UF's Callaway can play in opener; others still suspended

Published Aug. 30, 2016

GAINESVILLE — After months of uncertainty, No. 25 Florida finally has some clarity regarding receiver Antonio Callaway.

Coach Jim McElwain said his standout sophomore and most explosive offensive player "should be ready to go" for Saturday's season opener against UMass.

"We're fired up to have Antonio in the lineup," quarterback Luke Del Rio said.

McElwain said he learned Friday that Callaway should be available but said he couldn't elaborate on the decision. Friday marked two weeks after Callaway was cleared in a university sexual assault investigation, in which Callaway admitted he was high on marijuana during the incident. The complainant had 10 business days to appeal the ruling.

Callaway missed all of spring practice while UF investigated the December allegation before returning to workouts in the summer. The Miami native was listed as a starting receiver on the depth chart UF released Monday afternoon. He led UF with 1,211 all-purpose yards last season as a true freshman.

"He's been consistent every day and worked really hard to get in shape," Del Rio said. "And when he came back, we embraced him with open arms, and he's done a great job getting back into the groove."

The Gators will be without at least five suspended players. McElwain said freshmen receivers Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells will miss the game. They face two felony charges each stemming from their arrests last month after a BB gun incident.

All-SEC cornerback Jalen Tabor and tight end C'yontai Lewis won't play after fighting during fall camp. An unnamed senior player will also be sidelined because of his choices, McElwain said.

Senior receiver Chris Thompson was not listed on the depth chart.

FSU: Coach Jimbo Fisher said quarterback Sean Maguire is still sore as he recovers from foot surgery. Maguire has returned to practice, but Fisher remains uncertain whether he will be available as a backup to starter Deondre Francois for Monday's season opener against No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando.

Fisher said his two true freshmen will split kicking duties: Logan Tyler will handle punts and kickoffs, and Ricky Aguayo — the younger brother of Bucs rookie Roberto Aguayo — will kick the field goals.

USF: If the latest depth chart holds true, eight players from bay area high schools — five on defense — will start Saturday night's season opener against Towson. The Bulls released their updated chart Monday afternoon. Of the starting 22, only four are seniors, with only 10 seniors among the top 44 on the two-deep chart. Moreover, only one of the major specialists — long snapper Alex Salvato — is in his final season. In all, the two-deep roster (offense and defense) features 14 players from a local high school. Two positions, the "Bull" defensive end and free safety, have a bay area player listed on the first and second teams. Four locals started the Bulls' 2012 season finale — Skip Holtz's final game as coach.

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ALABAMA: The starting quarterback competition is down to junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett. Freshman Jalen Hurts and sophomore David Cornwell also vied to start.

KANSAS STATE: Junior Jesse Ertz was named starting quarterback. He was the starter for two plays last season, sustaining a knee injury in the opener.

OHIO STATE: Receiver Torrance Gibson, who was competing to start, was suspended from school for the fall semester for violating the student conduct code, the university said. Coach Urban Meyer said it was not related to football, and "I disagree with it."

SOUTH CAROLINA: Cornerback Rico McWilliams, a starter last season who is a backup on the depth chart for Thursday's opener at Vanderbilt, is giving up football. Coach Will Muschamp, when asked about McWilliams departure, said that football was a hard, tough game and if someone did not like lifting weights or practicing they would be better off "flipping burgers."

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.