Antonio Callaway

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Suspended Florida receiver Antonio Callaway reportedly declares for 2018 NFL Draft

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The college football regular season has wrapped up — save for the Army-Navy game — which means it’s decision time when it comes to declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft for the vast number of players who are thinking about the next level.

While we’ve seen several announcements already from players who are opting to turn pro and skip their bowl game, a new report surfaced on Thursday that Florida’s biggest offensive weapon Antonio Callaway would not be returning to Gainesville to play for new coach Dan Mullen.

Callaway making the jump to the NFL at this point is not exactly surprising to anybody who has followed his story the past year. The 5-foot-10, 190 pound junior missed the entire 2017 season for the Gators after being suspended for this involvement in a felony fraud case and pleaded no contest to a drug charge in the summer. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also reportedly at the center of a pair of Title IX investigations.

Even though there were plenty of concerns off the field with Callaway, there’s no denying that he was one of the few explosive playmakers for the team under Jim McElwain. He started 24 games as a freshman and sophomore with Florida and averaged 15.7 yards a catch with the team, closing his career out with 1,399 yards and 11 total touchdowns. While it was doubtful he was going to be back with the team in 2018, signing with an agent cements his sayonara from college football.

Seven suspended Florida players to enter pretrial intervention

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At least legally, a handful of Florida Gators finally have some breathing room.

According to the Associated Press, seven UF football 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 — will enter a pretrial intervention program that could result in felony charges against them being dropped.  If the players make restitution and “comply with probation protocols,” the charges will be dismissed.

That’s provided a judge signs off on the recommendation of the state’s attorney, who filed the paperwork with the courts Thursday.  It’s expected to take a couple of weeks for the judge to process the requests.

All seven of the players, along with redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, have been suspended in connection with 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 the felony charges being filed a month ago.

While this legal hurdle has been cleared, they still haven’t been cleared to return to the playing field.  The AP writes that “[t]hey have to go before the university’s Student Code of Conduct Committee to determine potential punishment.”

As for Smith and Telfort, they remain the subjects of an ongoing police investigation that’s related to the initial charges. It was reported in late February that the Gainesville Police Department had recommended four additional felony charges be filed against Smith.

Antonio Callaway, Jordan Scarlett among 9 Florida Gators facing felony charges

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Felony charges have been filed against Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett for their involvement in an incident regarding the inappropriate use of school funds. And that’s just the beginning.

The state attorney’s office has reportedly filed felony charges against several Florida players on Monday. Callaway and Scarlett were each charged with third-degree felony charges. So was defensive lineman Jordan Smith. Other players reportedly facing felonies include defensive end Keivonnis Davis, wide receiver Rick Wells, linebackers James Houston and Ventrell Miller, and defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones.

It was reported last week all of the players currently serving an indefinite suspension in Gainesville could be facing felony charges.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain met with the media earlier on Monday during his regularly scheduled media availability. At the time of his media briefing, McElwain was unaware of the updated charges, although suggested felony charges could change the status of the suspended players by hinting at possible dismissal.

UPDATE: Offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort has also been charged with six third-degree felony charges related to the scandal. This brought the total number of players charged to nine.

Antonio Callaway among Gators reportedly set to face felony charges

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If one report is accurate, things are about to get very real for a couple of members of the Florida football team.

Citing unnamed sources, thereadoptional.com reported overnight that “Antonio Callaway, Jordan Smith, and one other player are likely to be arrested on charges of felony grand theft, with the possibility of further misdemeanor charges being tagged on, according to a lawyer representing one of the players.” That trio is part of the group of nine Gator football players who have been indefinitely suspended in connection to the misuse of scholarship money in general and, specifically, for making improper charges on their student debit cards at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash.  The Read Optional has further added that the players then claimed that the debit cards had been stolen.

In addition to Callaway, a junior wide receiver, and Smith, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, the other suspended players include junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, junior running back Jordan Scarlett, freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells.

Charges against the three players, one of whom is unnamed, are expected to be filed later on this week, next week at the latest.  It’s also expected that the other six players will be arrested as well.

Restitution for the debit card scheme has already been made, the website noted.

The off-field trouble for the football program doesn’t end there, however, as The Read Optional is also reporting that a separate investigation into players using stolen credit cards is underway.  From the website:

This morning, we reported that several players were also being investigated in a separate credit card fraud case being run in conjunction by the Gainesville Police Department and the University of Florida Police Department.

Both police departments uncovered the stolen credit card details from the same victim while operating its own individual investigations — the GPD into Jordan Smith paying his rent with stolen credit card details; and the UFPD into the student debit card scheme, an investigation that broadened over time.

The investigation into the stolen credit card information is ongoing, with other student-athletes to be interviewed on Wednesday.

All nine players remain indefinitely suspended from the football program and, based on this report, they will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Suspended Florida Nine to remain that way vs. Tennessee

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Florida will again be shorthanded in the personnel department, although this time it’s for the SEC opener.

Meeting with the media ahead of Saturday’s game against Tennessee in Gainesville, Jim McElwain stated there was no update on the nine players who were suspended prior to the season opener against Michigan.  Such a response indicates that the suspended ones will remain that way at least through the Volunteers game.

Those sidelined are 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, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith, freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells.  The suspensions are reportedly connected 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.

There was one report that more players could be suspended in connection with the scheme, although that’s yet to come to fruition.

Callaway and Scarlett are easily the two most critical suspensions.  The former led the Gators in receiving each of the last two seasons, while the latter was the team’s leading rusher with 889 yards during the 2016 season.