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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» Former Florida Gators defensive end Justin Trattou was cut by the New York Giants on Thursday after missing all of training camp up to this point with a variety of injuries. Trattou was active for a number of games last season and won a ring last season as New York defeated New England 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.
» Speaking of the Giants, the team brought former Gators defensive tackle Marcus Thomas in for a visit Thursday. New York is looking to upgrade the interior of its defensive line and Thomas is one of the biggest names on the free agent market after failing to come to an agreement with the Denver Broncos, where he started 11 of the 12 games he played last season. Thomas recently tweeted that he would be willing to play “for practice squad money.”
» The New York Jets are rumored to be one of a handful of finalists bidding for the services of former Florida running back Jeff Demps, so of course quarterback Tim Tebow was asked about the possibility during training camp on Thursday. As expected, Tebow supported the potential addition of Demps but said he would not pressure him to join him with the Jets. “They asked me about him,” he said according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “Jeff is a great guy and a great player, and he’s someone that I was proud to play with in college. He did a great job for us, and I feel like wherever he goes, he’ll work hard at and do a good job for that team.”
» ESPN’s Andy Katz spoke with Yale head coach James Jones recently about his team getting an unusual visit from the UF basketball team this season. Jones “credited a Yale administrator who once worked at Florida as well as Gators head coach Billy Donovan” for creating the home-away-home series that gets a high-profile team to visit Yale. “Donovan…isn’t adverse to playing home games for players in odd places,” Katz wrote. “He once played at UNH for New Hampshire native Matt Bonner. This is a ‘home’ game for Rhode Island native Erik Murphy.”
Read nine more Gator Bites…after the break!
» Katz also reported Thursday that Florida will be one of 16 teams that will “participate in a two-tournament men’s basketball event in honor of Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday” in Nov. 2017. The Gators will be joined by other prominent Nike schools including Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Connecticut and Georgetown, just to name a few. Every game would be played in the state of Oregon though formats and other technicalities have yet to be decided.
» Five-star Florida 2013 power forward commitment Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) is confident in his abilities and told the Panama City News-Herald recently that being a one-and-done player with the Gators is not out of the realm of possibility. Though some may take this as Walker looking past college and perhaps doing so too early, he has a good reason to set his sights on the pros. “Walker’s mother, Jeneen Campbell, is a single parent living on disability,” the paper states. “Walker acknowledged that life never has been easy, and he said he draws strength from watching his mother battle through her own adversity.”
» According to Bright House Sports Network, former Florida wide receiver Ja’Juan Story “has received interest from Wisconsin, South Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke and TCU, among other schools.” He has not yet narrowed down his list but will obviously have some high profile options when he decides where he wants to play.
» Four-star guard Michael Frazier is apparently already making a strong impression with the Florida basketball team. His high school coach Kevin Boyle told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway this week that he is hearing good things about Frazier from the Gators. “I’m hearing that the coaches up there are very pleased with him, that they think he may even be a little better than they thought he was when they first recruited him.” He continued, “Living in the state of Florida, he has an incredible desire to play well for the Florida Gators. You may hear kids say it is their dream to play for the Gators, but for him, it’s a passion, it’s an obsession.”
» Former Florida catcher David Ross, after playing in 636 games over 10 MLB seasons, finally registered his first professional stolen base last week at Philadelphia. Now a member of the Atlanta Braves, Ross is 1-for-4 in his career in stolen base attempts. “I’m going to have it in my house so everybody knows I at least got one,” Ross told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the team allowed him to take home the base.
» Tebow agreed last month to be a brand ambassador for SOUL Electronics, joining names like Usain Bolt, Dwight Howard and Chris “Ludacris” bridges, among others. A commercial spot featuring Tebow will debut later this summer.
» The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to once again re-sign tackle Max Starks this offseason and even though his injured right knee (torn ACL in the playoffs last season) is not yet 100 percent, he is still in a good mood and knows that he will be able to help the team sooner than later. “That would be pushing it,” Starks told the Associated Press when asked about playing in Pittsburgh’s next preseason game. “We’d have to put some Popsicle [sticks] and rubber bands together to try and get myself going. [...] I think the biggest thing is making sure I’m 100 percent when I go into that competition [for the starting job]. [...] I don’t want there to be a doubt when I come back that I’m playing at full speed and we’re ready to go.”
» St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins is impressing his team’s coaches so much with what he does on the field that he may very well be in line for a starting job when the regular season begins. “He physically can do everything that’s required of a corner, an elite corner for that matter, with the footwork and the change of direction, tackling and ball skills he has,” head coach Jeff Fisher told the AP. “He understands the defense. He’s going to be a very good corner in this league.” Jenkins himself joked about his skills and said he is just excited to get back on the field. “I play like a ninja, an assassin. I love to be around the ball. I’m quick and physical. I just play the position with a chip on my shoulder.”
» Steelers RB Chris Rainey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this month that he wears 22 rubber bracelets – to match his jersey number – every single day and does not even take them off to shower. “I’m superstitious. Some of these bands I’ve been wearing since 10th grade – about five of them,” he said. “I’ve had a couple snap off, but I got replacements in the room. [...] I wear them anywhere and everywhere and never take them off, even in the shower, all that.” And how will he keep them on during games with the NFL’s strict uniform policies? “I’m gonna wrap ‘em up. I heard about it. I ain’t going to let them see it.” Included in Rainey’s two-arms worth of bracelets is the “GRIND” one handed out by Gators coaches last season.