Aug. 18 next important day in Gators recruiting?

The Florida Gators have experienced some memorable moments in recruiting recently.

During a one-week span from Dec. 13-19, 2005, when five-star quarterback Tim Tebow and five-star wide receiver Percy Harvin verbally committed, to Jan. 9, 2010, when five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star safety Matt Elam and five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd all picked the Gators at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, pulling in top recruits always seems to come in bunches for Florida.

The same thing may happen a week from Wednesday on Aug. 18, as five-star athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) and four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) have each agreed to announce their commitments on the same day.

It was previously reported that Wilder and Waisome, each of whom are have the Gators as a finalist (Waisome as his leader), will announce their college choice on an ESPN network live from a Tampa television station at 5 p.m. Instead, Wilder will be announcing in Tampa while Waisome will make his choice on his own in Orlando, FL.

Both players have been Florida leans for quite some time and while all indications are that Waisome is as solid as ever, there have been murmurs recently that Wilder was impressed by a recent visit to Florida State (which he took instead of attending the Gators’ Friday Night Lights camp). Wilder had planned to take a number of other visits but has already canceled a trip to Georgia. There is an increasing sentiment that he is FSU’s to lose at this point even though he had been interested in attending Florida for a while, has often visited Gainesville, FL, on his own dime and has a strong relationship with head coach Urban Meyer.

Photo Credit: St. Petersburg Times

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FOUR BITS: Thompson, buzz, Green, Lawrence

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson is looking to quiet the doubters from last season – especially those who said he had bad hands. “I don’t know where that came from, but it came,” Thompson said according to the Florida Times-Union. “I guess because I dropped the ball against Charleston Southern the first game. People started saying I couldn’t catch.” WR coach Zach Azzanni agrees. “Deonte doesn’t have bad hands,” he said. “Maybe he didn’t make a couple plays he should have last year, but he’s got fantastic hands. […] Catching the ball is a learned skill. He can certainly catch the ball. There are some details he was lacking last year that we’re going to try to improve and hopefully it helps him and improves him.”

Three more BITS on basketball’s buzz, Green-Beckham and Lawrence’s future…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Thompson, buzz, Green, Lawrence

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SIX BITS: Addazio, White, Nelson, Moss, Beisel

1 » With most of the players and head coach Urban Meyer making time for the media Thursday, it was offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s turn to represent the Florida Gators early Friday. He provided a little insight into what is in store this season. “Will you see QB runs? Unequivocally yes from a Wildcat offense,” Addazio said. “Will you see five wides on the field? You know you will. Will you see tight ends and fullback sets? Yes. You’re going to see a lot. We’re not going away from that. It’s just judiciously choosing what styles and plays you’re going to use within those sets.” Addazio also noted that wide receivers redshirt junior Chris Rainey and redshirt freshman Andre Debose can add a lot to the offense. “Rainey brings that whole other dimension in here, as does Debose,” Addazio said. “We have those hybrid guys and we have an interesting dynamic in there to cause some stress.”

2 » Tight ends coach Brian White also leaked some brain droppings about his position players. “What’s evident in the first two days is Jordan Reed and Gerald Christian really improved themselves this summer,” White said. “They did a great job of becoming a better football player. All the work they did with [strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti] and his staff has paid tremendous dividends. They’re very confident. They’re much improved. […] Jordan has had tremendous recall from spring ball. It’s very evident he worked his ass off this summer. He’s a tremendously improved football player and he’s going to be really fun to watch this year. He’s going to do some special things.”

Four more BITS on Nelson, Moss, Wilbur and swimmer Beisel…after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Addazio, White, Nelson, Moss, Beisel

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TWO BITS: Smith’s commitment, Florida profiled

1 » With former Florida Gators running back Emmitt Smith set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, OH, a number of local newspapers have been profiling his exploits both on- and off-the-field. The Pensacola News Journal covered Smith’s commitment to the University of Florida, a very interesting story especially for those not around at the time. Apparently Smith told everyone at Escambia High School that he would don the colors of the school he would choose prior to his announcement. Showing up in red and white, he indicated that he would be committing to Nebraska – a pre-planned deception. “When they called him up to sign, they called him up last,” his mother Mary Smith recalled. “And when they asked him where he was going, Emmitt said, ‘Well, I’m wearing Nebraska colors, I guess I will be going to the University of Florida. There were some very excited people there.”

Some even credit Smith with turning the Gators program around. “It meant a heck of a lot,” said school historian and former media relations director Norm Carlson. “We had the probation, all the other problems in the [19]80s, and we were in need of something to uplift the program and Emmitt was it. I think just the fact he signed with Florida, it really buoyed spirits of Florida fans and certainly the people here.” Former head coach Galen Hall agrees. “Emmitt came here when it looked the bleakest for the Gators, because of the probation we were facing. And for him to come and be a part of it meant a great deal. It allowed us to go out and sell the fact that, hey, here’s a young man who could have gone anywhere, but he’s coming to Florida.”

2 » Concluding a series in which the schools with the brightest future in both football and basketball were determined, CBS Sports listed Florida at No. 1, citing head football coach Urban Meyer’s intensity and head basketball coach Billy Donovan’s determination as the catalysts. Dennis Dodd did a nice job covering Meyer’s health scare, but Gary Parrish takes it to another level while looking at what Donovan has done in his time at Florida. A standout quote is Donovan recalling what he was told prior to the 2005-06 season. [There are some other great quotes, too, so read the article.]

