SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

1 » On June 24, three-star linebacker recruit Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) committed to the Florida Gators; unfortunately for him, the team did not recognize his verbal promise and did not count him as a member of its 2011 recruiting class. Friday, Cassell reiterated again to the Orlando Sentinel that he is committed to the Gators, stating that coaches simply wanted to see him perform in person before bringing him on board. However, there remain conflicting reports that Cassell is still not a part of the recruiting class – yet. So while his intentions are known, Florida’s are not. In all likelihood, the coaching staff is waiting to make sure they have a spot for him after higher ranked players decide where they will be attending school next year.

UPDATE: Cassell, for the third time now, claims that the coaches have accepted his commitment. He told the Sentinel that a phone call set for Sunday night may help clarify why there have been so many mixed messages.

2 » Legendary Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been supportive of former Florida QB Tim Tebow ever since his team selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. At a golf tournament on Thursday, Elway opened up more about Tebow. “The thing about Tebow is they’re focusing too much on his release,” Elway said. “As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. […] He’s not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it’s long and quick, that’s OK.”

Four more BITS on Tim Tebow, Channing Crowder, Joe Haden, Jabar Gaffney…and an extra BIT on recruit Curt Maggitt…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

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Wrapping up Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp

Mixing pop and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating almost 100 of the best high school football players in the country.

The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend, as they did this year, but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while listening to hip-hop and getting to know each other.

The Swamp was once again filled with top young talent on July 23, so much so that covering every player that stepped on the field is a near impossibility. Check out six of the more notable visitors (as well as one who interestingly did not show up) and find out where their heads are at…after the break
Continue Reading » Wrapping up Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp

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DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators

Though the Florida Gators received two commitments before Friday Night Lights even began, the fallout from the event has not been as immediate as many fans might have expected. Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the camp is the solidification of the commitment of four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), who was previously wavering with his decision to wear the Orange and Blue in 2011.

Pagan first committed to the Gators in April but, as soon as May, softened his commitment strength to around 75 percent. Just three weeks ago, he told the Asheville Citizen-Times that he was “about 50 percent on Florida,” saying he would probably not announce officially until his high school season began on Aug. 27.

Some even believed that Florida’s acquisition of five-star defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin via transfer from California would irk Pagan due to the added competition, even though Martin is expected to compete mostly at linebacker.

Instead, according to two recruiting services, Pagan solidified his commitment on Friday after his mom got a chance to visit, tour and approve of the University of Florida.

He is currently one of the highest-rated Gators coming in for 2011, only second behind five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Pagan is ranked No. 19 overall by ESPNU and No. 25 by Rivals.

OGGOA RELATED: CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too
OGGOA RELATED: Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

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CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too

Just hours after gaining a commitment from a four-star offensive lineman, the Florida Gators were informed by cornerback Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL) that he too will be playing football in Gainesville, FL, next season.

Purifoy, who also had offers from Alabama and Auburn (among others), blew the coaching staff away with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the Gators’ camp in June. After returning home, he immediately received an offer from head coach Urban Meyer.

A Florida fan his entire life, Purifoy told Rivals, who first reported his commitment, that Meyer’s offer was a “dream come true.” he also said he “considered committing [on the spot in March] but didn’t.”

“I was talking to my mom and my sisters and some other people that have an influence around me and they like (Florida),” Purifoy told The Gainesville Sun. “My mom loves it, and they want me to get a good education and they think I can get it there. It’s also where I can play and get a better chance to get to the next level so I can take care of my family — mom and my sister.”

OGGOA RELATED: DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators
OGGOA RELATED: Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

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Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

Four-star offensive lineman Trip Thurman (Dover, DE) committed to the Florida Gators on Friday, as first reported by Scout.com.

In Gainesville, FL, to participate in the Gators’ annual Friday Night Lights camp, Thurman informed the coaching staff of his decision, something believed to be in the process of happening for quite some time.

Rivals has him ranked as the top player in the state of Delaware and 11th best offensive lineman, while ESPNU only gives him three stars.

OGGOA RELATED: DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators
OGGOA RELATED: CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too

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QB commit Jeff Driskel shines at Elite 11 camp

What a week it has been for Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Named Most Valuable Player of the Elite 11 QB Camp, Driskel dominated the proceedings from start-to-finish, showing off a strong arm, impressive accuracy, enviable mechanics and college-level decision-making.

Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s recruiting director, said that Driskel resembles Washington QB Jake Locker. ESPN’s Corey Long added, “Driskel is a massive young man at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, his release is on point and his passes have tremendous heat on them.”

He even drew comparisons to some NFL legends – including Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning – as he shredded the competition over the course of four days.

“You always have to try to be at your best and you have to want to be the best and I came out here to play football,” Driskel told Rivals. “I wasn’t here to go to Disneyland even though that ended up being fun. You have to have that focused attitude and I had it throughout the week.”

If you think Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow and Gators incoming starter redshirt junior John Brantley were highly praised coming out of high school, Driskel’s hype is already reaching that level. He makes all of the required throws and showed during 7-on-7 drills that he can read the field with the best of them.

