4 UF football players back on team after serving suspension

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Florida running back Jordan Scarlett is back on the team after serving a year suspension. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Four of the nine Florida football players suspended indefinitely before the start of last season for credit card fraud have rejoined all team activities.

Running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Rick Wells, and linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston will all join their teammates in the offseason conditioning program starting today.

In response to reports of the players’ return, UF released a statement from coach Dan Mullen on Tuesday night.

“All of our players understand the standards and expectations we have of them to be members of the Florida football program,” Mullen said.

There is still a chance the players could be facing a suspension of games by the university at the start of the 2018 season, but that has yet to be determined. The players received pre-trial intervention that will allow their third-degree felony charges to be dropped if they meet requirements set by the State Attorney’s Office.

A fifth suspended player  — defensive end Keivonnis Davis —  continues to recover from non-football injuries related to a scooter accident last fall. His playing future is uncertain due to the injuries.

The four other players who also had been suspended in the stolen credit card case — wide receiver Antonio Callaway, defensive end Jordan Smith, defensive tackle Richerd Desir-Jones and offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort — are no longer enrolled at UF. Callaway declared for the NFL draft, while Telfort, Smith and Jones announced earlier their intentions to transfer.

Overall, nine players were suspended from the team indefinitely in mid-August due to their use of stolen card numbers to fund school bookstore accounts to purchase a variety of items. They all were facing at least one third-degree felony charge.

Telford and Smith were facing multiple third-degree felony charges and their cases have not been resolved yet with the State Attorney’s Office.

Seven players — Callaway, Desir-Jones, Scarlett, Houston, Wells, Miller and Davis — accepted pre-trial intervention in October and their charges will be dropped if they meet the demands of the intervention.

Scarlett is the most experienced and productive among the players returning. He led the Gators in rushing in 2016 with 889 yards and six touchdowns.

The return of the two linebackers — Houston and Miller — is big because of the lack of depth at the position.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

35 COMMENTS

    • That’s it in a nutshell, Ed. Simple as it gets. Now, let’s brace for all the comments next season from rivals, like our favorite “Free Shoes University” for one. I can just hear it now, “Hey Scarlett, what’s in YOUR wallet?”. OK, fair enough. It’s on these guys now to redeem themselves and become real men.

  1. Tally police and F$U admin. would have swept it all under the rug, as they did for the crimes for Rapeis Winston, to the tune of a $1 million Title 9 settlement. So who cares what they say.
    These 4 missed an entire season, so I don’t see the point of further suspension IF they stay clean.

    • I for one don’t care what anybody affiliated with FSU says, Steve. Unless it’s, “Damn, them Gators are good”. But your point about those guys sweeping stuff like this under the rug is a good one, for sure.

  2. These guys are lucky, they could be in the slammer for what they did. Last call for them to act like responsible grown men. The State Attorney’s office and UF are giving them a second chance; time to wake up and go full speed ahead on academics and football. Welcome back. Now go be the best role model you can be from here on out.

  3. This is sad news. Gators have no standing making fun of the thugs at FSU and Miami when our standards are no better. These idiots should all have been dropped from the team last year, not coddled. How many non-athletes would get such special university treatment. Just depressing.

      • Well CF, I can see how you would conclude that. Not sure this reaches that particular level of failure though. So much as pertains to these guys not deserving a thing given to them……when you get right down to it bud, none of us do. That’s what grace is all about.

    • In the black and white world we would all strive to live in, PFC, you make an important point. But we don’t always live there and other factors can, and should apply when considering justice. And if you think I’m a liberal socialist for saying that, think again. I’m probably far right of Atilla the Hun. I spent 30+ years in the Army, as junior enlisted, then NCO, and later senior officer, and through four levels of command I was responsible for the UCMJ as it concerned discipline and appropriate punishment. Each case is individual, and must be considered at an individual level against the best interests of the unit and combat readiness. Regarding soldiers that I gave a break to, I can only think of two in all those years who burned me, my trust in them, and their unit. With Mullen in charge now, I’m pretty confident they will get the coaching, teaching, and mentoring they desperately need. If I’m wrong, then they blew it and it’s on them.

      • Gator-6 – I read comments on Gator Football every day here but I’ve never commented myself. And I’ve got to say that you are one of the most level-headed, balanced, and sensible posters I’ve seen on just about any online forum. In this mixed up and hateful world that we live in, I really appreciate that there is at least one person who can carry on a civil online discussion. I truly thank you sir for your contribution.

        • Geez, thanks Rog. I sure can understand passion, used to be pretty hot-headed myself as a young trooper until I figured out that nobody was listening to me because of it. Guess somewhere along the line I learned that logic trumps emotion, that good points often become obscured by the latter, and that “F__k You” isn’t always the best response. Regardless, we’ve got some great football minds on this forum, some obviously great guys who love the Gators as much as I do and then some. I learn something new every day I sign in…..chip in when you feel like it, great place to sort things out.