“I’ll never forget this,” he said. “I’m talking to this AAU coach, and I don’t want to name him, but I’m talking to him and he’s telling me, ‘You guys are going to be awful. You’re going to be terrible.’ We were recruiting one of his kids, and he was like, ‘Geez. Who’s my kid going to play with? Joakim Noah? That guy is a role player. Al Horford? He’s a project. Taurean Green is not an SEC guard, and Lee Humphrey is a mid-major catch-and-shoot guy… So he’s telling me all this and I’m listening, but the whole time I’m sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t know. I kinda like these guys. I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.'”

Photo Credit: Pensacola News Journal

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SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

1 » Held out of action with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy continues to struggle to recover from a concussion he suffered during camp on Friday when he got kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah. He complained of a bad headache Sunday and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Murphy remains out of action and is now having trouble with sunlight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vittorio Tafur. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests…something that looks to be at least a few days away.

2 » After tweaking his ankle earlier in the day, former Gators WR Percy Harvin returned to Minnesota Vikings practice on Saturday without a noticeable limp. Unfortunately, Harvin missed practice Sunday and will be absent Monday as well after learning of a death in his family. OGGOA‘s thoughts go out to Harvin during this difficult time.

3 » Florida juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill were named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list on Monday – two of only 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs to be selected. Conspicuous by his absence once again is senior safety Ahmad Black. There is a long way to go and plenty of players will be added and removed to this list as the season progresses.

Three more BITS on Reggie Nelson, Brad Beal and Joe Haden…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

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Gators’ newest footballers pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida Gators football is preparing to begin practice for the 2010-11 season in just about a week, it was time for the team’s newest members to choose theirs. The freshman roster, according to the University of Florida, can be found…after the break:
Continue Reading » Gators’ newest footballers pick uniform numbers

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TWO BITS: Pouncey update, Rosario recruits

1 » Former Florida Gators center/guard Maurkice Pouncey is on the verge of signing his rookie contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been making sure to keep in shape so he is fit and ready to participate in training camp beginning this weekend. However, allegations that Pouncey received $100,000 from a runner for an agent while at the University of Florida put him off schedule a bit recently, something his speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw noticed. “He’s disappointed that this stuff has come up and thrown a wrench in. That’s the reason why he missed [workouts],” Shaw told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last Wednesday. “He’s gotten to a point where he’s trying to make sure he still has his [good] name. He wants to be able to go back to the University of Florida and still be respected.” Nevertheless, Pouncey is ready to go; now he just has to sign his contract and put the rest behind him.

2 » Florida transfer guard Mike Rosario, who will be eligible to play for the team during the 2011-12 season after sitting out a year due to NCAA rules, spoke with SNY’s Adam Zagoria Wednesday about watching two of the nation’s top recruits – five-star Gators commit Brad Beal and five-star recruit Austin Rivers – play in the AAU U-17 Super Showdown on Tuesday. “I watched them go head-to-head,” he said. “It was a great matchup. Those guys [have] been playing well. I love Brad Beal’s game. He has a smooth game like Ray Allen. I love the fact that Austin Rivers can shoot the ball, put it on the floor. Both of those guys are capable of helping us win a conference championship. I hope they both come here so we can turn this program into a special program.” Rosario also noted that the biggest adjustment he has had to make since stepping on campus is dealing with the heat. “You walk out of the dorm room, it’s just a sauna,” he noted.

Extra BIT » The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Florida has offered a scholarship to 2012 guard/forward recruit Jarmal Reid. “That Florida offer really excited me,” Reid told the paper. “I like the whole atmosphere there. They have great fans and one of the best coaches around in Billy Donovan. I would love to be coached by him.”

Photo Credit: Rob Tringali

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TWO BITS: Tebow praised, Beal struggles

1 » As agent Jimmy Sexton attempts to get his client under contract before training camp officially begins on Aug. 1, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is working to accomplish at least one feat: winning over his new teammates. Outsider linebacker Darrell Reid has already noticed Tebow’s work ethic and came away impressed with what the Heisman Trophy winner has to offer.

“I’ve actually sat down with Tebow. I call him Lucky Lefty,” Reid said. “I told him, ‘I know they say you’re not as talented, your arm’s not as tremendous as his, but your work ethic reminds me so much of when I was with Peyton [Manning] in Indianapolis.’ I told him, ‘I think you’re going to do big things for us, and I can’t wait to see you get on the field.’ […] I think the thing people don’t know about him is he’s a very, very, very, very hard worker. He’s almost like a perfectionist. That’s what carries him further. Most people who end up being great, it’s because they want to be great and wind up working harder than everybody else. Whether it’s working on his throwing motion or in the weight room or running, he’s almost always the last guy out of the building. He’s a very humble kid, and he’s a proven winner who will do whatever it takes. That’s why we love him.”

2 » Competing in the championship of the AAU U-17 Super Showcase on Tuesday, Gators five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and former Florida five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) squared off. Unfortunately for Beal, who called it his “worst game ever” on Facebook, he finished with only 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting (1-for-5 from downtown). Rivers, on the other hand, shined with 24 points including a highlight package alley-oop dunk in the first half.

After the game, Rivers spoke with reporters and said that he does not have a favorite in his recruitment with UF, Duke and North Carolina occupying the top three spots in no particular order. “Right now I’m not leaning toward anybody and I like all schools the same,” Rivers said. “I haven’t taken any official visits yet so I don’t have any favorites over the others. But I’m really looking forward to making the visits.”

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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