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Florida opens practice short-handed, Mullen expects opt-outs

Florida opens practice short-handed, Mullen expects opt-outs

Florida coach Dan Mullen had several players miss the teams opening training camp practice Monday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Florida coach Dan Mullen had several players miss the teams opening training camp practice Monday.

Mullen declined to provide names, but the Orlando Sentinel and Sports Illustrated reported that four guys receivers Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Jacob Copeland and defensive end Zachary Carter skipped the session.

We had a couple guys not practice today, but well see how that goes moving forward for us, Mullen said during a Zoom call with reporters. But, you know, I wouldnt be surprised if you have guys opt out. Im going to support them fully. Really wouldnt be surprised if we had coaches opt out, to be honest with you. Coaches are at such high risk because of the age group that theyre in.

But well figure it out.

Its unclear if the players absences were related to the coronavirus pandemic. Toney and Copeland expressed concerns earlier this month about playing amid a global health crisis.

Toney wrote on Twitter that sitting out might be the better decision. Copeland responded that Toney might have the right idea and tweeted, Health over football, followed by a thumbs-up emoji.

Carter, meanwhile, has supported the #WeAreUnited campaign started by Pac-12 players earlier this month. His father, Frank Carter, told Rivals that his son has significant concerns.

First of all, hes my son and I support him, Frank Carter told the recruiting website. He told me he wants to play, but he just doesnt feel safe right now. Weve had a couple friends of the family whove passed away from the effects of COVID. Now some players in other conferences are having issues with their heart.

I think all of that is kind of alarming to him. Theres really not enough research or data to give him information that can put his mind at ease, so hes just taking the cautious route.

The elder Carter also told Rivals something he said he hasnt shared with his son.

I went through it, he said. I was having those night sweats and I couldnt consume enough liquid to keep me from being dehydrated, so I had to get rushed to the hospital because my wife said I was hallucinating. I didnt tell Zach any of this stuff.

Two hours after Mullens news conference, Grimes posted on Twitter, Dont believe everything you read. He did not elaborate.

Florida is scheduled to open Sept. 26 at Mississippi, which is entering its first season under coach Lane Kiffin. The next five weeks will be critical in getting to the opener.

Two Power Five conferences the Big Ten and the Pac-12 already have postponed their football seasons because of coronavirus concerns.

The Gators had 21 players test positive for COVID-19 since returning to campus in late May. Theyve had no positives or anyone quarantined because of exposure over the past four weeks.

Statistically speaking off of that, were off of those numbers you would think the safe place to be is practicing football and doing organized team activities because thats where our numbers greatly decreased, Mullen said. Thats the information we have now. Thats why I feel comfortable.

I cant tell you whats going to happen long-term, but our guys have handled everything really well. I think our medical staff, UF people that have helped our medical staff here within the athletic department, have done an amazing job creating a safe environment for our players and the coaches as well.

The Gators will get another challenge this weekend when students start returning to campus.

Were going to adapt to whatever happens as we continue to move forward, Mullen said. I think its the team thats able to adapt best to whatever situation theres a lot of moving parts and the team thats able to adapt will end up holding up that national championship trophy at the end of the season.”

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  • First Published: August 18, 2020, 4:41 AM IST
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