1 » The Florida Gators football team took a break from the offseason workout grind by going paintballing and playing other games like cornhole on Thursday. “It’s important for our players and coaches to get together off the field, outside the stadium and the weight room,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We thought this was an excellent opportunity for our team to spend some time together in a fun, team-building environment.” It is the second time since Muschamp took over the program that the Gators went on a paintball trip as they last went on the outing in April 2011. Florida’s players seemed to have a great time on the trip with many sharing their excitement via various social media outlets. By all accounts, the Gators have spent a large portion of spring practice and the early summer working on team chemistry and the concept of having each other’s backs. Certainly a fun outing like paintball will only help UF reach its offseason goal.
2 » Though still under contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward Kevin Love is one of the hottest names on the trade market this NBA offseason. One team that has expressed great interest in love is the Golden State Warriors, which are apparently in constant talks with Minnesota to find a package of players that could net them one of the best frontcourt players in the league. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, power forward David Lee is a key piece of a deal that could send Love to the Warriors, though no trade has been worked out as of press time. Should Lee get shipped off to the Timberwolves, he would team up once again with former Gators F Corey Brewer; the two were last teammates at Florida in 2004-05. Lee nearly averaged a double-double for Golden State last season, posting 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He will play his 10th season in 2014-15, and Minnesota would be his third team in that span.
3 » It took rookie defensive tackle Dominique Easley until the final day of New England Patriots organized team activities to get on the field but that is exactly what he did on Thursday, eight months after tearing the ACL in his right knee during practice. According to NESN.com‘s Doug Kyed, Easley “warmed up with the team and participated in positional drills” while “sporting a full leg sleeve” rather than a brace on his knee. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported earlier this week that Easley is five remaining unsigned first-round picks as he and the Patriots are still working on the injury language in his contract. Check out the video below to see Easley in action.
4 » Former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard, now better known as WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, has been named the recipient of the 2014 Rainbow PUSH Trailblazer Award for his humanitarian and community service work. Bullard was nominated for the award by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which is described as a “multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change” while on a mission to “protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields” while “promoting peace and justice around the world.” Bullard, as O’Neil, told the WWE’s website: “This is a huge honor for many reasons. I do what I do not because I want recognition; I do what I do because I feel it’s the right thing to do. So to get recognition for it is truly an honor. Hopefully through my continued community efforts, it will get other people on board.” He has been involved in nearly a dozen charitable organizations in the last year including an anti-bullying initiative called Be a STAR, the Special Olympics and Susan G. Komen for the Cure (breast cancer).
5 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan is currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado, working with the USA Basketball under-18 team as the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship is set to be held from June 20-24. The United States will take on Uruguay at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Mexico at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Argentina at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday in the first three days of the event. Should the Americans be successful in those games, further contests will await over the remaining two days. Below is a picture of Donovan and former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer from June 13.
— Conor Dwyer (@conorjdwyer) June 13, 2014
6 » In a candid jailhouse interview with TheJointMagazine.com, former Florida running back Willie Green discussed the trials and tribulations that sent him to the slammer and how he plans to turn his life around once he gets out. A highly-rated rusher who committed to play for head coach Steve Spurrier and the Gators, Green saw injuries derail his career. He underwent reconstructive knee surgery as a freshman in 2000, had arthroscopic knee surgery as a redshirt freshman in 2001 (missing the first seven games of the season) and spent most of his third season on special teams. He only amassed 134 yards and three touchdowns on 33 touches in his career. Green followed in his father’s footsteps, which he was originally hoping to avoid by playing football, by getting involved with drugs when his playing career ended. He was arrested for first degree murder before seeing the charge reduced and saw jail on multiple occasions for trafficking cocaine. His last chance came in 2006 when he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for possession and intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. He said the following from jail, the full text of which can be read by clicking here:
“My communication with my former teammates from the University has been limited. I have only kept in touch with about 5 of them, but because of my sentencing it has been very limited. Each of them are playing in the NFL, and due to my actions in the streets, The U.S Marshall tried to tie their names to my case as if they were funding my drug dealing activities. Also, another teammate of mine was arrested just before me, Major Parker, while he was coaching the University Basketball team as an assistant under Coach Billy Donovan, which only made matters worse for athletes that got into trouble during that time. So because of the perception that was being cast over any guys that I was directly tied to, I only kept limited contact with them because conspiracy charges have a very long and far reach. …
“The only coach that I have cared to stay in touch with was Coach Mike Locksley because he understood me better than the other coaches. That goes back to him recruiting me while I was in high school while he was the running backs coach for the University of Maryland where he also coached as offensive coordinator. … I will most definitely be reaching out to him after my release because I believe that I owe him for the love he showed me. …
“The biggest lesson to be learned from my story is that no matter how good you are while playing sports in high school, that doesn’t guarantee him or her a key to the professional levels of any sport. No matter how gifted a child is in sports, academics should ALWAYS be the top priority. A child should use his or her talents to get them a full scholarship and once they obtain that, they should take full advantage of that opportunity because less than 1% of student athletes make it to the pros. I blew a great opportunity and I want to do all I can to prevent another child from doing the same thing. …
“The greatest lesson that I have learned from prison is to be responsible for my own actions and begin accepting responsibility for them without passing blame or seeking pity for how my life is. I have done a lot of growing up in prison and I have a lot of growing to do to become the best father and person I can be to all that I come in contact with. With that being said, I have learned to turn negative situations into positive and apply positive information to my growth to becoming positive and rational as I go through life.”