Even though Driskel is a pro-style quarterback, he is deceptively athletic and runs a 4.52 40-yard-dash. He won’t carry the ball much, but the threat of his speed in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense should keep defenses honest if he is able to prove that he can use it.

Driskel is considered the top-rated QB of the 2011 recruiting class by both ESPNU and Rivals. Nationally, he is ranked No. 13 overall by the former and No. 31 by the latter.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and seniors center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black and defensive end Justin Trattou represented the University of Florida on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press conferences at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Media Days from Hoover, AL.

HAMMOND’s SCHOLARSHIP REVOKED

Though most of the pre-event hoopla surrounded allegations that former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey accepted $100,000 from a runner for an unnamed agent, the biggest piece of news Meyer divulged was that (former?) Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. has had his football scholarship pulled after being arrested for driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol in June.

“Frankie Hammond, Jr. is off of scholarship at Florida. If he tries to come back and play, which I understand he will, he will have to pay his own way and earn a spot like every other person who would like to be a member of Florida football – on his own,” Meyer said. “There will be playing time taken away from him, and he will be on probation like other players who have made mistakes. If he does something again, it will be probable dismissal. As of now, he is not on the football team. He is working out and training away from the team, and he’s off of scholarship. And we’ll see how he shows up and if he goes. If he goes, then we’ll make the adjustment as we move on.”

Last Friday, Hammond was sentenced to a year of probation and 50 hours of community service as part of a plea deal with the prosecution of his case. He was suspended from team activities by the coaching staff and university just one day after being arrested.

REACTIONS TO POUNCEY ALLEGATIONS

Before the Gators had the chance to be asked about the rumors surrounding Pouncey, the player denied that he was paid by an agent through a two sentence statement that was released early Wednesday. “I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said. “I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”

Nevertheless, Meyer and Florida’s players were asked about the alleged incident.

“Anytime [there is] an accusation about a recruiting rule or a phone call or I simply hear it, I go right to our compliance and they go through the right channels. And then I’ll go to the source,” Meyer said. “When the [Maurkice] Pouncey anonymous note or whatever came through, it went right to our compliance, I went to Maurkice and he said it didn’t happen. I certainly didn’t investigate – we have people that do that. I have not been this concerned. I don’t like our pictures going across the ticker and everything else. If something happened, then he should be punished severely. If it didn’t happen, then that’s nonsense. I heard his denial today, and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey.”

“First, I’ll start by saying I talked to my brother and it’s not true,” his brother Mike told the press. “He pretty much cleared that up in the statement today. I feel bad about it because it ruined somebody’s name that don’t really know who me and my brother are.
Those that know who we are know we’re not those kind of people. We pride ourselves on having a great clean name. It’s just hard right now. […] We’ve been totally cooperative with any questions that they have to ask us. We’re just ready for it to be done with. […] My mom and my dad, they took it real personal because, you know, we come from a great family. We pride ourselves on being great people, having a family-type organization as far as our family goes. You know, they took it pretty tough.”

AND THE REST…

With the two juiciest tidbits out of the way, the rest of the media availabilities focused on the latest news surrounding agents tampering with student-athletes and, you know, the upcoming football season. Some choice quotes have been provided…after the break:
Continue Reading » 2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

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Five-star DE/LB Chris Martin transferring to UF

Five-star defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin, one of the top recruits in the nation last year, will transfer to the Florida Gators after originally committing to the California Golden Bears, according to Rivals.

Martin, who was heavily pursued by Florida throughout the recruiting process, decided to attend California in order to be close to his hometown of Oakland, CA. As OGGOA reported early Wednesday, Martin felt he was too distracted by playing close to home and wanted to concentrate on both football and his studies in Gainesville, FL.

“When you’re distracted like that your heart isn’t fully focused on where it needs to be and it wasn’t out there,” Martin told The Gainesville Sun. “I felt it was somewhere else, and I think I found the place. […] I came to this decision because I felt that’s where my heart was and I decided to follow it. It ended up being a decision that my family supported me through. I probably have one of the craziest stories on how I ended up at Florida. It’s been a wild, wild road.”

Considered the top recruit coming out of Colorado (he recorded 11 sacks and five forced fumbles for Grandview High School in Aurora, CO), Martin will have to redshirt his first season because he had already enrolled in Berkley, CA.

“I’m not upset about [redshirting],” he said per the Sun. “I’m actually looking forward to it because it will allow me to get into the weight room and get me in the playbook. It will give me a chance to get in and settle down, because when I get there there’s going to be a lot of stuff thrown at me. Next year is when I’ll do all my damage, but this year it’s going to be an adjustment.”

Rivals ranked him the No. 18 overall recruit in 2010 and fifth best DE/LB; ESPNU had him pegged as the No. 111 player available and a top 10 DE.

Martin could play either strongside defensive end or outside linebacker and is looking forward to joining the nation’s top recruiting class.

“I have been blessed to have a second chance with Florida,” Martin told ESPN. “That was where I was going until coach [Charlie] Strong left for Louisville. Then I made up my mind I was going to Florida again. Then it came out about coach [Urban] Meyer and his heart problems. I freaked out and couldn’t do it. It just didn’t feel right at the time for me with the Gators. […] My heart was in Gainesville.”

Photo Credit: ESPN

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