Report: Chris Steele return to Florida ‘not out of the question’ after apology

By Adam Silverstein
May 10, 2019
Report: Chris Steele return to Florida ‘not out of the question’ after apology

Image Credit: ESPN Images

It was a rough day for the Florida Gators on Wednesday when it was revealed that four-star defensive back Chris Steele, the program’s top incoming freshman who was expected to see significant playing time in 2019, entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Though Steele participated in spring practice, the 42nd-ranked player in the Class of 2019 was unhappy with his living situation, an issue that escalated greatly following an incident by his roommate after his complaints were reportedly not addressed by the coaching staff.

Steele’s transfer was reportedly prompted by the Florida coaching staff not granting his request to change his dormitory when he arrived on campus. According to Zach Abolverdi of The Gainesville Sun, Steele was “uncomfortable rooming with quarterback Jalon Jones” but was told that his dorm would not change until the summer session, which “upset Steele and his parents.”

Two female students accused Jones of sexual assault after a set of incidents at the dorm on April 6. The women decided not to press charges, but Jones entered the NCAA transfer portal and Steele’s name wound up in some reports simply because he was Jones’ roommate. The incidents “prompted Steele to seek a transfer,” according to Abolverdi.

Apparently, Steele has been home in his native California for two weeks, according to an ESPN report published early Friday morning, which further notes that Steele’s multiple complaints about Jones dated back to January.

Head coach Dan Mullen and his wife, Megan, flew to California on Wednesday to meet with Steele and apologize to his family, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, in an effort to have Steele rejoin the Gators.

Steele returning to the Gators is not out of the question, as a source told that the Steele family thinks very highly of Mullen, but it will be difficult as Steele was traumatized by being associated with the police report.

In response to that story, Abolverdi tweeted that Steele informed Mullen he would be transferring Wednesday night. That does not preclude a return, but it appears Steele is not seriously considering it.

As it stands, Steele would have to sit an NCAA-mandated year in residence as part of his transfer, making him ineligible to play for his new school until 2020. Should Steele choose to seek a waiver from the NCAA for immediate eligibility, which is advisable, he would have a legitimate case for one considering his reported reason for transfer.

It is worth noting that we have only heard Steele’s side of this story as Florida is unable to comment on his situation due to student privacy laws. It had previously been reported that Steele was homesick shortly after enrolling at UF for being far away from his native Southern California. That said, Mullen did reportedly apologize, and he would not have apologized for nothing.

Should Steele choose to transfer elsewhere, this would mark the second time in three years that one of the team’s top freshmen will not play a down for Florida. The 115th-ranked prospect and the Gators’ second-highest ranked commitment in 2017, four-star wide receiver James Robinson, saw his career end before it started due to a heart condition.

In addition to Steele and Jones transferring, junior CB Brian Edwards was recently arrested for battery as part of a domestic incident. His future with the program is unknown.


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