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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Tallahassee Democrat: FSU strength coach Vic Viloria charged with DUI

Florida State strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of DUI, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. 

Viloria also faces a complaint of property damage, according to the Democrat

FSU released this statement Saturday afternoon:

"We are aware of the reported incident and are in the process of gathering more information. The issue falls under the human resources policies for university employees, which restricts further comment at this time."

The No. 4 Seminoles open the season on Labor Day against No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando.  

 

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Miami Hurricanes dismiss two football players for violating NCAA rules

The Miami Hurricanes have dismissed senior linebacker Jermaine Grace and redshirt junior defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad for violating NCAA rules, the school announced Saturday.

Here's the statement UM released:

The University of Miami announced today that red-shirt junior Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior Jermaine Grace have been permanently dismissed from the Hurricanes football program for violating NCAA rules. The University will, however, continue their financial aid through graduation. The decision was made in consultation with outside counsel and after discussions with the NCAA enforcement staff. As no staff members or boosters were involved in the violations, the program will not be subject to sanctions and, at this time, the University deems this matter closed.

Grace started 10 games last year and led the Canes with 79 tackles. In three seasons at UM, he has recorded 147 tackles and five sacks.

Muhammad started seven games last fall, and his 54 tackles were third on the team. He led UM with 8.5 tackles for loss. …

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How will ex-Bucs coach Lovie Smith fare at Illinois?

CBS' college football announcers seem to think Lovie Smith will do better as the head coach at Illinois than he did with the Bucs.

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette via AP File

CBS' college football announcers seem to think Lovie Smith will do better as the head coach at Illinois than he did with the Bucs.

CBS' college football announcers seem to think Lovie Smith will do better as the head coach at Illinois than he did with the Bucs.

"I think the Illini can take a step forward," CBS Sports analyst Rick Neuheisel said Thursday in a teleconference with reporters.

Neuheisel said Smith's defensive prowess will help, because there's a lot of carryover between the NFL and college games on that side of the ball. 

"He's going to fit masterfully in that," said Neuheisel, a former Bucs backup and head coach at UCLA. "Given all that he's accomplished as a defensive coach and a head coach at that level, he'll bring that expertise to the Illini - and certainly a credibility of winning and doing things the right way. If you're a young guy, how can you not look up and say, ‘Our head coach is Lovie Smith. He's been to a Super Bowl.' That's a pretty good start."

CBS' Gary Danielson said athletic directors have been looking for something new to sell when they hire coaches. Instead of going with finesse, Illinois hiring Smith was a throwback to the fundamentals that have made programs like Iowa and Wisconsin successful in the Big Ten. …

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Florida Gators' Jim McElwain updates status of Antonio Callaway, Jalen Tabor

There is still no update on whether standout receiver Antonio Callaway's status for the season opener.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

There is still no update on whether standout receiver Antonio Callaway's status for the season opener.

Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain addressed reporters Thursday as the first game week of the season approaches. A few quick notes:

* There is still no update on standout receiver Antonio Callaway's status for the season opener. Callaway missed spring practice as UF conducted a code of conduct investigation, but he was cleared of the sexual assault complaint earlier this month. He admitted to being high on marijuana at the time of the incident. "We're working through some things," McElwain told reporters.

McElwain said all-SEC cornerback Jalen Tabor and tight end C'yontai Lewis will both return to practice today. There were both suspended from the program for more than a week after fighting during fall camp. Both will miss next week's opener against UMass.

Linebacker Alex Anzalone seems to be doing well after a shoulder injury sidelined him last season. McElwain said the 6-foot-3, 237-pound redshirt junior's strength and stability are better than ever. "I don't see any limitations there at all," McElwain said.

 

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SEC football coaches name Florida Gators' Jarrad Davis, Jalen Tabor to first team

Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Jalen Tabor have both been named to the coaches' preseason all-SEC teams.

Davis, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior, was second on the team with 98 tackles last season. Tabor, a 6-foot, 199-pound junior, ranked in the top 15 nationally with 18 passes defended as a sophomore.

UF offensive lineman Martez Ivey, defensive lineman Bryan Cox and punter Johnny Townsend were second-team selections.

Third-team picks included Gators offensive tackle David Sharpe, UF defensive backs Marcus Maye and Quincy Wilson and Mississippi State running back/returner Brandon Holloway (Alonso High).

Check out the full list here.

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Does George O'Leary deserve a statue at UCF?

UCF will soon be adding a statue of former coach George O'Leary, according to this report from the Orlando Sentinel.

