Two years after hauling in two of the top tight ends in the country as part of their 2012 recruiting class, the Florida Gators appear to be headed towards having neither on their roster at the start of the 2014 season.
Reports from Penn State-affiliate websites BlueWhiteIllustrated.com ($) and Lions247.com ($) place oft-injured TE Colin Thompson in State College, Pennsylvania, on Thursday visiting with the Nittany Lions about a potential transfer.
Lions247 further reports that Thompson has been granted his release from Florida, while Blue White Illustrated contends that Central Florida, Montana, Samford, Stanford, Temple and Villanova are all in line for his services.
UPDATE: Florida spokesman Steve McClain confirmed Friday afternoon that the Gators have “granted permission for schools to contact Colin” about a transfer. Furthermore, he stated that the Southeastern Conference “approved a medical exemption for him in May,” information which UF will share with institutions interested in accepting him.
Thompson joined the Gators with foot problems and took a redshirt as a freshman in 2012 while undergoing multiple surgeries to repair a fractured bone in the appendage. He appeared to be back to normal in 2013 when he played in the first three games of the season but missed the final nine contests due to the injury.
On March 11, head coach Will Muschamp said the redshirt sophomore’s status for spring practice and the upcoming season was completely up in the air.
“[He] has not been cleared because of foot issues. The last opinion we got is that he needed to shut it down completely, and we’ll have another opinion when spring is over, but he will not partake in spring,” he said.
Less than three weeks later, Thompson was no longer listed on Florida’s official roster.
Muschamp also remained vague about Thompson’s status during his state-wide Gator Gathering speaking circuit in April and May, and the Gators have provided no updates on Thompson despite multiple inquiries over the last three months by OnlyGators.com.
A four-star prospect rated as the No. 6 tight end in the nation by Rivals in 2012, Thompson was the first of two highly-rated players at his position to commit to Florida. Four-star TE Kent Taylor, Rivals’ No. 1 tight end, pledged to the Gators five months after Thompson.
Taylor saw limited action in six games as a true freshman, scoring a touchdown against Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. He did not play during his sophomore campaign and was one of six players to transfer out of the program in December 2013, deciding to continue his career at Kansas.