It was a surprising moment of the NFL Draft in one regard, and yet, almost predictable in another. When the Cleveland Browns drafted former Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway with the fifth pick of the fourth round it was definitely a surprise.
After all, we had written just before the draft that, as if Callaway’s checkered past wasn’t enough to jeopardize him being picked, he had tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Yet, because it’s the Browns, you know, the team who has re-defined “comedy” with personnel moves on and off the field for going on 15 years, and a team that has won one game in the last two years. So, it wasn’t that surprising that they would be the team to take the risk.
Keeping in mind that this is the team who traded back into the first round and draft Johnny Manziel in 2014, despite more “red flags” around him than a Moscow “May Day Parade” (google it). And, they also have taken troubled players like multi-time league suspended WR Josh Gordon, and even another controversial Gator draft pick, DT Caleb Brantley last year.
Back to Callaway, he was at Browns rookie camp, including with #1 overall pick QB Baker Mayfield, this weekend and Mary Kay Cabot, longtime beat writer for the Browns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, got some wide ranging comments from him:
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 6, 2018
It’s interesting that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who’s from South Florida originally just like Callaway, has become a bit of a mentor of his recently. This despite, the Steelers being in the same AFC North division.
Further, Callaway was candid that he realizes that the Browns, and specifically new GM John Dorsey, are taking yet another chance on a questionable pick and gave these comments Saturday in the Q and A:
“This is just telling that he believes in me, that I can do the right things,” he said. “Just not going let him down. For somebody to put their job on the line, I can’t let him down.”
He agrees with Dorsey that poor life choices “caused me to fall a couple of rounds. I have learned from them, moved on and became a better person and learned from mistakes day by day. Taking it day by day still, growing and maturing.”
Can he be trusted?
“Yes, sir,” he said. “I was just young and immature, living in the moment. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
Many Gators fans have to wonder about that last sentence, because if there was something Callaway was equally as good at as scoring big play TDs, it was consistently getting in trouble. This is the reason why he never saw the field in 2017 and Gators career was over, as part of a credit card fraud investigation.
And, as for “learning” from all of that? Someone with marijuana issues in his Florida past, just tested positive in Indianapolis, when he knew that a test was coming.
We’ll see if, as Cabot writes, that Callaway having an infant daughter now, a new home, new mentors, etc. all make a difference with him.
Then again, it’s the Browns.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.