15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

By Adam Silverstein
June 21, 2013

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!


» Back in Gainesville, FL, for a promotional event with his new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, safety Josh Evans spoke with local media about a number of topics concerning Florida football. Evans believes the Gators “had a lot of distractions” heading into the 2013 Sugar Bowl. “People were feeling sorry for themselves they weren’t in the national championship,” said Evans, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson. “Personally, myself, I don’t feel likwe all bought in as a team for that game and really gave it our all. We didn’t play Gator football – and you saw the result.”

» Scouts Inc. analyst Todd McShay continued his praise of Gators junior cornerback/wide receiver Loucheiz Purifoy this offseason, writing in an ESPN Insider article ($) this week that Purifoy “has a chance to be a superstar in 2013.” McShay points to Purifoy’s “combination of size, speed, fluidity, body control and top-end speed” as reasons why he can overcome his slightly lacking cover skills. “He has the chance to be the next Joe Haden, and he could possibly test better than Haden,” McShay wrote. “I’m interested to see how much of a difference-maker he is with the ball in his hands.”

» Five separate college football analysts ranked the “25 teams most likely to have success over [the] next three seasons” in a “future power rankings” post for ESPN Insider ($). Florida checked in at number four on the list (behind, in order, Alabama, Ohio State and LSU) and received its highest marks in the recruiting category (a 9.2 out of 10). The Gators’ other scores included an 8.2 in both current talent and program power, 7.4 in title path and 7.2 in coaching. Muschamp received a “low” rating because of his relative lack of experience in the position.

» The Minnesota Vikings, like every other NFL team, have not begun training camp yet and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is already rotating in with the first team. Though Floyd, the No. 23 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, told local media he is not concerned with where he is on the depth chart at this time, playing as many downs as possible is certainly his goal this season. “He’s quick-twitch,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said of Floyd, according to 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis, MN. “He can anchor in the run [game]. He’s very disruptive at the three [technique], and he has good pass rush moves. I know his stats may not have shown it, but he’s been tremendous in these OTAs. He’s another one we can’t wait to get the pads on.”

» ESPN Insider’s Paul Biancardi attended the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA, and came away impressed with Florida’s four-star 2014 point guard commit Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) who he labeled one of the best passers in the camp. Check out what he had to say about the other players at the camp by clicking here ($).

The future Florida Gator is a clever pass-first point guard who often scores via a floater or runner. He has exceptional peripheral vision and processes how his teammates are being defended and where to throw the pass at a quick rate. He shows poise by keeping his dribble alive and doesn’t panic against pressure. His passing reminds me of a young Jason Kidd, just when you think he is in trouble he cranks out another assist.

» The commitment of 2016 WR/CB Tyler Byrd (Naples, FL) got OGGOA to wonder exactly how many rising sophomores and juniors are already committed to college football teams despite being many months away from enrolling at a university. According to commitment lists publicized by Rivals.com, Byrd is one of just six 2016 players currently committed to schools. Of those six players, five have pledged to Southeastern Conference teams (three to Mississippi State). There are also 31 members of the Class of 2015 committed as of press time. Though the Gators do not have any of those pledges, much of their competition does. A total of 16 of those 31 prospects are headed to SEC teams – six to Tennessee; three each to Alabama and South Carolina; two to Vanderbilt; and one each to Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss. Florida State also has three 2015 commits, and Texas leads the pack with seven.

» Florida is in the final five for the recruitment of five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, GA), though the Gators may have some ground to make up on Alabama and Ohio State, which appear to be his leaders as of press time. That is not what this bite of information is about, however. In a recent conversation with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Carvell, McMillan was asked to detail his thoughts about each team and made two interesting comments about Florida. First, McMillan said he would probably already be committed to the Gators if Urban Meyer was still the head coach. He likes Meyer a lot but Ohio State being far away from home is an issue.

Secondly, he claims Muschamp told him that defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson would likely take over should defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin wind up getting a head coaching job in the near future. “[Muschamp] said he would probably be the next defensive coordinator,” he said. “That’s very intriguing for a defensive player because if you lose your defensive coordinator, everything you learned that year would go down the drain. But at Florida, it would be the same.” If Muschamp actually made this comment, it was likely more of a recruiting tactic than anything. Though Robinson is a talented recruiter and assistant coach, he is quite young and relatively inexperienced. Muschamp basically runs the defense anyway.

