Nearly two weeks after the Florida Gators were forced to pause football activities following an outbreak of COVID-19, the team returned to practice on Monday, according to ESPN's Andrea Adelson.
When the program came to a halt on Oct. 13, head coach Dan Mullen and two assistant coaches had tested positive, in addition to 26 players. Mullen said Monday the team has not returned a positive test since Saturday and will be able to produce an SEC-minimum 53 players for Saturday's game against Missouri.
Mullen, who experienced mild symptoms, would not say how many players would be at practice Monday, but that the team was looking forward to returning to the field in a practice that will be focused on "just getting our guys into the regular game-week routine."
"I don't expect us to come out there and have our sharpest, most crisp practice of the year, but I expect us to have great energy, excitement and enthusiasm to be back out there to get going as we build up to Saturday," he said, per Adelson.
Per SEC protocols, the Gators must follow a four-day re-acclimation period, with the first day of practice being conducted at 25 percent of normal, working up to 100 percent four days later.
Mullen said that the team is viewing their Oct. 10 road loss to Texas A&M as the start of the outbreak within the team, with the team having few positives until they returned from their first trip of the season:
"We always knew travel was going to be a concern and an issue for us. We got through Game 1 without an issue and we thought, 'OK we're headed in the right direction.' Unfortunately, you throw the virus in the middle of [a trip] with obviously someone having it on the team or at least maybe two people having it on the team, and you put it into that environment, you're going to get a spread, especially for us with a team that had so few numbers."
All of the players and staff that took the trip to Texas were told to quarantine, not just individuals who tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did, according to athletic director Scott Stricklin, who appeared in a video statement released by the athletic department on Friday.