The Miami Hurricane football team suffered a huge loss in spring practices when running back Frank Gore suffered cartilage and ligament damage to his right knee.
Gore, a freshman who rushed for 562 yards last season and 9.1 yards per carry, had successful surgery Friday to repair his knee.
Originally he was thought to be possibly out for the season, but now the Hurricanes are encouraged that Gore can come back for next season.
“We are not going to put Frank or anybody on the field if they are not ready to play. As athletic as Frank is, if he can come back, I think he will,” said head coach Larry Coker after practice on Friday.
Gore was originally predicted by some to be lost for the entire 2002 season, however, team doctors are encouraged that Gore may be back in 3-6 months, which would put him close to being able to play on opening day of the regular season.
“I talked to Dr. Uribe and he said that he thinks he will be ready for the fall. Frank is already planning on being back, and if he works hard and wants to do it, I think he can.” said Coach Coker.
Gore does have a red shirt year if he can not come back for this season, which the Canes would use on him if necessary.
Even though the Canes are without Gore, who they were counting on to replace RB Clinton Portis, all is not lost because Miami has tremendous depth at running back with Willis McGahee and Jarrett Payton.
Still, the loss of Gore will hurt the depth in the backfield.
“Frank is a really good player and it was sad to see him go down, but we can’t stop there. We have to keep going and hopefully everyone else will step up,” said Willis McGahee.
However, the Canes should not be discouraged because the backfield is in very good hands with McGahee, who rushed for 314 yards and 4.7 yards per carry last season.
“We have an excellent football player here. Very talented, very good, very fast, and we are very fortunate to have him and Jarrett Payton,” said Coach Coker.
McGahee was battling with Gore for the job of replacing Clinton Portis next season.
“When Frank was here, we were alternating for first and second and pushing each other, and bringing the best out of each other. Since he is gone, I am not relaxing because Jarrett is still behind me, pushing me,” said McGahee.
Head Coach Larry Coker spoke very highly of McGahee’s work last spring, which leaves him encouraged that McGahee can step up and get the job done this season.
“Willis was our second team running back last year and played a lot behind Clinton Portis. Willis McGahee was the best back we had coming out of last spring,” said Coker.
McGahee along with Jarrett Payton will be called upon this spring to carry the load as Gore starts on the long road back to playing football.
If Gore can get back for next season, the Canes backfield will be that much better from the extra work McGahee and Payton will receive this spring. When Gore comes back, the Canes should have three legitimate threats in the backfield.
“If he (Gore) works hard enough and gets his job done, he will be back quicker than everyone thinks he will be,” said McGahee.