With two more Gators suspended Wednesday, No. 17 Florida will be without 10 players Saturday in its biggest season opener in at least three decades.
And it could get worse.
The latest two suspensions — running back Jordan Scarlett and receiver Rick Wells — are involved in a scandal over the alleged misuse of school-related financial cards. Seven other players were already indefinitely suspended for that reason, including standout receiver Antonio Callaway. Coach Jim McElwain said they will all miss Saturday's game against No. 11 Michigan in Arlington, Texas, and they won't return until "whatever it is, is resolved."
But that's only part of the problem.
The University of Florida Police Department is investigating a credit-card fraud case related to some football players, public information officer Brad Barber said Wednesday. He did not specify the number of players involved, or if they are related to the suspensions.
"This investigation is fairly recent, and it's beginning," Barber said.
In the meantime, the Gators will be without a group that includes their leading rusher (Scarlett) and leading receiver (Callaway). They combined for 1,980 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns as sophomores last season; the rest of the roster totaled 3,635 yards and 24 scores.
Callaway was among the seven players suspended Aug. 13 when the card incident first came to light. The others: linebacker Ventrell Miller, offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, linebacker James Houston, defensive lineman Keivonnis Davis, defensive lineman Jordan Smith and defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones.
The Gainesville Police Department opened an investigation into Smith a few days later. No charges have been filed.
McElwain said the program received some new information early Wednesday afternoon, which led to the next two suspensions. He also said he does not think NCAA compliance issues are involved.
"The thing is, when we were made aware, we immediately took action," McElwain said.
Scarlett, a 5-foot-10, 213-pound South Florida native, rushed for a team-high 889 yards on 179 carries last season. He also missed UF's last game against Michigan, the January 2016 Citrus Bowl, after he was cited on a complaint of marijuana possession.
This is also Wells' second suspension. The three-star recruit could not play in last year's season opener as he faced two felony charges related to a BB gun incident. Wells ended up redshirting.
The latest suspensions came two days after McElwain said freshman receiver James Robinson will miss the game after being cited on a complaint of marijuana possession last week. The four-star recruit from Lakeland received a similar citation during his official visit to Ohio State on the weekend before signing day.
"Sometimes through adversity, it actually brings a group tighter together," McElwain said. "You know what? We have a really tight group right now."
Contact Matt Baker at email@example.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.