OGGOA Week(end) in Review: July 26-29

Considering so much has gone on over the last few days in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its third edition. (Yes, it is just covering a four-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

» The day before Friday Night Lights was set to commence, Florida received a commitment from 2013 defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), who vaulted the program five spots from 10th to 5th in the Rivals team recruiting rankings and immediately became the Gators’ highest-rated player of the cycle.

» Florida doubled up on commitments before FNL even began as three-star defensive end Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, GA) chose UF over Georgia and committed even though he could not make it to campus for the event.

» There were rumblings all week that the Gators would receive a commitment from another highly-rated defensive prospect, but FNL came and went without him announcing his pledge. Four-star DE Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) remained in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, however, and made his verbal commitment public.

» Florida received its fourth commitment in as many days on Sunday when 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, FL), expected to be one of the top players at his position when recruiting rankings are released for his class, ended his recruitment early and decided that he wanted to play for the Gators, too.

» More rumblings on Sunday indicated that Florida could go five-for-five in commitments and bring in a talented but underrated offensive playmaker on Monday though it remains to be seen if head coach Will Muschamp will give him a commitable offer and the opportunity to join the Gators.

OGGOA has been offering full coverage of the Olympics all event long on this dedicated page, which includes a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, daily schedule and direct LIVE streaming links to each event as it takes place. Below are some notes in case you have not visited it yet and want a quick refresher.

» Ryan Lochte (United States) won two medals over the weekend including a gold in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the fourth such medal of his Olympic career. Lochte also swam the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay but got caught from behind over the final 50 meters; the team finished with a silver. He will compete in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle finals on Monday afternoon.

» Junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States) took silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the first Olympic medal of her young career. She nearly won the gold but was bested over the last 150 meters.

» Thirteen other Gators (as well as one incoming freshman) competed in Olympic action over the four-day span though none of them were able to join Lochte and Beisel in bringing home medals as of yet. Striker Abby Wambach was dominant once again in soccer and got a black eye in her match on Saturday, though she scored a goal in retaliation and mocked her assailant during her celebration.

» “Gator Nation” is currently eighth in the Olympic medal standings with one gold and two silver. You can view the full medal breakdown on OGGOA‘s dedicated Olympics page.

» Florida quarterback Shane Matthews praised Muschamp and the current Gators coaching staff while noting that he was frustrated with the way former head coach Urban Meyer and his staff developed play callers and recruited in his waning years.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said he definitely had more fun at Florida than QB Tim Tebow did and provided an interesting answer when he was asked how much class he attended during his junior season when he was helping the Gators win the second of their back-to-back basketball national championships.

Lochte passed in final leg, United States takes silver in 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay

One day after taking home his, the Florida Gators’ and the United States’ first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics, Ryan Lochte was back in the pool as the anchor of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay team trying to earn a second. Unfortunately for Gators fans and the Americans, Lochte was caught from behind in the final 50 meters of the race and the United States lost the gold medal to France.

The Americans (3:10.38) took home silver in the event, finishing the relay 0.45 seconds behind the French) partially due to Lochte’s final 100 meters. He swam his leg in 47.74 seconds, the second-slowest on his team and more than a half-second behind Michael Phelps, who swam the second leg of the race.

Lochte, who competed hours earlier in the semifinals of the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle and qualified for the finals on Monday with a fifth-place finish (1:46.31, +0.70), did not swim in the preliminaries of the relay in the morning session but was added to the team for the afternoon’s final. Phelps did not swim at all in the morning session.

The silver is the second of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his eighth overall medal in the Games. He has also won four gold and two bronze medals.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Sunday though Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) qualified for the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke after finishing sixth overall in the semifinals (59.70, +0.58). She will join Lochte in competing for an individual medal on Monday.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

DT Valentine is Gators’ second 2014 pledge

Nearly done with their 2013 recruiting class, the Florida Gators received their second 2014 commitment on Sunday when defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, FL) gave a verbal pledge to head coach Will Muschamp.

Valentine, despite previously being committed to Louisville and more recently having a top three of Alabama, Auburn and Florida according to Rivals’ Chris Nee, decommitted on July 15 and claimed five days later that Florida State was his new leader after spending three days on campus. He quickly changed that stance over the weekend after attending Friday Night Lights in Gainesville, FL.

“ITS OFFICIAL IM A GATOR I FEEL PROUD ABT IT TOOO #CHOMP CHOMP,” Valentine posted on Facebook though he had not yet spoken to Muschamp. Scout.com confirmed minutes later that he got in touch with Muschamp, who accepted his commitment.

Valentine is the second 2014 player to commit to the Gators; wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson (Fort Myers, FL) became the team’s first pledge on June 14. Both are expected to be at least four-star prospects when rankings are released.

He is the fourth high school football player commit to Florida in as many days following in the footsteps of 2013 five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves (Tampa, FL) on Thursday, three-star defensive end Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, GA) on Friday and four-star defensive end Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) on Saturday.

DE Jordan Sherit makes call for the Gators

Just two days after five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III verbally committed to the Florida Gators his close friend and fellow Tampa, FL native four-star defensive end Jordan Sherit did the same, informing head coach Will Muschamp of his decision the day after he attended Friday Night Lights.

Sherit, a member of the Rivals100 (No. 94) and ESPN 300 (No. 254), is 6’5” and 234 lbs. with impressive speed for a big man. He’s quick off the snap, strong at the point of attack and steadily improving as a pass rusher according to recruiting analysts who have watched him over the last two years.

