ACL Injury to Florida WR Andre Debose Is Devastating to Gators' Title Hopes

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 8, 2013

One of the primary questions facing the Florida Gators this fall centers around their wide receiving corps and whether or not this group will be able to kick-start the SEC's worst passing offense from a season ago.

If it can, it will do so without one of its most experienced pieces.

Redshirt senior Andre Debose will miss the season after tearing his ACL in a non-contact drill, Florida announced on Wednesday.

"He had been doing very well in camp and we were more than pleased with his effort and attitude," head coach Will Muschamp said. "It is unfortunate and you feel bad anytime that someone is injured, and the coaching staff and our team will be very supportive in assisting Andre during his recovery."

Despite being a redshirt senior, Debose could request a medical redshirt and come back in 2014 if he decides to continue his college career.

Either way, Debose's absence is devastating to the Gators' SEC division title hopes in 2013.

On paper, his career as a wide receiver doesn't jump off the page. He had 29 career receptions for 543 yards and four touchdowns during his first three seasons in Gainesville. He entered fall camp battling Latroy Pittman and Solomon Patton for the starting spot at "Z" receiver, according to the most recent Gators depth chart.

But regardless of how the wide receivers shake out, Debose was versatile enough that he would have found his way into the lineup in some capacity. He's quick, fast and can be a true home-run hitter.

Whether it was as a decoy or with the ball in his hands, Debose's physical ability would have earned him playing time.

His absence will be felt most on special teams, where he established himself as a true weapon in the return game. From 2010-12, he returned 59 kickoffs for 1,592 yards and four touchdowns. Those four kickoff returns for touchdowns match the most in SEC history.

New rules that have moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line have minimized the impact of kickoff returners, but when you have an offense that's inconsistent at best, field position becomes even more of a factor than normal. 

Debose was a threat to take it to the house anytime he touched the ball, but even if he made just a couple of players miss and got the ball to the 40-yard line instead of the 25, that would have been a major benefit to the Florida offense.

Hopefully this isn't the end of Debose's career. If he comes back to the Gators next year, all of that potential can be realized.