SEC: Dee Finley

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- When Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr violated the terms of his deferred prosecution agreement for his misdemeanor marijuana possession charge by being cited for knowingly driving with a suspended license on Monday, he became the ninth Florida player arrested and the 11th overall arrest during Will Muschamp's short coaching tenure.

Though Orr wasn't taken into custody, his citation did count as an official arrest.

With that, there's a growing perception that Florida has an off-field discipline problem. The numbers are hard to ignore, but Muschamp isn't convinced there's a problem. He acknowledges the run-ins that have taken place since he officially took over for Urban Meyer in January of 2011, but insists that perception isn't his reality.

While he wouldn't comment on Orr's situation, he did say that increased media outlets have placed the microscope closer to college athletes.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIWill Muschamp insists discipline in his program is better now than it was when he first arrived.
"When you're dealing with young people, it's an ongoing educational process, especially in this day and age," Muschamp told shortly before he greeted the Atlanta Gator Club at The Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta Wednesday. "I'm not taking a shot at anyone in the media. It's your job to report and more things are being reported now than 15, 12, eight, five years ago. There's more social media outlets now where there's more information. There's a lot of misinformation out there, too."

Of the 11 arrests, only three have occurred during this calendar year, while five occurred during Muschamp's first spring.

You can see a summary of the arrests here.

The overall number is high for less than two years, but it's obvious the off-field incidents have steadily decreased and Muschamp said there's "no question" the discipline is better now than it was when he first arrived ... and he's right.

It hasn't been an overnight transformation, but the improvement is there. Muschamp took over a team that experienced 32 arrests during Meyer's six-year tenure and feels things are turning around. He especially sees it in the fact that during his first five months on the job he had five arrests on his hands. Since September, he's had three.

"At the end of the day, our players understand that there are consequences for their actions," Muschamp said. "They understand there's a certain accountability within the program. It's not a right to play at Florida, it's a privilege."

Though not all punishments have been made public, action has been taken by Muschamp. Star cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed after his two marijuana-related arrests, while former linebacker Dee Finley didn't play against Tennessee last year following his arrest for driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest without violence. He later transferred to North Alabama last October.

Tight end A.C. Leonard, who was arrested for battery in February, was suspended for part of spring and Muschamp has said there will be further suspension this fall, meaning he could miss multiple games.

Three of the nine players arrested are no longer with the program.

With spring practice over with, Muschamp said the concerns of the offseason are on his mind. Players have less strict class schedules and more time on their hands. More time away from the coaches can be a dangerous time for programs.

Muschamp is putting the team in the hands of the players and strength coach Jeff Dillman. Muschamp said he isn't relying on a select group of players to lead the team, but expects everyone to hold each other accountable for workouts, off-field behavior and classroom work ethic. Muschamp said reports from Dillman have been positive.

Muschamp also said off-field issues haven't affected recruiting. He said conversations concerning that have gone over well with recruits and their parents and he's been able to promote Florida and its players well.

"We've got the right guys in our locker room," he said. "Are they all deacons in the church? No, but we've got a good locker room. I know one thing: My two young boys love being in the locker room."

Lunchtime links

September, 20, 2011
We're hitting some SEC links while you dive into that brown bag to nibble on that soggy tuna sandwich.

Floyd's return should boost Gators line

September, 14, 2011
In order to slow down Tennessee's high-flying passing game, Florida will have to get pressure into the Volunteers' backfield.

The Gators should get a major boost in that area with the return of sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the first two games of the season.

Floyd moved outside from defensive tackle during preseason camp and was expected to add some more versatility on the outside through the first two games.

There has been a lot of hype thrown Floyd's way since his arrival, but Florida coach Will Muschamp said even more respect has been given to him.

"He's a really good player -- probably the most respected player in our locker room as far as how he handles himself on and off the field," Muschamp said during the SEC coaches call Wednesday. "He's just a great young man and a guy that brings a lot of passion, a lot of energy to the locker room, to our football team. On top of all that, he's a really good football player. God has blessed him."

