The Florida Gators will be without nine players on Saturday as they face Kentucky on the road. The list includes star wide receiver Antonio Callaway and top running back Jordan Scarlett.
The week prior, from head coach Jim McElwain:
Mac says no update on suspended players, meaning 9 Gators likely to miss game vs Vols— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) September 13, 2017
The suspensions of (1.) Scarlett, (2.) receiver Rick Wells, and are in addition to seven others that were announced earlier in August. Those were (3.) Callaway, (4.) offensive linemen Kadeem Telfort and (5.) Richerd Desir-Jones, (6.) linebackers James Houston and (7.) Ventrell Miller, and defensive linemen (8.) Jordan Smith and (9.) Keivonnis Davis.
The Gators also won’t have true freshman receiver James Robinson, who was cited for marijuana possession, along with Miller late last month. Last Wednesday, McElwain announced that Robinson, who returned to the team after serving his suspension vs. Michigan, was out indefinitely with a heart condition. Scarlett and Callaway are by far the biggest losses. Most of the others were depth players.
Why are they suspended?
According to the Associated Press, the reasoning behind the previously announced suspensions involved “misusing school-issued funds.” ESPN further reported that the players bought items with their university student IDs at the school bookstore and then sold them for cash.
Gators blog Alligator Army said:
It appeared when those seven suspensions were announced in mid-August that no criminal charges are likely for any of the players involved in this incident — or incidents. But Florida’s sweeping suspensions of seven players also suggested that the program had found the full breadth of whatever misdeeds had been done, and a subsequent suspension for related activities sure seems to undercut that notion.
Of the two players suspended, Scarlett is obviously the far more important — he was Florida’s leading rusher in 2016, and may be the Gators’ finest offensive player, a workhorse back with great quickness and power who made a run at 1,000 yards on the ground last year despite sharing carries with several other backs. Wells, by contrast, was one of just three scholarship players not known to be suspended or seriously injured to be left off Florida’s “unofficial” depth chart for Saturday’s game when it was released on Tuesday.
Are these big losses?
The offense didn’t get moving much against Michigan or Tennessee without them, but it’s hard to say that it would’ve otherwise.
Scarlett ran for 889 yards and six touchdowns last year. He tops Florida’s running back depth chart, with Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson behind him.
Callaway is one of Florida’s most dangerous weapons on offense, accounting for 721 yards and three touchdowns, along with 218 yards returning. In May, Callaway was cited for marijuana possession, but he was not suspended, and McElwain stated he was dealing with the situation internally, without a public announcement of discipline.
The team’s leading receiver has missed time before. He was suspended from the team, along with former quarterback Treon Harris, in Jan. 2016 in the wake of a sexual assault claim made against the two. He did not practice with the team that spring, but returned to classes during the summer and participated fully in fall practice.
Desir-Jones saw playing time in two games last season on the offensive line, but switched to defensive line this season. Miller, Houston, and Smith are freshmen, but Davis earned five starts last season.