Florida will be without a pair of linebackers Saturday against Eastern Kentucky (noon, SEC Network), but the Gators do return two key defensive backs including sophomore starter Keanu Neal.
Neal missed UF’s last two games after sustaining a high-ankle sprain early in the upset over Georgia. Freshman safety Duke Dawson (turf toe) also returns after a one-game absence.
“Keanu’s a great player; he’s fast; he’s physical; he makes a lot of checks and calls for us on the backend, so we’re thrilled to have him back,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “You can see it in his eyes, he had a great practice yesterday, and he’s ready to go.”
Meanwhile, coach Will Muschamp reiterated linebackers Neiron Ball (microfacture repair) and Jarrad Davis would miss the rest of the season with knee injuries, but that both players had successful surgeries earlier in the week.
▪ Muschamp said he hasn’t “put any thought” into his coaching future following next Saturday’s game against Florida State, but the defensive specialist will be in demand for a coordinator job. “Obviously, I’d like to be working next year,” he said. … Junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. tweeted his intentions to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, posting Tuesday, “I came in with champ. I’m leaving with him. Simple as that.” Fowler, a 6-3, 260-pound pass rusher who projects as a first round pick, leads the Gators in sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (10) and hurries (15). He also ranks second on the team in tackles (49) and has a pair of forced fumbles. … The National Football Foundation announced that walk-on wideout Mike McNeely will be honored with the NFF Legacy Award in a December ceremony in New York City.