Florida starting tackle Dominique Easley suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice on Tuesday, Gators' coach Will Muschamp confirmed during his teleconference on Wednesday.
Easley, the anchor of the SEC's top-ranked defense, was injured while participating in a noncontact drill. At first characterized as a "tweak" by Muschamp, team medical personnel later said the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Easley had torn his ACL and medial meniscus.
On Wednesday, Muschamp said Easley would require season-ending surgery.
"I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season," Muschamp said via a statement released by Florida.
"Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach," Muschamp said. "Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process."
Once the reality that his season and most likely his collegiate career was over, Easley tweeted, "Gatornation thank you for all of 4 yrs of sticking with me but god has something else planned for and have no worries #believe."
NFLDraftscout.com ranks Easley as the 29th best player available in the upcoming draft and the third best defensive tackle.
"The senior is one of the most explosive defensive linemen in the country and continues to show it each week," NFLDraftscout.com analyst Dane Brugler said. "He is routinely the first defensive lineman off the ball and uses his lateral quickness and body control to win gaps and angles to make him near impossible to square up for blockers."
Easley is the fifth Gator to suffer a season-ending injury this year.