Wide receiver Antonio Callaway had his career at Florida cut short, as he did not play a down for the Gators in 2017. Callaway was dismissed from the team due to his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme, and it was apparent his team missed his production from a season ago.
As a sophomore, Callaway hauled in 54 passes for 721 yards and 3 touchdowns. His role was expected to increase leading up to his junior season but as a result of his legal troubles, the former Booker T. Washington standout lost the opportunity to improve upon his numbers in 2016.
Florida went 4-7 in 2017, and Callaway still feels largely responsible for coach Jim McElwain’s subsequent termination.
“I know him getting fired and all that was [because of] me, because of the season they had . . . I know I could’ve made a big difference.”
Callaway’s case is now behind him, and all changes will be dropped upon completion of a 12-month probation program.
Despite the fact that Callaway did not play football in 2017, he was given first-round grades by some NFL talent evaluators, prompting him to leave the college ranks for the NFL.
Callaway was then invited to move in with Atlanta-based agent and former Miami Hurricane running back Melvin Bratton, to prepare for the NFL Combine – a gesture he won’t soon forget.
“Mel. B (Melvin Bratton), for him to let me in his home – that showed me he really cared. I appreciate him for that, I thank him for that,” Callaway said. “I got somebody in my corner that really cares. Even though I made some mistakes when I was younger, I’m past that. I’m mature, and he let me know he has my back 100 percent.”
While preparing for the combine, Callaway’s motivation to walk the straight-and-narrow, and focus on his craft increased when his daughter Aulani was born in February.
“It’s bigger than me,” Callaway said. “It ain’t about me. I got a little girl. I just had her three weeks ago. I’ve got four little sisters, a single mom – I got to make it happen. I can’t be out here making mistakes and throwing myself in bad situations.”
Callaway has certainly placed himself in a fair share of bad situations, but he knows his future depends on him doing a better job of managing himself off of the field.
Scouts and general managers knew exactly what to expect from Callaway at the NFL Combine from a physical perspective, but he realized he had something more to prove, upon meeting with NFL teams.
“They know what I can do. I just want to let them know I’m not this bad kid. … I just really want to sit down, talk to them, and let them get to know the real me.”
Callaway met with the Dolphins while in Indianapolis, and irrespective of whether or not Jarvis Landry stays in Miami, they would be wise to find a way to select him in the NFL draft.
At 5-foot-11, 197 pounds, Callaway turned in a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and his film suggests he has the requisite skills to play all three wide receiver positions.
He possesses the suddenness to regularly beat defenders in the slot, and is able to gain separation from defensive backs with his quickness in and out of breaks. On the outside, he’s able to get off of press coverage and win vertically down the field with his long speed and leaping ability.
Kenny Stills has served as a mentor to the Dolphins’ younger wide receivers, and Callaway would have no problem learning from the six-year veteran, who happens to have an insatiable work ethic.
Miami wants more players who can play multiple positions and Callaway certainly fits the description.
While it’s unclear what Miami plans to do with Landry this season, or DeVante Parker in 2019, Callaway’s position flexibility allows the Dolphins to construct its wide receiver corps in coach Adam Gase’s image.