FOUR BITS: Andrades, Nixon, Saunders, baseball

1 » Preseason-ranked No. 13/17 Florida Gators baseball opened the 2013 season on Friday with its very first practice of the new campaign. For those unaware that he would be doing so, freshman wide receiver Raphael Andrades is practicing with the team as an outfielder and is on the official roster for this season. At 6’0 and 190 lbs., Andrades is an accomplished baseball player who was actually selected in the 36th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. After being drafted by the Royals, Andrades took a trip out to Kansas City to take batting practice with the team and even hit a home run while doing so. The Royals were unable to sign him to a deal, which was no surprise whatsoever, but the Gators told Andrades during his recruitment that a roster spot on the baseball team was available if he felt like he could juggle both sports. He will wear No. 18 for the team and is the first student-athlete to participate in both sports since wide receiver/outfielder Riley Cooper (2007-09).

2 » While running back Mike Gillislee is turning heads during practices for the 2013 Senior Bowl, it appears as if offensive tackle Xavier Nixon is diverting eyes away from his play. According to the National Football Post‘s Russ Lande, Nixon is one of eight players that has struggled the most over the last few days.

From the first practice it was clear that Nixon was over-matched athletically playing offensive tackle. He could not kick-slide out in time to protect the corner vs speed rushers and lacked the feet and agility to re-direct and adjust to fast pass rush moves back inside. His lack of quickness also hindered his ability to get into good run blocking position and often led to him grabbing and holding his man. Nixon slid inside and played some guard this week and was more effective there, but his struggles to bend knees and block with leverage hindered him there too. Nixon is not going to be a high draft pick, but will likely be selected late because of his size, long arms and experience starting three plus seasons at Florida.

Measurements are also in for both players from day one of Senior Bowl practices:
- Gillislee: 5’11 1/4″, 207 lbs., 8.75 in. hands, 30.75 in. arms, 74.25 in. wingspan
- Nixon: 6’5 1/2″, 311 lbs., 10.25 in. hands, 33.75 in. arms, 80.75 in. wingspan

The 2013 Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m. and air live on NFL Network.

3 » Former Florida safety De’Ante Saunders has decided to transfer to Tennessee State. According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays, Saunders is already enrolled at TSU. He is the second UF player to move on to the program in the last 12 months as tight end A.C. Leonard chose to transfer before the season. As Tennessee State is an FCS school, Saunders (like Leonard was) is able to play immediately and does not have to sit out the NCAA-mandated redshirt season he would’ve had to if he transferred to another FBS school. Leonard had great success at TSU in 2012, leading the team in receiving with 733 yards and six touchdowns in just 10 games; he has one year of eligibility remaining while Saunders has two more seasons of college football left.

4 » Head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan met with the media on Friday to take an early look at the Gators baseball team heading into the season. Though Florida will once again have solid pitching and defense, the offense is undergoing a makeover with so many home run hitters no longer with the program. “I do feel good about our offense. It’s just there’s going to be some ups and downs,” he said. “There’s going to be a learning curve, but we certainly have the personnel to be OK. Our offense is going to be different this year. … Our personnel is different. It is what it is. It certainly can be as successful, we’re just going to have to do it a different way.”

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9 Responses to “FOUR BITS: Andrades, Nixon, Saunders, baseball”

  1. T Gator says:

    Riley Cooper played football and baseball too!

  2. Alex says:

    Gotta love the NFL. First 90% of the story: Xavier Nixon sucks. Last sentence: Someone will draft him anyway because of his measurables.

    Hey, if Blaine Gabbert can be a first round pick, anything’s possible.

  3. chigator says:

    Was I the only person on this planet who noticed how often Nixon was overmatched this year? God bless him for trying but at times it looked like he even knew he wasn’t fast enough to block the edge against good competition.

  4. GIGator says:

    Nixon never impressed me, much. He had a decent freshman season; however, he struggled the other years. Besides his lack of athleticism, he must be a little slow, mentally or just doesn’t pay attention. He got numerous penalties called on him and in critical situations. I wouldn’t draft him, at all.

  5. SFlaGator says:

    I am a die hard Gator and wish all only the best, but Nixon should have had his scholly revoked 3 years ago. Don’t have the stats to back up this comment, but I would be willing to bet he was the most penalized o- lineman over the last couple of years.

  6. kb_gators says:

    So this explains a lot of our pass rush protection issues!

  7. Spike says:

    Nixon was solid as a freshman. Then got injured – regressed over time. Not sure why.

  8. GatorKen says:

    Glad for Andrades! best of luck to him.

    Nixon getting beat on the outside? whats new?

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