The Florida Gators announced this week that 7 players wouldn’t play when the team opens the 2017 season against the Michigan Wolverines in Arlington, Texas.
Head coach Jim McElwain made the announcement via a statement that the players were being suspended because they “made some choices that are extremely disappointing. Action has been taken – they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game.”
ESPN reported that the players, including star wide receiver/kick returner Antonio Callaway, are being held out of the game against No. 6 Michigan for misusing school-issued funds by purchasing items at the school bookstore with their student IDs and selling them for cash. This is clearly a big no-no and these players should have known better.
No. 20 Florida has already had issues with Callaway who had 3 touchdowns in 2016. He is considered one of Florida’s most dangerous weapons on a team that struggled to score last season. Calloway was cited for marijuana possession in May but was not suspended for the incident. He was also suspended a year ago following a sexual assault accusation that he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
Callaway is seen as a first round pick in the 2018 NFL draft by ESPN and other outlets but the number of off the field incidents are starting to become a major red flag. Luckily for Florida, they do have other options at WR including Brandon Powell and Tyrie Cleveland.
This is clearly not what Florida wanted to be talking about just days before they opened the year against a Top 10 opponent. Callaway, however, is really the only player that was expected to see extensive snaps in the opener and the Gators will still feature an extremely talented defense that ranked 5th in 2016.
— Jordan McPherson (@J_McPherson1126) August 15, 2017
Here in Las Vegas, the line for this SEC vs. Big 10 clash opened with Michigan favored at -2.5 but following the suspensions, the consensus line is now -4 for the Wolverines (according to the Sports Action App). If you like Michigan in this one, you can find UM -3.5 at books like Stations and CG Technology.
The bigger question when it comes to betting this game is who is going to start at quarterback for Florida? The loss of Callaway is a blow but the fact that Florida’s offense last year ranked 116th overall makes taking the points scary without knowing who will play under center. UF’s offense has been a major problem for a few years now and must improve if the Gators want to contend in the SEC East.
There are 3 options at the QB position for Coach McElwain including grad transfer Malik Zaire and a 4-star recruit in Feleipe Franks. The player with the most experience at the position inside UF’s offense is Luke Del Rio who got hurt last year after going 5-1 as the starter.
It can be dangerous to bet on a team early in the year who is still trying to select their signal caller late in camp. It would be wise to wait until Florida announces their starter at QB before playing this game.