UF denies one, accepts another key freshman

Published: Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 2, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.

The University of Florida football team received mixed news from the school’s admissions office over the past several days.

Four-star defensive tackle Dante Phillips has been denied admission to UF, according to his stepfather, Damon Wilson.

And on Monday afternoon, five-star defensive end signee Dante Fowler was accepted by UF admissions.

“We were kind of blindsided,” Wilson said Monday about Phillips’ status. “He did everything he needed to do to be cleared by the (NCAA) Clearing House, but now he’s been told he doesn’t have a scholarship to Florida.

“He’s been cleared by the NCAA. He’s academically eligible. But the admissions office says he can’t enroll at Florida. If he can’t get in there, we have to look at other places. He’s got some offers out there. He’s totally qualified (academically) to go to other schools.”

Wilson said Phillips is appealing the decision by the admissions office, but there is no appeals process once admission is denied.

UF officials could not comment on Phillips’ academic situation.

Phillips is the first UF recruit since defensive tackle Santonio Thomas in 2000 to be ruled academically eligible by the NCAA but failed to meet UF academic standards.

Phillips, who attended Venice High School, committed to the Gators more than two years ago and signed with UF in February after strongly considering Miami in the closing weeks of the recruiting season.

Wilson said Phillips always thought he was in good shape academically to enroll at Florida.

Phillips was in Gainesville last Thursday when UF informed him he had been denied admission.

“Something like this should never happen,” Wilson said.

Phillips said he has been in contact with coaches from some of the schools that offered him scholarships, including Miami. He said he would like to play in the SEC, though.

“Florida is a great program; I love the school, but it’s time to open my recruitment,” Phillips said. “I’m just ready to play football. I want to show Florida what they missed out on. I’d like to go to a school in the SEC. That’s my preference.”

Fowler’s status was held up due to the late submission of an online class he had to complete for enrollment, he said.

“Coach Muschamp called me and said I was cleared to enroll,” Fowler said. “He was real excited and told me to get ready. It’s time for me to get in shape and get the ball rolling.”

With the ACL injury to junior defensive end/buck linebacker Ronald Powell, Fowler is expected to compete for playing time at the hybrid position this season.

He left for Gainesville on Monday night and his one class for the Summer B semester will begin Tuesday morning. He is rooming with freshman running back Matt Jones.

“It feels real good to have this off my shoulders,” Fowler said. “I’m ready to put this behind me and start making contributions.”

Jonathan Bullard, another five-star defensive end, is still dealing with academic issues and has not been cleared by the UF admissions office to enroll. Bullard’s situation is similar to Fowler’s, as a source close to the situation told The Sun that Bullard has qualified academically, but his paperwork was turned in late. He has not been denied admission at this stage and there is a chance he could be cleared to enroll in classes. The deadline for students to register for the Summer B semester is Tuesday night at 11:59 p.m.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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