Florida DL Justus Boone out for season, LB Shemar James recovering after in-practice injuries

By OnlyGators.com Staff
August 11, 2023
Florida DL Justus Boone out for season, LB Shemar James recovering after in-practice injuries

Image Credit: @GatorsFB / Twitter

The Florida Gators have suffered a blow to a defensive unit the program hopes to make a turnaround this season. Sophomore defensive lineman Justus Boone, who has been in a pass-rushing role for the Florida, was revealed Friday to have torn his ACL after going down with a non-contact injury in practice earlier this week.

This after sophomore linebacker Shemar James, expected to star for the Gators this season, went down with a lower-body injury — believed to be a knee — earlier this month.

Head coach Billy Napier announced Boone’s injury Friday, explaining that it was not only of the non-contact variety but actually occurred after a play had concluded while he was celebrating a successful sequence.

“This could really galvanize our team,” Napier said. “This is a guy players really care about. We’re going to rally around him.”

Napier previously said James would miss 1-2 weeks with trainers planning to be cautious and not rush him back to the field too soon.

Boone appeared in 13 games last season for Florida, tallying 24 tackles in limited action. He progressed well throughout the offseason and was expected to see a significant increase in playing time this season under first-year defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong.

Junior Princely Umanmielen will start at EDGE. Boone was competing to be the primary backup at the position. Freshman Kelby Collins, among others, will likely see an increased role.

James is a sure-fire starter at linebacker after impressing with 47 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble while playing in all 13 games across his Freshman All-SEC season. Junior Derek Wingo has taken many of his first-team practice snaps with James absent.

Though Boone’s loss undoubtedly hurts Florida from a pass-rushing standpoint, the program did reload up front this offseason with defensive tackles junior Cam Jackson (Memphis) and redshirt freshman Caleb Banks (Louisville) plus redshirt senior linebacker Teradja Mitchell (Ohio State) all transferring into the team.

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