Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators suspend Antonio Callaway, six others for opener

WR Antonio Callaway is the Gators’ biggest loss.

WR Antonio Callaway is the Gators’ biggest loss.

Months of speculation about whether Florida would suspend star receiver Antonio Callaway because of marijuana has turned out to be moot.

The Gators suspended Callaway, their top offensive skill player, and six other players Sunday for other reasons they didn't specify for their blockbuster Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan in Arlington, Texas.

"We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing," coach Jim McElwain said in a statement. "Action has been taken. They have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity, and we will have some players step up as we move forward."

McElwain and UF did not specify the nature of the players' "choices." Multiple news outlets reported over the weekend that they involved misusing school-related funds. The money did not come from cost-of-attendance stipends. None of the seven players has been charged with a crime, according to Alachua County court records.

The other suspended players are defensive linemen Keivonnis Davis, Jordan Smith and Richerd Desir-Jones; offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort; and linebackers James Houston and Ventrell Miller.

Davis is a notable hit to a defense that lost seven players to the NFL draft plus coordinator Geoff Collins, who left to become the head coach at Temple. Davis, a 6-foot-4, 241-pound junior, appeared in 13 games last year and started five at defensive end. He recorded 27 tackles (three for a loss) and a forced fumble and ranked second on the team with five quarterback hurries.

Desir-Jones is the only other suspended player with previous playing time. Telfort, a four-star recruit from Miami, could contribute this season as a true freshman.

But the biggest loss is Callaway, a game-breaking player on the field who keeps finding trouble off it.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound junior is the only player in school history to score a touchdown via rush, reception, pass, punt return and kickoff return. Through two seasons, the Miami native has 1,399 career receiving yards and seven touchdown catches.

His winning 64-yard touchdown against Tennessee in 2015 remains one of the highlights of the McElwain era, and he has shown up on early NFL mock drafts as a potential first-round pick next year.

If he can stay out of trouble.

Callaway was suspended for UF's 2016 spring practice as the university investigated a sexual assault accusation against him. During the investigation, he said he was high on marijuana during the encounter. A school conduct hearing found him not responsible for any wrongdoing. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating UF's handling of that Title IX case.

In May, Callaway was cited for marijuana possession. The charge was dropped after he pleaded no contest to possession of drug equipment.

How McElwain and the Gators planned to handle Callaway's conduct was one of the biggest questions of the offseason. UF's policy calls for a suspension if a player tests positive for marijuana twice. Callaway has no known failed drug tests.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

The suspended seven

WR Antonio Callaway, Jr.: Florida's top offensive skill player with 1,399 career receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns.

DL Keivonnis Davis, Jr.: Expected to be key contributor on defense after starting five games last year.

OL Kadeem Telfort, Fr.: Four-star recruit is one of UF's top backups at tackle.

DL Jordan Smith, R-Fr.: Four-star recruit could crack the rotation this season.

LB James Houston, Fr. and LB Ventrell Miller, Fr.: Loss of the three-star recruits deprives the Gators of depth at an already shallow position.

DL Richerd Desir-Jones, R-So.: Appeared in two games on the offensive line last year; flipped to the defensive line last spring.

Florida Gators suspend Antonio Callaway, six others for opener 08/13/17 [Last modified: Sunday, August 13, 2017 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned


    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]