The discipline handed down to seven Florida football players Sunday entails more than just a one-game suspension.
UF coach Jim McElwain revealed Monday that the seven — wide receiver Antonio Callaway, defensive end Keivonnis Davis, defensive end Jordan Smith, outside linebacker James Houston, offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort, defensive tackle Richerd Desir-Jones and linebacker Ventrell Miller — have been suspended from all team activities, and there is a chance their suspensions could be for more than just the Sept. 2 opener if certain demands aren’t met.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed and at the same time, swift and quick action was taken,” McElwain said. “With that, we’ve had some guys not with us, been suspended from team activities, will not go to Michigan and will not play in that game. Anything further from there, obviously, we’ve got a lot of time now between then and whatever the next thing is. At that point, we’ll kind of move from there.”
The seven players were caught misusing part of their scholarship funds. Any money the players owe will have to be paid back, McElwain indicated.
“Obviously, any time choices are made, you’ve got to make up for whatever happened. These guys are doing that,” he said. “Guys that made choices, and then what do you do? You take something away that really means something to them.
“The one thing, it doesn’t matter who you’re disciplining, what is it that really means something to them? In this case, their ability not to be around the team. They’re not, obviously, going to go play in one of the greatest places, stadiums, that is on national television. Those are things that hurt. I think they know, and our guys know, look there is a lot to this and yet, what do we learn from it? I think that is an important lesson.”
Of the seven players, two are juniors (Callaway and Davis), one a sophomore (Desir-Jones), one a redshirt freshman (Davis) and three are freshmen (Telfort, Houston and Miller).
McElwain seems especially disappointed in the troubled Callaway, who has been given second chances by McElwain, but appears to be running out of them with this latest problem.
“When you talk about the disappointment piece, I saw these strides (by Callaway),” McElwain said. “And then sometimes you take a step back. I’m sure he’s not the only one that’s done that, and yet it’s my responsibility to keep teaching.
“As with all our players, not just him, they know I support them, and yet they’re always going to pay for their choices. It really applies to life sometimes. Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you say.
“It’s not just Antonio. It hurts. It’s my responsibility.”
Callaway, UF’s leading receiver last season and the biggest playmaker on offense, is the only starter among the suspended players. But the others were being counted on to provide depth and possibly play significant minutes.
Being away from the team — and practice and workouts — for three weeks is a major setback for the players, McElwain said.
“That’s significant,” he said. “Think about if you had ever been in trouble, if that one thing you really cared about was taken away from you, that’s when it hurts. That’s when it sinks in.
“And in these guys’ case, part of that too is not being around their team. There’s a real void here. I just know in these guys’ case it’s going to be detrimental, and yet they’ve got to understand that there’s consequences.”
Losing Callaway and the others also is a potential blow to the team. But McElwain said the players have responded in a positive way, pointing out that the Gators had an excellent scrimmage Friday night, followed by productive and energetic practices on Saturday and Sunday.
“Sometimes through some adversity or when things are a little rocky, it’s really interesting how you kind of see your team kind of gel together,” McElwain said. “We had an unbelievable scrimmage on Friday and some guys really stepped up. There were some really good performances on both sides of the ball. I saw a team unit that really stepped up and played.
“We had unbelievable practices. They understand that they’re wrong, and yet there’s another 100 guys out there that are having a blast doing what they love to do. That’s what I was able to see moving forward.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.