In order for Floyd to be ruled eligible, he was instructed by the NCAA to repay $2,700 to a charity of his choosing through a payment plan. Muschamp said Floyd has taken care of his payment plan and is set to return Saturday.

Which charity did Floyd chose? Mushcamp isn't sure.

"I have no idea," he said. "It'll be a good one though."

Muschamp was also asked about backup linebacker Dee Finley's status after his arrest for driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest. Finley was originally charged with resisting an officer with violence (a third-degree felony), but that was reduced to resisting without violence, a misdemeanor.

Muschamp didn't say much about Finley's status, but said that he is handling the situation.

"We'll work through that, so that's where we are," he said.
Distractions are never good. Distractions during rivalry week are even worse.

But that's what Florida is dealing with as sophomore backup linebacker Dee Finley was arrested Monday and charged with driving with a suspended license and resisting a University Police Department officer with violence.

Resisting arrest with violence is a third-degree felony.

According to the police report, Finley was pulled over after he drove his scooter around a barricade at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. When the officer asked for his license and registration, Finley refused to give the information because he was late, according to police.

Finley then tried to leave on his scooter, but the officer grabbed his wrist. Finley pushed the officer's hand away and the officer threatened to use a Taser on Finley, the report stated. It was at that point that Finely finally complied with the officer.

Finley's license is suspended in Alabama and Florida for multiple failures to pay and a failure to appear in court, according to the police report.

"Coach [Will] Muschamp is aware of the incident and will handle the matter,” UF spokesman Steve McClain said.

Finley hasn't had much of an impact on Florida's defense at all (he has just eight career tackles), but heading into the first conference game of the season against one of your top rivals, this is one of the last things you want to worry about as a head coach.

How SEC five-star prospects have fared

February, 7, 2011
I had a question last week about five-star prospects and how many of those guys have panned out in the SEC.

Well, I went back to the 2007 signing class, and SEC schools have signed a total of 33 players who were five-star prospects or received grades of 85 or higher from ESPN coming out of high school.

That includes the 2011 signing class.

Florida leads the way with nine five-star signees during that span. LSU is second with eight, followed by Alabama with five, Georgia with four, Auburn with three and South Carolina and Tennessee with two apiece.

Of the 33 five-star prospects to sign with SEC schools, one has already played in the Pro Bowl (Tennessee safety Eric Berry), and two others transferred or left school (Tennessee running back Bryce Brown and Florida safety Jonathan Dowling). Brown transferred to Kansas State after Derek Dooley took over at Tennessee, and Dowling was dismissed from Florida's team by former coach Urban Meyer for violating team rules.

Counting Berry, four of the 33 five-star prospects earned first-team All-SEC or first-team All-America honors. The other three were Georgia receiver A.J. Green, Alabama receiver Julio Jones and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The following is a year-by-year breakdown of the five-star prospects signing with SEC teams going back to the 2007 class:

2011 (7)
  • Georgia – 2 (RB Isaiah Crowell, DE Ray Drew)
  • LSU – 2 (DT Anthony Johnson, OT La’el Collins)
  • Alabama – 1 (OT Cyrus Kouandjio)
  • Auburn – 1 (OT Christian Westerman)
  • Florida – 1 (QB Jeff Driskel)
2010 (5)
  • Florida – 4 (DE Ronald Powell, DT Dominique Easley, S Matt Elam, S Jonathan Dowling)
  • Auburn – 1 (RB Mike Dyer)
2009 (11)
2008 (6)
  • Florida – 2 (S Will Hill, S Dee Finley)
  • LSU – 2 (CB Patrick Peterson, DE Chancey Aghayere)
  • Alabama – 1 (WR Julio Jones)
  • Georgia – 1 (WR A.J. Green)
2007 (4)