GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson was on the field for all three of the Gators' spring practices last week -- which is something coach Will Muschamp wasn't sure would be possible last November.
In fact, Muschamp wondered if Roberson's career was over.
The 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore missed the final three games of the 2011 season after suffering a neck injury in UF's loss at South Carolina on Nov. 12. Muschamp said Monday he didn't remember the exact medical terminology, just that Roberson suffered a "displacement in the neck area." There was some concern that Roberson's career might be finished after just 10 games.
"It was a very, very serious issue," Muschamp said. "He was hurt. He was down, bad, and I was worried about him as just a human being. He was really depressed about the situation and something that he loves and cares about maybe being taken away from him.
"It was a scary injury."
Roberson was in a neck brace for two months and then another, less-restrictive neck brace for six more weeks. He had to undergo a battery of tests in order to be cleared to return for spring practice. Roberson is being held from contact this spring but should be completely cleared for the fall.
He was having a solid season until his injury, starting every game and recording 22 tackles and one interception.
Muschamp said Roberson's top priority in the offseason will be getting stronger. He can't become an elite corner if he isn't able to physically match up against bigger receivers.
"When you’re in coverage against some of the bigger wideouts getting bent around, getting pushed, you’ve got to be able to withstand that," Muschamp said. " I think strength is the No. 1 thing. And physical tackling ability. I think he’s got the want-to, but it goes back to strength, getting stronger body, maturing. Marcus is probably 18, 19 years old, he’s in that growth spurt where he’ll continue to get stronger in the weight room, and I think that overall body strength would be the No. 1 thing he’s got to improve on."
In other news Monday, Muschamp said receiver Stephen Alli (groin) and defensive end Earl Okine (back) suffered minor injuries last week and are listed as day-to-day. Receiver Solomon Patton suffered a more severe groin strain on Friday and will be out at least a week, Muschamp said. Patton, who was injured while cutting, will not participate in Saturday's scrimmage.