Gators Hope Callaway Allowed To Return To Team Soon
Antonio Callaway, the University of Florida wide receiver who was suspended in January, is one step closer to returning to the football field. With Florida having a few holes to fill, Callaway's return will make their offense better, but it won't significantly alter their college football national championship odds.
According to Huntley Johnson, who is Callaway's lawyer, the receiver has been allowed to return to classes and use the team's training facilities to work out.
In a statement, Johnson wrote that his client is currently going through the process that the university put in place to reach a final resolution in the matter. Johnson also said he wouldn't comment further on the topic.
Callaway was suspended on January 27 for an undisclosed violation of the University of Florida student code of conduct, stemming from an incident in December. The promising sophomore missed all of spring practice, at the time, head coach Jim McElwain said Callaway was not enrolled in summer classes.
When asked about Callaway's status, McElwain said it was being handled.
While Callaway hasn't been officially cleared to return to the team, the fact that he has been allowed to enroll in school and use the team's training facilities is good news for him.
During his freshman season, Callaway was Florida's best receiver. He led the Gators with 678 receiving yards, and had 4 touchdowns and 35 receptions, which was third on the team.
Currently, Florida's best returning receiver is Brandon Powell, who had 390 receiving yards last season. Powell also had 3 touchdowns and 29 receptions.
The second best returning receiver on the team is DeAndre Goolsby, who had 17 receptions, 277 yards, and 1 touchdown.
In addition to their lack of depth at the wide receiver position, McElwain also has to figure out who will be the team's starting quarterback. Four players are currently fighting for the job, and none of them has ever played a down in Gainesville.
The team also has to replace their leading rusher from last year, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2016 NFL Draft. Florida has some promising running backs in Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkite, but with neither having much playing experience, it is difficult to determine how well they will perform this season. One thing is for sure, the Gators will experience a lot of growing pains this season.
Some observers believe Del Rio is the front runner to win the quarterback job, but him not having any experience and paying against some of the toughest defenses in the country will make his transition to starting quarterback difficult.
Not having a lot of dependable receivers will also have an impact on how well Del Rio plays this season, which is why the team is hoping Callaway will be cleared to return soon. His ability to make plays will make things easier on Del Rio.
Fortunately for the Gators, that fact that the university has allowed Callaway to resume taking classes means that he has served his punishment and should be able to return to the football team and help his new quarterback win some games.
Even with Callaway back in the lineup, don't expect the Gators to make much noise in the SEC this year.