Crowder and Charles Suspended for Opener

Zook announces decision to suspend Crowder and Charles for the season opener against San Jose State...

Freshmen linebackers Taurean Charles and Channing Crowder, who each pleaded no contest to separate battery charges in June, have been suspended for Florida's season opener, Coach Ron Zook said Saturday.

The decision resulted from multiple discussions between Zook and Athletics Director Jeremy Foley. Crowder was expected to start at strong side linebacker next week against San Jose State, while Charles likely would have seen substantial time as a backup at inside linebacker.

"Our football team has to understand we're going to do things the right way," Zook said. "Before you read too much into it, I think every situation is dealt with differently. Just because something happens, it doesn't automatically mean somebody's going to be suspended. You've got to look at all the facts."

Charles, who was accused of simple battery on a female student in March, was sentenced to pay $340 in court costs or perform 34 hours of community service. The former Miami-Northwest High Standout must also serve one year's probation and face an anger-management assessment at Florida's counseling center.

Crowder, who pleaded no contest to charges that he and teammate Steven Harris punched and kicked a Florida student at a Gainesville nightclub, was sentenced to six months' supervised probation.

Harris remains suspended indefinitely.

As for the impact on the field, Zook said he has yet to decide who will start in place of Crowder.

Because of San Jose's wide-open offense, Zook expects a minimal impact because Florida likely will play out of a nickel defense.

Zook said all other players remain eligible to play in the season opener.

ON THE LOOSE: Along the same topic, Zook said he lectured his team on the importance of staying safe Saturday night – the first night Florida players will be without curfew in two weeks.

The Gators, who ended camp Saturday afternoon, were given Sunday off. Monday begins regular game-week preparations.

"When you have children, you worry about your children," Zook said. "That's how I feel. They know what they've put into this. I trust them. They're mature, and they need to stick together. It has been a tough camp. They've had curfew. At the same token, you need to give them the opportunity to breathe also."

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