1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has already had a few eventful days in Florida in the month of July. On Saturday – teaming up with Florida’s Blood Centers, the Van Duzer Foundation and Palm Beach Autographs – the former Florida Gators star headlined a 12-hour blood drive in Fort Pierce, FL. Between meeting with fans, signing a ton of autographs (some of which can be purchased here) and speaking about his charities, Tebow entertained the crowd and kept fans wanting more. His First and 15 Foundation was also a featured part of a brand new playroom addition to Shands Children’s Hospital‘s pediatric cancer facility; the organization donated $156,000 used to buy high definition televisions, video game consoles and the like.
Five more BITS on John Brantley, golfer Billy Horschel and more…after the break!
2 » Though Tebow was celebrated over the weekend, one of his future opponents was certainly not rolling out the welcoming wagon for him. Indianapolis Colts star defensive end Dwight Freeney singled Tebow out as the young quarterback he would most like to take down this season. “All these rookies coming out? They don’t know anything. I can’t wait,” Freeney told the Los Angeles Times. “I couldn’t wait to hit Mark Sanchez (last year). And I can’t wait to hit Tim Tebow even more.” Unlike Sanchez, Tebow is not expected to get that much playing time if all goes as planned in 2010, so Freeney may be waiting at least a year to fulfill that desire.
3 » In case you didn’t know, redshirt junior John Brantley will be taking over for Tebow as the Gators’ starting quarterback in 2010. And if the superlatives thrown his way over the last few years are any indication, Brantley should step right in and be ready to go. That is probably why The Gainesville Sun decided to do a three-part series on him over the last few days, covering a variety of issues. First up is how Brantley’s football career began; noteworthy are the impact of his father, the support of his family, his success as a youngster, and the role former Florida QB Kerwin Bell has played.
4 » Then, of course, there is the uncertainty Brantley faced after his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the tail end of 2009. And finally, the paper looks at Brantley’s future as the leader of the Gators for (most likely) the next two seasons. “I’m just excited to get back out there and start playing again,” Brantley said. “I’m not used to running out and having the first play in front of 90,000 people yet. I’m just going to take it all in. […] From Florida’s past record, of course, there’s always a fear of taking a step back, but I’ve tried to channel that out. The support of my teammates – my offensive linemen and my receivers and running backs – everybody has made me feel a lot more comfortable. That’s going to help me out when I run out there for the first game.”
5 » Former Florida three-time All-American golfer Billy Horschel was forced to sit out the remainder of his rookie PGA Tour season after injuring a tendon in his left wrist during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am back in February. After having reconstructive surgery and going through rehab, Horschel is on his way back to full strength and hopes to begin playing again in August. Luckily, as OGGOA previously reported, the PGA granted him a medical exemption, meaning he will still be eligible for tour-sanctioned events in 2011 without the necessity of having to return to Q-school. “Something good will come out of it,” Horschel said.
6 » The Gators are racking up commitments from all over, with their newest one coming in the form of a local high school junior volleyball player. Berkley Whaley (Lakewood, FL), an outside hitter who was named her county’s player of the year in 2009, has always wanted to play at Florida and decided to end her recruitment as soon as possible. “It’s been the favorite college of my family. I’ve always wanted to go there,” she told the St. Petersburg Times. “Florida’s close to home, which was a big part of my college decision, and it’s a good school. […] I just know Florida is where I want to go.”
Extra BIT » Former Gators first baseman Matt LaPorta has had a tough year with the Cleveland Indians. Back with the team now as a starter in the infield, LaPorta has been playing well recently…that is until he misplayed a throw and was knocked out cold by Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus running through first base. Check out the video below (hat tip to the Orlando Sentinel).
Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images