Antonio Morrison has quietly been one of the best stories in college football in 2015. Despite Florida coach Jim McElwain imploring media to make more of Morrison's comeback from a devastating knee injury suffered in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, Florida's gruff senior leader has flown under the radar, content to say little and let his play talk.
Now, ESPN's Edward Aschoff has the most detailed story about Morrison's injury and recovery yet — including, for the first time, the revelation of what exactly happened to Morrison on that day against East Carolina.
Immediately, Morrison, lying on the damp turf at Legion Field, knew something was seriously wrong. Trainers gathered and Morrison was carted off.
Diagnosis: Multiple torn knee ligaments, including the ACL. A day later, Morrison wanted to start rehab.
"That's how I'm made. I'm not just going to sit around," Morrison said. "It ain't gonna get better with me just sitting around. I'm trying to get going and get myself better so I can get back on the field."
The rest of the article has a lot of in-depth insight from Florida trainers Paul Silvestri and Marty Huegel (who calls Morrison's recovery "the most amazing thing I've ever seen"), including a detailed accounting of what Morrison did in attacking his rehabilitation with the sort of vigor mere mortals can't match. Excerpting much more of it would feel like stealing, and you should absolutely read it.
What I can do is provide a little perspective.
Morrison hasn't been Florida's best linebacker in 2015 — that has been, I'd argue, Jarrad Davis, despite both players tallying 86 tackles through the regular season. But he's been close, and being close to Davis this fall is a compliment.
Morrison has, on occasion — against Florida State, especially — looked like a shadow of the player he was in his junior season, when he led Florida in tackles and had 37 more than Michael Taylor. And while that makes me think calling his recovery complete is a bit outlandish, it's been hard to tell he had major knee surgery just months ago more often than not.
The most impressive aspect of Morrison's recovery, however, is time, or the lack thereof.
Morrison has started in all 12 games for Florida this fall, the first one of them coming 245 days after he "shredded" his left knee and under 194 days from a second surgery on February 23 to repair it.
When Adrian Peterson made his stunning, seemingly unprecedented recovery from a torn ACL, one that has forever altered how sports medicine professionals and sports fans approach catastrophic knee injuries, he went 260 days between injury (December 24, 2011) and first appearance in a game (September 9, 2012).
Peterson set a new standard for how athletes are judged for their recoveries.
Morrison beat it.