The Florida Gators announced a crushing blow on Thursday, as senior safety Marcell Harris will be missing the upcoming 2017 college football season after tearing his Achilles tendon.
Harris is indisputably coming off his best season in Gainesville. In 13 games in 2016, the Groveland native racked up 73 tackles, 4 TFL, a sack, two interceptions, a forced fumble and recovery and a pass defended. He helped lead a defensive unit that finished 4th in S&P+ (13.4), 6th in Points Per Game Allowed (16.8) and a pass defense that finished 6th in S&P+ (130.8) and 4th in Passing Success Rate (30.6%).
The Gators do have some added secondary depth from their 2017 recruiting class, having added three four-star cornerbacks, two three-star corners and, perhaps more importantly, a three-star safety in Donovan Stiner.
The issue lies within an already youthful secondary that will have to adapt quickly. They do have seniors Duke Dawson and Joseph Putu at cornerback and redshirt senior Nick Washington patrolling as the other safety, but the rest of the bunch right now are all sophomores and freshmen. Granted, a lot of versatility can come into play here with the players they have and McElwain and his staff can certainly get creative with the options that they have.
But, the loss of Harris is certainly a big one for Florida, to say the very least.