GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Top-ranked Florida will have to wait a year to see highly touted freshman Andre Debose on the field.
Debose, coach Urban Meyer's prized recruit in February, will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn hamstring. Meyer announced Debose's decision after practice Tuesday night.
Meyer had tabbed the 5-foot-11, 185-pound speedster as Percy Harvin's replacement this fall. But Debose injured his hamstring at the Florida state high school track meet in April, tweaked it during summer workouts and then hurt it again on the first day of fall practice.
Team doctors initially thought it was just a pulled muscle, but tests later revealed a partial tear. Debose has been considering his options for two weeks.
"There's a tendon, part of the muscle, that's detached from the bone and they're going to attach it," Meyer said. "It's a significant time period [for recovery]. He won't play this season."
Meyer said Debose took the news hard.
"He wanted to really play, really crushed," Meyer said. "But he understands that this is a marathon, not a sprint. So he's going to get fixed."
Meyer was equally disappointed, even though he's known for a few weeks that Debose probably wouldn't be able to play this season.
Meyer has raved about Debose since signing day, saying his speed, elusiveness and game-changing ability remind him of Harvin. Now, they have something else in common: Harvin was plagued by injuries during his freshman season.
Debose, who shied away from the comparison, accounted for nearly 2,000 yards rushing and receiving at Sanford's Seminole High last season and scored 18 touchdowns. He also threw for 353 yards and four scores, and added 633 return yards. While lining up all over the field and burning defenses each week, he became one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
He chose Florida over Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami and Southern California. He picked the Gators partly because of the way they used Harvin.
Now, he will have to wait a year to try to fill Harvin's role.
Meyer said receiver Brandon James and running back Jeff Demps would share time at that position.
"It's by committee right now," he said.
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