Orlando Sentinel

UCF will soon be adding a statue of former coach George O'Leary, according to this report from the Orlando Sentinel.

UCF will soon be adding a statue of former coach George O'Leary, according to this report from the Orlando Sentinel.

Here's my question: Does he deserve it?

Another Sentinel writer, David Whitley, argues yes, thanks in part to the miraculous Fiesta Bowl season: 

O'Leary made it much easier to notice and harder to ignore.

If not for him, the Big 12 wouldn't be interested in UCF. Conference presidents would probably think it's the UFC.

The other side of the argument is clear, too. There was the NCAA investigation, which ended in probation and scholarship reductions that fueled last year's winless season (and hastened his midseason departure).

Most importantly, there was the death of player Ereck Plancher in 2008. His family's attorney, Tampa's Steve Yerrid, told CBS' Dennis Dodd that the news made him "if not physically nauseous … emotionally nauseous."

"(UCF) can go to hell," Yerrid told Dodd.

So what are your thoughts? Does O'Leary deserve a statue? In the post-Paterno era, does any coach?

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Jesuit alum Vincent Testaverde in backup quarterback mix for Miami Hurricanes

Vincent Testaverde (shown here at Jesuit High in 2013) is in the battle to become the Miami Hurricanes' backup quarterback.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Vincent Testaverde (shown here at Jesuit High in 2013) is in the battle to become the Miami Hurricanes' backup quarterback.

Miami seems to have the best quarterback situation in the state (with starter Brad Kaaya), but the battle for the backup job remains open.

Jesuit High alum Vincent Testaverde is in the mix to fill it.

Testaverde, the son of the Hurricanes' Heisman Trophy winner and Bucs quarterback, is battling with Malik Rosier for the No. 2 job.

"It's not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they're in the driver's seat right now," UM coach Mark Richt told reporters over the weekend. "They'll get all the reps with the number twos."

Richt said he hopes to have the top backup identified by the Sept. 3 season opener against FAMU.

Testaverde, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound redshirt sophomore, sat out last season but was 15-of-26 for 116 yards during his 2014 season at Texas Tech.

"(Testaverde) has gotten a lot better, getting his mechanics down pat. He's smooth," Kaaya told reporters. "He delivers the ball and throws a tight spiral. He's just gotten more of the offense down pat and operate more efficiently."

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AP Top 25: FSU football No. 4, Florida Gators at 25

Florida State and star running back Dalvin Cook are No. 4 in the preseason AP poll.

Loren Elliott | Tampa Bay Times

Florida State and star running back Dalvin Cook are No. 4 in the preseason AP poll.

Florida State opens the season as the No. 4 team in the country, according to the AP's Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Sunday. The Florida Gators are No. 25.

Defending champion Alabama is No. 1, followed by Clemson and Oklahoma. LSU is fifth. 

The Seminoles return 17 starters, including all 11 on offense, from last year's 10-3 team. FSU also boasts one of the country's most explosive players (running back Dalvin Cook), top defensive talents (safety Derwin James) and offensive linemen (tackle Roderick Johnson). FSU earned five first-place votes; only Bama and Clemson received more.

FSU is also No. 4 in the coaches' poll. The Noles open the season on Labor Day against No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

The Gators are also 25th in the coaches' poll. Florida is looking to build on last year's 10-win season that included the SEC East championship. UF's season opener is on Sept. 3 against UMass. 

Please direct any and all criticism to my colleague, Joey Knight. He's an AP voter again; here's his preseason poll. 

Miami received 159 votes and was the first team out of the preseason rankings. USF got two votes. 

The full top 25:

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Oklahoma …

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FSU quarterback Malik Henry suspended for violating team rules

Malik Henry was one of the top players in a 2016 recruiting class that some analysts considered the best in the country.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Malik Henry was one of the top players in a 2016 recruiting class that some analysts considered the best in the country.

Florida State has suspended true freshman quarterback Malik Henry for violating team rules, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters Saturday.

Fisher did not say how long Henry will be out.

Henry was one of the top players in a 2016 recruiting class that some analysts considered the best in the country.

The four-star prospect was the nation's No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 47 player overall, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The California native enrolled at FSU in January.

Henry was expected to redshirt this season, but his absence saps depth from the quarterback position. The most experienced quarterback, senior Sean Maguire, will be out until the second or third game of the season because of a foot injury. That leaves only redshirt sophomore J.J. Cosentino and freshman walk-on Jake Rizzo as the two backups for Deondre Francois.

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Jalen Tabor, C'yontai Lewis to return to Florida Gators on Thursday

EVE EDELHEIT I Times

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators star cornerback Jalen Tabor and tight end C'yontai Lewis are expected to return to practice Thursday from their suspension.

