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2 posts from January 2018

January 23, 2018

Four suspended Florida football players reinstated to team

GAINESVILLE — The headliner is Jordan Scarlett, the running back who was supposed to lead Florida's backfield in 2017 before he was suspended ahead of the team's season opener and never returned. He, along with eight teammates, were accused of credit card fraud. Scarlett and three of those teammates were cleared to rejoin the team on Tuesday, ending a monthslong hiatus for the quartet. 

Linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston along with receiver Rick Wells were also cleared to return, but again, Scarlett is the most consequential of the group. The St. Thomas Aquinas alumnus rushed for a team-best 907 yards and six touchdowns in 2016.

Newcomers Malik Davis and Adarius Lemons stepped up in Scarlett's absence and will push him for playing time alongside rising junior Lamical Perine, who led the Gators with 588 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns in 2017.

Incoming recruits Iverson Clement and Dameon Pierce could also factor into Florida's backfield. But assuming Scarlett has stayed in shape during his time away from the team, he should be the favorite to start come UF's season opener against Charleston Southern on Sept. 1 after all the unfulfilled hype he carried into the season that never was. 

Wells, a rising redshirt sophomore wideout, has never caught a pass in college. And both Miller and Houston were true freshmen a season ago, so neither one of them has played a college snap either. Both of them could, however, play an important role in the upcoming season by bolstering Florida's depth at linebacker — a position group that underperformed in 2017 and needs capable bodies behind starters Vosean Joseph and David Reese. 

The four reinstated players were part of a group of seven who signed agreements with the State Attorney's Office to avoid felony charges for their alleged credit card fraud if they follow the agreements. 

As for the remaining suspended players, four of them have left the school. Defensive end Jordan Smith, defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones and offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort have all opted to transfer elsewhere. Desir-Jones will transfer to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas while Smith and Telfort haven't announced their transfer destinations. Smith and Telfort are also the two players who were not offered pre-trial intervention programs. Smith still faces a potential nine felony charges while Telfort faces a potential 30. 

Antonio Callaway, the former star receiver and Miami Booker T. Washington alum, opted to leave Florida early for the NFL Draft. 

Keivonnis Davis, a Miami Central alumnus, is the only player whose case has yet to be resolved. Davis was involved in a scooter accident during his suspension, and it's unknown if his injuries will prevent him from playing football this season and beyond. He's still enrolled in classes. 

 

January 12, 2018

No. 7 Florida gymnastics falls to No. 1 LSU

GAINESVILLE — These were not the faces of the defeated. 

These smiles shouldn't accompany loss. These giggles shouldn't serve as the anthem of the vanquished.  But on Friday night in Gainesville, following a 197.250-197.125 Florida loss to No. 1 LSU, they did. 

Following their defeat, four UF gymnats, along with coach Jenny Rowland, didn't trudge to their post-match press conference, nor did they walk. They practically skipped. 

Once seated in front of the room, seniors Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry and Rachel Slocum told jokes, lauhed and didn't care who saw. "Literally nothing matters," one of them sang. "It's only January 12th."

That was the attitude Rowland took when addressing the assembled reporters, noting the team has plenty of work to do, but there's still ample time to do it. Plus she said depsite the losing score, she saw imporvement compared to the team's season-opening win last week at West Virginia. 

The improvement, she said, centered around the team's energy. She noticed her gymnasts wrapping their arms around each other between routines and staying engaged during their teammates' performances. The 9,661-fan sellout — the first of Rowland's three-year tensure as head coach — probably helped, too. 

Still, she said energy aside, there's lots for the team to work on. 

"Fixing the little things," she said. 

The Gators were led by junior Alicia Boren, who placed second in the all-around to LSU's Myia Hambrick. Boren notched a 39.450. 

McMurtry, who couldn't compete on floor because of lingering back issues and therefore didn't qualify for the all-around, led the Gators on vault (9.90) and bars (9.925). Sophomore Rachel Gowey won beam (9.950) and Baker tied with freshman Megan Skaggs for Florida's top floor score (9.925). 

Baker's floor routine was one of the highlights of the night. It featrued, as she admitted following the meet, plenty of sass, including playing a whipping noise accompanied by a whipping motion where her teammates fell to the floor. 

"I was just lit the whole routine," Baker said. "Seeing my teammates fall when I whipped them was just icing on the cake."

While the team was very clear about this part of the season having little impact on where it ends up, it has a week off before traveling to Lexington to face Kentucky next Friday at 7 p.m. 

 



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