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Gators' Roderick Johnson has spinal condition, quits football

Jim McElwain's fear became reality Tuesday when Florida announced that Gators offensive lineman Roderick Johnson is retiring from football due to a rare spinal cord condition.

The redshirt sophomore, who started three games last season, was diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, the same condition that ended the football careers of former New York Giants running back David Wilson and former Ole Miss quarterback Cooper Manning, the brother of Peyton and Eli Manning.

Johnson suffered a "stinger" in a scrimmage earlier this month, and after a recent MRI, outside specialists and team physicians recommended he retire from the sport.

The former four-star recruit sat out the spring game, and McElwain hinted that his injury might be career-ending when asked about Johnson's status after the game.

"One thing I'll tell you this about any player: I will never, ever put him out there in harm's way," McElwain said. "Life's too short, man. Ain't gonna do it, ain't gonna do it to a young guy."

Johnson was expected to start for a Florida offensive line that was already thin to begin with as the Gators had just six scholarship players available for the spring game. Though they expect to get Trip Thurman back before the season, depth remains a major concern.