FOUR BITS: MLB Draft, revenue, Walker, Spikes

1 » The 2014 MLB Draft begins Thursday night and unlike years past, members of the Florida Gators baseball team will not have their attention diverted from postseason competition due to the program being eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Also unlike previous years, Florida does not have anyone projected to go in the early rounds of the draft, though that does not mean that draft-eligible Gators will not leave the program early (there were no seniors on the roster).

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue should be the first Florida player off the board at some point during the second day of the draft on Friday (Rounds 3-10). Juniors right-handed pitcher Ryan Harris, first baseman Zack Powers (previously drafted), left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner, outfielder/RHP Justin Shafer, third baseman Josh Tobias (previously drafted) and second baseman Casey Turgeon (previously drafted) could all be selected. Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, is expected to be picked and choose to a professional after dealing with injuries throughout his Gators career. Florida will also have a number of players from its 14-member 2015 recruiting class drafted.

2 » USA Today on Thursday released its college athletic department financial database, and Florida checked in sixth nationally in total revenue by bringing in more than $130 million last year. Weighed against its $107 million in expenses, UF netted over $23 million (second to Alabama’s $27 million) in 2013. Florida brought in $1 million more in ticket sales ($24.6 million) and $2 million more in contributions ($48.4 million) compared to 2012, figures that increased for the third-straight year (2011-13) after dipping in consecutive years (2009-10). The Gators also spent $1 million more on coaching and staff ($41.9 million) compared to 2012 but were nearly $2 million below its nine-year maximum of $43.7 million in 2011.


3 » At the Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings last week, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan spoke publicly about a number of topics concerning his program including the return of sophomore forward/center Chris Walker. Donovan told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson that he gives Walker “credit” for deciding he was not ready for the NBA but notes that the pressure will be on the five-star prospect to be “responsible, reliable and accountable” during his second year with the Gators. “The biggest thing for me, expectation-wise for him, is getting him into a niche and a role of what he needs to do,” Donovan explained. Walker needs to be a versatile, help defender and understand that he can no longer “stand at the rim and block shots and [expect] everybody [be] afraid to come in there.” He also must find an offensive identity, according to Donovan. “I think he has some skill and it can develop but he has to really narrow his focus on the things he does very well,” he explained. “He’s so gifted and so athletic that there’s many things he can do.”

4 » Mother’s Day came and went a month ago, and OnlyGators.com failed to post this video of new Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes talking about his mother. But don’t let that stop you from checking it out now. Spikes also told Buffalo’s website that he is adjusting to being a leader in a new locker room. “A lot of the guys here are familiar with me, we played in the past twice a year. So they pretty much know what I’m about,” he said. “At the same time there are some new guys, so I just want to gain respect from them and let them know that I will be accountable and do my job by any means necessary.”

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