GAINESVILLE (AP) — Jake McGee was supposed to be a big part of Florida’s offense this season.
Instead, the Gators will have to figure out how to replace the Virginia transfer.
McGee broke two bones in his lower left leg in Saturday’s 65-0 win against Eastern Michigan and will have season-ending surgery.
Trenton Brown, a 360-pound offensive tackle, rolled up on McGee’s left leg during a play in the second quarter. McGee pulled off his helmet in obvious pain as trainers rushed to place his lower leg and ankle in an air cast. He was then carted to the locker room.
“Losing Jake is obviously a bad deal,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “He’s a great guy. I wouldn’t wish that upon anybody. Losing him is going to be big for our team. I feel bad for him and his family right now. Knowing him I know he’ll respond and make the most out of it.”
McGee earned his undergraduate degree this summer at Virginia and transferred to Florida for graduate school. He was eligible to play right away under an NCAA rule that waives transfer rules for graduate students.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound McGee led the Cavaliers with 43 receptions for 395 yards last season. McGee was expected to provide new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper with a versatile threat in the passing game and a seasoned veteran in the locker room.
While at Duke, Roper recruited McGee out of the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia.
Now, Roper will be calling plays without the sure-handed grad student.
“I’m so disappointed for him,” coach Will Muschamp said. “It’s very difficult to come into a situation for one year, but he’s done as well as you could imagine. It’s always concerning for me because I know what that locker room’s like and I know where we are. To bring someone in from the outside, this guy is a total team guy, a tough guy.”
McGee was expected to have surgery Saturday night.
He could petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility — much like Florida receiver Andre Debose successfully did after injuring his knee last year — and come back in 2015.
McGee also could turn pro. He’s widely considered a second-day draft pick by NFL scouts.
Without him, Florida will rely on Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook this season. Burton caught seven passes for 42 yards against the Eagles. The Gators also could turn to freshman DeAndre Goolsby, who was impressive in fall practice.
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