FOUR BITS: Pouncey, schedule, Knight, Horford

1 » Now that his brother has set a course for greener pastures in the NFL, Florida Gators junior guard/center Mike Pouncey will play without him next to him for the first time in years. Rather than feel a sense of longing, Pouncey sees this as an opportunity to take on a leadership role. “I’ve got to lead this team,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “I’ve got the most starts on the team – just gotta go out there and prove everybody day-by-day that we’re going to be a good team this year. […] It’s going to be weird [not having Maurkice there], but I’ve been with these guys on the offensive line for three or four years. I feel ike they’re all my brothers, so they’ll be there for me.”

2 » Though acquiring a tougher schedule was somewhat of a mandate by the Southeastern Conference, the Gators’ willingness to do so may very well be what separates their 2009-10 campaign from that of the last two seasons. “I don’t know if there’s any exact science, but certainly we’re really, really loaded up on our schedule competitively,” head coach Billy Donovan told The Sun. “What kind of dividends that pays for us remains to be seen.” While the opponents may have been tougher, Donovan believes his team is better than it has been since the Oh-Fours departed. ‘Probably a couple of years ago, we weren’t even in position to beat a Michigan State or a Florida State or go on the road and win some of the games that we’ve won,” he said. “This team has certainly played a much, much more difficult schedule and probably as difficult a schedule as we’ve played in quite some time.”

Two more BITS on recruit Brandon Knight and the Horfords…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, schedule, Knight, Horford

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FOUR BITS: Townsend, Munroe, Iditarod, honors

1 » 2011 linebacker recruit Lateek Townsend recently told his hometown newspaper, The State, that he is strongly considering leaving home and playing for the Florida Gators after his senior season of high school. “I’m thinking Florida highly,” he said. “That’s a winning program, so things must be done right. I’m going down there soon for an unofficial visit. I’ve not seen the campus yet. I put them up there with Clemson [his leader] and South Carolina.”

2 » Mark Wheeler of Rivals is reporting that Gators redshirt senior safety Dorian Munroe was denied a sixth year of eligibility and a medical redshirt by the NCAA last week. Munroe, who has suffered with injuries throughout his college career, was hoping to get a redshirt exception after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time. Munroe has appeared in 28 games in his Florida career, collecting 43 total tackles while playing a role on defense and special teams. He had a career-high six tackles in the SEC Championship against the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2006. He will appeal the ruling.

3 » University of Florida alumnus Tom Thurston is competing in the Iditarod this year, and The Gainesville Sun put together a nice profile piece on the former student. Thurston hopes for a top-30 finish in the annual event.

4 » Gators senior outfielder Francesca Enea was the recipient of SEC Player of the Week honors Monday. Smacking four home runs (three grand slams) this week, Enea is now second all-time in the SEC record book with 51 homers. Also honored this week is Florida freshman lacrosse player Ashley Bruns, who brought home the American Lacrosse Conference‘s Rookie of the Week for scoring five goals in one half of competition. It is the second-straight week a Gators lacrosse player has won the honor. Last but not least, the 2009 SEC Champion UF women’s cross country team was named the USTFCAAA All-Academic Team of the year with a combined 3.56 GPA.

Bubble Watch » The unranked Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-5, 11-3 WCC) defeated the No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-6, 12-2 WCC) 81-62 Monday to earn the WCC Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Two teams are now guaranteed to represent the WCC instead of one (Gonzaga), taking away an at-large bid.

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TWO BITS: Rivers, Young dominate HS title games

1 » Led by Florida Gators 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), Winter Park High School won the Class 6A state championship over Dr. Phillips High School 76-57 at the Lakeland Center this weekend. Rivers, who scored 23 points in the win, captured his first high school title and, as a junior, has a chance to go back-to-back with a second title next season.

2 » Also playing well in his state final this weekend was Florida’s 2010 four-star forward commit Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL). Leading Jacksonville Providence High School to a 63-46 victory over Tampa Prepatory High School in the Class 2A state championship, Young scored 13 points and amassed a dominating seven blocked shots.

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Gators avoid trouble as Bulls K Kloss arrested

Three-star kicker Marvin Kloss (Naples, FL), denied admission to the University of Florida a month ago when trying to earn a spot as a walk-on for the Florida Gators, ended up accepting a preferred walk-on offer from the South Florida Bulls on Feb. 18. Little did Florida know that it avoided another problem football player – Kloss was arrested Friday on a felony charge of grand theft, according to the Naples Daily News.

Naples police say Kloss, 18, and a friend stole almost $8,200 worth of property during a house party. Considering the Bulls have a surplus of kickers on the roster, it is expected that head coach Skip Holtz will likely remove Kloss from consideration for a spot on the team.

