1 » The 2009 NFL Playoffs may have begun with seven but only one former Florida Gators player has made it to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. That man is New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who did not have a dominating regular season but has had quite an impact on his team’s first two playoff games. Making it a point to hit both Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre hard, McCray knocked each out of the game for a short period of time. Now he will turn his focus on NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. Keep an eye on No. 93 throughout the game on Sunday.
2 » All of the pre-2010 NFL Draft attention has been focused on former Gators QB Tim Tebow (wide receiver Riley Cooper has received a little, too), but linebacker Brandon Spikes is preparing for the biggest job interview of his career, too. Staying quiet while training and working out after a sub-par (for him) season, Spikes is doing whatever he can to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 24 to March 2. “I’m anxious to get started,” Spikes told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “Hopefully, I can go to the league and grab it by the neck.” Speaking about the future at Florida, Spikes was optimistic. “Those younger players know what we started and the legacy we have here. They just want to keep it going. I say it all the time to my younger group, the linebacker corps, those guys are talented. The sky’s the limit for those guys. If they continue to work and buy into the program, they’ll have the same success.”
Read how Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond fared in track and field action and how gymnastics and tennis performed this weekend after the jump!
3 » After suffering an uncharacteristic loss to start the season, the No. 3 Florida gymnastics team (4-1, 3-0 SEC) has rebounded in a big way, winning four straight and taking a 195.475-194.45 victory over No. 22 N.C. State Wolfpack (3-2) on the road Friday. Originally a triangular meet, the George Washington Colonials had to pull out due to travel issues because of the heavy snow. The Gators hope to keep this momentum as they stay on the road and travel to Tuscaloosa, AL, to face the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Feb. 12 at 8:30 p.m. The meet will air tape-delayed on ESPN2 on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 11:30 a.m.
4 » Also continuing its dominance is the No. 11 men’s tennis team (4-1), which took down the Florida Atlantic Owls 7-0 Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The nation’s No. 10-ranked doubles duo of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix faced some stiff opposition from Marc Abdelnour and Lawrence Harradine but was still able to pull off an 8-6 win.
5 » Florida track and field had a great weekend of their own with a stellar performance by senior jumper Shara Proctor leading the charge. Proctor turned in the second-best mark in the world this year in the indoor long jump at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet at Rector Field House. She was already the SEC Female Field Athlete of the Week and won the long jump with a nation-leading 6.67m/21-10.75. It was the 12th-best women’s long jump in NCAA history. On Friday alone, the Gators won two events, received one NCAA automatic-qualifying mark and five NCAA provisional-qualifying marks/times. Sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps competed for the first time in 2010 and finished with qualifying times of 6.64 and 6.61 (second-fastest time in school history) in the men’s 60m dash. Redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey competed in the same event and finished fourth with a qualifying time of 6.70.
6 » On Saturday, the final afternoon of the meet, the Gators brought it all together. The team ended up with a total of seven event victories, four NCAA automatic-qualifying marks and 12 NCAA provisional-qualifying marks. Proctor again led the way with the eighth-best women’s triple jump in NCAA history (13.88m/45-6.50) and the best in the nation this season. Senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili, who has already made headlines this year, earned the No. 3 mark in NCAA history in the women’s shot put with a toss of 18.56m/60-10.75. Freshman jumper Frankie Hammond also competed and recorded a qualifying leap of 2.14m/7-0.25.
For more on Florida track and field’s weekend, check out GatorZone.com’s story.