On Monday, Will Muschamp announced that sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison’s two-game suspension had been reduced to just one game, making him available to play against Miami on September 7th.
“After a thorough review of Antonio Morrison’s situation and how he has handled his punishment, I’m going to suspend him for this game only,” Muschamp told the media on Monday. “I just don’t feel like his actions warranted a two-game suspension. That’s where we are with that.”
“I think he’s remorseful about the whole situation. We’ve moved forward,” Muschamp said. “Guys make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. I’m just disappointed with how the whole night was handled.”
Morrison was suspended after getting arrested twice over the summer. The first run in with law enforcement came after an altercation with a bouncer at a hookah lounge in Gainesville. Morrison allegedly had a disagreement with the bouncer and was arrested and charged with simple battery. Morrison received deferred prosecution in the case and was working towards completing the criteria laid in front of him by the court to have the case dropped.
That’s when Morrison was arrested for the second time this summer — for barking at an Alachua County service dog. Will Muschamp acted swiftly and handed Morrison a two-game suspension. After video was released of the incident, the charges were dropped by State Attorney of Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit, Bill Cervone, who said, “This dismissal is based on the lack of evidence to warrant, much less legally sustain, those charges and the complete inappropriateness of pursuing court action against Morrison, or anyone else, under the circumstances involved.”
Even after the charges were dropped, Muschamp made Morrison sit out the first week of fall practice and when he returned, Morrison was seen doing more running and punishment on the sidelines than tackling. Morrison returned as a full participant towards the end of fall camp but his future was still in the balance until Monday.
Ronald Powell spoke with the media about the kind of person that Morrison is and just how hard it was for him to be without football — something that Powell has experience with after missing last season.
“For Antonio, first off I want to say it’s very unfortunate [his situation]. He’s a guy that’s really passionate about this game; he loves the game,” Powell said. “But once it’s all over, it’s going to be good to see a teammate that loves the sport as much as he does, and loves being around his teammates as much as he does, to be back out there and get the experience of running out in The Swamp together as a team, collectively, and just sharing that with him.”
As far as what Florida is getting in Antonio Morrison when it comes to production on the field, it’s not an exaggeration to say that they will be getting back their best linebacker against Miami.
“He’s definitely a leader on defense,” Powell said of Morrison. “A vocal leader. When things may be a little down, he’s a guy that’s going to try to get it up and bring it up. Intensity. He’s going to bring it every down.”
To make something clear, this punishment — and reducing the punishment – is more than appropriate. Did Morrison make a mistake getting into an altercation with the bouncer? Yes. Was it a mistake to be out at 3 a.m. while still going through deferred prosecution? Yes. But Morrison is 19-years old and he is going to make mistakes.
He has more than made amends in the eyes of the court system and in the eyes of his coaching staff and deserves the right to put on his orange helmet and represent the University of Florida this season.