Even as a senior, Jon Halapio continues to impress his coaches and teammates.
Halapio missed all of training camp and Florida’s first two games with a torn pectoral muscle, but the right guard returned to action in the win over Tennessee, starting and playing with a restrictive brace supporting his left shoulder/arm.
Earlier last week, Halapio admitted his pectoral "is still going to be weak, so it could tear at any time.”
And then the worst happened -- or so everyone thought.
In Saturday's first half, Halapio went to the ground against the Vols -- writhing in pain.
Florida's training staff, along with head coach Will Muschamp, sprinted towards UF's tenacious offensive leader.
“When he got hurt I thought it was his pec. I went on the field you know and I looked up and he was bleeding out of his eye,” Muschamp said. “So he’s one tough customer, I can tell you that.”
Halapio said he was attempting to cut-block a UT defensive tackle when “he’s trying to avoid me from cutting him, and his hand got into my face mask.”
The nasty eye-poke required three stitches, but Halapio returned to the field and played the rest of the game with an eye nearly swollen shut.
“At first, I thought it was his shoulder again when he was on the field like that. When he came back with his eye, it pretty much looked like a grape,” starting left guard Max Garcia said. “I was like, ‘man how’d that happen? When did that happen?’ He was like, ‘I tried to cut the guy and his finger went in my eye.’ I was like, ‘are you going to go back in? You’re crazy, you can’t even see.’ I'm like I can't even play if I lose a contact and you don't even have an eye. I'm like this guy is a warrior.
“I have a lot of respect for him, even before I came here, I knew he was a leader on this team. Just a tremendous amount of respect. He just continues to show that he's a leader. And he doesn't talk about it, he just walks the walk.”
Halapio said he normally plays with a visor but didn’t notice his helmet wasn’t equipped with one until game time.
“That was my first time not wearing a visor. I noticed that I didn’t have a visor on my helmet, but I wasn’t too worried about it, because I was more worried about my brace and my pec and everything.”
Halapio -- an all-conference pick -- never tossed a raw steak on it, but said consistent icing has reduced the swelling and his vision is close to 100 percent.
“I wish we had more [players like him,]” Muschamp said. “He’s a typical throwback. You know, his pec is mended, he’s playing through a lot of pain, probably. He won’t tell me but I know he is.”Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton