Antonio Callaway and six other players have been suspended for Florida’s season-opening game with Michigan, as first reported by Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated. The players were suspended for a violation of team rules, and a Florida spokesman declined to elaborate on which rule was broken. However, GatorBait has reported the suspensions stem from misuse of school scholarship funds. From the site:
Some of the players involved used the funds from part of their scholarship agreement to buy electronics equipment, then later reported the cards stolen. Some players sold the electronics equipment purchased with the school-issued funds.
Sources informed GatorBait.net that the purchases have been either returned or the school funds used will be paid back by the athletes.
The other players not making the trip to Arlington, Texas, are junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones,freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort.
“We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing,” head coach Jim McElwain said in a press release. “Action has been taken – they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward.”
The only other player beside Callaway the Gators figure to miss against Michigan is Davis, who appeared in all 14 games in 2016 with five starts. He recorded 27 tackles, three TFLs and 1.5 sacks over the year.
Callaway, however, figures to be a big loss.
The junior has been Florida’s leading receiver both years on campus, collecting 54 grabs for 721 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. He also added five rushes for 32 yards and a touchdown, returned 26 punts and took a kickoff back for a touchdown.
Callaway was cited for marijuana possession in pleaded no contest last month. The school also faces two Title IX investigations in relation to Callaway, one for an alleged sexual assault that left suspended from the team in the spring of 2016.
Michigan was ranked ninth in the initial Coaches’ Poll, released earlier this month, while Florida came in at No. 16. The Gators and Wolverines will meet at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).