Rick Wells

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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.

Florida suspends two more, including leading rusher, for Michigan opener, bringing total to 10

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At this rate, Florida may not be able to field a full team and, in the process, fulfill a long-running joke.

Wednesday afternoon, UF announced that running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Rick Wells have been suspended from all team activities.  That means that, at bare minimum, the two will be sidelined for the 2017 opener this weekend against Michigan.

The loss of Scarlett is particularly significant as he led the Gators in rushing last season with 889 yards.

The suspensions of Scarlett and Wells are related to a scam involving the misuse of scholarship funds that earlier this month led to the suspension of seven other Gators.  The most noteworthy player in that initial group was Antonio Calloway, who led the Gators in receiving yards each of the last two seasons.

The 10th player suspended for the opener is James Robinson, who was twice cited for marijuana in 2017.  The wide receiver was the second-highest rated recruit in UF’s class this year.

Incidentally, the suspensions for the other nine could continue on beyond the Michigan game.

Two frosh WRs suspended for Florida’s opener, but Antonio Callaway cleared to play vs. UMass

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Florida has seen its receiving corps suffer some attrition, but the most important and productive component of that group is officially returning.

Jim McElwain confirmed to the media Monday that Antonio Callaway has been cleared to take the field again and will play in the opener this weekend against UMass. The Gators head coach said he learned of the university’s decision this past Friday.

McElwain’s confirmation comes two weeks after a controversial Title IX hearing found the receiver not responsible for an alleged sexual assault.

A former UF student-athlete and current football booster had been assigned to oversee the Title IX hearing involving current Callaway and former UF quarterback Treon Harris, both of whom were accused in January by a woman of sexually assaulting her this past December.  The alleged victim, as well as her parents and potential witnesses on her behalf, boycotted the hearing because of what they perceived as a conflict of interest.

The true sophomore had been suspended not only from the team but from the university since late January for a violation of the Student Conduct Code, later known to involve an alleged sexual assault.  In March, Huntley Johnson, a lawyer well-known in and around Gainesville as the go-to attorney for Gator student-athletes who run into legal issues, issued a statement in which he claimed that the allegation against his non-client “has no merit.”

Johnson released a statement in early June in which he stated that a modified suspension would permit his client to attend classes on campus as well as allow him to use the football team’s practice facilities.  Early on in summer camp, UF confirmed that Callaway will be permitted to practice with the Gators as they await the results of the hearing, which proceeded without the accuser and her witnesses.

Last season in his first year with the Gators, Calloway led the team in receiving yards (678) and tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns (four). His 19.4 yards per catch led the squad, while his 35 receptions were good for third.

At the end of the regular season, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.  Earlier today, he was, not surprisingly, listed as a starting receiver on the depth chart released ahead of the opener.

In addition to the Callaway news, McElwain also confirmed that Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells will be suspended for the opener. The true freshmen receivers were arrested in mid-July on a pair of charges related to a BB gun incident that was caught on surveillance video.

Cleveland and Wells are the third and fourth Gators suspended for the opener. It was announced earlier this month that All-SEC cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore tight end C'yontai Lewis would miss the opener because of what turned out to be a fight during practice between the two players.