UF’s rough offseason continues, but oddsmakers aren’t budging

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Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators have had a rough offseason, losing highly-touted recruits like Chris Steele and Jalon Jones. Even a coach on Mullen's staff has been arrested, and another linebacker entered the transfer portal this week.

I’ve been saying the same thing for decades about college football: In the months of May and June, no news is good news. Unfortunately for the Florida Gators, there has been plenty of news over the last several weeks.  

First, four-star quarterback recruit Jalon Jones was accused of sexual battery by two different women in a 30-minute time frame. Both women opted not to pursue criminal charges stemming from the incident in April, but Jones quickly entered the transfer portal. The early enrollee who had arrived in Gainesville in January transferred to Jackson State this week.

Chris Steele, another early enrollee who was the five-star prize of Dan Mullen’s second recruiting class that ranked in the Top Ten nationally, entered the transfer portal on May 9. On that same day, the Gainesville Sun reported that Steele had requested to be moved out of the dorm he was sharing with Jones and two other teammates at some point in late March.

When the police reports about the accusations against Jones became public on May 2, Steele and another roommate, Jaydon Hill, were named as witnesses. Obviously, it’s understandable that Steele and his family were upset that his name was associated with such an alleged incident.

Steele’s father expressed his unhappiness about the situation in a May 9 tweet: “Your last name as a man is with you forever and even transcends death, when that name is even remotely associated with something so appalling, you have to take a stand.”

Mullen and his wife flew out to California, where Steele is from, before he entered the transfer portal and attempted to make the situation right with him and his parents. It didn’t work and Steele transferred to Oregon.

At a booster function in Tampa last week, Mullen faced the media for the first time. “To me, there are a bunch of things that went into the decision. I think those are tough decisions for his family, and I’d rather leave a lot of those things private.”

Even Mullen’s coaching staff has made the news recently. Otis Yelverton, an assistant director of player personnel, was arrested on April 23 after accusations from an ex-girlfriend surfaced. According to Alachua County court records, Yelverton threatened to blow up her car. Yelverton is on administrative leave while the legal process runs its course.

Furthermore, reserve cornerback Brian Edwards (ZERO relation!) was detained and charged with misdemeanor battery on May 6. He remains in classes at UF but is not allowed to take part in any team activities.

Then on Wednesday (5/23), Florida football was in the news again. Former linebacker Kylan Johnson landed at Pittsburgh as a grad transfer. Truth be told, this was old news in that Johnson entered the transfer portal nearly three months ago.

Johnson got a lot of playing time early in his career at UF, particularly as a true freshman when all three starting linebackers went down with injuries in mid-October. His playing time diminished as a junior in 2018, however. Johnson had 83 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack in nine career starts at UF.

Shortly after Pitt announced the arrival of Johnson yesterday, word filtered out that another UF linebacker, Rayshad Jackson, placed his name into the transfer portal. Jackson was a three-star member of UF’s 2015 class who played in 33 career games and made his only three starts last season. He’ll be eligible immediately at another FBS school.

None of these developments look good for the Florida brand. These types of incidents are used against the Gators on the recruiting trail by rival coaches. They stick in the minds of Mamas and Daddies.

With that said, Mullen has a quality track record. His second recruiting class took multiple hits in losing players with talented futures. Steele was going to make an impact as a freshman, proving depth in the secondary and a security blanket for Marco Wilson, who is one of the SEC’s top cover corners but is coming off an ACL tear sustained in September of last season.

Jones was going to redshirt. Johnson and Jackson were going to be back-up LBs. Therefore, depth could be an issue at LB and in the secondary if injuries are a problem at those positions in 2019.

However, for bettors simply looking at Florida in terms of this upcoming season, these developments aren’t crushing by any means. Oddsmakers haven’t made any adjustments. The Gators still have a season win total of nine (“under” -120, “over” +100) at 5Dimes, which hasn’t budged on UF’s odds to make the College Football Playoff (+350).

BetOnline has kept Florida as a 7.5-point favorite for its opener against Miami in Orlando on Aug. 24. The betting shop still has the Gators as 14.5-point home favorites vs. Tennessee, 7.5-point home “chalk” vs. Auburn and four-point underdogs vs. Georgia.

UF’s odds to win the CFP are 25/1 at BetOnline and +2750 at 5Dimes. For bettors looking for a more generous price, the Gators are 45/1 at Sportsbook.

Without question, it has been a piss-poor offseason for the Florida Gators. Fortunately for UF, it has 12 regular-season games this fall to put all the bad news in the rearview mirror.

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