C'yontai Lewis

Late touchdown gives Florida halftime lead on Georgia

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Jordan Scarlett‘s late second quarter touchdown gave Florida a 14-10 lead on SEC East rival Georgia. That’s where things stand at halftime in Jacksonville in a pivotal SEC East Division game (made even more critical following Kentucky’s win at Missouri earlier this afternoon).

Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio got the game off to an ugly start for the Gators with a poorly thrown ball against his body to the middle of the field for an early turnover. Georgia’s Dominick Sanders came up with the easy interception and returned it 31 yards to the Florida 25-yard line. Florida’s defense answered the early call by holding Georgia to a short field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship.

Florida took the lead late in the first quarter when C'yontai Lewis got his hands on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Del Rio, making up for his earlier error. The 7-3 lead did not last long, as Georgia answered with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession. Riley Ridley caught a 14-yard pass from Jacob Eason to put the Bulldogs up 10-7 early in the second quarter.

If Georgia wins, Kentucky will own sole possession of first place in the SEC East with just two SEC games left to play for the Wildcats. Kentucky gets Georgia at home next week, followed by a road game at Tennessee. Florida owns a head-to-head win against Georgia from earlier in the year.

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.

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

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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.