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Florida has been without top wideout Antonio Callaway all season and it would be surprising if that changes the rest of the way.

Don’t expect Florida’s suspended players to make an impact over second half of season

Ryan Young

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The long-awaited update in the legal process for the nine suspended Florida football players involved in credit card fraud came Thursday.

Seven of the players were offered pre-trial interventions, meaning if they meet the requirements set forth by the State Attorney’s Office they would not face felony charges. Freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith were not eligible for the pre-trial agreement as they are facing too many potential charges.

Naturally, fans have had a lot of questions Thursday as to what that means for the immediate future of the suspended players, especially star wideout Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett.

That’s the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day.

Scottie L. asks … “(Is) this good or bad for us?”

Shawn M. asks … “Will they play this week?”

They definitely won’t play this week and I wouldn’t expect any of the suspended players to return the rest of the season.

Coach Jim McElwain put out a statement shortly after the court documents were released, saying, “We’ve been made aware of some updates in the legal process and there are still steps to go that include the University student conduct code.”

My sense is this is a ways from being over, and frankly, I think McElwain and the Gators have more to gain from a perception standpoint by not reinstating the players for any remainder of the season.

Unless Florida can pull off an unexpected upset of Georgia this Saturday, its hopes for contending in the SEC East are finished. At that point, the Gators would be playing out the schedule trying to get bowl eligible and find some positives down the stretch to build upon for next year.

The time for Callaway and Scarlett to make a positive impact on this team has passed. Even once the university code of conduct process is completed, the reality remains that these players haven’t been with the team since August. They haven’t gone through one practice or sat in one meeting.

It would take a while still just to get them ready to potentially contribute.

The other point, though, is what does Florida have to gain? Callaway and Scarlett are presumably gone after this fall anyway as draft-eligible juniors. They aren’t part of the youth movement the Gators are relying on to lift the program in the near future.

Maybe the younger players return to practice at some point to get work in for next year, but ending the suspensions at any point this season opens the door for criticism that Florida prioritized winning a few November football games over making a strong disciplinary statement about the severity of the crimes committed and the standard to which the program wants to be represented.

Florida has spent all season trying to move on from the black eye and roster setback these nine players dealt the program. Don’t expect that to change for the final handful of games.

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