In news that is neither all that surprising to or damaging for fans of Florida football, UF announced that rising sophomore linebacker Graham Stewart will transfer after the end of the the spring semester, likely to be closer to his family.
Stewart also becomes the first Will Muschamp recruit to transfer from Florida, and the 12th to leave the Florida program since Muschamp was hired to replace Urban Meyer. A graduate of Xavier, Connecticut's Middletown High, Stewart was a four-star prospect according to Rivals and one of the final recruits in Muschamp's Class of 2011, his first as Florida's head coach.
Muschamp gave the standard "We support our player and his choice to transfer" quote...
"Family always comes first with me, and he needs to be closer to his family," Florida coach Will Muschamp said in a school release. "I'm thankful for his contributions to our team and wish him nothing but the best of luck. He will always have my support and backing in the future."
...but there's not a lot of fear that Florida will not be able to replace Stewart, the sort of fungible, unspectacular linebacker who was going to be mostly useful as a reserve this year and would have had trouble staying ahead of the impressive crop of future Gators in the 2013 recruiting class. Stewart only saw action on special teams in 2011, and did not make his mark until his tackle and blocked punt touchdown in the 2012 Gator Bowl; he was already likely behind true freshman Antonio Morrison, a comer if Florida has one, on the 2012 depth chart.
If Stewart were to head somewhere like Boston College, where he initially committed, he could still certainly have a productive collegiate career, and I wish him the best of luck in that pursuit.
Fun fact to fool your friends with: Florida has now scored non-offensive touchdowns in its last two bowl games, and both (Ahmad Black's interception return against Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl, Stewart's blocked punt return in the 2012 Gator Bowl) were scored by players who left the team before the subsequent season. Let's hope the Gators have another one this year, via someone like Sharrif Floyd scoring six points in a BCS bowl.