Travaris Dorsey‘s junior season was over before it could even begin.
The 6-foot-3, 314-pound offensive guard for Jacksonville Raines laid on the ground in pain with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the opening game against Providence.
“At first, we thought he just had a charley horse,” his mother, Tracy, said. “But eventually his father ran down there and then people called for me. He started screaming on the ground as I came up, and I knew he wasn’t cramping.”
Dorsey was running upfield when a player from the opposing team fell over in front of him.
“I could see the man coming at me, almost in slow motion,” he said. “I saw him falling forward so I tried to jump over him, but I couldn’t jump fast enough and my left leg was still planted in the ground when he rolled through me.”
Dorsey broke his tibia on the play and was out for the year.
It took him several months to rehab his leg, a process he described as “depressing.”
“I had never broken something in my body, period,” Dorsey said. “It was a hard recovery. My leg always hurt, plus I weigh over 300 pounds. So I needed help with everything.”
The toughest times for him were the first few weeks post-injury.
“I didn’t go to sleep for two days,” he said. “And I had to stay on the couch after that in case my parents were sleeping or weren’t home. If I was thirsty, I would crawl to the kitchen, put juice on the counter, pour myself a glass and drink it right there on the kitchen floor. And I couldn’t really get anything by myself if I was hungry.”
With the help of his older sister, Ta’Mya, things got better for Dorsey after his initial month of struggles.
“He went through a phase in the beginning when he didn’t want to eat and he was depressed,” his mother said. “But Ta’Mya made sure he took his medicine and was bringing him food. We just kept working on him and he finally started coming around.”
Dorsey didn’t receive a lot of recruiting interest in 2012 due to his injury. But there was one school that continued to pursue him and eventually gained his commitment.
“Florida stayed on me,” said Dorsey, who pledged to UF during its Junior Day event on Feb. 16. “They showed me that they will take care of me and have my back, even if I do get hurt. That meant a lot to me.”
Dorsey believes his lack of offers and consensus three-star rating is a result of the time he missed, but his mother isn’t surprised that Florida stuck with her son.
“They know what he can do,” she said.
The following month, he showed the Gators that their efforts were well worth it. After weeks of running with Raines’ track and field team to get back in shape and strengthen his leg, Dorsey won offensive lineman MVP at the Rivals Camp in Orlando on March 23.
“After everything I had been through,” he said, “it felt good to redeem myself and prove to people that I’m back. I feel better and stronger than ever. I’m still not 100 percent yet, but I can move and play basketball. I won’t ever take football for granted, because it can be taken from you just like that.”
Dorsey participated in spring practice throughout the month of May despite not being at full strength. He now patiently awaits his senior season, anxious to suit up again and return to game action.
“Defensive linemen better watch out,” Dorsey said, “because I’m killing everything I get in front of.”