Florida Gators sophomore Mike linebacker Antonio Morrison requested the opportunity to issue an apology on Wednesday. He did that but said little else about the offseason actions that forced head coach Will Muschamp to suspend him for two games before ultimately reducing his suspension to a single contest on Monday.
“First off, I want to apologize for getting in trouble the past few weeks,” Morrison began. “It’s sincere from me. I apologize to my coaches, my teammates and everybody for everything that went wrong. It’s behind me. I’m moving forward from it. I learned from it. I just want to play football and that’s all it is.”
Asked a total of six times to elaborate about the two arrests and conversations he had with Muschamp following those incidents, Morrison declined to go into greater detail.
“I ain’t setting no story straight,” he said. “I’m coming to talk to y’all to tell you how sorry I am and how I take responsibility for everything that happen[ed].”
Though he would not discuss specifics, he reiterated that he was the one who wanted to address the situation once and for all before putting it to bed. While he accepted responsibility for his actions and claimed his mistakes were a learning experience, he could not pinpoint what he learned or how he would act differently going forward.
“Uh, I just learned. I mean, really, I just learned to be a better person from it. I’m still the same person. I haven’t changed. I just learned a lot from the situation on how to deal with things and how to handle things,” he said.
Morrison added: “I ain’t going to get into detail of what I did. But just the whole situation, overall, that sent a message to me, and I learned from the whole situation overall and I apologize again. I’m very sorry to all the Gator fans, my coaches, teammates. That’s me. That’s not me being forced to do this. I wanted to come do this. I can’t run from it, you know what I’m saying?”
As Muschamp said when explaining the punishments he handed down for Morrison, not being able to play football is what hurt the player the most. Morrison expressed that exact same sentiment on Wednesday.
“It’s been hard, being away from my teammates. Not being around football is the other tough part for me,” he said. “I already love the game. But the game being taken away from me, that hurt.”
He continued: “[The] worst part was being away from my teammates and not being around football. I mean, what else am I supposed to do?”
Morrison had support from his fellow Gators – “my teammates still respect me and trust me” – and will be there for them after Saturday’s season opener against Toledo, which he will watch on television. He admitted that it will pain him to miss the game and that he feels he is letting down his teammates by being unavailable to play. Nevertheless, he is confident they will succeed without him.
“[Missing one game] is a lot for me. Me missing practice, that’s a lot to me. Me missing those days in camp, that’s a lot to me. So, it’s hard,” he said.
“Me not being out there, my teammates was let down. At the same time, they support me. They’ve got my back. We’ve got guys, we got multiple guys that can play. So, it ain’t no big drop-off.”
Because Morrison said his work ethic remains unshaken by Muschamp’s internal punishments and one-game suspension, he believes he has been playing up to his own standards since returning to the practice fields.
All he can do now is focus on improving his game and preparing for Miami as he will make his season debut on the road rather than in the friendly confines of The Swamp.
Despite putting together some highlight-worthy moments as a freshman, Morrison is best known these days for his off-the-field mistakes and headline-worthy actions.
Keeping his nose clean and his mind focused on football while proving that the tattoo on his right forearm is more of a general saying than a stern warning would be a good start.
Antonio Morrison has an interesting tattoo on his right forearm: pic.twitter.com/9tkb15SLdu
— Richard Johnson (@RagjUF) August 28, 2013