Three-star DE Jabari Zuniga commits to Florida

Two weeks after visiting the Florida Gators, rising three-star defensive end Jabari Zuniga (Marietta, GA) decided to commit to the program and become the 10th member of its 2015 recruiting class.

A NC State pledge who was also evaluating an offer from Arkansas, Zuniga was recruited by Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who after taking over the Gators’ defense made the player a primary target.

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2016 WR Rick Wells commits to Florida Gators

The 2015 recruiting cycle may be moving at a snail’s pace for the Florida Gators, but the program added a 2016 prospect on Monday as wide receiver Rick Wells (Jacksonville, FL) announced his intent to sign with the Gators in one year’s time.

Wells (6-foot-2, 187 pounds) was just offered a scholarship Monday afternoon by Florida running backs coach Tim Skipper, according to Gator Country‘s Andrew Spivey, and obviously did not waste time in making his decision.

“Just Committed to University of Florida #ChompChomp” he wrote on Twitter.

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Florida AD Jeremy Foley answers questions, expects to spend $1 million on cost of attendance

In a question-and-answer session held on the program’s official website, as well as another on its Twitter account, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley discussed a number of topics including how the recently-passed cost of attendance legislation will affect his program next season.

“The cost of attendance that passed is obviously an opportunity for us to do something that we’ve all talked about for our student-athletes for a number of years now. In essence, it increases the value of their scholarship. There’s going to be a financial impact for us, a little over a million dollars,” he explained via the school’s website.

“But it’s money well spent and certainly I think the new autonomy structure has allowed that to happen. It excites us that we had the flexibility to do something like that, and I’m sure there will be more changes in the future.”

Continue Reading » Florida AD Jeremy Foley answers questions, expects to spend $1 million on cost of attendance

The Silver Lining for Monday, January 26: Florida coaching staff vacancy, Gators recruiting

Still missing: wide receivers coach

As was mentioned one week ago in this space, new Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain has been in no rush to fill the last position on his initial coaching staff with Florida still looking for its wide receivers coach 21 days (as of press time) after every other member of the staff was officially announced.

Nevertheless, a source close to the program reaffirmed to OnlyGators.com on Sunday that there is indeed a high level of interest in the position with at least two former Gators players, and one former Florida assistant coach, in the pool of candidates for the job. There are also a couple NFL assistants hoping to get the gig. McElwain has a few front-runners in the aforementioned grouping and will continue interviews this week between recruiting visits and phone calls.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Monday, January 26: Florida coaching staff vacancy, Gators recruiting

Gators add commit No. 9 in LB Rayshad Jackson

The second commitment of the Jim McElwain era made his intentions known on Sunday as three-star outside linebacker Rayshad Jackson (Miami, FL) pulled the trigger for the Florida Gators.

Jackson (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) was a target of linebackers coach Randy Shannon and a former lean to Arkansas, where Shannon coached before being hired by Florida.

The ninth member of the Gators’ pedestrian 2015 recruiting class, Jackson is also the ninth three-star prospect on Florida’s list.

His commitment was first reported by ESPN‘s Derek Tyson.

Fastbreak: Ole Miss edges Florida 72-71 in Oxford

A season on the brink may have very well reached it on Saturday evening as the Florida Gators (10-9, 3-3 SEC) gave up multiple leads and ultimately fell 72-71 to the Ole Miss Rebels (12-7, 3-3 SEC) at the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Mississippi.

Florida has now lost three-straight games for the first time since the end of the 2011-12 regular season, and the Gators are on pass to miss both the NCAA Tournament and NIT.

“I thought this as a microcosm of how little room for error there is,” Donovan said. “That really just goes to show you how hard it will be for us unless we can really, really, really become a very, very disciplined, connected team, because we just break down.”

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: A 6-0 stretch for the Gators put them ahead of the Rebels 69-65 with 2:52 to play. However, Ole Miss ended its 4:08 field goal drought with a mid-range jumper at 1:54 on the clock and scored five-straight to retake the lead at 70-69 with 31 seconds left. Florida junior guard Michael Frazier II stepped up to make two free throws that pushed UF ahead 71-70 with 9.8 seconds remaining, but the Gators fouled on the other end and Jarvis Summers made two of his own to give the Rebels back a 72-21 lead with 3.5 seconds left. The final play of the game belonged to UF sophomore point guard Kasey Hill, who caught the ball in the backcourt and attempted to not only drive the length of the floor but finish with a reverse layup; he failed with the buzzer going off before the ball even left his hands.

“Kasey has got to recognize, three-and-a-half seconds, you got to get a shot up,” Donovan said. “You just got to stop and shoot the ball. He could have taken it to the free throw line and got that shot up. His speed got him to that point, which was good, but he obviously probably took it a bit too far.”

Significant stretches: Ole Miss took its first substantial lead of the game at 53-46 on the back of an explosive 13-0 run; the streak included three-straight triples for the Rebels and five consecutive missed shots by the Gators, all occurring in a span of less than three minutes. UF responded with an extended 11-4 stretch to tie the contest at 57 with 7:30 to play, and the team’s traded leads for the duration of the game.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Ole Miss edges Florida 72-71 in Oxford

Gameday: Florida Gators at Ole Miss Rebels – Donovan hopes humbled UF is ready to rebound

Location: Tad Smith Coliseum – Oxford, Mississippi [Capacity: 9,061]
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Joe Dean Jr.)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 92/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS OLE MISS REBELS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Andy Kennedy
Record: 10-8 (3-2 SEC) Record: 11-7 (2-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +3

ANOTHER TOUGH WEEK

Two poor performances. Two embarrassing losses. Two winning streaks ended. That’s what the last seven days have been like for Florida, which fell 73-61 on the road against Georgia last Saturday (ending a six-game series winning streak) before being stomped 79-61 at home by LSU (ending a 20-game SEC home winning streak) on Tuesday.

The Gators have proven to be an incredibly flawed and inconsistent team, one void of leadership and – more importantly – overall top-to-bottom talent. That is why Florida, if current trends continue, will not just miss the NCAA Tournament but also the NIT while posting the worst record of a Donovan-coached team since his second season at UF.

“I’m just trying to get these guys to understand that individually, on their own, we’re no good. We’re not talented enough, we’re not good enough,” Donovan said Friday. “Collectively as a group, the sum’s got to be greater than the parts. [I] got to get them to understand what ‘team’ actually is.

Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators at Ole Miss Rebels – Donovan hopes humbled UF is ready to rebound

Greg Nord brings experience, passion to Florida

A 34-year coaching veteran who has led offensive and special teams units at six different stops, Greg Nord has seen it all when it comes to college football. He is used to change and more than ready to take on his next challenge as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for the Florida Gators.

“This isn’t a school that has had just one guy successful, two guys be successful. We’ve had a history here of being successful in all phases. You got three Heisman Trophies down in the trophy room that I’ve got a chance to walk past. You got three national championship trophies that I’ve walked past. You got guys all over the NFL, when they get introduced, [they say] ‘The University of Florida.’ They don’t say their high school, they’re proud, they say ‘The University of Florida.’ And that’s probably why I’m so excited about getting the chance to have a Gator on my sweater today,” he said during his introductory press conference a few weeks ago. “[The Southeastern Conference is] truly the best league in the country and [Florida is] one of the programs that’s recognized throughout the country that’s recognized as a place you want to be.”

His praise for the school and opportunity presented to him is matched only by his colleagues’ kind words. Offensive line coach Mike Summers, the lone coach retained off Will Muschamp’s final staff, was excited about having Nord on board, explaining how much he will be able to bring to the football program.

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