TWO BITS: Harvin’s sleep apnea, Donovan’s 9/11

1 » Three weeks ago, former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin collapsed on the Minnesota Vikings practice field due to complications from his chronic migraine headaches along with an adverse reaction to medication. After undergoing additional tests a week later that appeared to have found the root of his problems, Harvin was diagnosed by doctors with sleep apnea. Before his team’s season opener Thursday, Harvin explained to NBC’s Andrea Kremer that doctors noticed his heart stopped beating for 10 seconds during his hospital stay in August, which prompted them to have him tested for sleep apnea. During that test, his heart stopped beating on eight different occasions; he now uses an air regulation device while sleeping and is no longer taking any medication. Doctors believe Harvin is on the road to solving his health problems but cannot rule out a reoccurrence from time-to-time.

2 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan was in the middle of a recruiting trip when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York, NY, on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, Donovan was on a plane flying into Boston, MA, when he first found out; he was subsequently grounded in Buffalo, NY, and was forced to begin a recruiting odyssey on the road after he was unable to visit his family. “It was a scary, scary time,” Donovan told UF’s Scott Carter. “In terms of country, it obviously had an incredible impact. But I think for people that grew up in New York and were born and raised on Wall Street, lower Manhattan, it’s something that will always be with us. […] When you think of lower Manhattan, if you are from New York, the two things you think of are the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center. It’s amazing, even now when you fly by lower Manhattan, [the towers] are no longer there.” Read the GatorZone.com’s feature in full right here.

Extra BIT » Former Gators forward Dan Werner, who graduated from the University of Florida in August, has signed a four-year deal with Virtus Bologna, an Italian professional basketball team in the league’s Serie A division. Italy likely granted Werner dual citizenship, something he had been trying to receive for months so a club team could acquire him without using up one of their slots reserved for Americans.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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TWO BITS: Tebow returns home, Driskel compared

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will once again be playing football in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, on Sunday; unfortunately for many residents, he will be doing so as a member of the Denver Broncos – not the Jacksonville Jaguars. Nevertheless, Jags players know that the city is Tebow’s for the day, just ask star running back Maurice Jones-Drew. “It’s his town man. It’s going to be exciting for him,” Jones-Drew said. “Everybody is probably going to try to be at the hotel and see him. Word around here flies around fast where everyone is staying, so my advice to him is get a private room and stay in there the entire night.”

Homecoming or not, ESPN analyst and former QB Trent Dilfer continues to seriously doubt Tebow’s future in the NFL, even though he is rooting for him on a personal level. “I’m one that said he won’t [succeed],” Dilfer said. “I want to be wrong. I want Tim Tebow to be a superstar because there’s one thing you cannot coach and that’s will. […] Saying that, if he is successful as a quarterback in the first three years of his career, it will be one of the most remarkable jobs of coaching by Josh McDaniels and his staff that we have seen since [what] Bill Walsh did with Joe Montana. It will be absolutely mind-boggling from a quarterback standpoint if Josh McDaniels and his staff can make him a successful quarterback in the first three years.”

2 » Five-star Florida QB commit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), already an accomplished high school player, is drawing further comparisons to Tebow after running for 68- and 61-yard touchdowns while simultaneously setting his school’s single-game rushing record in a game last week. Driskel, who ran for 246 yards in the game, brushes off the Tebow talk, even though it is complimentary. “People are going to make that comparison just because of my size and the fact that I’m committed to Florida,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and keep leading my team.”

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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Basketball nabs first 2012 commit – SG Frazier

Offered a scholarship to the University of Florida by Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan just over a month ago, four-star 2012 shooting guard Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) decided to commit to the team even though he is two years out from heading up to Gainesville, FL.

“I chose Florida because of Coach Donovan and the outstanding staff,” Frazier told ESPN. “Coach Donovan has a proven history of winning national championships and excels in player development. UF is an excellent academic school as well. It’s always been one of my favorite schools.”

Frazier, who boasted offers from 20 other schools ranging from Michigan to Harvard at the time his conversation with Donovan, has a 4.0 GPA and is considered to be both a bright student and extraordinary shooter.

