Not surprisingly, one Florida Gator with off-field issues will be taking his leave of Gainesville.
Citing “my recent actions and coaching changes,” Jordan Smith announced on Twitter that he “will not be returning to the University of Florida and will be looking for other opportunities to further my education and my football career.” The redshirt freshman defensive lineman added that “Florida was amazing to me and I will always be a Gator at heart.”
The “recent actions” to which Smith referred in his tweet stemmed from a controversy that first surfaced in mid-August.
Smith was one of what were ultimately nine Gator football players who were indefinitely suspended in connection to the misuse of scholarship money in general and, specifically, for making improper charges on their student IDs at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash. A police investigation stemming from the allegations led to felony charges being filed in late September.
Seven of those players — junior wide receiver Antonio Callaway, junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, junior running back Jordan Scarlett and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells — entered into a pretrial intervention program in October and, if they make restitution and “comply with probation protocols,” the charges will be dismissed.
The cases involving Smith and the ninth suspended player, true freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, remain open. It’s believed that Telfort, who reportedly has 30 felonies pending, is transferring as well.
Callaway has decided to leave the Gators as well, although he’s moving on to the NFL and entering the draft. 247Sports.com reports that Davis’ playing career may be over because of injuries sustained in a scooter accident that occurred sometime after his suspension.
The status of the other five players with the football program moving forward is unclear.
None of the suspended players played a down for the Gators this past season.
Miami lost a pair of underclassmen starting defensive tackles to the NFL draft, putting a serious dent in the interior of its line. A couple of weeks later, however, it appears The U has somewhat softened that early-entry blow.
247Sports.com reported Friday that Tito Odenigbo has decided to transfer from Illinois to Miami. As Odenigbo would be coming to the Hurricanes as a graduate transfer, he would be able to play immediately for the ACC team in 2018.
The upcoming season would be the defensive tackle’s final year of eligibility.
This past season, Odenigbo started four of the 10 games he played for the Illini, and his 4½ tackles for loss were tied for second on the team in 2017. All told, Odenigbo played in 21 games at Illinois, starting five of those contests.
Prior to the NFL’s deadline, tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton confirmed that they would be leaving Miami early for the NFL draft.
The strange journey of Cordarrian Richardson has taken yet another twist.
The running back confirmed to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal late this past week that he has decided to leave UCF and transfer to Texas A&M. The true freshman will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019.
Last season, Richardson ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 47 carries for the unbeaten Knights.
On National Signing Day in 2017, Richardson announced via a weather balloon in outer space that he would be signing with Maryland. A day later, however, Richardson faxed in a signed NLI… to a school that wasn’t even in his final four — UCF. Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss, were the top four teams that appeared in his original “commitment” video.
Richardson was also heavily recruited by Florida State, which at the time was coached by new A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher.
A four-star 2017 signee, Richardson was rated as the No. 9 back in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 157 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was far and away the highest-rated signee in the Knights’ class that year.
And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”
Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas. After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.
The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility. He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.
For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts. He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts. His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.
The past season, however, was a rough one. After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.
“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.
A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.
The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach. Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.
Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU. From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”
“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”
In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired. Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.
Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers. All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.