No. 6 Florida gets TE Kyle Pitts back after 2-week absence

Brad McClenny
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 6 Florida will have standout tight end Kyle Pitts back for Saturday’s game against Kentucky.

Pitts missed the last weeks following a vicious hit against Georgia that caused a concussion and did enough damage to his nose that he needed surgery.

“He’s another weapon that we’re adding into the game, the rotation,” coach Dan Mullen said Monday. “He’s got to go battle for some playing time right now. Those other guys are playing pretty good.

“He’s such a playmaker. He’s such a leader and brings such great personality, as well, to the team. Just having him back on the field is going to be great for everybody, and . the matchup problem that he causes defenses.”

The 6-foot-6 junior from Philadelphia has 24 receptions for 414 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns this season. His play has been instrumental in making the Gators (6-1) one of the most dynamic offenses in the Southeastern Conference and in the country. Florida ranks seventh nationally in scoring (45.8. points a game) and 12th in total offense (511.7 yards).

Pitts opened eyes by scoring six touchdowns in the first two games and has commanded double teams and bracket coverage since, creating more one-on-one opportunities for teammates Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Justin Shorter.

Backup tight ends Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer have filled in nicely, with Gamble catching two touchdown passes last week at Vanderbilt and Zipperer getting two the previous week against Arkansas.

“Obviously Pitts brings a lot of mismatches to defenses, but at the same time, we have so many great tight ends and receivers, so many weapons overall,” quarterback Kyle Trask said. “I’m still going to trust my guys to get open no matter who’s out there, so obviously it doesn’t change a whole lot for me as far as going through my reads because I’m just trying to read the defense and find the open guy at the end of the day.”

Pitts was knocked out Nov. 7 in the second quarter against Georgia when safety Lewis Cine delivered a crushing blow over the middle. Cine was ejected for targeting. Pitts spent the rest of the game in the locker room.

He had surgery days later.

Mullen said he was never concerned the hit and its repercussions would prompt Pitts to even consider opting out of the season, a trend teams across the country as seeing as they deal with coaching changes or get eliminated from championship contention.

“He wanted to go play this past weekend,” Mullen said. “I don’t think that was ever something that popped up. I think if you just look at his competitive spirit, who he is, he’s played with a competitive chip all year. He wants to continue to do that.”

Also on the injury front, Mullen said linebacker James Houston will return against the Wildcats (3-5). Houston missed the last two games because of an unspecified injury.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.