BOCA RATON – Starting linebacker Robert Relf’s football career is over.
A series of injuries made it physically unworkable for Relf to continue playing football, FAU coach Charlie Partridge said.
Relf remains a student at FAU but will not participate in football activities.
“He will be missed,” Partridge said.
Relf was the lone experienced scholarship linebacker entering the Owls’ 2015 camp. FAU figured to lean heavily on the veteran while younger Owls gained experience.
That plan changed midway through the first half of the season opener when Relf injured his shoulder, requiring season-ending surgery.
He missed all of spring practice while recovering but was expected back for fall camp. Partridge indicated an unspecified injury during summer workouts changed those plans.
Relf recorded 65 tackles in 2014, fourth most among Owls. He totaled 70 career tackles. Despite missing so much time, Relf was slated to open fall camp as a starting outside linebacker, aside Nate Ozdemir in the middle and Azeez Al-Shaair on the other side.
Without Relf, sophomore Khantrell Burden likely rises to a starting spot, though Jerrad Ward could also take that spot. Ward moved from middle linebacker to the outside during the spring.
While the Owls still employ a base 4-3 defense, they rely on their nickel package with increasing regularity. In that set, the Owls only use two linebackers, usually Ozdemir and Al-Shaair, replacing the third with an extra defensive back, usually Ocie Rose.
FAU will also be without a couple reserves when fall camp opens.
Partridge said offensive tackle Byers Hickman, who emerged from the spring on the Owls’ two-deep, will miss the opening of camp as he recovers from stomach and back issues. His absence will likely elevate Bryan Beck onto the two-deep to begin camp.
Reserve kicker Landon Scheer recently underwent back surgery and will miss all of camp but is expected to be available at some point during the season.
Greg Joseph made 18 of his 27 field goal attempts last season, with a long of 48 yards. He returns as the starting kicker. Patrick Trepcos, a walk-on out of Palm Beach Gardens-Dwyer, will begin camp as Joseph’s backup.