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:
BREAKING: Details on Chris Steele’s decision to transfer from Floridahttps://t.co/IhYEKTmrLD
— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) May 9, 2019
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.
Vols Coach Pruitt- “Yes I hate Florida”
The Tennessee series with Florida has not been too kind to them as of late, but even as a heavy underdogs at the Swamp Saturday, they believe that they could change that. Oh, and then there’s your second year head coach wanting to make it clear he definitely dislikes the Gators.
Jeremy Pruitt, whose team suffered a humiliating opening-week loss at home to Georgia State and then followed that with another loss in heartbreaking fashion to BYU in overtime in week two, took to the radio airwaves Wednesday to answer questions from Volunteers fans. And, one wanted to make sure how much he despised Florida:
Jeremy Pruitt didn't mince his words when asked if he does, in fact, hate the Gators.
"Yes, I hate Florida."https://t.co/4Ux0DzPwYl
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 19, 2019
The caller asked a question about whether the Vols might be able to pull a shocker, like they did over Auburn in Pruitt’s inaugural season of 2018, but also very plainly put it to the former Alabama and Florida State defensive coordinator, “do you hate Florida?”
Pruitt answered the question about the mentality going into Gainesville, as a 14-point underdog in their SEC opener. Then threw in the line,
“And yes, I hate Florida.”
And, while Gators fans might take that insult, as perfect “bulletin board material” to motivate their team, the dislike has been there from both sides for 25 years or more.
Encouraging for the Vols, and even though it was under previous coach Butch Jones, Tennessee should have a mentality should be that they can hang with Florida. As each of the last two meetings in Gainesville under Jones, Tennessee had the lead in the final minute of the game, only to let Florida dramatically score the game-winning touchdown on a huge pass play.
A year ago in Knoxville, the Gators used six turnovers and two defensive touchdowns to wipe out Tennessee 47-21 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final.
Meanwhile, instead of the “level of hatred, or not” Gators coach Dan Mullen has bigger concerns about using dual quarterbacks in Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. And, he must deal with the expectations that the Gators should, once again, wipe out “The Big Orange.”
Then, let the media and fans talk about insults, afterwards.
Gators coach Mullen likely to use two QBs against Tennessee
After losing starting QB Feleipe Franks to an ankle injury on Saturday night against SEC rival Kentucky, the Gators have now found themselves with an unexpected decision as to who will be starting QB?
Franks was replaced by redshirt junior Kyle Trask, who was seeing his first significant action of his Florida career, especially trailing by double figures in a hostile SEC road environment. However, it’s likely that RS Freshman Emory Jones will also take some snaps at quarterback this season.
Mullen sat down with Emory Jones and Kyle Trask this morning and told them they're ready for this moment because of all the reps they've gotten in practice.
— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) September 16, 2019
Mullens decision to potentially go with both QBs could be not only to determine which guy will be his offensive leader for the rest of the season, but to also give their next opponent, Tennessee, more to prepare for as the head into their next conference rivalry game.
The Gators second year coach announced on Monday that Franks is officially done for the season.
On a fourth-and-one scramble with 3:21 remaining, Franks was sandwiched between multiple Wildcat defenders and bent backwards. Even though replays weren’t shown, it was clear he had suffered a dislocated right ankle injury.
So bad was the injury, that trainers who came to assist Franks on the turf at Commonwealth Stadium immediately put an air cast on his right leg. Then he was eventually carted off to the locker room after nearly the entire Gator team had surrounded him and wished him well.
Frank’s has been a “lightning rod of criticism” throughout his Florida career, but did silence a lot of those critics with his play down the stretch last season. That included a late season comeback win over South Carolina, playing well in the rivalry victory over Florida State, and then, following that up with a good performance in the easy victory in the Peach Bowl over Michigan.
However, Franks and the offense struggled much of the first three quarters of Saturday night’s SEC opener at Kentucky. At the time he left with an injury he was an efficient 12-17 for 174 yards with a TD pass and 1 INT. Still, they had only put one touchdown on the board while trailing 21 – 10.
Trask went in for Franks and went on to pull out a come from behind win for the Gators, completing 9 for 13 passes, with 126 passing yards. He’ll be competing for playing time with Jones, the No. 85 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 and four-star dual-threat quarterback.
Jones saw limited action last season to maintain redshirt status, but completed 12-16 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the four games he play in. Jones is also more of a dual threat to run and that will give Mullen and staff more options on play calls, if/when he’s on the field.
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