      • Reasonable comments Gator-6, we respectfully disagree. I too am a vet who remembers the UCMJ, and yes, there are extenuating circumstances. I don’t want these clowns to go to prison if the justice system is satisfied; this crime – and that’s what it was – was not accidental, but volitional. Therefore, I think some more “black-and-white” is indeed warranted. They should be off the team and lose their scholarships as appropriate consequence, and transfer to other schools for their second chances. As is their consequences are minimal, and there is no demonstrated deterrent against bad or criminal behavior for new recruits.

        • Yes, good points, absolutely. This was willful, planned behavior among a group of men who presumably knew right from wrong when they committed the instant crimes. I believe, absent any other evidence to the contrary, that they did know right from wrong and made a choice. I could be wrong though, and wouldn’t have said that until I did an ACofS tour at the United States Disciplinary Barracks….now my experience in corrections informs me that there are in fact a category of people who really don’t know the difference. I think your best point is in the deterrence effects from tough punishments, and the culture you want to set. In any event, I really do see your point(s), very logically stated. It’s hugely important not to lose sight of the victims, too. Man, guess this is why the head coach and AD make the big bucks, huh?

    • In the grand scheme of things…it was a hustle gone bad by the young and dumb. Psst…other college students were doing this too, and when I was at UF…cats did stupid stuff when they were 18-19…it’s just now front page news for all. Now Calloway….was on some repeat stuff, but I think you need to relax and not forget that you too were likely young and dumb at some point.

  4. Glad to see this resolved before the upcoming “signing day” . In some ways, these young men got off lightly, but they have also dealt with the very public aspect of their actions over the past 6 months while missing an entire season with their team. These 4 have an opportunity to remain on scholarship at a top level university and play football for a premier program. Let’s hope they embrace this “second chance” and use it to grow as men of character. I trust coach Mullen and their teammates will hold them accountable going forward.

  5. I don’t believe any of them should be allowed back. These were serious premeditated felonies not just some prank or juvenile stupidity. These are criminals and I don’t like them representing my alma mater. Yes, I’d like to win more games but it’s not worth compromising our integrity.

    • Gary, I agree with you in that these players will help our program. YES, they were STUPID KIDS, and I hope they learned a valuable lesson in life. To give someone a second chance is not dooming the program. These kids were not RAPIST, or Batterers, yes they committed crimes,but some of the same people on this post have stolen something in their lives as well. And may have gotten away with it but if they had gotten caught, they would not want their Birthday taken away. I can see their Parents saying he’s only 18, and he’s never been in trouble before, He deserves a second chance. Again, YES they were stupid, and they served a YEAR of suspension. Move on, and when they make GOOD PLAYS for this program, DON”T CHEER for them!

  6. I know they are considered young, but they must of had major brain farts doing what they did. How could they believe that what they were doing was not going to be discovered? I hope they do learn their lesson as our prison systems are full of youth as it is. I only hope that other human beings can have the logical sense to stay on the straight and narrow after seeing what could potentially happen if you “break the law.” I can’t explain why humans do the things that they do, but it is in our DNA evidently. I will share what we were told in the US Army. Do what ever you want to do as long as it isn’t illegal, immoral, or unsafe! Also act as though your Mother is watching and think about the impact on your families with your daily decisions. Other than that I hope we have a turn around season and go undefeated! GO GATORS!!!

  7. I would like to see all 9 men be compelled to go back to their hometowns and be required to talk to the students at the high schools (not just the one they went to) about the crime they committed and the consequences for not only them but for anyone who thinks a crime has no victims or similar result of being caught. Not sure UF can take away a year of eligibility (NCAA jurisdiction?) but that might be appropriate punishment besides what the State Attorney requires.

  8. the posters that have military or similar backgrounds really are the best ones to listen to on things like this. I’m going to take the position that these players willing to prove to everyone including themselves that they are worthy to represent the university going forward and make up for what happened, so show me and don’t expect a picnic. Still, I’m glad the two linebackers are going to try to make it, we need all the help we can get in that area with a rookie position coach, a switch to the 3-4, and a problematic area in the first place.

  9. Well hopefully these guys are ready to work and stay out of trouble. I’m not sure if they should be on the team or not, mainly because there were true victims to this crime. People had their credit cards stolen. Its not pot or a fight or something stupid. This was calculated with victims. That being said, we should stop pretending that it matters how different teams deal with legal issues. If Penn State coaches can literally rape little boys for years and only suffer minor penalties and UNC can commit academic fraud for years and only suffer minor penalties, I think it shows that the NCAA doesn’t give a damn. College sports pedestal is in pieces on the ground, so lets stop acting like its Strickland and Mullen’s jobs to be these kids’ mommy and daddy. Better players get better treatment and life isn’t fair and the penalty is not always just. The sooner we learn that is what college sports represents, the less stress it will cause us.