UMass Minutemen

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 19: Antonio Callaway #81 of the Florida Gators runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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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.

GoDaddy Bowl changes name to Dollar General Bowl

MOBILE, AL - DECEMBER 23: Members of the Georgia Southern Eagles celebrate after defeating the Bowling Green Falcons on December 23, 2015 at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. The Georgia Southern Eagles defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 58-27. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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The jokes pretty much write themselves on this one.

The GoDaddy Bowl has changed its name to the Dollar General Bowl effective immediately, it was announced Wednesday.

“Having a title sponsor in today’s world is just fantastic,” bowl president Jerry Silverstein told AL.com. “There are a lot of bowls out there, and for Mobile to get the recognition from a national sponsor, to want to participate in the event we have here, just leads to the national stage of what we try to produce here in Mobile.”

The new sponsor was celebrated in a very, uh, Dollar General way.

Heading into its 18th season, Dollar General Bowl will be the sixth different name and third separate title sponsor for the Mobile, Ala., based game. It was born in 1999 as the Mobile Alabama Bowl, then changed to the GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl a year later. The name stuck as simply the GMAC Bowl from 2001-10, before the name switched to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in 2011. The “.com” was dropped before the 2014 game.

Representatives from the Sun Belt and MAC will compete in the 2016 game for the eighth consecutive season on the night of Dec. 23 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Georgia Southern took last year’s game by a 58-27 score over Bowling Green. The Sun Belt has claimed three of the last four Dollar General Bowls over its northern adversaries.

Florida suspends CB Jalen Tabor, TE C’yontai Lewis for opener

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Tyler Cameron #3 of the Florida Atlantic Owls reacts after having the ball stripped away by Jalen Tabor #31 of the Florida Gators during the second half of the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Florida has suspended star cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore tight end C'yontai Lewis from all team activities through the Gators’ opener against Massachusetts on Sept. 3, the program announced Wednesday.

The dreaded “violation of team rules” is the culprit here.

“Both C’yontai and Jalen will not be involved with the team or practice due to behavior that is not acceptable,” head coach Jim McElwain said in a statement. “By no means are these bad guys and yet consequences have been handed down. We will not look the other way when it comes to breaking of team policies. I want to echo what I said earlier, these are both fine young men who will learn and be stronger from their actions. They will also be suspended for the first game. There are life lessons in everything we do. We will be better because of it and no one person is bigger than the Florida Gators.”

Tabor is the bigger loss here for the Gators. A Washington, D.C., native, Tabor earned First Team All-SEC honors from just about every outlet its possible to win them from, and various All-America mentions as well. He totaled 18 pass breakups and two pick sixes last season. The UMass game will mark his first absence as a Gator.

Lewis, a native of Eutaw, Ala., appeared in nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He caught four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

Should the pair not plunge themselves further into the doghouse between now and then, Tabor and Lewis figure to return for Florida’s SEC opener against Kentucky on Sept. 10.

2015 finalists Leonard Fournette, Christian McAffrey part of Walker Award watch list

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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With 2015 winner Derrick Henry of Alabama off to the NFL, there will be a new winner of the Doak Walker Award in 2016.  Based on the projected performances of a couple of other finalists from a year ago, this year’s winner could very well come from the group below.

Thursday, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced a watch list that contains a whopping 76 players.  The Walker Award has ben handed out annually since 1990 to the nation’s top running back and is named in honor of former SMU great Doak Walker.

Two finalists for last year’s award have made the cut this preseason — LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.

The SEC led all conferences with 13 watch listers, followed by the Big 12 (9), Big 12 (9), Pac-12 (9), ACC (8), Mountain West (6), Sun Belt (6), MAC (5), Conference USA (4) and AAC (3).  There were also four from independents (BYU, Notre Dame).

Those two independents were two of the 13 schools with two running backs listed, the others being Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Cal, Duke, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, USC, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan.

Below is the complete 2016 Doak Walker Award preseason watch list:

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2015 finalist Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State headlines Butkus Award watch list

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Max Wittek #13 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors looks to elude the defense of Raekwon McMillan #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the third quarter at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Hawaii 38-0.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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I’m running out of ways to lead these things, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

Tuesday, yet another watch list was released, with the Butkus Award unveiling its list of 51 linebackers to watch this season.  The Butkus Award, given out annually since 1985 to the nation’s best linebacker, is named in honor of former Illinois great Dick Butkus.

Last year’s award went to Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith.  Raekwon McMillan, he of the getting-trucked-by-a-woman McMillans, made this year’s watch list after being a finalist for last year’s award.

The SEC led all conferences with 12 selections, followed by the Big Ten’s 10.  The Big 12 and ACC were next with six and five players, respectively, while the AAC and Mountain West led Group of Five leagues with four each.  That’s the same number as the Pac-12.

The Sun Belt was the lone FBS conference without a representative.

Alabama was the only school with three linebackers selected.  Houston, Kansas State, Louisville, Ohio State and Penn State, with two each, were the only other programs with more than one.

There is also one non-FBS watch lister: Nick DeLuca of FCS power North Dakota State.

Below is the complete 2016 Butkus Award preseason watch list:

Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Kendall Beckwith, LSU
Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
Dante Booker, Ohio State
Ben Boulware, Clemson
Tyus Bowser, Houston
Richie Brown, Mississippi State
Riley Bullough, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, Penn State
Jeff Camilli, Fresno State
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Jermaine Carter, Maryland
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Kevin Davis, Colorado State
Jarrad Davis, Florida
Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas
Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Devonte’ Fields, Louisville
Salamo Fiso, Arizona State
Reuben Foster, Alabama
T.J. Holloman, South Carolina
Travin Howard, TCU
Shane Huber, UMass
Malik Jefferson, Texas
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Peter Kalambayi, Stanford
Harvey Kangi, BYU
Keith Kelsey, Louisville
Micah Kiser, Virginia
Elijah Lee, Kansas State
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
Matt Milano, Boston College
Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State
Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
Calvin Munson, San Diego State
Hardy Nickerson, Illinois
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
T.J. Ricks, Old Dominion
Auggie Sanchez, USF
Michael Scherer, Missouri
Cameron Smith, USC
Steven Taylor, Houston
Austin Valdez, Bowling Green
Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
Azeem Victor, Washington
Anthony Walker, Northwestern
Nyeem Warman-White, Penn State
Tim Williams, Alabama
Eric Wilson, Cincinnati
Taylor Young, Baylor