TWO BITS: Tebow=Elway? Young=Horford/Noah?

1 » Columnist Woody Paige of The Denver Post has taken to calling former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow the Denver Broncos’ next John Elway. You know, the nine-time Pro Bowler who happens to be the best quarterback in the franchise’s history. Colleague Dave Krieger takes issue with Paige’s praise asking, “Seriously, can we just stop? […] Tebow is no Elway. And we will do him and everybody else a favor if we kick the habit of pretending he is.” Read the rest of what Krieger had to say in the Post. For a little more on Tebow’s progress, you can check out this video update from NFL Network.

2 » The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway put together a nice piece on incoming four-star 2010 power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL). Sure to be a defensive-minded presence for the Gators next season, Young knows what it takes to make an impact. “You can always be selfish on defense,” Young said. “No one is going to complain if you are getting too many rebounds and keep running the floor and that’s primarily what I do. So I’m just going to come out there and play a big role and do whatever I can to help the team.” Even head coach Billy Donovan has taken to comparing him to two former Florida stars – the Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford and Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah. “[Young] is a very physical, high-energy, likes-contact guy,” Donovan said. Check out the Sun’s article for more from Young and Donovan.

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TWO BITS: Profiling Wilbekin, Vargas’ transfer

1 » Three-star point guard commitment Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL), who is leaving The Rock School a year early as a junior to join the Florida Gators‘ 2010 recruiting class, remains a mystery to many fans who are curious as to what he can bring to the program right away. Reggie Rankin, who covers basketball recruiting for ESPN caught a glimpse of Wilbekin at the second session of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) and came away impressed. “[Wilbekin] has added about 25 pounds and his confidence and swagger on the court is tremendous,” Rankin wrote. “He may not be a star for the Gators, but he will provide them with a lead guard that possess a high basketball IQ, can run the team, get others involved and makes open shots. He also is an excellent defender that is alert in the passing lanes. He will provide Billy Donovan with a steady hand at the point position. […] It is great to see a kid have these options not only because he is a good kid and player, but most importantly a good student.”

Wilbekin’s school also went ahead and published a video with his coaches profiling his game and some of his accomplishments. (h/t Orlando Sentinel)

2 » Speaking of Florida basketball and its recruiting, former four-star 2008 commitment center Eloy Vargas has transferred for the second time in as many eligible seasons. This time, Vargas is leaving Miami Dade College for none other than head coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Vargas averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds last season and hopes to make a quick transition back to the Southeastern Conference.

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Wilbekin says Allen gave up scholarship for him

The Florida Gatorsnewest 2010 basketball commitment, The Rock School junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL), told Florida Today on Thursday that Florida redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen plans to give up his athletic scholarship in order to open up a spot on the team for him next season.

Wilbekin said Thursday night that backup forward Adam Allen is giving up his scholarship so the Gators could sign him. Allen qualifies for a Bright Futures scholarship to pay for his education.

By giving up his basketball scholarship, Allen allows Wilbekin to be signed while still having the chance to rejoin the team for the 2010-11 season as a walk-on with his education being covered by the state of Florida. He could also choose to retire due to chronic knee problems that have plagued him since he arrived in Gainesville.

If what Wilbekin says is true, the Gators are now only one scholarship over the NCAA’s limit of 13 due to their six-player signing class. Most expect freshman point guard Rod Tishman’s spot on the team to open up one way or another.

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2011 PG recruit Scottie Wilbekin to join Gators

Florida Gators basketball has added the final piece to its 2010 recruiting class, one which will give the team and head coach Billy Donovan a drastically different look next season. Confirming a story OGGOA first posted on April 21, the Orlando Sentinel and The Gainesville Sun are reporting that three-star 2011 point guard recruit Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL) has committed and will officially sign with the University of Florida next week.

Though Wilbekin is only a high school junior, he has excellent grades and enough credits to graduate early in order to be eligible for admission to UF as a member of the basketball team’s 2010 recruiting class. He has already completed his standardized tests, is set to receive clearance from the NCAA and plans to sign his National Letter of Intent at The Rock School on Tuesday.

“At first I was hesitant to give up my senior year,” Wilbekin told Florida Today. “[My coaches and parents] reassured me and I’m looking forward to being a Gator next year.”

Now the sixth scholarship player brought in for 2010, Wilbekin will join four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN), three-stars Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) and Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), who will not be eligible to play until 2011-12.

In order to sign six recruits to scholarships, further changes must be made inside the Florida program – especially after junior forward Alex Tyus removed his name from the 2010 NBA Draft and decided to return to school for his senior season.

Jim McKenzie, The Rock’s vice president, told the Sentinel that UF has already set aside a scholarship for Wilbekin, meaning the future of two players has already been decided.

Sophomore guard Ray Shipman has chosen to transfer, but the Gators still must clear two more scholarships to get them to the NCAA-mandated maximum of 13. The most likely candidates to be taken off scholarship are freshman point guard Rod Tisman (who would remain in Irasel or transfer) and redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen (who would retire and be granted a medical hardship or transfer).

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Rivers on his decommitment, final five schools

In a special blog he wrote for FOXSports.com, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) goes in-depth on the reasons he first committed to the Florida Gators, why he recently decommitted and what teams are still in the running for the services of perhaps the best player in the country.

“I committed to Florida way back when I was a freshman in high school,” Rivers wrote. “I felt it was somewhere I could play, develop my game and my style fit – they get up and down, play aggressive defense and shoot a lot of 3s. They let their guards play and it’s beautiful weather.”