Both have been suspended since they fought during practice on Tuesday. They will also miss the Sept. 3 season opener against UMass.

"I want everyone to understand first and foremost these are two really good guys and good teammates," coach Jim McElwain said Friday. "They're valuable members of this football team and this family. And you know what, they're good people. And yet as we go on, there's certain things and levels of expectations that we have in everything that we do...

"We'll look forward to getting those guys back hopefully on Thursday of next week and move forward and support them in every way we can, and yet not enable."

It's the second suspension for Tabor, who also missed last year's game against Tennessee.

A few other notes from Friday's media availability: …

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Gaither's Decalon Brooks commits to FSU football

Decalon Brooks will be following his father's footsteps to Tallahassee.

The senior linebacker at Gaither High announced Thursday night that he has orally committed to Florida State. His father, Bucs legend Derrick Brooks, was a part of the Seminoles' 1993 national title team and has his No. 10 jersey retired there.

Brooks is one of Tampa Bay's top recruits for the class of 2017. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound athlete was No. 33 on the HomeTeam 100 after averaging 11.4 tackles per game during his junior season. The three-star recruit is regarded as one of the top 200 players in the state.

Brooks chose FSU over Louisville, Illinois, Florida Atlantic and Florida International, among others. He is the Seminoles' 13th commit and part of a class ranked eighth nationally by 247Sports.

Oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent during their senior year.

 

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Florida Gators name Luke Del Rio starting quarterback for Week 1

University of Florida

The Florida Gators have named Luke Del Rio their starting quarterback for the season opener.

"Luke is going to work as the starter the rest of camp and start in the season opener barring any unforeseen development,'' coach Jim McElwain said via UF. "Our other quarterbacks remain in the plans and are ready to move forward and help the Gators any way they can."

Del Rio beat Austin Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, for the right to start against UMass on Sept. 3.

Del Rio, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound redshirt sophomore, sat out last season after transferring from Oregon State. He appeared in three games for the Beavers during the 2014 season, completing 8 of his 18 passes for 141 yards.

His father, Jack, is the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Del Rio will become the Gators' ninth different starter since Tim Tebow left for the 2010 NFL draft. 

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could play, and start," Del Rio said last week. "I didn't come here to sit on the bench." 

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FSU football: Keep an eye on receiver Nyqwan Murray

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State's open practice Sunday gave fans (and reporters) their best glimpse into this year's team.

My takeaway: Keep an eye on sophomore receiver Nyqwan Murray.

"You saw a guy there that I start seeing can make some plays," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Murray played four games last season as a true freshman. The 5-foot-11, 176-pound Orlando native totaled six catches for 65 yards. But Fisher has stressed that young receivers will have many opportunities this fall. That list includes George Campbell, the former East Lake High star who spent part of Sunday's practice working with the first team, and Wharton High alum Auden Tate.

But Murray kept jumping out Sunday. Fisher called Murray "legit" and said he could grow into a bigger role this season.

"I hope a huge one," Fisher said. "Could have a big one. If he's doing as good as he keeps doing, he'll get about as big a role as he wants."

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Linebacker Matt Rolin leaves Florida Gators

Matt Rolin had 11 tackles in three games last season, including eight against Alabama in the SEC title game.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Matt Rolin had 11 tackles in three games last season, including eight against Alabama in the SEC title game.

Florida Gators linebacker Matt Rolin is no longer with the program, UF confirmed Monday morning.

Rolin was a four-star recruit in 2013 and the No. 147 prospect in the country, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

But injuries kept him from ever taking off at UF. He redshirted in 2013 and missed all of 2014 after tearing his ACL. He had 11 tackles in three games last season, including eight against Alabama in the SEC title game.

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Jimbo Fisher looking for FSU football's Auden Tate to stay healthy

TALLAHASSEE -- Wharton High product Auden Tate showed in the spring game that he can be a key receiver for Florida State. He finished with 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including an 11-yard score with 13 seconds left and was named the offense's most improved player in the spring.

The Seminoles still believe in the ability of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore, but now they want to see something else: Stability. Tate has missed the last two practices with a groin injury.

"You've got to stay on the field," coach Jimbo Fisher said during Sunday's media day. "It's not his fault. Nothing you can do. He has a chance to be a very good player. He's big-bodied, strong. His routes look like they've gotten better...

"We've got to get him healthy."

Fisher said Tate will probably miss another day or two of practice. He appeared in six games last season as a true freshman but did not record a catch.

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