Antonio Callaway, six other Gators suspended for Michigan opener

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Antonio Callaway and six other players have been suspended for Florida’s season-opening game with Michigan, as first reported by Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated. The players were suspended for a violation of team rules, and a Florida spokesman declined to elaborate on which rule was broken. However, GatorBait has reported the suspensions stem from misuse of school scholarship funds. From the site:

Some of the players involved used the funds from part of their scholarship agreement to buy electronics equipment, then later reported the cards stolen. Some players sold the electronics equipment purchased with the school-issued funds.

Sources informed GatorBait.net that the purchases have been either returned or the school funds used will be paid back by the athletes.

The other players not making the trip to Arlington, Texas, are junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones,freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort.

“We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing,” head coach Jim McElwain said in a press release. “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.”

The only other player beside Callaway the Gators figure to miss against Michigan is Davis, who appeared in all 14 games in 2016 with five starts. He recorded 27 tackles, three TFLs and 1.5 sacks over the year.

Callaway, however, figures to be a big loss.

The junior has been Florida’s leading receiver both years on campus, collecting 54 grabs for 721 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. He also added five rushes for 32 yards and a touchdown, returned 26 punts and took a kickoff back for a touchdown.

Callaway was cited for marijuana possession in pleaded no contest last month. The school also faces two Title IX investigations in relation to Callaway, one for an alleged sexual assault that left suspended from the team in the spring of 2016.

Michigan was ranked ninth in the initial Coaches’ Poll, released earlier this month, while Florida came in at No. 16. The Gators and Wolverines will meet at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”