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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Ashlee Elliott is looking forward to "doing the Tebow."

Elliott, a senior who is out for the season with a torn left ACL, told her teammates before practice Tuesday that she will redshirt this year so she can return to Gainesville for the 2010 season.

Elliott has an academic plan that she refers to as "doing the Tebow," in reference to the one-credit workload the Gators quarterback is taking this semester. Elliott will take one class during the summer and one more next fall.

Elliott's announcement comes a little more than a month after she told her teammates that she would not take a redshirt. At that time, just two days after suffering the season-ending injury against South Florida, the forward was hoping to graduate in December and join Women's Professional Soccer.

But she has since realized the difficulties of going pro while rehabbing an injury, and she is no longer eager to leave Gainesville.

"You can't ever get these college years back," Elliott said. "I feel like if I were to go straight to the league, not knowing what would happen, what would come out of it, maybe I would be on a side team and not being able to play. I'd rather have a full year of playing."

After going down with the injury, Elliott spoke with UCLA coach Jillian Ellis, who coached Elliott on the U-20 National Team in 2008. Ellis also spoke with Elliott's mother Betsy frequently and suggested Elliott go pro.

Despite the advice, Elliott did not feel right about leaving.

"I had a gut feeling saying, 'Ashlee, you need to wait,'" she said. "I didn't even think about it. It just hit me."

Elliott, who turns 21 on Thursday, is young for her grade, and staying in college for an extra year will only bring her back to par.

"I have girls that are from my older club teams that are juniors now, which is my true age," she said.

Elliott told coach Becky Burleigh two weeks ago about her decision to return, and she said Burleigh welcomed her back. But Elliott did not want to tell the rest of the team until after its game against Auburn on Sunday, which was senior day.

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"I wanted to do senior day with my class," she said. "I didn't want to break the news before and them be like, 'Well you have to do senior day next year.'"

Interestingly, Sunday's opponent could be one of the reasons Elliott wants to play another season in the Southeastern Conference. Her sister, Alexandrea, will be a freshman at Auburn next year.

Elliott is taking enough credits to graduate in December, but she will drop two of her classes so she can enroll next year.

Elliott is working with Athletic Trainer Emily Kiefer right now and is hoping to be able to run by December. But with only two credits left for her to graduate, Elliott will not take classes this spring and will only rehab.

And find a way to get some money, seeing as she won't have a scholarship that semester.

"Mom said I must get a job," Elliott said.

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