“He’s the best shooter ever to come out of our program,” Florida Elite AAU coach Conrad Foss told The Gainesville Sun. “And with those perimeter skills he’s become much better at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. He’s becoming a complete player.”

Here is what ESPN has to say about Frazier’s abilities:

Frazier’s ability to shoot the ball makes him special because he has two of the greatest qualities a shooter can have: great self-confidence in his stroke and a short memory to focus on the next shot. He rarely misses open shots when his feet are set. He shoots over smaller defenders with ease and is a willing passer when he draws an extra defender. Frazier is also smart at moving without the ball and creating clean looks at the basket. Opponents must find him immediately in transition because he will spot up on the break and knock it down from beyond the arc. While he can knock it down from 3, his midrange game (15- to 18-foot jumpers) is most efficient. Defensively, he needs to be more committed and engaged as an on-ball defender, but Frazier and his coaches — H.B. Plant coach Mike Phillips and his Florida Elite U-17 USSSA coach, Conrad Foss — are committed to getting him ready for his first day of practice at Florida.

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SIX BITS: Tebow’s ribs, Super Tuesday, DL, Moss

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow left training camp with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, apparently still feeling the effects of some of the hits he took in his first NFL game last week> “[Tebow] appeared to be holding his left side after going through some footwork drills early in the Broncos’ practice,” The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports. “Tebow did not participate in sprints at the end of practice Tuesday [either]. He had previously won every post-practice conditioning sprint among offensive players in training camp.”

The Denver Post is calling Tebow’s ribs “bruised” and notes that teammates like Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan appreciated the effort. “That’s what you like about him,” Haggan said. “There was no choice to be made – you go for pay dirt.” One of his offensive linemen agree. “They always talk about the ‘welcome to the NFL’ hit. You’ve got to get your pads firmed up when you start off in the NFL. I think he had an opportunity to do that,” right tackle Ryan Harris said. One more? “[Tebow] has a warrior’s mentality,” safety Brian Dawkins said. “Which is good, but at the same time, being able to decipher when and when not to. Hopefully he won’t have to learn the hard, hard way.”

2 » ESPN announced its men’s college basketball Super Tuesday schedule for 2011 on Wednesday; Florida is set to begin the slate and will appear three times in four weeks: Jan. 11 at Tennessee (9 p.m.), Jan. 25 at Georgia (7 p.m.) and Feb. 1 vs. Vanderbilt (9 p.m.). The Gators also appeared in three Super Tuesday games last season and are already scheduled for four ESPN appearances (Nov. 16 vs. Ohio State – 6 p.m.).

Four more BITS about the defensive line, Jarvis Moss, Austin Rivers and Jenn Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow’s ribs, Super Tuesday, DL, Moss

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Decision time: Waisome picks UF, Wilder to FSU

Two of the country’s top high school seniors announced their respective college choices on Wednesday, both deciding to attend a respective university that will put them in direct competition with each other. Four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) committed to the Florida Gators, while five-star running back James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) has decided to play for the Florida State Seminoles.

Waisome, who greatly impressed coaches and those in attendance with his combination of speed and technical proficiency at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp on July 23, is one of the top 10 players at his position in the nation and noted that the school’s graduation rate and coaching philosophy were big motivators in his decision.

“It was the relationship with the coaches, some of the players, I like the atmosphere,” Waisome said on ESPNU. “The school is a fun place. And I just liked it overall. Great school. [They] win championships. [I’m] ready to play.”

He also discussed meeting with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin during his last visit to the University of Florida. “It was a good experience, I got to talk to him one-on-one about some of the coaching factors he uses individually – what kind of schemes they run and stuff like that. I got a feel of how he coaches, and I feel I can be coached the same way.”

Also one of the top 25 recruits in the state of Florida, Waisome becomes the Gators’ 14th commitment for the 2011 recruiting cycle and is only the second CB to sign after four-star Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL) decided to join the team just before FNL.

Unlike Waisome, Wilder did not attend Florida’s camp and instead decided to visit Florida State in the later part of July. Though he was a strong Gators lean for quite some time, in the end Wilder felt that he has a greater chance to succeed as a RB – his position of choice – playing with the Seminoles.

