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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Former Gators commit, Stanford C Schuyler Rimmer, to transfer to Florida as walk-on

Updated on Jan. 7 at 10:20 a.m.

One-time Florida Gators 2013 commitment Schuyler Rimmer never wound up playing for the team out of high school, deciding six weeks after initially pledging to the program that he would reopen his recruitment.

It appears as if Rimmer has found a way to suit up for the Gators after all as he announced Sunday evening that he plans to transfer to Florida.

OnlyGators.com has confirmed that Rimmer will walk on to the UF basketball team, as first reported by ESPN.com‘s Jeff Borzello. He is expected to join the program in January as a mid-season transfer.

“So excited to continue my career at the University of Florida! It’s a great day to be a gator!” he wrote Sunday evening on his Twitter account.

Update: Rimmer was cleared to join the Gators during the first week of January and will be allowed to join practice on Thursday, Jan. 8.

Continue Reading » Former Gators commit, Stanford C Schuyler Rimmer, to transfer to Florida as walk-on

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Recruiting a huge priority for Florida’s McElwain

It is no secret that the Florida Gators have been out-recruited by in-state rival Florida State over the last few seasons. And as the end of the 2015 cycle approaches, it is obvious that the Gators have been out-recruited by the majority of teams in college football over the last year, a tide that new Florida head coach Jim McElwain was looking to turn before he even held his introductory press conference.

Due to a lack of overall success on the field, an inability to produce offensively and season-long instability at head coach, the Gators currently stand with just eight commitments for 2015, all of whom are three-star prospects and only half of which are from the state of Florida, one of the top recruiting hotbeds in the country.

That is where McElwain plans to begin his journey to turn the Gators into a recruiting powerhouse once again, perhaps as soon as National Signing Day in February.

“When you look from a historical standpoint, when Florida was really rolling, they controlled and had the majority of really good players out of [its home state]. First and foremost, we have to get back in and make sure we get the best out of that area as we build our team,” he told Tampa Bay’s WDAE 620 AM on Monday. “Obviously I’m a firm believer: we are the University of Florida, and it is Florida first – and then the rest of it is second. We’ve had to go back in, we’re reevaluating guys as we speak, making sure that we get the right fit, first and foremost with players from the state of Florida.”

Continue Reading » Recruiting a huge priority for Florida’s McElwain

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TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe commits to Florida

Three-star tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (Suwanee, GA) on Tuesday announced his verbal commitment to the Florida Gators, becoming the first 2015 recruit to make a pledge to the program since Jim McElwain was hired as head coach.

“Thank you to all the people/coaches that have supported me and given me an opportunity to play at their schools….I’m extremely proud to announce that I will be attending The University of Florida!!!!! #GatorNationWhatUp,” he wrote in his announcement on Twitter.

Imatorbhebhe (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), who received an in-home visit from McElwain one week ago, took an official visit to California – his other finalist – over the weekend and came away with a decision made.

An early enrollee who is expected to be at Florida by Jan. 6, Imatorbhebhe will participate in spring practice. He is expected to be used by McElwain as a versatile H-back.

The former Missouri commitment is the eighth member of the Gators’ 2015 recruiting class, which lost a foursome of four-star pledges since Will Muschamp was fired in November. All of Florida’s commitments are three-star-rated prospects.

Daniel’s brother, Josh Imatorbhebhe, is a four-star 2016 wide receiver prospect ranked 130th in the nation by Rivals. He is currently trying to trim down an extensive offer list with the Gators believed to be among the top three programs he is considering.

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Florida loses four-star commits Brown, Jones

Florida Gators football’s already-depleted 2015 class became even worse off on Saturday when its top two commitments – four stars offensive lineman George Brown (Cincinnati, OH) and quarterback Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, CA) – decommitted from the program, according to 247Sports.com’s Ryan Bartow.

Respectively rated the No. 183 and No. 218 overall players in the nation by Rivals, Brown and Jones were Florida’s only remaining consensus four-star commitments. Their decommitments came on the same day UF head coach Jim McElwain held his introductory press conference, with Brown flipping to LSU.

In late October, the Gators lost a pair of four-star linebackers – Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH) and Adonis Thomas (Lawrenceville, GA) – in a three-day span. Baker was the No. 36 overall player in the country as rated by Rivals, and Thomas was ranked No. 68 overall by ESPN.

Florida’s recruiting class stood at 11 members in mid-October; the Gators have since lost their four highest-rated pledges and no longer have a single consensus four-star-rated prospect on their commitment list.

UF only has seven commitments with two months until National Signing Day. The Gators have the lowest-rated signing class of any team either in the Southeastern Conference or their own state.

In fact, Florida’s three biggest rivals – Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee – have the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5-ranked recruiting classes, respectively, each with 20-26 commitments.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, November 13: Basketball signings, Tebow, Mullen on Meyer

Basketball: early signing period

College’s basketball’s early signing period began Wednesday, and the Florida Gators expect to receive National Letters of Intent from three of their four 2015 commitments – four-star power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL), three-star PF Kevarrius Hayes (Live, Oak, FL) and three-star small forward Keith Stone (Deerfield Beach, FL) – before that period is out.

Florida is not sure, however, when it will be given an NLI from its highest-rated pledge, four-star guard KeVaughn Allen (Little Rock, AR). The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette first reported Tuesday that Allen “will not sign during the early period and will hold off until the spring to sign,” despite planning to remain committed to the Gators.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Thursday, November 13: Basketball signings, Tebow, Mullen on Meyer

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Florida Gators lose Baker and Thomas, two top-rated 2015 linebacker commits

For the second time this week, a highly-rated 2015 linebacker commitment has decided to part ways with the Florida Gators.

On Thursday, two days after four-star Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH) decommitted from the program, four-star Adonis Thomas (Lawrenceville, GA) followed suit.

Baker and Thomas are the highest-ranked players in the Gators’ 2015 recruiting class according to Rivals and ESPN, respectively.

Baker is ranked as the No. 36 overall player in the country by Rivals (No. 68 by ESPN), while Thomas is rated as the No. 68 overall player by ESPN (unranked by Rivals).

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, McDonald, Baker, Haden

1 » Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons has every intention of living up to his new three-year, $46 million contract, and he plans to do it by improving his defense. “We’ve got a great staff that really emphasizes defense,” he said, according to ESPNDallas.com. “Where I’m coming from, offense was always our main goal. Now we’ve got to win games and championship on the defensive side. I’m totally locked in and dialed in to do that.” Parsons was a solid defender for the Florida Gators but was ranked 190th overall in the NBA by Synergy Sports after the 2013-14 season.

2 » San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald is no longer scheduled to go to court to face arraignment after being accused of domestic abuse. McDonald, who has yet to be charged with a crime, had his hearing canceled; it will not be rescheduled until or unless the state actually brings charges against him, according to USA Today. The 49ers coaching staff and ownership has been very supportive of McDonald over the last month, claiming they believe his side of the story and want to let due process take its course before acting. Obviously McDonald’s long-term status with the team will affect 2015 Super Bowl betting online, especially as far as San Francisco is concerned.

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