Florida safety Marcell Harris returned to Florida for his senior season for a chance to lead a young defense and raise his draft stock. Instead, he’ll be watching his teammates play from the sidelines.
Harris tore the Achilles tendon in his right ankle and will miss the 2017 season, the school announced Thursday.
“As a coach this is one of the hardest things you are faced with,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said in a release. “Here is a kid who has made great personal growth during his time here and has really matured both on and off the field. It is tough to see a player invest so much in himself and his teammates and have this happen, but I do know that we will support him every step of the way as he works through this injury.”
Harris led the Gators with 73 tackles last season and also added four tackles-for-loss, one sack, two interceptions, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. After splitting starting reps throughout the early part of the season, Harris stepped into the starting lineup full-time in 2016 after Marcus Maye suffered a season-ending injury against South Carolina.
In the final four games of the season, Harris recorded 38 total tackles. He was part of the final tackle in the goal-line stand to seal Florida’s 16-10 win against LSU.
He was expected to be a veteran presence for a defense that lost eight starters from the 2016 season, including Maye and cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson
With Harris sidelined, redshirt senior Nick Washington and sophomore Chauncey Gardner are likely to be Florida’s top safeties in 2017. Sophomore Jeawon Taylor and redshirt freshman Quincy Lenton are likely primed to get increased roles on the defense as well.