FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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TWO BITS: Noah poking James, support for Rainey

1 » Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah has been a thorn in the side of LeBron James since the day Noah was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Mostly nudging James in a joke-serious fashion, Noah has never shied away from challenging the league’s best player (or James’s former team, the Miami Heat) with humorous yet pointed remarks. “I’m happy for LeBron James,” said Noah while hosting a charity event in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday. “He gets to go home. People are happy over there. But I really hope that we can kick his ass as many times as possible.” The 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Noah will have his best chance to compete for a league title in 2014 with a healthy Derrick Rose and new contributing piece in Pau Gasol.

The charity event Noah hosted on Friday was to debut a new public service announcement for his Noah’s Arc Foundation, one made in an effort to help stop gun violence and promote peace in the Windy City. “All this violence that’s going on in Chicago, I feel like it’s all our problems. It’s not just a South Side problem. It’s not just a West Side problem. This is a city problem,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We all have to come together. I don’t know what the answers are. I really don’t. I’m just trying my best.”

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Noah poking James, support for Rainey

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FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Walter Hodge was named Most Valuable Player of the Puerto Rican Baloncesto Superior Nacional league on Wednesday. Hodge, playing for Captanes de Arecibo, easily won by picking up 70 votes, 32 more than second-place finisher Mike Harris. One-time Gators G David Huertas finished fourth with 33 votes. Hodge received 11-of-31 first-place votes and appeared in 19-of-31 ballots. “I’m happy with the award and I thank God for keeping me healthy throughout the year. [This was] always a dream,” he said. “I have achieved several goals and now lack the greatest with the championship.” Hodge averaged 16.9 points per game while leading the league in assists (6.9) and steals (1.8) per contest. Also playing in BSN is former Florida G Mike Rosario, who is teammates with Huertas on the Ponce Lions.

2 » The best way for bottom-of-the-roster football players to prove to new coaches that they deserve to keep their spot is to report to training camp in shape and ready to learn. Former Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt apparently did the opposite and will start camp with the Washington football team on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list simply because he reported “out of shape,” according to new head coach Jay Gruden. The No. 217 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Hurt started all eight games he played as a rookie but just one of 13 contests in 2012. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery ahead of the 2013 season, which he started on the PUP list before eventually being moved to injured reserve when he was evaluated in practice and not deemed capable of playing.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

1 » Five days after junior guard/forward DeVon Walker tore his ACL and four days after the news officially broke, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has addressed losing a key role player for the entire 2014-15 season. “DeVon had two years under his belt. He was really finding out who he was as a player and looking good at workouts,’ Donovan said in a story on the school’s website. “I feel terrible for him because he had worked so hard to get himself to this point.” Florida also announced that Walker, who tore the ligament during an individual workout, is scheduled to go under the knife at some point later this summer.

2 » According to The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the torn labrum suffered by Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is likely to keep him out up to eight weeks of the regular season, three more than initially predicted. Though Pouncey was only projected to miss the Dolphins’ first four games (the team has a bye week in week five), he is now a candidate to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season. Players on that list cannot return to their team until after the sixth game of the season. Pouncey will be included on the PUP list during training camp and into the preseason, but Miami will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep him on it before the first week of the regular season.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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2 BITS: Erik Murphy traded, Darrin Kitchens cut

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy is in the process of being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reports that he will be one piece of a four-player transaction between the teams. Cleveland will receive Murphy, John Lucas and Malcom Thomas in exchange for Carrick Felix, a future second-round pick and $1 million. The Cavaliers are in the process of acquiring non-guaranteed contracts in hopes of eventually trading for Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love, meaning Murphy could wind up being moved and/or waived again in the near future.

Murphy, who signed a two-year, $1.31 million rookie contract, is due a non-guaranteed salary of $816,482 in 2014-15 with a team option for $1.15 million in 2015-16. He was originally selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but was waived on April 3 as the team hoped to clear cap space. Utah nabbed him off the waiver wire two days later. While his NBA future is completely up in the air, Murphy will spend the summer competing for the Finnish national team in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.

Murphy played just 62 minutes over 24 games during his rookie season, averaging .231 on 13 field goal attempts and failing to drain any of his three attempts from beyond the arc. Playing for Utah in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, Nevada, Murphy was .333 from the field and .250 from long range.

2 » One day after injuring his leg during training camp, former Gators linebacker Darrin Kitchens was waived-injured by the Buffalo Bills. Kitchens, a long shot to make the team anyway, was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

1 » The SEC Network launches in less than a month, and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is signed on to be a featured analyst on the channel. While Tebow, by all accounts, is prepared for his new gig, he has certainly not given up on his desire to play in the NFL this season. According to a report from FOX 10 out of Phoenix, Arizona, Tebow has been spending plenty of time in Scottsdale training with Ian Danney in the scorching sun. The video clip below shows Tebow playing Danney-ball, a game in which players toss a 10-pound heavy ball over a net on a sand volleyball court.


In other Tebow news… A new poll has Tebow out of the top 10 when ranking the most popular athletes in the nation; he came in No. 8 just year ago while prepared to enter training camp with his third NFL team. Tebow is also prepared to open his third PDQ restaurant chain, this one at the Oakleaf Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He has already cut the ribbon at one location in Ocala and has plans to open another in Gainesville in the next six months.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

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Florida Gators G/F DeVon Walker tears ACL, likely to miss 2014-15 season

Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker “is expected to miss the 2014-15 season” after tearing his ACL, according to CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello.

A spokesman for the team confirmed Walker’s injury to OnlyGators.com early Monday morning.

Walker, who transferred from Florida last offseason over play time concerns but eventually decided to return to the Gators in a reserve role, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games in 2013-14.

Though he averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game last season, Walker came up big for Florida in some tough circumstances in Southeastern Conference play when he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch. He also played solid defense throughout the year. Additionally, there were three separate five-game stretches during the season in which he averaged 20 minutes or more per game.

Walker being out of commission does not spell doom for the Gators though he was expected to be part of Florida’s regular rotation as a reserve at the two and three. Junior Michael Frazier II returns as the starting shooting guard for UF.

The Gators hope to have redshirt sophomore G Dillon Graham back in the fold after he underwent season-ending surgery to repair bone spurs in his hips. Redshirt junior G Eli Carter should also be available for Florida now more than a year removed from a broken leg suffered during the 2012-13 campaign that sidelined him for most of last year.

UF’s three-member 2014 recruiting class also includes a pair of wing players in five-star F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) and four-star G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL). Though both were expected to get run next season, there are now even more minutes to go around.

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