GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New Florida running backs coach Greg Knox said Gators standout Malik Davis is “coming along well” after his season-ending knee injury last fall, but he couldn’t speak to any timeline for Davis’ return to action.
“He’s limited in certain things he does throughout our workouts, agility stuff. I think one thing we talked about was his weight, getting his weight up. We’ll take him through spring and just see how he does,” Knox said Thursday.
“I don’t know [his availability] right now. That will be left up to our trainer, how they see his progression coming along from the surgery and everything, so we’ll just play it day by day with him.”
As Knox was addressing Davis’ availability in the spring, a follow-up question was asked whether that means he’s confident Davis would be available by the fall.
“Again, that goes back to our trainers. I take everything I get from the trainers, evaluate that and look at it. Then they’ll tell me how much to use him, how much I can’t use him, when I can use him, when I can’t use him,” Knox said. “So everything will be dictated from his rehab progression and where he’s at and what our training staff feels he’s capable of doing.”
Davis sustained a serious season-ending knee injury during Florida’s loss to Georgia on Oct. 28. The specifics of the injury were never released, and Davis’ family has declined to speak about his recovery process out of respect for the running back’s privacy.
So it has been a mystery as to how long the injury will sideline him or how realistic it would be for him to rejoin the mix at running back in 2018.
Davis was off to an incredible freshman season last fall, rushing for 526 yards and 2 touchdowns on a team-leading 6.7 yards per carry prior to the injury.
He had received only 1 carry in the opener and turned 4 carries into 94 yards in the Gators’ second game, against Tennessee, before earning a larger workload. He’d end up with five straight games of at least 90 rushing yards, and his average in those games (99.6 YPG) had him on pace to become the first Florida freshman to lead the team in rushing since Fred Taylor in 1994 and the first Gators back to rush for 1,000 yards in his first college season since Emmitt Smith in 1987.
The injury was a crushing blow to Davis and the Gators, robbing the offense of a breakout star and one of its few positives from last season.
Whenever he does return, Davis will join a crowded backfield that was boosted with the reinstatement of 2016 starter Jordan Scarlett, who was suspended all of last season while opening the door for Davis.
Additionally, junior Lamical Perine returns as the Gators’ leading rusher (562 yards, 8 TDs). Sophomore Adarius Lemons showed his potential at the end of the season (7.2 yards per carry on 19 attempts) and 4-star freshman newcomers Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement join the mix as well.
But Florida fans certainly would love to see a healthy Davis back on the field.