GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Gators are facing a significant setback as their starting middle linebacker, Shemar James, is set to miss the season due to a knee injury sustained in pregame warmups before the showdown with the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend. Head coach Billy Napier confirmed that James will be sidelined for the remainder of the season following knee surgery to address what he referred to as a “dislocation of the kneecap.” This unfortunate injury bears a haunting resemblance to an issue James had encountered during his high school days. According to Napier, the recovery process is expected to keep him off the field for approximately four months and the hope is James is back for spring practice.
In the previous game against the Bulldogs, James displayed tremendous resilience by taking the field with a protective brace on his left knee. Despite the physical hindrance, he managed to contribute with five tackles, two of which were solo, and half a tackle for a loss. James, in his sophomore year, has been a linchpin of Florida’s defensive efforts this season. His absence will undoubtedly be felt, as he currently leads the team with 54 tackles to his name. In addition to his tackling prowess, he has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss and one sack.
With Shemar James out of the lineup, Coach Napier sees this challenging situation as an opportunity for other members of the team to step up and make their mark. Mannie Nunnery, Jaden Robinson, and Derek Wingo were named as options to start. However, Nunnery was listed as the first-choice linebacker in his respective position.
Photo credit: Maddie Washburn, UAA Communications