Chris Steele Transfers - Is There More to the Story?
As you all are likely aware by now, Florida freshman CB Chris Steele entered the transfer portal this past Thursday, just 4 or so months after first stepping on campus. Rumors began to swirl late Wednesday night that he was on his way out and the reasoning for his exit. The picture became a bit clearer after he officially entered the portal Thursday and seemed to endorse (via a RT and sharing) two reports by Zach Abolverdi and Neil Blackmon detailing his reasons for transferring. However, as more facts and tidbits surfaced, many started questioning whether things added up, and it seemed as if there maybe more to the story than what has been publicly reported.
So we decided to lay out all we know (that’s publicly available) and let you decide. Just facts and reasonable interpretation from someone who isn’t and doesn’t claim to be an insider.
The Zach Abolverdi Report
Zach kept it short and simple. Right when the news broke it seemed like he had this story ready, which would make sense given he was the natural choice to provide Steele's story given his prior work on Steele's commitment video and his connection to the family.
The report stated that he requested to move dorms his first month on campus because he was uncomfortable being around Jalon Jones. He reported that the staff didn’t plan to move him until the summer, “which upset Steele and his parents.” He continued to imply that the April 6th Jalon Jones incident prompted Steele to finally transfer.
The Neil Blackmon Report
Neil’s report was much more in depth and detailed his view on how big of a mistake this was by the staff. He also mentions that the first voice of concern came from Steele “as early as late January.” He goes on to report the “whole situation infuriated Steele’s family.” Neil goes on to imply that Mullen and the staff didn’t value his safety and that the family entrusted Mullen to take care of their son (and failed to do so). He also cites financial reasons - saying that NFL scouts and teams may raise character issue questions come draft time.
The Holes in these Reports
Let’s start with Steele, who allegedly voiced his concerns in late January and requested to move because he was so uncomfortable. If he was so uncomfortable with Jalon Jones, why did he continue to go out with him, hang out with him, and associate with him publicly on social media (especially if he was worried about guilt by association)? A few examples of interactions between the two of them are below that date well beyond late January. Also keep in mind, that the two got close during the recruiting process and chose to room together (this wasn’t a random matchmaking).
(These tweets have since been deleted.)
Now let’s talk about how infuriated his family was with the staff. The Zach report mentions that Steele requested to the “staff” to move. He seemingly kept it vague and didn’t specify whether Mullen did or did not get the request. Assuming he didn’t go straight to Mullen, at what point in the furious process do you go straight to the head coach? Surely after the “last straw” of the Jalon Jones incident report (which happened on April 6th), you would presume that Mullen was made aware of the situation if he had not been already. Which is interesting, because a full week after the incident report, Steele’s father tweeted out a very pro Florida and Mullen tweet below. Weird definition of infuriated, right?
Now let’s talk about the claim that transferring clears his name. His father said this was about “taking a stand” when something so bad happens. Does transferring all of a sudden remove his name as a witness to what had happened? Once the incident happened, Florida acted swiftly and parted ways with Jalon Jones at the end of the semester, just as Steele wanted. He wanted to move rooms. Instead, they told Jalon to leave all together.
He was reported as a witness because he was there that night. One report even alleges he was laughing with Jalon that very night (see below; laughing and uncomfortable don’t usually go together, right?). Is there any better way to clear your name than by having only the accused be told to leave the program? By removing Jalon from the program (and zero mention of Steele), it appears fairly clear who and only who was the problem. Some could even argue that fact that he’s transferring away is worse optics than staying and clearing your name.
Lastly, let’s talk about this farfetched claim by Neil that this could affect his draft process. I’ll keep this short and sweet: a player accused of rape (himself; not by association) went in the first round to the Raiders two years ago. This wouldn’t affect his draft stock at all.
Conclusions and Ramifications
At the end of the day, we’ll never hear the full truth. As they say, the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. It’s unfortunate that the staff will likely never get to share their side of the story, but hopefully this article has you realizing that there has to be more to this story.
The transfer leaves Florida without a dynamic top 50 recruit who was sure to get early action on the field. His promising skill set will be hard to replace and is definitely a blow to the program.
However, what’s worse is that Mullen is left repairing his reputation that he worked hard to build up without being able to publicly share his side of the story.
As always, Go Gators.
- A curious Gator Fan