Freshman Florida Gators defensive back Chris Steele, one of the Gators’ finest recruits for the 2019 cycle, has entered his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal, according to Jacquie Franciulli of Rivals and Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.
Rumors of the early enrollee considering a departure from Florida had swirled since late Wednesday on message boards and social media.
Steele, a four-star prospect from California’s St. John Bosco Prep, arrived at Florida in January after publicly committing to the Gators on national television during the All-American Bowl, and was at that point Florida’s highest-rated commit. Steele was also thought of as a standout during spring practices, shining as a potential backup to established corners CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson — and, as Franciulli’s report notes via quotes from established Florida players, Steele’s future appeared bright in Gainesville.
Instead, his time in town may be over — and, if reporting today is to be believed, it may be over roommate troubles.
Per Zach Abolverdi, writing for The Gainesville Sun, Steele’s discomfort with roommate Jalon Jones — and especially his name appearing in reporting on allegations of sexual battery against Jones — may be at the heart of his decision to transfer.
The decision stems from a request Steele made to the staff during his first month on campus, the source said. He asked to be moved to a different dorm because he was uncomfortable rooming with quarterback Jalon Jones, his classmate.
The staff did not plan to move Steele until the summer, which upset Steele and his parents, according to the source.
Then two female students accused Jones of sexual assault in the players’ dorm rooms on April 6. That prompted Steele to seek a transfer.
If Steele follows through on his intent to transfer, it would be a significant blow to Florida’s cornerback depth going forward. While Henderson, Wilson, and sophomore Trey Dean appear to be a formidable front line at corner for 2019, Florida’s reserve cornerbacks have left plenty to be desired from their play (C.J. McWilliams), are in legal trouble (Brian Edwards), or are varying levels of green (early enrollee Jaydon Hill, signee Kaiir Elam).
And with Henderson and Wilson both considered near locks to enter the 2020 NFL Draft, that depth could become the first string as soon as next spring.
Furthermore, if Steele joins Jones in departing Gainesville, what was a top-10 recruiting class will have lost two of its most talented players before summer classes have even begun.