SIX BITS: Larson, Siler, Beal, Harvin, Mather

1 » Florida Gators senior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson became the ninth member of his team selected in the 2012 MLB Draft when he was chosen on Wednesday with the No. 631 overall pick in the 20th round by the Boston Red Sox. Larson is the third Florida thrower to be picked by Boston in the draft after the Red Sox chose junior lefty Brian Johnson with the No. 31 overall pick in the first round and junior righty Austin Maddox with the No. 118 overall pick in the third round. It is the second time in team history that Boston has picked three players from UF (1979).

2 » Former Gators linebacker Brandon Siler signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 with hopes of proving that he could be the full-time starter and deserved a multi-year contract. Unfortunately for Siler, he tore his Achilles and never stepped on the field for the team in a regular season game; fortunately Kansas City decided to give him a second chance and signed him to a one-year extension in January. “It’s been frustrating,” Siler told the team’s website following the Chiefs’ seventh organized team activity practice. “My momma brought it to my attention that I haven’t been out of football this long since I was seven years old and that kind of puts everything in perspective. Football is what I do. […] It’s my job to go out there and do what I do, and I can’t do that right now, so I shouldn’t be talked about. I plan on getting back out there and showing what I can do. […] I’m just going to keep working with the trainers and follow what they have me doing. I want to get back out there immediately, of course, but they have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow that.”

Read four more BITS (and watch a video interview)…after the break!

3 » Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal is in the midst of his preparations for the 2012 NBA Draft and fans will be able to watch him go through the league’s combine on Thursday and Friday with ESPN3.com covering the event live for the first time beginning at 10 a.m. each day. ESPN’s Chad Ford caught up with Beal this week and came away impressed with what he saw from the youngster. “Beal looks confident again,” he wrote Wednesday. “He showed off that picture-perfect jump shot from everywhere on the floor. This time it didn’t just look good leaving his hands, it was going in at a clip of about 85 percent from everywhere on the floor. He has an NBA body, is an excellent athlete and is working hard on improving his handle so that he can be more of a combo guard.”

Beal also spoke with DraftExpress on Tuesday and credited his improved shooting in the postseason to conversations he had with head coach Billy Donovan, who got him back on the right path mentally and pushing him through adversity. That is one of many reasons Beal thinks it would have been nice to return the Gators. “I don’t regret anything, I don’t regret the decision I made, because I feel it was best for me, but at the same time, I do kind of think about it like ‘Wow, we could’ve had a great team next year,’ but at the same time it was based on my future and the opportunity that was presented before me,” he said. “Oh man, it was probably the hardest decision. It was probably harder than choosing a college to be honest with you. You basically are giving up the four best years of your life in college and you’re giving it up for a job that you have to be prepared to day every day, and I’ve never had a job before, so this is like stepping into a whole new world and a new lifestyle and everything like that. So it’s really difficult giving up my friends that I just made and the connections I made with my teammates and coaches down at Florida, to give it up for something new.”

4 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has returned to practice with his squad during the second week of OTAs. According to multiple Minnesota news outlets, he only missed three total practice sessions for precautionary reasons after undergoing minor shoulder surgery at the end of April. Harvin was interviewed by the team’s website on Tuesday and said it was “good to be out here with the guys all working hard to [reach] one common goal.” He is expected to be a full participant in OTAs sooner than later. While doing some individual work last week, Harvin and running back Adrian Peterson (himself coming off of major knee surgery) raced up a hill 10 times with two of those races being recorded on film. “I won 8-out-of-10. He won the last two. It’s just crazy that those were the two that they recorded,” Harvin said with a smile.

5 » Florida senior tennis player Joanna Mather was named one of three recipients of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Sportsmanship Award on Tuesday. The honor, which was voted on by athletic directors across the SEC, is given to student-athletes who demonstrate good sportsmanship both in and out of competition. “In all my years of coaching, there has never been a player more deserving of this award than Joanna Mather,” head women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist said in a school release (read more). “She is one of the few people who can touch everyone in the locker room without saying a lot of words. She is a player on the court that will play the most ‘out’ balls because she’s unsure they are out. I’ve never seen Joanna be confrontational in a match. She’s always a class act to her teammates, her opponents and to the umpires. She’s a great student who graduated on May 5, 2012. She’s a poster-child for this award. She’s been our MVP for three years.”

6 » The Sports Illustrated “vault” Twitter account posts a few interesting pictures of athletes each day. On Tuesday it tweeted this one of former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard (now wrestling as Titus O’Neil in WWE) and then-Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning from 1997.

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3 Responses to “SIX BITS: Larson, Siler, Beal, Harvin, Mather”

  1. Aligator says:

    PAAAAYTON MANNING!!

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    So Bullard made it to the WWE? I thought he was the first one kocked out of the tryouts?