Florida sophomore running back Matt Jones has spent much of August recovering from a viral infection that sent him to the hospital in late July. But Florida coach Will Muschamp told reporters on Monday that he "certainly" thinks Jones will be back for the Gators' September 7 showdown with Miami.
Jones was reportedly running at practice last week — I didn't see him, but Jackson Shelton did — and has yet to put pads on, but Muschamp said he "looks great," a fantastic sign for a player expected to be among Florida's best in 2013.
Jones ran for 275 yards on 52 carries in 2012, relatively pedestrian numbers for a second-string running back, but ran for 183 of those yards on just 26 carries in the Gators' final five games, and punched in a salt-away touchdown against Florida State and a difficult one against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
While it remains to be seen if Jones will have the same power and speed that he had before his infection, which reportedly led to him losing up to 10 pounds, keeping him out against Toledo probably allows him to focus on building back to the form that had many raving about him in the spring and summer.
And a healthy Matt jones is something Florida desperately needs, with no experienced runner behind longtime reserve Mack Brown on the Gators' depth chart for Toledo. At his listed 6'2" and 226 pounds, Jones also outweighs and stands taller than every other Florida running back, with no other tailback standing taller than 5'11" or weighing more than Adam Lane's 222 pounds.
Let's hope that the expectations for Jones's return come true.