Florida running back Matt Jones slowly recovering from "fast and vicious" infection
When Seffner Armwood coach Sean Callahan arrived at Shands at Gainesville this past Saturday to visit his former player and current Gator RB Matt Jones, he didn't know what to expect.
Jones had suddenly fallen ill last week and was eventually diagnosed with a viral infection. Callahan knew it was serious. Coach Will Muschamp announced on Thursday that Jones - the projected starter at running back for the Gators - is out indefinitely.
"It came on fast and it was vicious," Callahan said Friday afternoon. "It really roughed him up. We were all really scared there for awhile. We just didnt' know."
Callahan, his offensive coordinator Evan Davis and quarterbacks coach TJ Laflamboy all traveled to Gainesville on Saturday after learning the gravity of Jones' illness.
"He was great," Callahan said. "We were there for an hour. From the time we got there and the time we left, he was real happy to see us. But it was rough. It was very rough, and we were all scared there for awhile. But he's out of the hospital now and it's just a matter of him recovering."
Callahan said he was told Jones was fortunate the infection was viral and not bacterial.
"If it's viral it could be two to four weeks (of recovery)," Callahan said. "If it's bacterial it could be six months."
Jones had 52 carries for 275 yards as a backup to starter Mike Gillislee last season. In his absence, Mack Brown and Trey Burton will get reps, as well as TB Hunter Joyer. Freshman RB Kelvin Taylor will also have an opportunity.
Callahan said the toughest part about Jones' illness is the timing. He knows how hard the sophomore worked during the offseason in preparation for taking over as the starter.
"It was sad because he was so ready and now he's going to have to deal with this setback," he said. "But then again, most athletes have to deal with setbacks like this. And I'm sure Matt will come back. He'll be fine."
Callahan praised the Florida medical staff for their quick response to Jones' symptoms. He also credited Muschamp for keeping him informed throughout the ordeal. Muschamp said it will most likely be at least the end of next week before he potentially will have a timetable for Jones' return.
"I was glad to see Matt was getting such good medical attention," Callahan said. "He's doing much better, but he's not ready for practice or anything like that, that's for sure."