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Off field issues mounting in 2019 for Mullen- Gators

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The last few weeks of the offseason for Florida Gators football have been rough on coach Dan Mullen and the image of the program. And, the latest example involves a prize defensive back, who just got to Gainesville and now, already wants to transfer.

The Gainesville Sun reported Thursday afternoon that the top player from Florida’s 2019 recruiting class, California defensive back Chris Steele, has entered the transfer portal wanting to leave the Gators program:

 

Steele just came to campus in January, as an early enrollee participating in Spring drills, as well as, the Gators Spring game last month. It was believed that he was going to be a day-one starter come this fall on Florida’s defense.

However, things soured very quickly for Steele, and it’s related to another prominent Florida recruit, who just got to campus in January, also.

As we wrote late last month, fellow incoming freshman quarterback Jalon Jones from Virginia had also entered the transfer portal after just getting on campus in January. Jones was accused by two different females of sexual battery on the same night in the dorm room that he shared with Steele and a third teammate Jaydon Hill.

The two women ended up not pressing charges after Gainesville police investigated their claims. Still Jones has decided to depart the program.

Back to Steele, as the Sun reported, he apparently went to the coaching staff soon after arriving in January asking for a new roommate. And, then he and his parents later complained directly to Mullen about wanting to switch roommates, reportedly because of the problems with Jalon Jones. Steele was allegedly told that the switch could happen later this summer.

It’s widely believed that Steele, the 42nd recruit in the country according to ESPN.com, is looking to return to California. That’s where, he was a star at Los Angeles’ St. John Bosco High School and had offers from numerous Western schools including USC to play for them.

A third “eyebrow raising  situation” came last week when the Gators failed to secure the 2020 college commitment of Lakeland High School star, Demarkcus Bowman. Bowman, who is regarded as the second rated running back in the nation after rushing for 2,466 yards and 36 touchdowns in his junior season, chose the Clemson Tigers instead of the Gators.

This has to rankle the fan base and in particular, the large donors to the Florida program, as Lakeland High School has essentially been a pipeline of great players to Gainesville. And, the fact that such a potential impactful running back would choose someone other than Florida to run the football for, has to be a concern.

The Gators had no comment Thursday on the latest transfer controversy with Steele.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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