Sherit chose Florida primarily over Notre Dame, Stanford and Vanderbilt (all schools with solid football and academics) but had a top 11 that also included Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Florida.

He is the eighth defensive front seven player and 14th Floridian (out of 20 pledges) to commit to the Gators as part of the 2013 recruiting cycle.

Sherit’s commitment was first reported by ESPN.

Lochte takes gold, Beisel silver in 400 Meter I.M.

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) made an immediate impact on the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday, winning the first swimming gold medal of the games with a blazing 4:05.18 time in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley. He was joined on the medal stand just minutes later by current Florida junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States), who captured silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley.

The gold is the fourth of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his seventh overall medal in the Games. He won the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke in 2008 Beijing and was a member of the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay team in 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens.

Lochte won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley in 2008 Beijing. He also captured a Bronze in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley that year and won Silver in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley in 2004 Athens.

His gold medal time of 4:05.18 on Saturday beat the next-fastest competitor, Brazilian silver medalist Thiago Pereira (4:08.86), by 3.68 seconds marking the largest margin of victory in the event’s history.

Beisel was back in eighth place after the first 100 meters but found herself leading the pack through 250 meters. Unfortunately for her China’s Shiwen Ye exploded over the last 150 meters and won the gold while setting a world record (4:28.43) in the process.

The silver medal is the first of Beisel’s Olympic career. She had previously won gold in the same event at the 2011 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, China.

Also competing in a medal event and representing the Americans on Saturday afternoon was former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer. Dwyer finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle with a time of 3:46.24 (+6.25); a member of the Gator Swim Club for the last two years (and Michigan graduate Peter Vanderkaay) took Bronze in the event.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Matthews thrilled with Gators coaching staff

Former Florida Gators quarterback Shane Matthews has been quite vocal about his displeasure with his college team over the last few years, so much so in fact that it even earned him a spot (at least temporarily) in head coach Urban Meyer’s doghouse.

With Meyer now at Ohio State and head coach Will Muschamp at the helm in Gainesville, FL, Matthews told host Dan Hicken of Sports Radio 1010XL in Jacksonville that he sees a bright future ahead for his Gators.

“This coaching staff at Florida is the best we’ve ever had at that school – hands down from top-to-bottom – when you go from position-to-position and see where they’ve coached, what they’ve done,” he said. “I love the staff. It’s going to take time because we just don’t have the athletes that the other big boys in the conference do.”

Matthews, who took over as head coach of Nease High School in January, said his appreciation for the coaching staff begins at the top with Muschamp.

“I love him. I love him. I’ve known him for a long time,” he said. “I played for Nick Saban. His last year [2006] at Miami was my last year [in the NFL]. [Muschamp is] a combination of a little bit of [Steve] Spurrier and a lot of Nick Saban. I like the guy. He was dealt a bad deck of cards. I don’t think people realize how bad that situation is and was.”

Though Florida has brought in highly-ranked recruiting classes over the last few years, Matthews believes Meyer and company failed in their talent evaluations and relied on speed more than overall football talent toward the end of his tenure.

“We ain’t put anybody in the league the last couple of years, so that shows you how we were recruiting. They missed big-time,” he said. “We had a track team, which track teams don’t play on Sunday. You better run like a track player but be able to play football.”

Muschamp’s rocky first season as the man in charge of the Gators may be in the rearview mirror, but Matthews does not believe the coach is out of the woods yet. He said that Muschamp has plenty of tough decisions ahead of him starting with who he will name as Florida’s starting quarterback in September.

Read the rest of Matthews’s thoughts on the Gators…after the break!
Continue Reading » Matthews thrilled with Gators coaching staff

Three-star DE Antonio Riles chooses Florida

He may not have been in Gainesville, FL for Friday Night Lights but that did not stop three-star defensive end Antonio Riles from pulling the trigger and officially announcing his commitment to the Florida Gators on Friday afternoon.

Though he may not be a highly-ranked prospect according to Rivals, Riles (6’4” 262 lbs.) is solid, can play inside or outside and has a reputation for being a stout and athletic run stopper. He is considered a four-star recruit by ESPN and both services have him rated as a top-30 defensive end this recruiting cycle.

It has long been believed that Riles recruitment would come down to a Florida-Georgia battle, and it looks like the Gators have come out on top for the talented prospect. He also claimed offers from Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina among others.

Riles is the 19th player to commit to Florida for 2013, 10th overall defensive commitment and third from the state of Georgia. He is just the third defensive lineman to pledge this cycle after the Gators hauled in seven as part of their 2012 class.

Riles is the second player to make a pledge for Florida in as many days after the Gators scooped up five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III on Thursday.

Previewing Florida’s 2012 Friday Night Lights

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 27, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

DB Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL) –
The No. 6 player at his position and ranked No. 54 overall in the 2013 class, Harris is a UF legacy (though that probably will not play much of a role in his decision) and will likely choose either Florida or Texas when all is said and done. The Gators got a big commitment from five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL) on Thursday, so impressing or even adding Harris could go a long way to giving Florida an absolutely dominant secondary in the near future. His father is former safety Mike Harris, who played on the 1996 national championship team.

DE Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) –
Close friends with Hargreaves (the two actually arrived in Gainesville together on Thursday), Sherit is himself highly rated (No. 94 overall, No. 9 at his position) and could be yet another answer to the Gators pressing needs at Buck linebacker. He has long had Florida in his top 10 list and recently said it is one of four schools (Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt) he is looking at seriously despite having plenty of other offers (Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, etc.).

DE DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, FL) –
Another extremely talented player out of Jacksonville, