Gators can bolster backcourt with Steele, Rosario

Wednesday, OGGOA reported that two young guards who could very well be available for the Florida Gators to procure in the near future. Each faced a roadblock to being officially courted by Florida, and both appear to be on the verge of clearing those issues.

After falling in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Gators inquired about the availability of 2010 three-star point guard recruit Jalen Steele (Knoxville, TN). Steele, who committed to the Auburn Tigers in September, was looking to get out of his letter of intent after the team fired head coach Jeff Lebo following the 2010 SEC Tournament.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel now reports that Auburn has released Steele from his National Letter of Intent, making him free to field other offers. Other teams interested (in addition to Florida) are UCLA, Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia and Miami. Prior to committing to the Tigers, Steele also held offers from Marshall and Western Kentucky and was garnering interest from Southern California.

The Gators are also looking at potentially receiving a transfer from Rutgers. Sophomore G Mike Rosario, who was “considering” transferring from the Scarlet Knights if head coach Fred Hill was fired, has Florida as one of his top options. ESPN is reporting that Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti and Hill are currently negotiating a buyout.

“It sounds like [transferring is] what he wants to do,” Rosario’s family friend and old coach Rex Durso told ZagsBlog. “Florida, USC and Michigan State are places he’s looking at.”

It could very well be sooner than later that the Gators acquire pieces to add depth to a backcourt that just recently lost sophomore G Ray Shipman to transfer.

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Austin Rivers decommits, opens up recruitment

In a decision that has seemingly been coming for quite some time, five-star 2011 guard recruit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has officially decommitted from the Florida Gators and decided to open up his recruitment.

“I have reopened my recruitment as of last night,” Rivers told TheDevilsDen.com [paid subscription required]. “I have decommitted to Florida at this time. I still really like them, but I needed to go ahead and reopen things right now. Right now I’m looking at three schools: Duke, Florida and North Carolina. I may open it up a little more later on, but right now it’s just going to be those three programs. I have a long history with both Duke and Florida. North Carolina is trying to recruit me as well. So, we’ll see what happens.”

There should be no question that the Duke Blue Devils’ recent success in winning the 2010 NCAA Championship made some impact on Rivers’ decision. Nevertheless, he claims his affection for Florida is unwavering.

“It’s only right to look at other schools just to compare,” Rivers told the Orlando Sentinel. “I still love Florida the same. Coach Donovan, he respects it. I still have the same relationship. They didn’t do anything.”

“When people hear the word de-commitment, they think I’m not going there anymore, but Florida’s still a very possible option for me. This process will help me see where I’m at with Florida.”

OGGOA will continue to stay on top of Rivers’ recruitment as more information is made available and he nears a final decision.

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

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Sharrif Floyd’s remarkable journey, tough decision

Growing up without a lot of money or family structure, it took a lot of luck for Florida Gators 2010 five-star defensive tackle commitment Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) to end up where he is today. He explored that topic along with why he eventually chose Florida over the Ohio State Buckeyes in a conversation on ESPN‘s First Take Wednesday morning. That conversation is transcribed below:

Q: How tough were things for you? What was one of the toughest moments you faced?
SF: “I’d say one of the toughest moments was going to school – elementary school – wearing basically the same three outfits for weeks. Nobody really paid it any mind. I think that was the hardest thing coming up, having to deal with it. Choosing the right way to go – I’d say that was the most important thing for me.”

Q: It would have been easy for you to choose a different path. You had so much instability in your life. Who were the ones that were the guiding forces that made sure [you stayed on your path]?
SF: “I started being guided by someone my sophomore year. My freshman year – actually when I started playing for my high school, George Washington – when I first started it was coach [Ron] Cohen. He’s been there for four years for me now. That freshman year, it was basically just me and him. I did a lot of things on my own. I really wasn’t open with him at first, to start telling him everything that was going on at home. But I did good with showing that there is nothing wrong with the way I am living.”

Read the rest…including why he chose Florida over Ohio State…after the break!
Continue Reading » Sharrif Floyd’s remarkable journey, tough decision

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Elam was “very confused” during his recruitment

It got to the point where some Florida Gators fans had come to the conclusion that he was neither worth their time nor stress nor aggravation. They felt that five-star safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) should stick by his commitment regardless of what was going on with the program and, more specifically, head coach Urban Meyer. If not – they said – good riddance.

Elam’s decision to bolt for the Florida State Seminoles just before the new year (albeit temporarily) appeared to be the last straw in some fans’ minds. “Enjoy FSU you little media whore,” wrote one OGGOA commenter. “Piss off Elam. You were so worried about having to earn a spot on the team anyhow. Makes me wonder if you are as good as you think,” wrote another. “All I will say is after all of his wavering and ultra cocky attitude of ‘Me, me, me’…he deserves to be a Seminole,” opined a third.

While Elam appeared to be toying with fans, the media and some on the Florida football staff, the freshman Gators safety claims that was never his intention.

“I was very confused. I really didn’t know what to do,” Elam told a group of reporters on Monday. “People think I was playing around, but I really wasn’t. I wanted to do what was best for me, and [to] try to make people happy.”

