Redshirt sophomore Roderick Johnson was diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, and his career at Florida is over. According to Florida, the condition is a narrowing of the spinal canal enveloping the spinal cord, which prevents enough fluid to gather around the spinal cord to properly protect it from injury. The school said it recommend Johnson retire from football after an MRI and consultation with outside specialists and team physicians.
The first sign of the condition came during a scrimmage on April 3. Jim McElwain originally called the injury “stinger-ish” and said Johnson had numbness in his fingers. After Saturday’s spring game, McElwain didn’t sound optimistic about the offensive lineman’s status.
“I’ll tell you this about any player,” McElwain said. “I will never, ever put him out there in harm’s way. We’ve got a medical staff that looks at everything. We send the things all over the country to specialists. Life’s too short, man. Ain’t gonna do it, ain’t gonna do it to a young guy.”
The Gators will head into fall camp with 13 scholarship offensive linemen, but nine of those will be in their first two years of college football, including six true freshmen. Senior Trip Thurman sat out the spring with a chronic shoulder injury, and McElwain sounded uncertain about his status for the fall when he spoke to the media in March.
Besides Thurman, the most experienced offensive lineman on the 2015 Florida football team is David Sharpe, who played in six games with no starts as a true freshman in 2014.