TWO BITS: Austin Rivers, Georgia’s NFL DC

1 » Five-star shooting guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has all of the intangibles. The son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, he also has the pedigree. Now all that is left for fans to wonder is whether or not he will stick on his commitment to join the Florida Gators as the prized member of Billy Donovan‘s 2011 recruiting class. Rivers is also being recruited by the Duke Blue Devils; but for now, he is firmly in Orange and Blue, and Florida basketball fans who are depressed about this season can take a gander at this video and feel some hope for the future.

2 » While the Gators have been focused on bringing new defensive coordinator George Edwards into the fold, the Georgia Bulldogs have been doing the same to their new hire at the same position, Todd Grantham. Like Edwards, Grantham was an NFL position coach this past season; however, the former worked with linebackers while the latter coached up the defensive line. Recently eliminated from the playoffs as a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, Grantham is ready to get to work in Athens, GA, just like his new arch-rival has in Gainesville, FL.

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Gators earn 25th 2010 commitment from LB Taylor

Already in the process of putting together the best recruiting class in the nation and potentially one of the best all-time, the Florida Gators received the 25th commitment for their 2010 class on Sunday. Four-star linebacker Michael Taylor (Atlanta, GA) has decommitted from the Tennessee Volunteers and instead decided to sport the Orange and Blue after officially visiting Gainesville, FL, last weekend.

Taylor, who was named the White team’s MVP after the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game, was rumored to have made this decision four days ago. “Yeah, he is going to the University of Florida,” said Tony Jacobs, Taylor’s teammate at Atlanta Westlake High, last week. He actually came to the conclusion to decommit from Tennessee last weekend before head coach Lane Kiffin announced his departure for the USC Trojans.

“Florida’s where I feel at home,” Taylor told Mark Wheeler of Rivals. “There’s never been a place where I’ve been and felt so at home. I was committed to Tennessee for five months and I never got that feeling from them. I have a special feeling from Florida. It’s a feeling that it is where I belong.”



Photo Credit: Rivals

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FOUR BITS: NFL Combine, Strong poaches recruit

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Ryan Stamper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have received invites to the 2010 NFL Combine. Juniors who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft have yet to receive invitations, but fans can expect DE Carlos Dunlap, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Major Wright to participate in the event from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Indianapolis, IN.

2 » Three-star athlete Marcus Smith (Columbus, GA) had an outstanding scholarship offer from Florida and was prepared to take it…that is until Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong came calling. “If Louisville would have never been in the mix, I would have probably went to Florida,” Smith told the Courier-Journal. “But I’m glad Louisville came into the mix. I like coach Strong a lot, and I really wanted to play for coach Strong. Louisville is a great program. He wants me to play quarterback, he established that during our talk this morning. To tell you the truth, I just want to play, so I am good wherever he wants me.” Upon taking his position with the Cardinals, Strong said he would not poach recruits the Gators were interested in unless they initiated contact.

3 » The Gators hosted their biggest remaining recruiting weekend the past few days and a number of both committed and undecided prospects came away impressed. Four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who at one point was wavering after head coach Urban Meyer announced his leave of absence, solidified his recruitment after getting extensive time with new running backs coach Stan Drayton. Brown also told Adam Gorney of Rivals that Meyer may return as soon as March. “He looked pretty fine to me,” Brown said. “He looked healthy. I know he wants to coach, so I know he’s going to be there. He’s going to take a couple weeks off in February, but he’ll be back.” Fellow four-star recruits offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, FL) and wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) raved to numerous sources about their respective experiences.

4 » Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers with just two seconds remaining in the game, the Florida women’s basketball team gained a bit of revenge by taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 55-52 on the road on Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard Trumae Lucas scored seven points off of the bench in the waning minutes while senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while also grabbing seven boards.

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TWO BITS: Meyer’s health; recruiting weekend

1 » As a prelude to announcing his very early top 25 for 2010, The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley dropped some knowledge on how Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer is holding up since his decision to take a leave of absence rather than resign. Most of this is known already, but a succinct wrap-up from a beat writer close to Meyer is always nice.

Meyer told me he has gained 10 pounds after losing so much weight because food had lost its appeal during the stressful 2009 season. He has never been one to sleep past 7 a.m. but he’s sleeping in now. He is excited about his new coaching staff and his new recruits and especially being at Florida. His leave of absence will start after National Signing Day and he’s looking forward to spending time with his family.

2 » With just over two weeks until National Signing Day (Feb. 3), the Gators are set to host their biggest of the three remaining recruiting weekends on campus from Jan. 15-17. Here is a list of attendees. Commitments: five-star defensive tackle Dominique Easley (Staten Island, NY), four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), four-star defensive end Lynden Trail (Miami, FL), four-star wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (Miami, FL), three-star linebacker Gideon Ajagbe (Coconut Grove, FL). Recruits: five-star LB Christian Jones (Winter Park, FL) [unofficial], four-star WR Christian Green (Tampa, FL), four-star offensive lineman Chaz Green (Tampa, FL), three-star LB Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL), three-star safety Jeremy Deering (Tampa, FL).

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SIX BITS: Tough loss, Stamper, Wuerffel, 2011

1 » One year ago, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team upset the then-No. 12/17 Tennessee Lady Vols 66-57 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Looking to repeat history, a much younger Florida team (9-8, 2-2 SEC) had the game tied at 64 against a significantly more experienced No. 4 Tennessee squad (15-1, 3-0 SEC) until Lady Vols guard Angie Bjorklund hit a reverse lay-up with 2.3 seconds left in the second half to pull ahead and ultimately win 66-64. Four Gators scored in double figures, and Florida led for much of the second half but could not hold on.

2 » In a news item that OGGOA broke Thursday via twitter, former Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper was invited to be a participant in the 2010 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Stamper is currently slated to play in the game but may have to pull out if the ankle injury he suffered in the 2010 Sugar Bowl flares up. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. In other Stamper news, he has decided to sign with agent Garriet Blair of GMB Sports and Entertainment. Quarterback Tim Tebow has declined an invitation to the East-West Shrine and will instead participate in the 2010 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

All-Americans, Wuerffel, 2011 recruits and Gators in the pros after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tough loss, Stamper, Wuerffel, 2011

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Kiffin, Powell, basketball

1 » If you were watching the basketball game Tuesday night between the Florida Gators and No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats, you may have seen this clip of head coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley smirking while checking their respective phones:

2 » The Tennessean points out that former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin “decided it was included in his job description […] to annoy Urban Meyer.” Unfortunately, as the article puts it, “a good feud was just ruined.” Similarly, the Orlando Sentinel recounts Kiffin’s top 10 most memorable moments as coach of the Volunteers.

3 » The brand new 2010 ESPNU 150 and 2010 Rivals100 both list Gators five-star defensive end commitment Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA) as their respective No. 1 prospect in the country. Other top Florida recruits ranking high on both lists include five-star defensive tackle Dominique Easley (3/7) five-star safety Matt Elam (9/25), five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (25/4), four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw (28/28), four-star tight end Gerald Christian (35/81), four-star wide receiver Chris Dunkley (37/77), four-star offensive tackle Ian Silberman (41/71), four-star CB Jaylen Watkins (50/47) and four-star DT Leon Orr (81/95). Others who made the ESPNU list but not Rivals’ include: S Jonathan Dowling (10/NR), S Demar Dorsey (12/NR), RB Mack Brown (34/NR), CB Cody Riggs (79/NR), WR Solomon Patton (106/NR). ESPNU ranks four Gators in its top 10.

4 » “If Florida is to be an NCAA tournament team again — if it’s to snap a two-year hiatus after consecutive NCAA titles — the Gators must start a roll Saturday against LSU,” writes ESPN senior college basketball writer Andy Katz. Read his entire blog entry on the Gators and their hopes to earn a spot in March Madness this season.

