Antonio Callaway

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Antonio Callaway takes some blame for Jim McElwain losing his job at Florida


The Florida Gators turned the page on the 2017 season by attempting to breathe new life into the program coming off a tumultuous season on and off the field. A season was essentially lost before it ever could truly get going when wide receiver Antonio Callaway was suspended for the season as part of a felony fraud case and a drug charge over the summer, as well as being connected to a Title IX investigation. As the now former Gator prepares for the NFL, he is faced with questions regarding his past in Gainesville, and he is shouldering blame on his shoulders for how it all came to an end for Jim McElwain as head coach of the Gators.

As reported by Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter Trevor Sikkema, via Twitter, Callaway says McElwain may still be the head coach at Florida (and not an assistant coach at Michigan) if Callaway played last season.

Callaway may not be too far off the mark. Callaway was the explosive playmaker Florida desperately needed last season. Callaway was Florida’s leading receiver in 2016 with 721 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore and a team-high 678 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. Callaway also returned two punts for touchdowns in 2015, proving to be a threat any time he stepped foot on the field during his two seasons on the field at Florida. Would Callaway have been able to turn a team that went 4-7 into a team that could muster together enough wins to save McElwain’s job?

Considering Florida lost three of their seven games by a single score, the case could be made that Callaway may have been able to save McElwain’s job. But McElwain pretty much talked his own way out of the job by throwing out the idea his family was being targeted and never being able to provide the evidence asked of him.

Florida replaced McElwain with Dan Mullen, previously of Mississippi State, as their new head coach.

Record number of players on NFL’s official early-entry list for 2018 draft

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If it seemed to you like there were an inordinate number of early cannonballers jumping into the draft pool, you were correct.

Four days after the Jan. 15 deadline, the NFL Friday announced that 106 players have been granted special eligibility for the April draft.  That sets a new record for early entrants, breaking the mark of 98 set in 2014.  The past two seasons, there were 95 and 96 in 2017 and 2016, respectively.  In 2015, there were just 74.

The SEC was hit hardest by attrition with 26 players leaving early, although the ACC wasn’t far behind at 24.  The Pac-12 was next among the Power Five conferences with 17, followed by the Big 12’s 13 and the Big Ten’s 11.

Among Group of Five leagues, Conference USA lost the most with four.  The Mountain West saw three go early, with the AAC (two), MAC (one) and Sun Belt (one) coming next in line.  There were also two non-FBS players who left early, as well as two from Notre Dame.

As far as individual schools go, there were three that lost six apiece — Florida State, LSU and Texas.  Alabama lost five, while Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, UCLA, and USC all lost four apiece.  Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Stanford and Tennessee were on the losing end of three players each.

In addition to the 106 granted special eligibility — they’ll be listed at the end — the NFL also granted eligibility to 13 players who the league writes “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements.” Those players are listed below:

» Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
» Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
» Kyle Allen, QB, Houston
» Will Clapp, C, LSU
» Terrell Edmunds, DB, Virginia Tech
» Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson
» Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
» Sam Jones, G, Arizona State
» Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
» Brian O’Neill, T, Pittsburgh
» Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
» Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF
» Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Courtesy of the NFL, below is the complete list of 106 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft:

» Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
» Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE, Toledo
» Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
» Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
» Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
» Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
» Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
» Jessie Bates, DB, Wake Forest
» Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
» Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
» Deontay Burnett, WR, USC
» Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
» Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
» Geron Christian, T, Louisville
» Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana
» Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
» Vosean Crumbie, DB, Nevada
» J.J. Dallas, DB, Louisiana-Monroe
» James Daniels, C, Iowa
» Sam Darnold, QB, USC
» Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn
» Michael Dickson, P, Texas
» Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
» DeShon Elliott, DB, Texas
» Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
» Matt Fleming, WR, Benedictine
» Nick Gates, T, Nebraska
» Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Tennessee
» Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose State
» Rasheem Green, DT, USC
» Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
» Ronnie Harrison, DB, Alabama
» Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
» Holton Hill, DB, Texas
» Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
» Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn
» Mike Hughes, DB UCF
» Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
» Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
» Ryan Izzo, TE, FSU
» Donte Jackson, DB, LSU
» J.C. Jackson, DB, Maryland
» Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
» Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
» Derwin James, DB, FSU
» Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
» Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
» Courtel Jenkins, DT, Miami
» Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
» Ronald Jones, RB, USC
» John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
» Arden Key, LB, LSU
» Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
» Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma
» Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
» Chase Litton, QB, Marshall
» Tavares Martin, WR, Washington State
» Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State
» Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson
» Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State
» R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami
» Reginald McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
» Quenton Meeks, DB, Stanford
» Kolton Miller, T, UCLA
» D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
» Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State
» Nick Nelson, DB, Wisconsin
» Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami
» Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado
» Dwayne Orso-Bacchus, T, Oklahoma
» Da’Ron Payne, NT, Alabama
» Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
» Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida
» Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
» D.J. Reed, DB, Kansas State
» Justin Reid, DB, Stanford
» Will Richardson, T, NC State
» Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
» Austin Roberts, TE, UCLA
» Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss
» Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
» Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
» Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
» Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
» Andre Smith, LB, UNC
» Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
» Van Smith, DB, Clemson
» Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
» Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
» Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
» Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
» Maea Teuhema, T, Southeastern Louisiana
» Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
» Kevin Toliver, DB, LSU
» Travonte Valentine, NT, LSU
» Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
» Vita Vea, NT, Washington
» Mark Walton, RB, Miami
» Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
» Chris Warren, RB, Texas
» Toby Weathersby, T, LSU
» Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pittsburgh
» JoJo Wicker, DT, Arizona State
» Jalen Wilkerson, DE, Florida State
» Connor Williams, T, Texas
» Eddy Wilson, DT, Purdue

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.