Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Suspended receiver Antonio Callaway says to blame him for Gators season, loss of coach Jim McElwain

INDIANAPOLIS – Three weeks ago, Antonio Callaway became a first-time father to a baby girl named Aulani.

"Changed my life,'' Calloway said Friday.

Whether Callaway has truly changed the reckless lifestyle that got the speedy receiver suspended from the Florida Gators football program is what he will have to prove to NFL teams at the league's scouting combine this week.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the multiple off-field incidents that shortened a promising college career, Callaway sounded contrite and determined to convince at least one team he is worth the risk.

"It's bigger than me,'' Callaway said Friday. "It ain't about me. I got a little girl. I just had her three weeks ago. I've got four little sisters. A single mom. I got to make it happen. I can't be out here making mistakes and throwing myself in bad situations.

"In those situations, as I look back, all those situations could've been prevented. I mean, I look back on it and I just thank God and I just pray every day. It's a blessing to even be here talking to ya'll with the situation I had. I'm just thankful.''

Callaway was among seven players who allegedly used stolen credit card information to fund their private bookstore accounts, money they used to buy items and someone sell them, according to University of Florida police.

Two other players were suspended just days before the season-opening loss against Michigan. Without Callaway, their biggest play-maker and the only one in Gators history to score a touchdown by passing, catching, rushing, punt and kickoff return, Florida's offense sputtered.

Callaway said he watched the Gators loss to Michigan, then began working out the next day. On Friday, he took the blame for his former team going 4-7 and the eventual parting of ways with coach Jim McElwain.

"I know him getting fired and all that was (because of) me, because of the season they had,'' Callaway said. "I know I could've made a big difference.

"To see the program go down like that and coach Mac lose his job? That hurt me because I know it was basically because of me. I know I could've made a big difference. I made a mistake. I was young.''

Callaway signed with agent Mel Bratton, moving into his home in Atlanta. Getting out of his hometown of Miami was what Callaway said was needed.

"Mel B, for him to let me in his home, that showed me he really cared,'' Callaway said. "He really cared for me. So I appreciate him for that. I thank him for that. He helped me get away from the Miami environment. The first time in Atlanta, actually staying in Atlanta training.''

Callaway said the NFL teams that he has interviewed with don't question his ability. They question his character. What do they ask him the most about?

"The case that I had back in '17 that cost me my season, which was misuse of a credit card,'' Callaway said. "But, you know, I talk to them, let them know I've grown up, I'm past that, I made a mistake and I'm ready to show them that. I've matured.''

Callaway said there was a time he considered trying to return for his final year at Florida.

"I actually tried to come back but the whole coaching staff changed,'' Callaway said. "I talked to some of the school coaches and asked them what the best move I should do and they said, "just go and pursue your dream.''

/ / /

LITTON  "ASHAMED" OF TROUBLED PAST:

Former Marshall and Wharton High quarterback Chase Litton said he is "ashamed," of what NFL teams will find out about him during their background checks.

Litton was arrested as a high school sophomore on burglary and theft charges.

During their background checks, NFL teams will likely discover a yearlong stalking injunction obtained by a former girlfriend at Wharton after nude photos of her were posted on social media in May 2014, something that has not been previously reported publicly.

"I mean, I was ashamed of it,'' Litton said. "That's not how my family raised me. That's my mom's last name. My father's last name. That's not how the Litton's are. I sat there, I made a mistake but it's in the past for a reason. I had to sit there. I had to grow from it. I had to become the man I am today without that. I'm thankful for everything I have. I'm thankful for this opportunity and I'm excited to put that in the past.''

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