“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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SIX BITS: Tennis, Tebow’s defense, Cunningham’s future, Mullen’s job, Johnson’s start, Moyer

1 » The No. 3 Florida Gators women’s tennis team was honored extensively by the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday, taking home the top three available annual awards. Freshman Lauren Embree won SEC Player of the Year, freshman Allie Will took home SEC Freshman of the Year honors and Roland Thornqvist was named SEC Coach of the Year. Also representing the team were seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina, who were named to the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, respectively. Embree and Will also earned All-SEC First Team honors and placement on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Florida was undefeated (11-0) during the regular season, won the 2010 SEC Tournament and will compete in the 2010 NCAA Team Championship beginning May 14.

2 » When it comes to former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the Denver Broncos, you will find no stronger advocate or staunch defender than Denver Post columnist Woody Paige. As someone who suggested the team select Tebow from the get-go, Paige has gone on the offensive against a number of his readers who continue to question head coach Josh McDaniels’ decision, comparing Tebow to the likes of John Elway and San Francisco’s Steve Young.

Check out four more BITS on Cunningham, Mullen and Florida baseball…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tennis, Tebow’s defense, Cunningham’s future, Mullen’s job, Johnson’s start, Moyer

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FOUR BITS: Leonard, Davis, Tebow’s party, SEC

1 » Florida Gators 2011 tight end commitment A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) will be transferring to his second high school in as many years. According to The Florida Times-Union, the goal is for Leonard to improve his test scores in order qualify for admission to the University of Florida. “Academically he’s on the right track,” University Christian head coach Heath Nivens told the paper. “His grades are solid, but he’s got to get his test scores up. We’re going to help him with some of those things this summer, as far as an SAT prep class so that in July he’s in great shape to qualify.”

2 » Former Gators defensive tackle Torrey Davis, who played his final college season with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks after leaving Florida due to academic and off-the-field issues, has agreed to a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers according to The Birmingham News. One of the nation’s top recruits in 2007, he is best known for making two exciting goal line tackles in the 2009 BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. He will attempt to make the Buccaneers’ roster during mini camp workouts.

3 » Apparently a radio host in Boston, MA, named “Toucher” working for 98.5 The Sports Hub, after former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos, said his family’s celebration “looked like some kind of Nazi rally … so lily-white is what I’m trying to say. Yeah, Stepford Wives.” As David Whitley of Fanhouse explains, it will be interesting to see whether or not CBS decides to take action against the host like it did against Don Imus for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” Take a look at Whitley’s thoughts and decide for yourself.

UPDATE: On Monday, “Toucher” apologized for his comments. “Anyone who listens to the show regularly knows that I am not the most articulate person in the world,” he said. “I apologize to you that were offended. You know, I just apologize, and I regret what I said.” CBS still has a decision to make…

4 » Though he told reporters that he has yet to speak with any universities in particular, Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said Monday that his organization is discussing expansion internally. “Given the success we’ve experienced over the past decade, we are comfortable in the position in which we find ourselves,” Slive said. “Having said that, if there’s going to be a significant shift in the conference paradigm, the SEC will be strategic and thoughtful in order to maintain its position as one of the nation’s premiere conferences.” In other words, if the Big 10 chooses to expand to 16 teams, the SEC will do its darnedest to make sure they are not upstaged.

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Four commits in four days: Wilbekin to join Gators

The Florida Gators basketball team will have a drastically different look in 2010 as head coach Billy Donovan has acquired his fourth commitment in as many days. Florida Today is reporting that Donovan plans to sign three-star point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL) to a 2010 basketball scholarship.

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 the University of Florida as a member of the basketball team’s 2010 recruiting class. Before he can do anything, he must complete standardized testing and receive clearance from the NCAA.

Wilbekin, who is quite familiar with the program, is very much a fall-back option for the Gators after the team failed to land two of the top point guards in the country in Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and Ray McCallum (Detroit, MI).

They also lost out on three-star point guard Brandon Young (Baltimore, MD), who has decided to uphold his commitment to DePaul and enroll as a freshman.

Potentially the sixth scholarship player brought in for 2010, Wilbekin would join four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN), three-stars Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) 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 are likely abound inside the Florida program. Sophomore guard Ray Shipman has already decided to transfer, many believe freshman point guard Rod Tishman may return to Israel, redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen could retire and junior forward Alex Tyus has submitted his name for evaluation for the 2010 NBA Draft. Florida would need two of either Tishman, Allen or Tyus to leave the program or else it would exceed its allotment of 13 scholarships.

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Three’s a charm: Cody Larson commits to Gators

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan added more depth to his frontcourt Tuesday, earning a commitment from three-star power forward recruit Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD), according to the Argus Leader. Donovan visited Larson’s hometown Friday, and the former Iowa commit returned the favor by taking a two-day trip to Gainesville, FL, beginning Monday.

At 6’9″ and 225 lbs., Larson is the second forward and third recruit Donovan has signed for his 2010 class in as many days. He averaged 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists at Roosevelt High School and was also being pursued by Kansas, Arizona State and Indiana (among others). However, per Big Ten transfer rules, Larson was prevented from receiving a scholarship offer from a conference team without an appeal.

He decided to seek a release from his commitment to the Hawkeyes after Iowa fired head coach Todd Lickliter and replaced him with Fran McCaffrey, formerly of Siena. The coveted student-athlete was reportedly suspended for the conclusion of his senior season, though the school did not make details public.

Larson is the second recruit Donovan has pulled out of South Dakota during his tenure as Florida’s coach (Mike Miller, 1998-2000). He may not even be the last high schooler on Donovan’s list this year.

