Speaking with reporters in St. Petersburg Jim McElwain addressed the recent misdemeanor possession of marijuana citation his star receiver Antonio Callaway received last weekend.
“Obviously there was some news that came out today about Antonio, that, guys, I’m just really disappointed. I’m aware of it and everything, and we’ll handle it accordingly,” McElwain told reporters prior to meeting with a Gator Club. “I’m just really disappointed. And yet, at the same time, there’s an opportunity to learn, there’s another opportunity to educate and, like I said, we’ll get it handled.”
When asked directly about if the incident would affect Callaway’s status in the Gators’ season opener on September 3 against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. In the past McElwain has suspended, although he never uses that term, rather saying players made “choices,” two players for similar incidents.
Jordan Scarlett missed the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game against Michigan after he was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and Mark Thompson didn’t travel with the team to Jacksonville last season to face Georgia after he was cited for misdemeanor possession the week of the game.
“We’ll get everything handled. I’m just really disappointed,” McElwain reiterated to reporters. “And it’s one of those things because these guys, they’re truly like my kids. And those are the things that we constantly, situations that come up that we constantly talk (about), and yet at the same time there’s choices. Like I said, I’m just really disappointed.”
This isn’t the first time Callaway has had his name in headlines for an off the field incident. Callaway went through a lengthy Title IX investigation following his freshman season after he was accused by another UF student of sexual assault. Callaway was found innocent but was not allowed on campus, or to be around the football team including missing the spring camp between his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Callaway had stayed out of trouble since that incident at the end of his freshman season and coaches showered him with praise for how he handled that situation, learned from it and was growing both as a person and player. This incident doesn’t change that for McElwain, who has a special bond with Callaway.
“He’s still growing,” said McElwain. “You have bumps in the road as you go through life, and the thing is what you learn from those bumps. It’s just refocus, re-center. He’d been doing great.”