FIU dismissed transfer walk-on running back Jakhari Gore, a former Columbus High star and LSU recruit, from the football program Monday hours after Gore’s arrest on charges of robbery by sudden snatching and false imprisonment.
Of greater effect on FIU’s season opener Saturday against Maryland is the questionable academic standing of junior cornerback Richard Leonard and senior wide receiver Glenn Coleman. Both were on the scout teams during Monday’s light practice.
FIU’s first depth chart of the season shows Leonard, FIU’s best defensive player through spring and summer practice, at the bottom of the cornerbacks.
Coleman is not listed among FIU’s top eight wide receivers.
“We’re waiting to hear academically where they are,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “We should know in the next day or two.”
If ineligible, FIU would start the season without the players expected over the summer to be their top two running backs (senior Kedrick Rhodes and Gore, both dismissed after arrests), top two wide receivers (seniors Willis Wright and Coleman) and top cornerback (Leonard).
Leonard has been a starter at cornerback since his freshman year. He is on the College Football Performance Awards watch list as a punt returner and a kick returner after getting a touchdown each way last season and averaging 29.5 yards per kickoff return.
Coleman and Wright — FIU’s first offensive four-star recruit — excelled over 2012’s final six games and would have been FIU’s returning leaders in catches, yards and yards per catch.
Wright’s academic problems from last season continued into the summer. He wasn’t allowed in fall practice and was taken off the roster last week.
Gore also started training camp on the outside because of academic shortcomings.
That changed three days into camp. But Gore worked only individual drills, never with the first or second team offense in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills.
Gore was being held on $5,000 bond for each charge as of Monday afternoon.
He, Rhodes (arrested for firing a gun into the air on campus while intoxicated) and offensive lineman Prince Matt (arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession) have been dismissed from FIU’s program since Turner took the job in January.
“He is dismissed permanently from the team,” Turner said after Monday morning’s light practice. “It’s a very disappointing situation. A guy who has gone through a lot of things … brought him back, gave him a second chance in training camp. Once training camp’s over, once we get past the first game, the roster goes down a little bit [from 104 to 99]. He probably would’ve been one of the guys not on it. He’s got some things to take care of.
“It’s extremely disappointing that anybody would do that,” Turner said. “We’re still getting the culture [of the football program] where we want it. Obviously, we’re not there yet. [We’re] bringing in the guys that do the things we want them to do or the guys who are currently on the team changing and doing the things we want them to do. There’s a lot of guys who aren’t here because they weren’t willing to do that and there’s some other guys who won’t be here because they’re not doing it to the level I want. It’s unfortunate.
“We’re giving them a tremendous opportunity. The guys who were here when I got here? We’re giving them plenty of chances to do it the way we want it done. Some of them haven’t.”