1 » The NFL’s Around the Legaue blog highlighted cornerback Joe Haden as the most likely player from the Cleveland Browns “set for a breakout campaign in 2012.” Despite mentioning that he is “already one of the ten best cornerbacks in football,” a proclamation that would not be doubted by anyone who actually watched Haden play throughout the 2011 season, Gregg Rosenthal notes that Haden is not getting his due because after picking off six passes as a rookie he did not have a single interception in his sophomore campaign. However, he has been fantastic at limiting the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver and is “just hitting his stride” two years removed from playing as a junior for the Florida Gators and going No. 7 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Though Haden can lock down receivers, his reading comprehension (when it comes to the instructions on bottles of bubble bath) probably needs some improvement.
2 » Even though head coach Bill Belichick said New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham had a “great offseason” and looked like a chance man at the start of mandatory minicamp, ESPN Boston only gives him a 35 percent chance of making the 53-man roster. “Last season, the Patriots kept Cunningham on the roster but he rarely saw the field, not having a special teams role in what turned out to be an injury-shortened season for the former second-round pick,” writes Mike Rodak. “Cunningham missed time in minicamp with another injury, an issue to monitor heading into training camp. If he cannot secure a role on defense during the preseason, he will face an uphill battle to make the roster.”
Read four more BITS in this post…after the break!
3 » Coming off a loss in the 2012 Centrobasket Championship, Florida redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario is likely to remain on the Puerto Rico National Team as the country competes in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament from July 2-8 in Caracas, Venezuela for the opportunity to play in the 2012 London Olympics. According to team assistant Carlos Morales, who spoke with SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria on Monday, Rosario is in good standing to continue playing. “I’m expecting that he will stay on the team, that he’s not one of the guys that’s going to be cut,” Morales said. “We’re counting on him. I think that even though we have to still make cuts, he’s going to be on the 12-man roster that will be going to Venezuela.” Rosario and Puerto Rico fell to former Gators center Al Horford and the Dominican Republic 80-72 in the Centrobasket finals on Sunday. Both men, along with point guard Nick Calathes of Greece, will be competing in the Olympic qualifying event next month.
4 » Zagoria also reports that Florida incoming transfer Dorian Finney-Smith is currently in Chicago, IL participating in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy. Finney-Smith, a forward who played for Virginia Tech last season but will join UF this summer, must sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules but is happy to be working out in the camp and excited to get going with the Gators. “I’m learning new stuff,” he said. “Hopefully, I can take some of this stuff and put it in my workout. [...] I know I’ll be better [in 2013-14] because I’ll be working out while sitting out, and I know we have a good guard coming in next year [Kasey Hill]. So I think we’ll be pretty good.”
5 » Former Florida baseball players right-handed pitcher Greg Larson and outfielder Daniel Pigott have officially signed their professional contracts, according to UF. Larson (Boston Red Sox – 20th round) will begin working with the Lowell Spinners (Short-Season A class), while Pigott (Cincinnati Reds – ninth round) will start with the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League (Advanced Rookie class).
6 » Five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC), one of the prizes of the Gators’ 2012 football signing class, almost never suited up for Florida this season due to his grades being a major issue following his junior year of high school. However, Bullard put his nose to the grindstone, got the grades he needed during his senior year and told The Gainesville Sun on Monday that UF told him that he has been cleared academically. He is still awaiting official word from the NCAA Clearinghouse, which may not let him know his status for another month. “I just got off the phone with UF and they said I’ve been cleared [academically] to enroll,” Bullard told the paper on Monday. “I’ll be heading down there [Tuesday]. I’m excited. I feel good about everything.” Freshmen are currently enrolling in Summer B classes; the Sun reports “the 16 other incoming true freshman…along with Maryland transfer Max Garcia” have already already arrived on campus with Bullard on his way to join them and don the orange and blue.