This time last week, head coach Urban Meyer was declaring that Chris Rainey was eligible to return to the Florida practice field from an indefinite suspension and could play in this weekend’s game against Georgia.
Three days ahead of the annual rivalry game, it’s appearing more likely that the wide receiver will make his return from what would amount to a five-game suspension.
Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, Meyer, while not saying with any degree of certainty that Rainey will play, said the receiver’s been doing everything asked of him that would allow a return sooner rather than later.
“As of now he’s done everything he’s supposed to do,” Meyer said. “I’ll just do a thorough check on everything that I’ve asked him to do.”
Rainey was suspended by Meyer in the middle of last month following what was initially a felony arrest for aggravated stalking. While some still feel that he should not have the opportunity to return, at least to the Gators, the coach seems comfortable with his decision and with how the junior has responded.
“I think obviously the initial sting is a lot of negativity brought on towards the program and disappointment,” Meyer said. “Then it’s an opportunity for a young man to clear his name get himself right, like we’ve had with a bunch of young men around here. We’re gonna keep a tight rein on Chris Rainey. He’s never faced anything like this before. He certainly never better again.”
Incidentally, if/when Rainey returns, it appears he will split time at both receiver and running back, ostensibly in an effort to give a listing offense a much-needed jump start. Rainey led the Gators in rushing last season, and any way the coaching staff can get him on the field with the football in his hands will help.