is on hold for now.
The primary focus is getting more information on the severity of the injury and making a decision about the upcoming football season. Fernando Smith planned to be in Gainesville later this weekend to discuss that matter with his son.
“I was going to sit down with him tomorrow and explain some stuff to him. What’s the pros and cons of sitting out, waiting, taking another year to heal, let your body heal up, get a chance to see the game from the sideline,” he said. “It’s got pros and cons to each and every thing. You really don’t want to rush back out there if you’re not at full ability.”
It’s been a bad week of injury news for the Gators, who announced on Thursday that senior safety Marcell Harris is done for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon during a workout.