Photo Credit: Scout.com

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Cooper, Whitson, Demps

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, speaking at the 40th annual UF Joint Civic Club Luncheon alongside president Bernie Machen, paid tribute to longtime Gainesville, FL, police officer Johnny Hornes who died last week of cancer at 67. Speaking about Hornes, Meyer noted that he helped change his players’ perceptions of law enforcement and even taught redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey how to tie a neck tie. During the tribute, Machen happened to say something of note regarding Meyer’s future. “And after [the Meyers] finish working, they’re going to stay in Gainesville as members of the community. So they’ve chosen this as their home, and they’ve chosen you as their friends and neighbors, and I think we’re all better for that.”

2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News, former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper has firmly taken control of the Philadelphia Eagles’ No. 4 receiving role from veteran Hank Baskett. He has been a standout during training camp and has performed well while some of the team’s starters have been out with a variety of injuries.

Three more BITS including thoughts from baseball star Whitson, an honor for Demps and a photo spread featuring a Florida cheerleader…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Meyer, Cooper, Whitson, Demps

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FOUR BITS: Rainey, soccer, volleyball, Tebow

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was named to the first annual Paul Hornung Award preseason watch list on Tuesday. To be given to the nation’s most versatile collegiate football player, it will be presented by the Louisville Sports Commission sometime during the 2010-11 bowl season. Seven other Southeastern Conference players – Brandon Boykin (Georgia), Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina), Demond Washington (Auburn), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Derrick Locke (Kentucky), Leon Berry (Mississippi State) and Warren Norman (Vanderbilt) – were also on the initial list.

2 » No. 11 Gators soccer, which begins the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season on Friday at home against Miami, was picked by SEC coaches to defend its conference championship in 2010. The conference also announced that two Florida volleyball players were named to the 2010 Preseason All-SEC Team with juniors outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and setter/right-side Kelly Murphy earning the honors.

3 » Interesting note coming from the Palm Beach Post this morning as four-star defensive end recruit Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, FL) claims the Gators stopped pursuing him after he skipped Friday Night Lights. “I went to Florida State when [Florida] had Friday Night Lights and Urban Meyer and everyone and the whole coaching staff took offense,” Newberry told reporter Jeff Greer. “I couldn’t really do anything because I had an injury at the time so I just ended up only going to Florida State. They took it the wrong way. I’m still interested, but they just stopped talking to me.” As the Post’s Jason Lieser points out, UF is unable to respond to these accusations because NCAA regulations do not allow them to discuss recruits.

4 » ESPN’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson makes a case that many Denver Broncos fans have been arguing – it has come time to make rookie quarterback Tim Tebow the team’s top reserve while demoting Brady Quinn to the No. 3 QB role. He puts it bluntly, “Let’s face it: Tebow is the future in Denver. Quinn is not. Move the kid up.” And more specifically, “It’s time for Tebow to play more in the preseason and that can be done if he is made the No. 2 quarterback. Denver is going to use Tebow in special packages during the regular season anyway, so he might as well get backup repetitions now.”

Also from ESPN, James Walker notes the five things “we learned” about Tebow last week: (1) Tebow’s mechanics must improve, (2) The arm strength is there, (3) Tebow isn’t used to the speed and feel of the NFL yet, (4) Tebow is resilient, and (5) The No. 2 quarterback job could be Tebow’s for the taking. Read his thoughts in detail.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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WR Pittman becomes Gators first 2012 commit

As the Florida Gators await the official announcements of 2011 five-star running back recruit James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) and four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) – both set to come on Wednesday – the team received its first commitment of the 2012 recruiting cycle on Tuesday. According to multiple sources including Rivals, wide receiver Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) has committed to the Gators.

In an interview with the Ocala Star-Banner back in June, Pittman said that he received a scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer after visiting the University of Florida for a football camp one week prior.

“[Getting an offer] was exciting. Something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Pittman told the paper. “We set up a date after July 4th to sit down and talk about it again. […] I believe [I will commit] over the summer when my mom and dad go back with me. Growing up around the Gators – I always knew I wanted to play in the orange and blue.”

At the time, Pittman said he was “really leaning toward” committing to Florida and that “it’s been my dream to play there since I was three.”

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

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