That was how Rivers felt until he competed in front of “more than 40 coaches” including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at a summer event; it made him realize that he had never expanded his college basketball horizons outside of the state.

“It was tough for a while because I was committed to Florida, but I wasn’t completely committed – and I knew that,” he wrote. “I wanted to look at other schools, but I have so much respect for coach [Billy] Donovan and the program that I felt it was wrong to do that. But then I realized that this is my life and I only get one chance to make this decision – and I need to make the right one.”

Now the full court press is on for Rivers, with North Carolina, Kansas and – of course – Kentucky all vying for his services. He plans to take visits to all four schools (he’s seen Florida enough) but has not ruled out re-committing to the Gators.

“I still like Florida and am definitely still considering them among the five schools I’m thinking about right now,” he added.

Rivers plans to make a decision before the 2011 high school season begins.

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TWO BITS: Larson’s future, Johnson’s nomination

1 » Roosevelt High School head coach Lee Taylor, who has been teaching Florida Gators 2010 three-star forward commitment Cody Larson for the last few years, spoke with the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday afternoon about the player, calling him a “terrific human being.” Taylor told the Sentinel’s Jeremy Fowler that Larson is aware of his mistakes, has learned from them and takes the entire situation as a growing experience. “I think Cody understands this whole process will make Cody a better player and a better person,” Taylor said. “He’s a smart, terrific kid who does well in the classroom. Getting away and going to Florida will really help him move forward.” OGGOA’s Story

2 » Florida baseball’s left-handed starting pitcher and designated hitter Brian Johnson has been named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award watch list, according to the University of Florida. He is on one only 25 players to be recognized on the list and could receive it on July 2. Johnson, in his short career, is already a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week who is 4-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 53 innings. In the batters box, he is hitting at a .385 clip with 10 RBI and a grand slam.

Extra Bit » Former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, who won Super Bowl XLIV as a member of the New Orleans Saints, sat down for a wide-ranging interview with SportingNews. McCray touched on winning the big game, playing for defensive coordinator Gary Williams and what he would like to do when his NFL career is over.

Extra Bit II » Check out this video of Larson from one of his local news stations:

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New Florida basketball commit Cody Larson to make scheduled court appearance on Tuesday

One of the Florida Gators’ five incoming 2010 commitments, three-star power forward Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD), is facing a scheduled court appearance Tuesday for a misdemeanor drug charge dating back to February.

According to court documents, Larson was found with Hydrocodone (pain killer) in his home while the Sioux Falls Police Department was investigating extensive prescription drug abuse at Roosevelt High School.

Larson, 18, had injured his ankle in January and was suspended from the team after being charged with a misdemeanor for being in a room where it is known that drugs are stored and utilized. His teammate, Grant Wynia, 18, was charged with illegal use of the same prescription drug.

The Argus Leader reports that Larson’s charge can be punished with a year in jail, a $2,000 fine or a maximum of both. He is most likely looking at probation.

Larson’s commitment to the Gators came after his arrest, and the team’s coaches and administration knew about the issue before taking on the player, according to University of Florida assistant athletics director Fred Demarest.

“The [Larson] family was forthcoming and honest with us during the recruiting process, and the University of Florida was aware,” Demarest told Keoland TV on Monday.

UPDATE: Larson did not appear in Minnehaha County court on Tuesday but his lawyer, Dick Travis, was there representing him. According to the Leader, Larson’s motions are due June 1, he can make a plea deal up until June 15 and his trial is set for June 22.

Photo Credit: Des Moines Register

OGGOA: Three’s a charm: Cody Larson commits to Gators

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“Driskel or LeMay?” becomes Driskel vs. LeMay

One of the Florida Gators’ main goals with their 2011 recruiting class was to bring in a top-flight quarterback to eventually replace redshirt junior John Brantley as the next great University of Florida passer. For a while, there was a debate among Urban Meyer and the coaching staff about who would be the better fit: Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) or Christian LeMay (Matthews, NC). In the end, Driskel looked to be the chosen one (of course, LeMay’s perceived lack of interest helped that along).

The Gators’ search came to an end on April 19, when they gained a commitment from Driskel, who impressed Florida greatly at the Gainesville Nike Camp that same weekend. Though he originally planned to make his decision at some point over the summer, his budding relationship with quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler and desire to end the recruiting process led him to make an early commitment.

LeMay, on the other hand, had yet to decide where he would play college football beginning in 2011. That changed Friday, when he – alongside his parents (including former Gators chaplain Rev. Stacy LeMay) and friends – announced that he would be joining the Georgia Bulldogs next year.

Like Driskel, LeMay will enroll early. At 6’2” and 195 lbs., he is an inch shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Florida’s commit but has plenty of time to add some much-needed bulk before he dons the red and black.

Unlike Driskel, the competition in front of LeMay is a bit steeper. While the former will have three-star Trey Burton (Venice, FL) to beat out in 2012 (assuming Brantley sticks around), the latter will have to deal with four-star 2009 commitment and 2010 starter Aaron Murray (Tampa, FL), who will only be a redshirt freshman this year.

LeMay’s background with the Gators (his dad was wearing a UF shirt before his son’s announcement) and the duo’s future on opposite ends of one of the most storied rivalries in the Southeastern Conference should make for plenty of storylines and great head-to-head match-ups for years to come.

Photo Credits: ESPN, Tom Hauck/ESPN

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