GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Four of the nine Florida football players suspended indefinitely in August for their involvement in credit card fraud, including star running back Jordan Scarlett, have been cleared to rejoin team activities, a source told SEC Country on Tuesday.
Scarlett, the Gators’ starting running back in 2016, wide receiver Rick Wells and linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston are enrolled in school and will join Florida’s offseason strength and conditioning program Wednesday.
Defensive end Keivonnis Davis, also one of the nine suspended last summer, is continuing to rehab from a non-football injury sustained in a scooter crash last fall. He is enrolled at the university, though his future with the football program remains unclear.
The other suspended players had already announced or been reported to have left the program. Former star wide receiver Antonio Callaway declared for the NFL draft, offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and defensive lineman Jordan Smith announced plans to transfer, and defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones was reported to be transferring to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. None of the four are enrolled at Florida this semester.
“All of our players understand the standards and expectations we have of them to be members of the Florida football program,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said in a statement released by the program after multiple reports of the players’ return.
Mullen, who is on the road recruiting, likely won’t be made available to reporters until National Signing Day to answer questions about the reinstatement decision.
More hungry than ever❗️
— Jordan Scarlett (@ScarlettFever25) January 24, 2018
The nine suspended players faced recommended third-degree felony charges for using stolen credit card information from victims across the country to buy electronics and other unauthorized purchases.
Seven of the nine — excluding Telfort and Smith — received pre-trial intervention in late October that would result in their charges being dropped if they met requirements set forth by the State Attorney’s Office. Telfort and Smith faced too many charges to receive pre-trial intervention.
All of the players still faced further layers to the process at the university level before it became a football matter again, at which point Mullen, who was hired as head coach in late November, worked with athletic director Scott Stricklin to reach this final resolution.
It had started looking more likely that Scarlett would return after he opted not to declare for the NFL draft as an early entrant by the deadline last week.
Scarlett had a breakout sophomore season in 2016, rushing for 889 yards and 6 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry. He was set to take on an even bigger role last fall before being suspended the week of Florida’s season opener against Michigan.
He’ll rejoin a deep Gators backfield that also returns junior Lamical Perine (the Gators’ leading rusher in 2017 with 562 yards and 8 TDs on 4.1 YPC), sophomore Adarius Lemons (7.2 YPC on 19 attempts) and incoming 4-star freshmen Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement.
Sophomore Malik Davis, who was a breakout star last season with 526 yards and 2 TDs on 6.7 YPC before sustaining a serious season-ending knee injury, eventually will rejoin the team as well. Neither Florida nor Davis’ family has provided an expected timetable for his return.
As for the other reinstated players, Miller and Houston were freshmen last season and have yet to play for the Gators. But with Florida’s lack of proven depth at linebacker, the 3-star prospects give the team a couple more intriguing options to evaluate.
Wells also has not seen game action. The former 3-star prospect redshirted as a freshman before missing all of last season.