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Gaffney Gets Second Chance at Fla.

June 13, 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Jabar Gaffney, the speedy receiver with the impressive bloodlines, will get a second chance at Florida.

Coach Steve Spurrier granted Gaffney the second chance nearly seven months after pulling his scholarship and kicking him off the team for stealing. Gaffney will return to school for summer courses beginning next month. He will try to make the team as a walk-on.

``We agreed _ the administration, the athletic department and the coaches _ that Jabar deserves another chance,″ Spurrier said Tuesday. ``He made a terrible mistake. He’s paid a severe price for the mistake so far.″

It was during last year’s state high school championships that Gaffney, then a redshirt freshman at Florida, nearly ruined his chances of ever playing for the Gators.

According to a sworn complaint, Gaffney went into the Florida locker room and stole cash and jewelry from members of the Springfield Rutherford High football team while they were playing in the Class 5A title game.

He was charged with grand theft. In April, Gaffney signed a deferred prosecution agreement against charges of petty theft.

Spurrier and Gaffney met this spring and Spurrier told him he could return as a walk-on, with a chance of regaining his scholarship in the future.

``I’d call the whole thing a learning experience,″ Gaffney said. ``Now, I’ve got to go down there and prove myself.″

Given the second chance, Gaffney has been working out all summer at Raines High School in Jacksonville, where he and Florida defensive back Lito Sheppard led Raines to a state title in 1997.

``He’s been out there without fail since the first week in May,″ Raines coach Welton Coffey said. ``It’s been impressive. He’s definitely a kid who needs another chance. He’s a great student academically. He’s the kind of kid you want in school.″

In his 10 years at Florida, Spurrier has always been very stingy with second chances for players who run afoul of the law.

Gaffney is a special case. His father, Derrick Gaffney, played receiver for the Gators in the 1970s. His uncle, Don, led Florida in passing in 1974 and 1975.

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