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Fallout from Kiffin departure lands UF a recruit

Lane Kiffin heading west from Knoxville, TN, to Los Angeles, CA, will no doubt have its impact on the landscape of the Southeastern Conference and the immediate future of the Tennessee Volunteers. Because Kiffin dropped the Vols for the USC Trojans just three weeks before National Signing Day, some of Tennessee’s recruits may now be looking elsewhere while USC’s appear more likely to stay put.

Part of that immediate fallout may be three-star linebacker Michael Taylor (Atlanta, GA). Just hours after Kiffin’s announcement, speculation began to mount that Taylor will be joining the Florida Gators 2010 recruiting class. “Yeah, he is going to the University of Florida,” said Tony Jacobs, Taylor’s teammate at Atlanta Westlake High.

UPDATE: Sources other than the Sentinel are reporting that Taylor has not yet officially committed to Florida, though he likely will once he has some time to decide. Taylor actually paid a visit to Gainesville, FL, last weekend.

Considered one of the Volunteers’ top recruits and the MVP for his team in the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game, Taylor is not the only one upset at Kiffin and company. Fellow recruit four-star defensive end Brandon Willis told ESPN that he was dismayed at the fact that the former Tennessee tried to bring him along to their new gig. “They had the nerve to call me and ask me to come to Southern Cal,” Willis said. “And coach Ed Orgeron [who is going with Kiffin to USC] said that he was going to be my coach at Tennessee.”

Whether this decision came after Kiffin’s announcement or not, Gators four-star running back commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) has said that he no longer plans to take any official visits besides one to UF. Four-star defensive back commit Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) was planning on visiting Tennessee and Florida State but may no longer be making that first trip.

It is also important for Florida fans to keep an eye on recent five-star commitment Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA), who will almost certainly be a top target for Orgeron, a recruiting mastermind and the Trojans’ new assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

VIDEO: Volunteers fans torch a Kiffin t-shirt
VIDEO: Tennessee supporters rush Neyland-Thompson Sports Center
VIDEO: Vols fan pulls an R. Kelly on a Kiffin t-shirt [Explicit]
PHOTOS: Campus scenes of Lane Kiffin’s last day
STORY: Kiffin’s departure sparks emotion in Knoxville
STORY: The meteoric rise of mediocre Kiffin

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FOUR BITS: Heater, Brown, Dorsey, QB recruits

1 » With Eastern Carolina’s Skip Holtz looking like the top candidate for the USF Bulls head coaching gig, the Florida Gators 2010 coaching staff may be solidified after all. Assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney was thought to be in consideration for the job, but it appears like he was not even contacted. Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel spoke with co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater, who also had other opportunities but turned them all down to continue working for head coach Urban Meyer. “I have a deep respect and relationship with Urban that goes back more than 20 years,” Heater said. “I’m joined at the hip with him. It’s personal for me.” Heater also indicated that he is impressed with new defensive coordinator George Edwards and believes that Florida will indeed see 3-4 fronts.

2 » Gators four-star running back commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) will be taking official visits to Florida (1/15), Florida State (1/22) and Tennessee (1/29) according to Brown’s high school head coach Corey Jarvis via Mark Wheeler of Rivals. Brown has been silent since Gators RB coach Kenny Carter left for the Louisville Cardinals. Also looking around is four-star defensive back Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL), who will take official visits to the same schools: Tennessee (1/15), Florida State (1/22) and Florida (1/29). However, Dorsey recently upped his commitment level to “90 percent.”

3 » Two sources are reporting that Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commit Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) is seriously considering the Gators after visiting Gainesville, FL last weekend. Adam Gorney of Rivals has said that Florida is now considered the leader for Hendrix who is thinking things over with his parents while JC Shurburtt of ESPN says the decision is a “toss-up” between the two schools.

4 » The Gators have reached out to a number of the USC Trojans‘ commitments after it was learned that head coach Pete Carroll was stepping down. Along with five-star wide receiver Kyle Prater (Hillside, IL), Florida is also going after four-star QB Jesse Scroggins (Lakewood, CA). According to Shurburtt, the team is trying hard for him to take a visit across the country.

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