Miami Hurricanes leading rusher Mark Walton will undergo season-ending ankle surgery “in the next couple of days,” according to coach Mark Richt.
The junior entered Saturday’s game against Florida State with a sprained left ankle, then left the 24-20 victory over the Seminoles with a right ankle injury suffered in the fourth quarter. Richt did not comment on the severity of the injury, only saying that it will sideline Walton for the remainder of the season.
“I won’t get into that,” Richt said. “I’m not even sure exactly what they call it. I’ll let somebody else talk about that.
“It’ll be a season ending surgery. I think that’s pretty clear. I know it’s the type of surgery that guys that have had it have recovered 100 percent and never had an issue with that type of thing again.”
Walton is Miami’s leading rusher with 428 yards. Sophomore Travis Homer will become the primary ballcarrier in his absence, with junior Trayone Gray also in line for significant playing time. The Hurricanes’ backfield is light on experienced depth, with true freshmen Robert Burns and Deejay Dallas potentially figuring into the mix.
Walton has 56 carries on the season, followed by Homer with 25 and Gray with four. Quarterback Malik Rosier is second on the team with 37 carries, and no other player has a carry for the team.
“The team understands it’s football, it’s physical and guys get hurt,” Richt said. “I don’t think there will need to be any kind of explanation. It won’t be shocking to them that something like that happened. They knew that Mark was hurt.”
The ripple effect of Walton’s injury will also impact the special teams, where Homer was a significant contributor but will now have that roll reduced. Homer is averaging 8.5 yards per carry, tied with Gray for the team-high. He is also tied with Walton with three rushing touchdowns.
“Travis, he’s done very well,” Richt said. “He’s done well as a runner, he’s done unbelievably well as a special teamer. He was our special teams player of the week just this past week.”
Miami (4-0, 2-0 ACC) moved up to No. 11 in the AP Top 25 poll this week, and plays Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-0) on Saturday.
“I feel like we have a team that cheers for each other even at the positions when you’re competing with a guy. There’s a great relationship with (Travis) and Mark and everybody in the room and they’ll all be banding together to help us win.”