Tue Apr 26 12:49pm EDT
Welcome, Florida fans, to the first official "Will Muschamp is Not Urban Meyer" moment of the new administration at the expense of your starting defense: Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, a three-year starter and All-SEC pick who by all accounts passed on a first-round projection in this week's draft to return to school, has been officially booted from the team in the wake of his second marijuana arrest in four months. The misdemeanor charge Jenkins picked up over the weekend was the third arrest of his college career, and leaves the Gators at the mercy of three new starters in the secondary — one of whom may now very well be a true freshman. Total buzz kill.
It also marks an apparent shift in weed wariness in Gainesville, which had earned a reputation under Meyer as one of the most weed-friendly programs in the country. Former cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis told the Orlando Sentinel last year that he guessed 75 percent of the 2008 BCS championship team got high on at least a semi-regular basis, presumably including stars Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez, who were both plagued by rumors of multiple failed drug tests going into the draft.
Another future first-round pick, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, remained in the fold after failing at least two drug tests in 2006. (Thomas was eventually kicked off the team that November, according to him, for breaking curfew, going on an unapproved out-of-town trip and missing a mandatory drug-education class, but said at the time he didn't fail a third test.) Of the four Gators arrested for marijuana possession between 2005 and 2009, none served more than a brief suspension following the arrest, though two of them — cornerback Jacques Rickerson and lineman Ronnie Wilson — were later booted for more serious charges. Already this year, two other Gators, Chris Martin and Kedric Johnson, picked up marijuana charges in January, and remain on the team.
As far as I can tell, then, Jenkins is the first of many pot-loving Gators whose indulgence has actually cost him a spot on the team in at least six years. If Muschamp is determined to get that "75 percent" number down, even behind closed doors, booting a first-round draft pick is a good way to get there. It may not be so good for the win column, but you know, everybody has to choose their battles.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.