When the Carolina Panthers opted to take running back Jordan Scarlett in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft, a quick look into his background may have caused some concern.
At the University of Florida, Scarlett had been among nine members of the Gators to be implicated in a credit card fraud scheme, and was suspended for the entire 2017 season as a result. And that wasn’t the only blight on Scarlett’s record: He was also cited for possession of marijuana during his freshman year, and was suspended for the Citrus Bowl as a result.
For a team like the Panthers that has steered clear of players with off-field issues in recent years, the selection of Scarlett was a rather curious one. But speaking after the NFL Draft, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney explained that there is reason to believe that Scarlett has matured and deserves an opportunity.
“He was very remorseful. He admitted he made a mistake when he was a freshman and he was the one guy that stayed and worked his way back to make up for it,” said Hurney. “And I think that’s what really impressed us the most. You talked to anyone down there, they love this kid and he’s one of the most well-liked players on that team. He openly admitted that.
“Listen, he was young. He made a mistake, but he worked hard to work his way back to make up for that and to go back and play there and stayed there last year and I thought that was very impressive.”
Speaking for himself in an introductory conference call with the Charlotte media, Scarlett said that serving a year’s suspension for his actions was “terrible”, and that it prompted a great deal of personal introspection.
“I had been playing football since I was six or seven years old and never missed a year,” said Scarlett. “So when I had to miss a year due to suspension, it just hurt me and it kind of made me reflect on how much football really meant to me and who I am. Definitely a learning experience.”