Gators DT Dominique Easley tears ACL, lost for season
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee.
Easley suffered the injury Tuesday night near the end of Florida's practice in a non-contact situation. The Gators' practice was pushed back to 7-9 p.m. due to inclement weather.
Gators head coach Will Muschamp was hopeful Easley's injury was not as serious as tests revealed.
"As I said earlier today on the SEC conference call, Dominique injured his right knee in practice in a non-contact situation," Muschamp said following Wednesday’s practice. "Test results have revealed that he suffered a tear of both his ACL and medial meniscus, which will require season-ending surgery.
"I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season. Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach. Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process."
This is the second time Easley has suffered a torn ACL. In the final regular-season game of his sophomore season in 2011, Easley suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and missed Florida's win over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.
He returned to play 11 games last season and finished the season with 26 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and four sacks. Easley recently said he felt back to full speed after getting re-acclimated to the game a year ago.
"My confidence was really messing me up,’" he said at the time. "I feel like my old self now."
Easley was backing it up with his play on the field. While his stats (five tackles, two TFL) were not overwhelming, Easley's presence was hard to miss in Florida's first three games.
"Dominique is a guy that has a great motor, great enthusiasm as you can see on the field," Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Wednesday. "I think that’s a contagious thing. He plays the game the way we want guys to play on defense.
"With all that being said, he’s a part of the whole team, guys I think are playing well and doing things. We plan for (injuries) everywhere and that's why we play a lot of guys."
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Easley has drawn rave reviews for his early season play and recently projected to be a high pick in next April's NFL Draft.
In 32 career games, Easley has 72 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
"I want to leave my mark here," Easley said after Florida’s season-opening win over Toledo. "I want to be considered a Gator Great."
In other injury news, Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel underwent successful surgery on his fractured right fibula Wednesday afternoon. Driskel was injured in the first quarter of Saturday's 31-17 win over Tennessee.
Driskel had a plate and screws inserted in his fractured fibula, and doctors also repaired his medial ligaments and put two screws across his ankle joint.