The Florida Gators open spring practice Wednesday, but two notable Miami natives won’t be in camp anytime soon.
Star receiver Antonio Callaway and former starting quarterback Treon Harris are suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons.
UF coach Jim McElwain refused to discuss specifics and offered no future timeline, only saying that the former Miami Booker T. Washington High standouts haven’t participated in offseason workouts since January and “are still taking care of some schoolwork and other stuff.”
School officials confirmed both players are enrolled in spring classes, but it remains unknown if Callaway and Harris are currently suspended by the university or the football program.
When pressed on the players’ status, McElwain repeatedly said, “That’s the last we’ll talk about it.”
The coach then added: “I’m excited about all of the guys that are going to be here as we more forward to spring practice.”
Callaway’s absence is a big blow for an offense that scored just two touchdowns during Florida’s three-game losing streak to end the 2015 season. For the second straight spring, the Gators are searching for a starting quarterback, too.
According to McElwain, former Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio enters camp with “a leg up” on Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby and early enrollees Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. But now Florida’s quarterback competition will commence without its top receiver.
Last season, Callaway emerged as UF’s most dynamic playmaker since Percy Harvin, recording 678 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The freshman also set a school record for punt-return yardage, adding two return touchdowns, including a score in the SEC Championship Game. Callaway even threw a touchdown pass to Harris in Florida’s loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.
Without Callaway, McElwain hopes underperforming veteran wideouts Ahmad Fulwood and Alvin Bailey step up. The Gators are also seeking production from a trio of their school-record 13 mid-year enrollees: junior college playmaker ’Dre Massey and freshman receivers Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s news marks the third time Harris has been suspended at UF. Last year, he missed the Tennessee game for a violation of team rules. In 2014, Harris was suspended for a sexual-assault allegation that was eventually withdrawn.
He started the final eight games of 2015 after starter Will Grier was suspended for violating the NCAA’s performance-enhancing drug policy on Oct. 12. Florida’s offense sputtered almost immediately, and the Gators went 4-4 down the stretch.
Harris finished the year with 1,676 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. The sophomore completed just 50.6 percent of his passes and was rumored to transition to receiver this spring, with McElwain saying Tuesday, “Possibly. We’ll see about that. We’ll talk about it when it happens.”