The Gators’ coach is still reportedly pursuing two 2011 point guards who appear willing and able to graduate early in order to commit as a part of the team’s 2010 class. Either Matt Carlino (Bloomington, IN) or Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL) could potentially be Florida’s fifth 2010 commitment.

Whoever chooses to sign would join Larson, four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN), three-star Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), though Rosario will not be eligible to play until 2011-12.

In order to sign five recruits to scholarships, further changes are likely abound inside the Florida program. Sophomore guard Ray Shipman has already decided to transfer, many believe freshman point guard Rod Tishman may return to Israel, redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen could retire and junior forward Alex Tyus has submitted his name for evaluation for the 2010 NBA Draft. Florida would need either Tishman, Allen or Tyus to leave the program or else it would exceed its allotment of 13 scholarships.

Photo Credit: Des Moines Register

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Nu’Keese Richardson laments spurning Gators

If he could do it all again, Hampton Pirates wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson would never have decommitted from the Florida Gators to join the Tennessee Volunteers back in 2009. At least that is what he told the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser in a wide-ranging interview he conducted this week.

“In an informal interview setting, Richardson mentioned how much he regrets spurning Urban Meyer and Florida,” Lieser writes. “He said the biggest reason he opted against Florida was the fact that former Pahokee teammate Janoris Jenkins was already there and Richardson felt he would be stuck in Jenkins’ shadow if he signed.

“However, he said if he had been a Gator, he never would have gotten in trouble. The reason? Jenkins. Richardson believes Jenkins would have watched over him closely and kept him away from problematic situations.”

One of the reasons for Richardson’s decommitment was a promise of immediate playing time by then-Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. That never came to fruition and Richardson seemed to know it right away.

“Yeah, [playing time] definitely was [the main issue]. I felt like I was the best player at the time and I felt like [Kiffin] was just holding me back,” Richardson said. “This is something I do. I felt like, if I wanted to do this, I could’ve stayed at Florida.”

Check out what else Richardson had to say…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Nu’Keese Richardson laments spurning Gators

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, NFL Draft, Young, Maddox

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is a rare football player. Not necessarily just because of his talent but more so due to his star power. OGGOA touched on this a while back, but Sarah Talalay of the Sun-Sentinel took a more in-depth look on Monday. One of the reasons he is so likable to sponsors: “You have a good feeling he’s a guy who’s going to stay out of trouble and be looking to make a positive impact on people and the world,” Millsport account director Darin David said.

2 » Florida has an opportunity to do something special beginning on Thursday with the chance for as many as 13 former Gators to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. Though, in all likelihood, the number of UF players drafted will be 10, it would be the most in the school’s history and certainly more than the in-state rival Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles have had in recent memory. Then again, the Gators have a long way to go to catch up with the Hurricanes when it comes to overall NFL talent.

3 » Though Florida basketball and head coach Billy Donovan are bringing in plenty of frontcourt players, four-star commit Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) says he has no plans on being a one-and-done player no matter how well he performs his freshman season. “I don’t care how good I do at Florida, I will be there either three or four years and get my degree,” he told The Florida Times-Union. “I’ve always wanted to play in the NBA, but I have a backup plan and that’s to have an education. That ranks second, right behind my faith, in terms of importance. I eventually want to do something else in basketball, whether it’s to be an announcer, work for a team or have a business involved in the sport.” [Thanks to OGGOA reader UF_84 for the heads-up.]

4 » Freshman catcher Austin Maddox has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. Leading the No. 7/9 Gators baseball team with a .538 batting average and three home runs while slugging 1.462 over a three-game series against the Kentucky Wildcats, Maddox also totaled five RBI and five runs. He is the fourth Florida freshman this year to win the honor.

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Broncos, Haden, Noah, Addazio

1 » With just over two days to go until the start of the 2010 NFL Draft, 17 eligible players have already accepted invitations to join the league for the event at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY. The 18th slot is seemingly reserved for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, who continues to keep the NFL in limbo in regards to whether or not he will attend. Tebow was supposed to make a decision last Friday but has yet to choose one way or another.

2 » Perhaps one of the reasons Tebow is going back-and-forth on his draft day decision is because he has been keeping busy with speaking engagement and private workouts/interviews. A contingent from the Denver Broncos – including head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders – visited Tebow in Gainesville, FL, Monday in what is believed to be his last meeting of the kind before the big day.

3 » And while Tebow is the subject, who better to give him a ringing endorsement than…ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale? Vitale points out that teams “shouldn’t overlook [Tebow’s] heart and desire” because “people don’t understand what is in the heart of a competitor.” Read the rest of his musings for yourself.

4 » One former Florida football player who will be in attendance at the draft Thursday is cornerback Joe Haden – expected to be a top-15 pick. As Haden moves on to the NFL, his younger brother Josh Haden is still a topic of conversation with Gators fans who hope he chooses UF as his transfer destination out of Boston College. Expect a decision to made shortly after the draft as the attention moves away from Joe. Josh will pick between Florida, Louisville (head coach Charlie Strong) and other undisclosed schools.

5 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been the star of the 2010 NBA Playoffs…that is if special recognition was given to players’ mouths. Noah has been running his plenty recently, calling Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett a “dirty player” and saying quite simply that “Cleveland sucks.” (Noah’s Bulls are playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.) Garnett’s response? “Tell Joakim Noah to keep it in Cleveland and worry about Shaq,” he said. Noahdid back up his tough talk Monday, grabbing a double-double while leading his team in points (25) and rebounds (13). The effort fell short as Chicago is now down two games to none to Cleveland after losing game two 112-102.

6 » Special congratulations to offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, whose son and tight end recruit Louie Addazio announced his commitment to Syracuse to play college football. Louie also had an offer from South Florida but decided to become the Orange’s first commitment of the 2011 recruiting cycle instead.

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