Florida Gators open ‘Gatorade Fuel Bar,’ hire new director of sports nutrition

Gatorade, now owned by PepsiCo but originally conceived and developed at the University of Florida, has established a sponsored nutritional supplement bar for Florida Gators athletes on campus at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to a story on the school’s website, Gatorade “pick[ed] up two-thirds” of the $100,000 cost to build out the “Gatorade Fuel Bar,” which creates drinks with proteins and vitamins unique to the needs of each athlete.

Florida also mentioned in the piece that Stephanie Wilson, the head of nutrition at IMG Academy since 2012, will join the Gators athletic department in April as its new director of sports nutrition.

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Takeaways: Florida baseball bookends losses at Ole Miss with wins over Florida State, Stetson

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 5 Florida Gators baseball (21-5, 3-3 SEC) bookended the last week with high notes but ran into some trouble in the middle games, going 3-2 against the Florida State Seminoles, Ole Miss Rebels and Stetson Hatters in its last five games.

Florida began the seven-day stretch with a 14-8 win over No. 11 FSU, the Gators’ fifth straight win against its in-state rival. UF then dropped its series opener 4-1 to Ole Miss and lost the first game of a Saturday doubleheader 5-2 before claiming a 8-4 victory in the series finale to hold off a sweep. The Gators then ended their short road swing with a rally-aided 9-6 win against Stetson on Tuesday in Deland, Florida.

Here are five takeaways from the last five games:

1. It starts with pitching: In Florida’s two losses at Ole Miss, its starters put the team in an early hole on the road, which spells trouble at every level of baseball. For the second week in a row, sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (3-2, 2.48 ERA) has given up at least one home run in the first inning. Against Tennessee last week, Shore settled down to pitch five more frames; this time, Shore (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, WP) was unable to get through four innings. Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (4-2, 4.73 ERA) struggled even more. Puk (2.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 2 WP) was unable to make it out of the third inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, ensuring another long day for the bullpen.

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Former Gators golfer Matt Every wins second straight Arnold Palmer Invitational

There’s something about Matt Every and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The former Florida Gators golfer accomplished a rare feat on Sunday by winning the event, played at Bay Hill Club & Lounge in Orlando, for the second straight year.

Every, whose first and only PGA Tour win prior to Sunday came at the 2014 event, became the third golfer in tournament history to win it in back to back seasons. Loren Roberts (1994-95) and Tiger Woods (2000-03, 2008-09, 2012-13) were the first two.

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Tim Tebow visits Manny Pacquiao during Floyd Mayweather training session

Manny Pacquiao may not have Justin Bieber or Triple H in his corner like his upcoming opponent, but he’s got former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, who visited him during a workout on Saturday, on his side.

Tebow has been training in Los Angeles for 18 months hoping for another NFL opportunity and was invited to stop by Pacquiao’s sparring session; the two men, who have worked on charity projects together in the past, shared photos of their meeting.

“Awesome being with my Filipino and Christian brother,” Tebow wrote.

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Takeaways: Pitching, freshmen keep Florida Gators baseball steady through SEC opener

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

Over the last two weeks, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (18-3, 2-1 SEC) split a home-and-home series, cleaned up at home against two non-conference opponents and won its first Southeastern Conference series of the season.

Florida came up short in its first major road test of the season, falling 4-3 to the No. 14 UCF Knights in Orlando on March 4, though the Gators regrouped and won the rematch 10-2 in Gainesville the following evening. Florida then went on to sweep the Maine Black Bears in its final non-conference weekend series (5-0, 6-1, 5-3) and avoided any midweek letdown with a pair of wins against the Fairfield Stags (8-7, 6-1).

The Tennessee Volunteers dominated Florida for eight innings in the Gators’ SEC home opener and eventually claimed a 6-3 win, but UF captured the series with a 8-3 victory on Saturday and 9-4 rubber-match win on Sunday.

Here are five takeaways from the last two weeks:

1. Lefty longmen provide a big boost: Much has been said of the Gators’ strong weekend rotation, but Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has made great use of the versatility offered by his southpaws including senior Bobby Poyner (0-1, 3.13) and junior Danny Young (1-0, 0.63). On Saturday against Tennessee, Poyner (4.0 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 K) relieved sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, BB, 8 K) in the sixth and stayed on for the remaining four frames to collect his second save of the season. Young (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 7 K) notched a career-high seven strikeouts in five dominant innings of long relief to earn the win in UF’s win over UT on Sunday. Poyner and Young’s ability to go the distance at any time in a game should help O’Sullivan keep his bullpen arms fresh this season.

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Greg Sankey named Mike Slive’s successor as the SEC’s eighth commissioner

Five months after Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive announced that he would retire on July 31, 2015, after 13 years at the helm of the league, the SEC has named Greg Sankey as his replacement.

Sankey, who has also been with the SEC for 13 years after serving as the commissioner of the Southland Conference for seven years, was promoted to executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer of the league in 2012 and was long rumored to be the favorite for the position.

“The universities of the SEC represent the greatest combination of academic and athletic excellence and I am honored to be selected to follow Mike Slive as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said in a press release. “The SEC is poised to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes for generations to come. We must ensure that the lessons they learn from their achievements in competition and in the classroom translate into success in life after college.”

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Florida women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler gets two-year extension; report: assistants gone

Updated on Thursday at 4:45 p.m.

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley on Wednesday announced a two-year contract extension for women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler, keeping her with the program through the 2018-19 season.

Butler, who behind Carol Ross (1990-02) is the second-winningest and second-longest-tenured coach in program history, is just 153-112 (.577) at Florida, 56-68 (.447) in Southeastern Conference play over eight seasons. The Gators have never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament under Butler.

“Clearly, the results of last season were not what anyone, including Coach Butler, had hoped. That said, I continue to strongly feel that Amanda is the right person to get Florida women’s basketball to be a contender in this league and nationally. She’s a Gator and will keep working tirelessly to elevate this program,” said Foley in a release.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Wright, Harvin, Horford

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow‘s dream of returning to the NFL has not died despite Tebow entering the world of broadcasting and refusing to either change positions or play in a lesser league (CFL, AFL) in order to get noticed by teams. According to the Boston Globe, which spoke with Tebow’s throwing coach of the last two years, the player may be considering entering the first-ever NFL Veteran Combine on March 22. “[Trainer Tom] House told us on Friday that he isn’t sure if Tebow will be attending the combine, but ‘he went from being a little inaccurate and didn’t throw a whole lot of spirals, to throwing very accurate and real good at spinning the ball.'” OnlyGators.com has spoken with the NFL’s regional combine officials on multiple occasions over the last few weeks but was told that an official roster would not be released either at all or at least until much closer to the event.

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