Fresh off the team’s bye week, Florida coach Jim McElwain admitted the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Gators to regroup and get healthy.
Four players – tight end C’yontai Lewis, defensive tackle Joey Ivie, defensive back Marcell Harris and running back Case Harrison – returned to practice after missing considerable time with injury.
Harris played primarily on special teams last season, but the redshirt sophomore has often seen first-team defensive drills in practice.
With the absence of Keanu Neal early in the season and All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves being hampered with injuries, Harris has been elevated to a situational corner during games.
But the Orlando native aggravated a previous ankle injury in practice on Oct. 15, and he missed Florida’s 35-28 loss to No. 4 LSU.
“It’s a high ankle sprain,” McElwain said of what Harris is returning from, before joking, “I never remember playing when you had an ankle sprain and they categorized it as high or low or in-between or mid.”
With the return of Lewis, the Gators have another pass-catching tight end for sophomore quarterback Treon Harris to target.
UF’s tight ends last season – Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook – combined for just 237 yards on 26 catches with three touchdowns. But this season, the position has been revived under tight ends coordinator Greg Nord.
Florida’s trio of pass-catching tight ends – Jake McGee, DeAndre Goolsby and Lewis – have combined for 464 yards and six touchdowns on 39 receptions through only seven games. The addition of Lewis back in to the lineup, who has two touchdowns on just three receptions for 50 yards, should boost the Gators’ offensive production.
“C’yontai will be back finally,” McElwain said. “He got cleared from the breakage of that hand, so he’ll be in a light little splint but should be able to have full use of it.”