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Reputed gambler reportedly gave Florida Gator football players discounts on rental cars

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The Florida football program might have bigger issues to deal with than an incident involving mock assault rifles, rocks, bats and a frying pan.

A report emerged in the middle of last week that six Gators football players — wide receivers Kadarius Toney (pictured), Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells as well as defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, tight end Kemore Gamble and quarterback Emory Jones — are facing university discipline following an on-campus confrontation in late May with a Gainesville-area gambler named Devante’ “Tay Bang” Zachery and his associates.

In the latest development connected to the bizarre situation, First Coast News is reporting that Zachery, an employee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, told the Gainesville Police Department that he gave Gator football players discounts on rental vehicles.  The Orlando Sentinel wrote that “Zachery filed a report last week with the [GPD] that gave further details on the fractious relationship with the Gators.”

The names of the players who were allegedly on the receiving end of the discounts weren’t divulged.

If Zachery’s claims are accurate, they would very likely constitute NCAA violations.  The university said in a statement that it’s aware of the allegations and is looking into it.

We understand GPD has followed up last week’s UPD report with a background report that has Devante Zachery (aka Tay Bang) as its primary source. We are not aware if there will be any additional information provided by GPD on this matter. Anytime we get information involving our student-athletes we look into it.

At this point, it’s unclear what if any type of punishment from the NCAA the unnamed players could be facing.  It’s also unclear if there is anything deeper to the gambling aspect other than Zachery’s alleged association with it.

Of the players involved in the original confrontation, Cleveland led the Gators in receiving yards (410) and was second in receptions (22) last season, while Toney’s 15 catches for 152 yards were both fourth on the team.  Campbell played in nine games in 2017, with Gamble taking a redshirt his true freshman season.  Jones, originally an Ohio State commit, was a four-star member of UF’s 2018 recruiting class.

The May kerfuffle was actually the second incident involving airsoft/BB guns for two of the players.

In mid-July of 2016, Cleveland and Wells were arrested and originally charged with criminal mischief for damaging property and shooting a missile inside an occupied dwelling; both of those charges were felonies. The two allegedly shot BB guns at and around a dorm on the UF campus, causing more than $1,000 worth of damage.

Those charges were ultimately reduced to criminal mischief, and Bonnie & Clod were suspended for the 2016 opener.

Additionally, Wells was one of several Florida players suspended for the entire 2017 season for the misuse of scholarship money at a bookstore, with some nine players total caught up in making improper charges on student IDs and selling said items for cash.  He was one of the four suspended players who returned to the team in late January.

Illinois lands former USC WR Josh Imatorbhebhe

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The Los Angeles-to-Champaign pipeline is alive and well.

After landing wide receiver Trevon Sidney and defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr., the Fighting Illini have added wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, he announced Monday.

“Transitions are never easy, but the support has definitely helped lighten the load,” Imatorbhebhe, No. 17 above, wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Without further ado I’m pleased to announce my commitment to…

THE University of Illinois; with a plan to get my Masters (sic) in Strategic Brand Communications.”

A former 4-star recruit in the class of 2016 out of Suwanee, Ga., Imatorbehbhe redshirted in his first year on campus, then caught just two passes in his two seasons on the active roster, with his 2018 season slowed by an ankle injury.

Imatorbehbhe will have two seasons to play immediately for the Illini.

Trevor Lawrence once again says he has no desire to skip bowl games to protect NFL stock

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The trend of college football players with the NFL coming into view has become a growing one the last few seasons, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence says you won’t have to worry about missing him in a postseason bowl game.

“Sitting out bowl games and stuff, that’ll never be me,” Lawrence said in an interview with ESPN. “You won’t have to worry about writing those stories.”

This quote is nothing new from Lawrence. In March, Lawrence stressed a similar stance with regard to sitting out of college football bowl games to protect NFL draft stock.

From The Athletic‘s Grace Raynor in March:

Asked specifically if he would consider sitting out in an effort to protect his health for an NFL future, the Georgia native answered with two resounding “No’s.” That’s not in the cards, he says.

“Everyone’s talking about that, but I don’t really care about that,” Lawrence said Monday evening in his first public interview since the College Football Playoff.

“It’s definitely not coming from me, all that stuff, so (I’ll) just kind of ignore it. Just keep working.

Of course, there is something that needs to be pointed out here. A large majority of the players choosing to skip bowl games aren’t playing in the College Football Playoff and a national championship. While New Years Six bowl games are high in prestige even if not in the playoff rotation, they simply are not the same as playing in the playoff with a national title in sight.

Lawrence has played for and won the national championship in his freshman season and probably has two more seasons that could see Clemson continue to compete for a playoff spot. If Clemson is in the playoff the next two (or three years), the chances Lawrence skips a bowl game are reduced significantly.

Maybe Lawrence is just confident in Clemson’s ability to make the playoff the next couple of seasons. He’s not wrong though, right?

Syracuse seeing spike in football season ticket sales

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Dino Babers had Syracuse enjoying a 10-win season for the first time since 2001 last season. Fans of the Orange have had their enthusiasm for the football program rejuvenated and it shows in the season ticket sales this offseason.

According to a report from Syracuse.com, Syracuse has recorded 4,500 more season ticket sales this year than the school saw all of last year. To date, as of Friday, Syracuse has sold 6,800 season tickets for the 2019 season as the total inches closer and closet to a possible school record (8,000).

On top of the increased season ticket sales, Syracuse is also seeing a great retention rate through season ticket renewals. Syracuse has seen over 90 percent of season ticket holders renew their ticket packages for the 2019 season.

Syracuse ended the 2018 season ranked No. 15 in the final AP poll. IT is the highest Syracuse has ended a season in the AP Top 25 since the 2001 season (No. 14). Babers also ended Syracuse’s bowl drought in style by coaching Syracuse to a Camping World Victory in Syracuse’s first bowl game since 2013.

Syracuse opens the 2019 season on the road at Liberty on Aug. 31.

Auburn four-star linebacker Richard Jibunor enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal never takes a day off in college football. Auburn linebacker Richard Jibunor is one of the latest players to add his name to the list. Matt Zenitz of Al.com reported the transfer portal news, via Twitter.

Coincidentally enough, Auburn received a commitment from a four-star linebacker yesterday (Cameron Riley), but you can make your own guess as to whether those two developments were related in any way. Regardless, Auburn is still potentially about to lose a linebacker off the roster.

A player is free to make contact with any other football program looking to recruit him once his name is officially added to the NCAA’s transfer portal. But adding a name to the portal doesn’t necessarily mean this is the end of the line for Jibunor at Auburn, because a player can always take their name out of the portal and decide to stay with their current program. However, Auburn also has the option of dropping Jibunor from his scholarship now that he is in the transfer portal.

Jibunor was a four-star recruit in Auburn’s Class of 2018. As a true freshman last season, Jibunor appeared in 10 games and recorded eight tackles and two sacks. He also forced a fumble for the Tigers defense. The Athens, Georgia native chose Auburn, who seemingly had the lead in his recruiting for a while. He committed to the Tiger sin Nov. 2017 after two previous unofficial visits earlier in the 2017 season.

Jibunor will have to sit out the 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program unless there is a waiver approval in the works with the NCAA offices. There is no suggestion at this time that is an option in play. Jibunor still has a redshirt to burn, so he will still have three years of eligibility to use beginning in 2020.