» Asked in a recent podcast about former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who he drafted as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997, Mike Ditka had nothing but positive things to say. “Winner, character, outstanding citizen, leader, when you have those characteristics and the character that young man had, you can survive anything, you can handle any situation,” Ditka said. “In life, you chart your course and you sail it. His course is a faith driven course and based on his beliefs, he’s sailing it. And the example that he sets by the way he leads his life is the important thing. None of the other stuff is important. He’s real. He’s the real thing.”

» Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford, alongside his father and brother, hosted a youth camp at his former high school in Grand Ledge, MI, last weekend. Check out this story about it from the Lansing State Journal.

» The 2013 USA Basketball U19 National Team will be facing an uphill battle at the 2013 FIBA World Championship from June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. Though USA Basketball is usually dominant on the world stage, the American under-19 team has not won the gold medal in this event since 1991. Why exactly? Most of the top players fitting the category are either more concerned about enrolling in college or entering their sophomore seasons and therefore otherwise occupied. It is also uncommon for an under-18 head coach, such as Billy Donovan, to return the next year and coach the under-19 team. Perhaps the continuity is just what the United States needs to finally break through and win a gold medal.

» Speaking of Donovan, he recently spoke with ESPN’s Andy Katz about Team USA and Gators rising senior PG Scottie Wilbekin. In regards to the national team, Donovan is pleased with how it has come together and is optimistic that Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier will be an impact player. “He come sin as the best shooter. One of the things we struggled with [last year] was behind the line [shooting],” Donovan said. “He really provides shooting. In our scrimmage against Air Force, he was 4 of 6. He can be a spot-up shooter against a zone and help us space the floor a bit.” Though Donovan told The Gainesville Sun that he would not make a decision on a suspension for Wilbekin until October, he informed Katz that he will “review Wilbekin’s status” when he returns from the FIBA World Championship on July 8.

11 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    And in the Gator bite you are probably scraching your head to try and figure out how to write, thinks seem to be looking worse and worse for Hernandez. Of all the people on that team that might have had legal issues, he would have been low on my list, but now I am hearing that he did have gang connections before college. Aside from all the evidence destruction and the sudden cleaning of his home first thing in the morning…

    • There are two stories that have been updated for the last few days on this website on Aaron Hernandez. That’s one of the main reasons all these stories “fell through the cracks.”

  2. ga8or22 says:

    It is refreshing to read good news about the gators rather than the depressing Aaron story constantly.

  3. grant says:

    while i am fan of adam’s website and admit he is a great journalist/blogger, he comes off as a pretentious jerk. he blocked me on twitter because i didn’t agree with his liberal views, good thing he can’t block me from this website.

    • I don’t comment on politics on Twitter, so it would be quite difficult for you to know which way I lean politically. However, if you feel like I wronged you in any way (and/or would like me to unblock you from Twitter if I did indeed do that), feel free to e-mail me at adam@onlygators.com and I will be happy to discuss it with you.

      As far as the “pretentious jerk” comment, to each his own. I try to be kind, helpful and accommodating to all of my followers and readers. If we had a bad interaction at one point, I can only hope it was an outlier on my part (or perhaps you said something inflammatory that understandably bothered me).

      Either way, thank you for the compliments on the website and the job I do (prior to the insult). And as I said previously, if you wish to e-mail me, I would be happy to reply accordingly.

      Have a nice rest of your weekend.

  4. grant says:

    well you did block me on twitter a long time ago (@grantgilley) and it wasn’t because i said something regarding our beloved gators. i don’t think you could go through my twitter feed and find anything offensive enough to warrant me being blocked.

    maybe im the one jumping to assumptions, but it seems that if someone questions your work or points out something you missed, you tend to reply back with a snarky comment.

    i went out of my way to call you a jerk, and for that i apologize. keep up the good work.

    • I’ve unblocked you.

      I suppose I can be snarky on occasion, but I think that is true for anyone. If you’re talking about some of my other comments in this post, I know the people I was replying to read the site every day, so I was pointing out to them that other positive news has been on here (and the Hernandez situation had already been covered). That’s all. Tone is tough to determine online.

      Apology accepted.

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