Three-star OL Mike Horton commits to Florida

Still replenishing its 2015 recruiting class after losing four commitments in a 10-day span earlier this month, the Florida Gators on Thursday received a verbal pledge from three-star offensive lineman Mike Horton (Atlanta, GA).

Horton (6-foot-4, 320 pounds), a big-bodied blocker sporting an impressive offer list, was being pegged by most schools as a guard but will also have the opportunity to play defensive tackle for the Gators.

“[Head coach Will Muschamp] tells me every day that he wants me in the program. Before, he said they were recruiting me for offensive line, but then, we got a chance to talk,” Horton told Jake Reuse of UGASports.com back on June 9 ($).

“He said, ‘We’ll take you on defense, too.’ I told him I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to play yet, but he said he just wants me in. The biggest thing he’s emphasizing is that they have slots open, and I will have a great opportunity to play early.”

Horton, who ESPN rates as a four-star prospect and the No. 246 overall player in the 2015 class, chose Florida primarily over Georgia, though he also had scholarship offers in his back pocket from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and LSU, among others.

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Gators start unranked in USA Today Coaches Poll

Coming off their first national tile in more than a decade, the Florida State Seminoles earned the No. 1 spot in the 2014 preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll released Thursday, while the Florida Gators will enter the season unranked after finishing 27th with 122 total votes in the first poll of the 2014 campaign.

Despite opening the 2013 season at No. 10 in the poll, Florida finished with a 4-8 record, the program’s worst since it went winless in 1979. It is the first time since USA Today took over the coaches poll in 1991 that UF has been unranked in its preseason edition.

Florida State received 56 of 62 possible first-place votes with Alabama, Oklahoma (3), Oregon (1) and Auburn rounding out the top five. Ohio State (No. 6) and South Carolina (No. 9) each received a first-place vote.

Seven Southeastern Conference teams were ranked by the coaches this preseason – five in the top 15 – including Alabama (No. 2), Auburn (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 9), Georgia (No. 12), LSU (No. 13), Ole Miss (No. 19) and Texas A&M (No. 20).

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Will Muschamp dishes on Twitter, Spurrier, Meyer

Twice in a five-day span, tweets sent by Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp – both of which were meant to be direct messages – got some run on Twitter and other outlets. Chalk those gaffes up to inexperience.

“I actually did not [send my own tweets] before, but when I had to go on summer vacation, I realized it was going to be a little bit of a hassle to send a message to someone for them to put out. I’ve had to learn on the run here in the last month,” he explained Thursday morning on 740 AM‘s Open Mike radio program.

Muschamp, whose @CoachWMuschamp Twitter account has been active since he was hired by the Gators in December 2010, joked on Tuesday that he could use some help sending out tweets.

“Tickets for free tweet lessons?#???????” he wrote on the social media service.

The first direct-message-turned-tweet he sent – “Got it! Excited about u! Need u!” – was followed by another five days later – “My track record of developing defensive players speaks for itself – u will be special here!”

Muschamp has since received some assistance from a couple of familiar faces and now hopes he does not misdirect any direct messages going forward.

“I found good help at home with my 12-year-old and 9-year-old; they helped me out with some of this Twitter stuff,” he said.

“Actually what happened is, when I get a message, it used to go through my email or text. So I responded, not realizing it wasn’t just a direct message, but it went through my account out to everyone. Thank goodness I didn’t put any names on it so there’s no NCAA issues.”

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

Best- and worst-case scenarios

Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.

It’s simple, really.

No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.

Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…

Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.

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Three-star WR Kalif Jackson commits to Florida

The Florida Gators ever-changing 2015 recruiting class added a member on Tuesday when three-star wide receiver Kalif Jackson (Neptune Beach, FL), a Friday Night Lights attendee, made his commitment official.

Jackson (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) received a scholarship offer from the Gators on Tuesday and accepted it almost immediately. He chose Florida over a previously-stated top five of Duke, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Rutgers and Vanderbilt.

“Just received an offer from the University of Florida … Moral of the story is hardwork pays,” Jackson tweeted at 12:04 p.m. Just over seven hours later, he added: “I also just committed to the University of Florida.”

“[He] has all of the physical tools in the world to be a solid contributor as a big bodied receiver,” wrote Mike Singer of FlaVarsity.com on June 24 ($). “Jackson made several jaw-dropping catches on the field at the IMG [7v7 National Championship] tournament.”

Jackson also has the frame to play tight end, though he would need to gain some weight to be a better fit for the position.

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, USA Basketball, Grier

1 » Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons’s rise to fame and popularity, not only within basketball circles but Hollywood as well, continues as he is now being discussed on EOnline.com after having a dinner with Kendall Jenner. According to the report, Parsons and a friend dined at STK in Los Angeles, California, on Friday with Jenner, her sister Kylie Jenner, and a female friend of theirs.

“Kendall and Chandler had ‘immediate chemistry,’ the source tells E! News. “She was laughing, smiling and they seemed to be having great conversation with each other.

“The eyewitness adds that Kendall and Chandler ‘were chatting and flirting’ throughout their meal, during which the Keeping Up With the Kardashian stars noshed on tuna tartare and sipped on water. Everyone was dressed casually for the evening, with Kendall sporting a denim skirt.

“However, a second source insists that the duo’s outing was ‘not at all a date or romantic.’”

2 » Speaking of Parsons, USA Basketball published a profile on him Tuesday as he competes for a spot on the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Parsons said it took him “less than half a second” to accept the invitation to join training camp because “there was no way I was going to turn this down.” He continued: “Playing for USA Basketball still gives me goose bumps, just saying that and putting on the jersey. It will never get old.” Said head coach Mike Krzyzewski of what Parsons brings to the table: “He can stretch the floor and hopefully play defense on multiple positions. He wants to be here and he’s going to be in contention for one of those [12] spots where he’s a complimentary player.”

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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Kentucky and Alabama

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After a pair of seemingly “cupcake” games against Idaho and Eastern Michigan, Florida Gators football begins Southeastern Conference play in 2014 against an improving Kentucky Wildcats team before it faces arguably its biggest test of the year on the road at the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Florida kicks things off against Kentucky under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on the SEC Network.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Mark Stoops (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 1-4 Common Opponents: 0-5
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 107th (20.5 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 89th (31.2 ppg)

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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.

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