Gators have won and lost big with transfers


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Florida, like every school in the country, has had good and bad luck with transfers.

Two, in particular, stand out. One was a player who didn’t do much on the field, had some off-field issues, and left for a junior college only to resurface as one of the nation’s best players a year later. The other was a heck of a player already who got caught in an academic situation and was forced to transfer to another school in order to remain eligible for his senior season.

Here’s a look at each:

Cam Newton

The quarterback enrolled at Florida in January 2007 and played in five games as a freshman. He ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns and completed 5-of-10 passes for 40 yards as a backup to Tim Tebow, who would win the Heisman Trophy that season.

Newton played in the 2008 season opener against Hawaii but suffered an ankle injury and never saw the field again for the Gators. He was plagued by off-field issues, including an arrest for allegedly stealing a laptop, and there were reports that he was involved in three separate incidences of academic cheating.

Newton left for Blinn Junior College in January 2009 and led the school to a junior college national title after passing for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards and 16 touchdowns. He returned to the SEC in 2010 by signing with Auburn.

Newton went on to have one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in NCAA history. He threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns and led the Tigers to the national title. He won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Manning Award and was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the AP Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American.

Trace Armstrong

The defensive lineman signed a scholarship with Arizona State in 1984, and after redshirting, he had solid seasons in 1985 and 1986 before flourishing in 1987. He had 51 tackles and led the Sun Devils with seven sacks to earn honorable mention All-American honors by the Associated Press.

That’s when his collegiate career nearly ended. Because of what was termed an academic “mix-up” relating to his high school transcripts, the NCAA ruled Armstrong ineligible at ASU for the 1988 season. However, the NCAA said he could regain that eligibility if he transferred to another school and agreed to waive its rule requiring a transfer to sit out a year.

Armstrong, who attended high school in Birmingham, Ala., chose Florida and had a fantastic season for the Gators. He made 59 tackles, which included a single-season record 19 for loss, and had seven sacks. He earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference and All-American honors.

Armstrong was a first-round draft pick by the Chicago in 1989 and he went on to play 15 seasons in the NFL for the Bears, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. He finished his career with 106 sacks. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000 after finishing second in the NFL with 16.5 sacks while with the Dolphins.