Now, he looks back on his short commitment to FSU as a mistake, one that he wishes was not captured in photographic form for a spread by the Palm Beach Post.

“I look at [that picture] now, and I start to get sick to my stomach,” he said. “I felt kind of bad – very bad. I should have never turned my back on a commitment, so that’s why I felt bad when I did that, especially to a rival.”

After a conversation with Meyer in which the coach “told me to have trust, to have trust in him,” Elam decommitted from the Seminoles and opened up his options again. It would be less than two weeks from the time he made the switch that Elam would recommit to Florida (along with two other five-star recruits) at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“That’s one reason why I committed back, because I saw all these great [defensive] linemen coming in,” Elam said. “Defensive linemen are the reason why safeties and defensive backs get the spotlight. We talk about – all the time – how good we’re going to be. How we’re going be the best defense in the nation and stuff like that, how we’re going to win national championships. We always talk about it.”

As for what he learned from this experience?

“I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad I’m on campus here and I’m competing and playing,” Elam said with a wide grin. “It was difficult, trying to make people happy. It was very difficult. I’m glad it’s over with. […] I learned that I just have to take care of my own and not worry about what other people [think].”

Photo Credits: OGGOA, Palm Beach Post

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FOUR BITS: Rivers, Denson, Thompson, Haden

OGGOA STORY UPDATE » Assistant basketball coach Richard Pitino has interviewed for the Iona head coaching job, per FOX Sports.

1 » A week ago, OGGOA reported that the North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida Gators 2011 five-star guard commit Austin Rivers shared a mutual interest in each other. Now, Rivers’ consideration of UNC seems to have increased, and he is starting to lean away from Florida in favor of opening his recruitment back up. “It would be Duke, Florida and [North] Carolina,” Rivers told CarolinaBlue.com this week. “And just because I might open it back up doesn’t mean that Florida wouldn’t be one of my schools, because they would. I like Florida – a lot.” Should Rivers decommit in order to open up his recruitment, gaining his commitment back against the likes of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels would seemingly be tough for Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

2 » Tuesday, OGGOA mentioned three-star 2010 point guard recruit Chris Denson (Midland, GA) as a prospect Florida is going after to help fill out its incoming recruiting class. Denson spoke with GAVarsity.com Thursday and said that the Gators are one of the teams leading for his services. “I’d say the top of my list are Western Kentucky and Florida […] they’re closer to home and that’s a big part,” Denson said. The site does not list UF as having offered Denson a scholarship yet, instead pointing out that he has already received them from WKU, Buffalo and UNC-Greensboro. Perhaps an offer is all it would take to acquire the 6’2”, 180 lbs. PG.

Two more BITS on Deonte Thompson and Joe Haden…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rivers, Denson, Thompson, Haden

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FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

1 » Asked in a question and answer session about a “sleeper pro prospect coming out of Florida,” ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter was quick to name former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Anyone who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and fast usually has a chance to do some good things at the NFL level,” Schefter said. “Some scouts timed him in the high 4.4s. So he has a size/speed combo that makes him an attractive prospect. Throw in his ability to play special teams and it would seem like Cooper would benefit some team next season.”

2 » As the Butler Bulldogs prepare for a 2010 NCAA Final Four game against the Michigan State Spartans, their fans are pumped and already swarming local bookstores (both online and in person) to purchase the official tournament t-shirt. “We are going through just thousands of shirts at this point, of the Final Four style,” Follett regional manager Richard Goodpaster said. In fact, Butler fans are buying shirts at such a rapid pace that they are expected to blow past the record number of shirts purchased by Gators fans during the team’s run in 2006.

Two more BITS on a top recruit favoring UF and Charlie Strong…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

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TWO BITS: Josh Haden to UF, point guard recruits

1 » OGGOA tweeted Monday that running back Josh Haden, the brother of former Florida Gators cornerback Joe and current safety Jordan, was deciding between UF and the Louisville Cardinals for football playing purposes after choosing to transfer from Boston College Eagles. Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald has pointed us to this NFL.com video, in which Joe Haden insinuates the decision has already been made. “I have a little brother. He’s a running back at Boston College. He’s transferring now to, probably, Florida,” Joe says. First Draft: Joe Haden (Video)

*NOTE: There is no confirmation of Haden’s decision and Joe could simply be stating where he believes his brother is leaning at the present.

2 » Also piquing OGGOA’s interest this afternoon is a column by The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway focusing on who the Florida basketball program is going after now that they have turned their attention away from five-star guard Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, FL). Unexpectedly, Brockway does not mention four-star Ray McCallum (Detroit, MI), but rather says the Gators are focusing on three-stars Brandon Young (Baltimore, MD), Chris Denson (Columbus, GA) and Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL).

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TWO (Video) BITS: Gators’ Noah, Young dunking

1 » After looking for this for a few days, OGGOA finally found the video of Chicago Bulls forward/center Joakim Noah throwing it down big-time over Jason Maxiell of the Detroit Pistons from a few nights ago.

2 » Though he failed to win the competition, Florida Gators four-star 2010 forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) competed in the McDonald’s All-American Powerade Jam Fest (No. 21). Video of his dunks can be found below:

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