FOUR BITS: Fowler, Muschamp, Gordon, Mincey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who decided to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, took out an advertisement in The Gainesville Sun on Friday, thanking Gators fans for his time with the program. Fowler is expected to be an early first-round selection in the draft and has been projected as high as No. 3 overall. In case you’re having trouble with the copy, it reads as follows: “Thank you Gator Nation for all the support and love the past three years. We’ve got the best fans in the land. I’ll forever bleed Orange & Blue.”


2 » New Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp – and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, for that matter – had shown no love for Florida on the recruiting trail to this point as the duo has not paused in going after players they were recruiting to join the Gators when they were both members of the program. But Muschamp did show his soft side for Florida on Thursday. According to 247Sports.com‘s Luke Stampini, Muschamp praised the Gators to three-star DE G.G. Robinson (Lilburn, GA) after learning Robinson was not interested in playing for the Tigers. “He talked good about Florida the whole time. He told me to have fun and said, ‘It’s nice.’ He said I’d like the weather,” Robinson said. “He also said Jim McElwain is probably about to turn the program around. I expected him to say something bad about them, but he didn’t.” Robinson is visiting UF this weekend, the last of the 2015 recruiting cycle.

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Parsons, Pro Bowl, Haden

1 » For the second time in the last 14 months, former Florida Gators safety Will Hill is a wanted man. According to The Baltimore Sun, a warrant is out for Hill’s arrest in his home state of New Jersey as he allegedly owes $16,588.18 in back-due child support. Hill, then a member of the New York Giants, was arrested on the same charge in Dec. 2013. After not being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, he spent an entire season out of the league while he tried to clean up his act and was picked up by the Giants in 2012; he remained on the team for two seasons despite being suspended twice for violating NFL drug policies. New York stood by him after his 2013 arrest but cut him on June 2, 2014, four days after the league handed down a third drug suspension. The Baltimore Ravens took a shot on Hill, who once again claimed to be reformed, and it paid off. Hill missed the first six games of the 2014 season but started most of the Ravens’ remaining contests, earning $368,824 for the duration of the campaign. For his career, Hill has made $1.03 million but lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his three suspensions (14 missed games). His one-year deal with Baltimore expired; whether he gets another opportunity in the NFL remains to be seen.

“Will Hill, he has a lot of talent,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh in his last press conference of the season. “It’s something that we always knew. He also has a great love for the game. He learned our defense throughout the course of the season, which it’s not easy to do that. We have a tough defense. We do a lot of good stuff back there. But he was running the show pretty well back there toward the end of the year.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Parsons, Pro Bowl, Haden

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Florida women’s basketball player Antoinette Bannister charged with credit card theft and fraud

Antoinette Bannister, a junior guard on the Florida Gators women’s basketball team, was arrested on Friday and charged with theft and fraud after taking a teammate’s credit card and using it at multiple locations throughout Gainesville, Florida.

According to The Gainesville Sun’s Cindy Swirko, the card Bannister stole on Jan. 11 belonged to redshirt junior center Viktorija Dimaite.

Bannister, who used the card at five separate locations and even signed her own name on shopping receipts, admitted to police on Friday that she shopped with the card but noted that she found it outside the Florida Basketball Practice Complex and not inside the women’s locker room of the facility as the police report originally stated.

The Independent Florida Alligator‘s Graham Hall reported early Sunday that Bannister has been kicked off the women’s basketball team. OnlyGators.com confirmed Bannister’s status Sunday evening. Her name remains present on Florida’s roster, however.

Continue Reading » Florida women’s basketball player Antoinette Bannister charged with credit card theft and fraud

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FOUR BITS: Harris, NFL, Horford, Tobias

1 » The second-degree misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle without a license has been dropped against Florida Gators freshman quarterback Treon Harris after the player acquired his driver’s license. “He got his license and they dismissed the case [Wednesday],” Harris’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu. “He took the test and got it re-upped. He did what I expected him to do.” The incident drew extra scrutiny as the police report noted the officer on the scene found marijuana in the vehicle but did not charge any of the three people in the car with possession because it was not on their bodies and the vehicle was not registered to any of them. Freshmen defensive backs Jalen Tabor and J.C. Jackson were in the car with Harris at the time. New Gators head coach Jim McElwain said last month that he is looking “forward to getting into [Harris’s] life and being a big part of his life.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harris, NFL, Horford, Tobias

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Florida gymnastics’ title hopes take hit as Bridget Sloan (ankle) sidelined six weeks

Florida Gators gymnastics suffered a major blow in its hopes to three-peat as national champion as junior Bridget Sloan, arguably the flag bearer for Florida’s gymnastics program, will be sidelined for six weeks with a severe ankle sprain, head coach Rhonda Faehn announced on Tuesday.

Sloan, a two-time All-SEC First Team selection, the winner of the 2013 Honda Sports Award and a 16-time All-American, has helped lead the Gators to back-to-back NCAA National Championships. She has also captured three individual NCAA Championships, winning the all-around and balance beam competitions in 2013 and picking up the uneven bars title in 2014.

Florida rolled to a dominant 196.925-193.700 win over Ball State in each program’s season-opener on Sunday in Muncie, Indiana, but did not leave the meet without suffering some losses.

Continue Reading » Florida gymnastics’ title hopes take hit as Bridget Sloan (ankle) sidelined six weeks

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

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Florida athletics receives largest-ever $12.5 million donation for student facility

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association on Friday announced receipt of $12.5 million from an anonymous donor, which is being billed as the largest-ever donation to the program.

The $12.5 million will go towards a massive $25 million renovation to the Office of Student Life, which the Florida Gators believe will be a huge benefit to current athletes and a massive recruiting tool for future Gators.

The renovation will improve academic programs for all 480 Florida athletes across 21 varsity sports. Renovations will begin in March for what will be named the Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence.

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