SIX BITS: Wilder, Smith, Harvin, Ingram, Heat, golf

1 » Though he did not commit to the team as was rumored late last week due to a falsified e-mail, five-star athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) does have a leader: the Florida Gators are the “team to beat,” according to Rivals’s Mark Wheeler. “Sources say [his upcoming visits are] more to confirm his choice of Florida than anything else,” Wheeler wrote. “Wilder Jr. is enthused that Florida looks to be moving to a more traditional power running game.” In addition to recruiting fullbacks, the Gators are “expected to still feature the dive play and many inside and off-tackle running plays, but instead of [Tim] Tebow carrying the ball, Wilder would be the guy. Throw in his comfort level at Florida as well as that of his family, and the Gators will be tough to beat.”

2 » Former Florida running back Emmitt Smith has done plenty in his career. An inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, he holds NFL career records for rushing yards (18,355), rushing touchdowns (164) and 100+ yard rushing games (78). The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champion was also the 1989 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and is a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor. But where he may have made his biggest impact is at Escambia High School, where he began his legacy. The Florida High School Athletic Association Player of the Century, Smith was not only a great player, his presence at the school helped ease racial tensions. “I wasn’t thinking about any racial tensions when I got to Escambia,” Smith told the Canton Repository. “It never dawned on me that I was part of a transformation at the school. I knew Escambia had a negative past, but I saw it was over and done with. I had played with white guys, black guys, all kinds of guys. Maybe that was me being naive.”

Four more BITS on Percy Harvin’s charity work, Cornelius Ingram’s knee, Gators on the Miami Heat and The Open Championship…after the break!

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and other former Florida players took part in a charity basketball tournament in Gainesville, FL, on Saturday at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multipurpose Center. “I was one of these little kids, when Allen Iverson and those guys were playing at my high school,” Harvin, a native of Virginia Beach, VA, told The Gainesville Sun. “I know what it feels like to come out here and want to play and want to meet those guys. So when I get a chance, I always want to come back here to try to meet kids.”

4 » As he told OGGOA a few weeks ago during an interview, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram is 100 percent healthy and ready to get his professional career underway. And while we did discuss his second knee injury – another torn anterior cruciate ligament – Ingram recently told the Burlington County Times an interesting piece of information that had not previously been known. His surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, noticed that the initial transplant made by University of Florida doctors “didn’t take.” “The (ligament) rejected the blood cells, and it was just a matter of time before the graft failed,” Ingram said. “The bottom line is that if I hadn’t gotten hurt last summer, they never would have found out what was going on in there, and there’s a chance they might even have had to amputate [my leg]. The longer they didn’t know, the worse it could have been. It’s not that the surgery was a bad surgery. A ton of guys have had that and are still playing or finished their career with no problems. It’s just in my case, for whatever reason, it didn’t take. […] When I got hurt, I was so bummed. I couldn’t believe it happened again. But now? I look at it as a blessing. It was going to go sooner or later. But the sooner it happened, the better it was.”

5 » Looking back on the time they were teammates with the Gators, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller and power forward Udonis Haslem spoke with the Miami Herald about some of their fond memories. “I was always a hard worker, but I didn’t know what a gym rat was until I met Mike,” Haslem said. “People spend time going to college parties and clubbing and doing things like that. While we were doing those things, he was always going to the gym to get shots up.” Now, they are just excited to be reunited. “When me and Udonis knew we both had a chance to play together, even though we both had to take a lot less money, it gave us an opportunity to get back and finish what we started at Florida,” Miller said.

6 » The Open Championship drew to a close Sunday at St. Andrews, and though some former Florida golfers were in contention, none finished remotely close to the top of the leaderboard. As per usual, Camilo Villegas ended with the best score out of the Gators, ending tied for 44th and even after four rounds. Mark Calcavecchia, who was as high as second early on, finished in 73rd at six over par. Brian Gay missed the cut after totaling 155 on rounds of 72 and 83.

Photo Credit: St. Petersburg Times

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