USF dismissed senior running back Mike Ford for violation of team rules, the school announced Wednesday night.
Ford, who rushed for 1,502 yards and 23 touchdowns in three seasons, was expected to see significant playing time at running back next year.
“To all of my family, friends and fans, I made a mistake that I really, really regret and I apologize for that,” Ford said in a statement. “I am responsible for my own actions. Please forgive me for I am only human. This will not be the last of Mike Ford. I will continue my dream and I will graduate. Thank you to (former) coach Jim Leavitt, coach Skip Holtz and coach Carl Franks. Once again, I apologize and will continue to push forward.”
The 23-year-old Sarasota native was suspended for the first two games of the 2009 season for an unspecified violation of team rules and was also arrested in early December and charged with driving without a license.
Ford, who rivals.com rated a five-star recruit in the 2007 recruiting class, was the MVP of the 2010 International Bowl after rushing for 207 yards and one touchdown in the Bulls’ win over Northern Illinois.
“I am disappointed for Mike more than anything else,” said USF coach Skip Holtz in a statement. “I hope that he learns some important life lessons from this experience at USF. A lot of people care deeply for him.
“He needs to realize that he can respond to this adversity in a positive way and still fulfill many of his goals as a person, student and football player. I want the very best for Mike as he moves forward with his life and I will be here to support him.”
USF will enter spring practice with six scholarship running backs: redshirt freshman Bradley Battles, senior Richard Kelly, sophomore Lindsey Lamar, sophomore Demetris Murray, senior Aston Samuels and senior Jamar Taylor.
Ford was expected to play a big role in the offense next season, so Taylor practiced on defense at the end of fall practices. Mo Plancher, USF’s primary back last year, is waiting to hear from the NCAA on whether he’ll receive a sixth year of college eligibility.