Callaway among 7 Gators suspended vs. Michigan
Published on Monday, 8/14/17, at 4:35 p.m. Eastern.
Florida star junior wide receiver Antonio Callaway’s status for the Week 1 showdown vs. Michigan at Jerry World has been in doubt since his arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana earlier this summer. All doubt was removed Sunday when he, along with six other teammates, were suspended for the opener against the Wolverines.
Callaway is UF’s best player. In fact, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. listed him at No. 12 on his Big Board for the 2018 NFL Draft several months ago. Callaway is the only player in Florida football history to score in five different ways — rushing, passing, receiving, kick return and punt return.
The seven Gators are suspended for the misuse of funds that are a part of their scholarship provided by the university. The six other players are DE Keivonnis Davis, DE Jordan Smith, OLB James Houston, OT Kadeem Telfort, DT Richer Desir-Jones and LB Ventrell Miller.
Other than Callaway, Davis is probably the only player who was going to get significant playing time against Michigan. Davis started five games last season, recording 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and five QB hurries.
In a press release from the school on Sunday, Jim McElwain said, “We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing. 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.”
Upon the news breaking on Sunday, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas immediately adjusted Michigan from a 2.5-point favorite to a four-point ‘chalk.’ Most books had the Wolverines at 3.5 on Monday, though the Westgate still had the number at four.
UF has won an NCAA-best 27 consecutive season openers, but all of those games were played in Gainesville at The Swamp. Only two of those wins came over Power Five teams. The Gators haven’t lost in Week 1 since falling to Ole Miss in 1989.
These schools met in the 2015 Citrus Bowl with Jim Harbaugh’s team dealing out a 41-7 shellacking. I was in Arlington at midcourt in the lower level when Michigan ran Florida out of AT&T Stadium in the South Region finals of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Wolverines also beat UF in a bowl game in 2007, the same year Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy.
This will be UF’s first season opener on the road since losing 31-4 at Miami in 1987. Again, I was there for my only ever appearance at the old Orange Bowl. The Gators dodged the bagel thanks to a pair of bad snaps on punts from Miami that resulted in safeties.