Photo Credit: David Albers/Naples Daily News

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Austin Rivers reaffirms UF commitment…sort of

Five-star shooting guard recruit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), a Florida Gators commitment for over a year, spoke to The Gainesville Sun about his commitment status after his team won the semifinals of the FHSAA Class 6A state tournament Friday night.

Rivers, who has also been entertaining an offer from the Duke Blue Devils, claims that his recent trip to Durham, NC, was mostly for due diligence.

“Right now, if I had to [sign] somewhere, it would be Florida,” Rivers said. “I went up there to see stuff. It’s always been Florida, Florida, Florida. I went on a visit to see [somewhere different].”

Already settled with the Gators is his sister, Callie Rivers, currently a junior outside hitter on Florida’s volleyball team. Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Austin’s father, has spoken highly of Gators head coach Billy Donovan and the Florida basketball program on numerous occasions.

Rumors have swirled over the last few months that Rivers was planning to drop the Gators and commit to the Blue Devils instead. This was fueled by the relative success of each team. However, he suggests that is not the case whatsoever.

“I haven’t told anybody I’ve decommitted from Florida,” Rivers said. “I don’t think [fans] should be worried. At the end of the day, I’ll do what’s best.”

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FOUR BITS: Dowling to WR? SEC award winners

1 » In a Q&A session on Rivals Thursday, recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg addressed the Florida Gators’ needs at wide receiver by mentioning that five-star safety Jonathan Dowling (Bradenton, FL) has requested that the catch instead of defend passes while wearing the Orange and Blue. Dowling, assumed to be playing free safety, is listed as an athlete by many recruiting services, could find a spot in Florida’s receiving corps, though he should also see an opportunity to get some time on the field in the secondary.

2 » Though he was not focused on former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris praised the signal caller and believes there will be plenty of teams interested in his services. “Teams will be fired up to get him,” Morris told The Tampa Tribune. “He’s won at every level. His teammates love him. They’ll let you know they love him. […] Those are the kind of guys you look for to involve in the character, leadership and also the winning of your football team.”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and UF award-winners after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Dowling to WR? SEC award winners

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TWO BITS: Schintzius recovers, Henderson out

1 » Former Florida Gators All-American center and NBA first-round draft pick Dwayne Schintzius‘ long battle with leukemia has hopefully come to an end. Schintzius, 41, is the Gators’ fifth all-time leading scorer (1,624 points); the team’s career blocks leader; the only player in SEC history with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks; and a nine-year NBA veteran who was drafted No. 24 overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 1990. He received a bone marrow transplant on Jan. 12 from his brother Travis, and his family, friends and Gators fans prayed each day that his condition would improve. The Tampa Tribune, which spoke with Schintzius’ father, reports that he is in the process of making a full recovery and has even been released from the hospital. “The doctors are very optimistic,” Ken Schintzius said. “He has been declared leukemia-free. There’s a ways to go before he’s back where he was, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

2 » Though Florida was on his short long list heading into National Signing Day, it is unlikely that five-star 2010 offensive tackle recruit Seantrel Henderson would switch over to the Gators should he be displeased with the NCAA’s investigation into the USC Trojans. Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel confirms a previous OGGOA report that the Miami Hurricanes would be one of the frontrunners for his services.

Extra BIT » Former Florida forward/center Joakim Noah his being held out of action for three more weeks by the Chicago Bulls due to his nagging plantar fasciitis.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow; 40s; recruits Driskel, Gosha

1 » ESPN’s Bruce Feldman covered some of the most polarizing figures at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine in his most recent Insider blog. Topping the list, of course, is former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. “Tebow Talk will dominate the draft coverage right through late April,” Feldman writes. “Is he an every-down QB? How will he do at his Pro-Day on March 17 since he’s worked hard to shorten his previously slow and long delivery? Did his fast shuttle times and impressive vertical jump (38.5 inches, tied for best ever by a QB) actually give more juice to the camp that says he’s best suited to be an H-back or a fullback?”

2 » Covering another side of the controversy surrounding former Gators cornerback Joe Haden’s 4.57-second 40-yard dash time is Yahoo! Sports’ Dr. Saturday blog, which points out that Haden was listed as running a 4.33 during his time with Florida. Calling the board “fake” and ludicrous, writer Matt Hinton does make a good point: Haden’s listed time is faster than any single player actually ran in last year’s combine.

Two more Florida Gators football recruiting BITS are available after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow; 40s; recruits Driskel, Gosha

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