Florida LB Jelani Jenkins fractures thumb, out four weeks

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Florida's comeback victory at Texas A&M might have been the biggest one yet of Will Muschamp's young Gator tenure. But Muschamp confirmed Monday the victory had come at a price.

The second-year Florida coach announced that junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins, the Gators' third-leading tackler in 2011 and a potential All-SEC candidate, will miss up to four weeks with a broken thumb suffered against the Aggies.

Per the Orlando Sentinel, Muschamp said that Jenkins had surgery Monday but could potentially return sooner if he's cleared to play with a cast. Florida travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to play fellow 2-0 starter Tennessee on Saturday.

Jenkins was replaced in the lineup against A&M by true freshman Antonio Morrison, who collected six tackles. The Bolingbrook, Ill., native was considered a four-star recruit and one of the nation's top linebacking prospects in the class of 2012.

Despite those accolades and Morrison's bright start against the Aggies, Muschamp will want Jenkins back as quickly as possible. With 23 starts and more than 150 tackles to his name after arriving at Florida as the nation's No. 1 linebacker recruit, Jenkins represents both the Gators' most experienced linebacker and arguably their most talented.

The injury news for the Gators isn't all bad. Muschamp also announced that after the groin strain that hampered him at times vs. Texas A&M, running back Mike Gillislee "will be fine this weekend." Given the huge jolt that Gillislee has given the Gator offense the first two weeks, the news about Gillislee is as good for Muschamp as the Jenkins injury is bad.

But longer-term, there's still more negatives than positives. Not only is Jenkins likely to miss more time than just the Tennessee game, but junior defensive back Cody Riggs -- who started the A&M game in the nickel -- fractured his foot against the Aggies and also is expected to miss a month.

And the injury news for the Gators gets even worse: junior defensive end and former No. 1 overall recruit Ronald Powell suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from his April ACL tear, Muschamp said. Powell now likely will redshirt this season.

 
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