GAINESVILLE -- Florida redshirt junior Javier Estopinan, a Miami native, is done for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. This is terrible news for the defensive tackle, who has now torn three ACLs in three years.
Estopinan (South Miami) injured his knee during the second quarter on Saturday against Georgia. He was in street clothes by the second half. Florida trainers initially hoped that Estopinan had only injured his meniscus but Florida coach Urban Meyer took one glance at the tough defensive lineman and knew by the look on Estopinan's face that the injury was more severe.
"He's a smart guy and he has been through it a couple of times," Meyer said. "There's no one better than Javier."
Meyer said on Monday during his weekly press conference that Estopinan has every intention of fully recovering from the injury and contributing to the team's 2008 season.
"He's coming back," Meyer said. "He's going to be one of our leaders next year. His family was here [Sunday]. I relate it to the day I sat in my office and (former defensive tackle) Ray McDonald got the phone call [confirming a torn ACL]. It is hard to see, especially for invested players."
The loss of Estopinan is a serious blow for Florida's interior defensive line. The Gators' other starting defensive tackle, redshirt senior Clint McMillan, is also nursing an injury. Florida will likely replace Estopinan with a combination of freshman Torrey Davis, redshirt freshman Lawrence Marsh and freshman Justin Trattou (a defensive end).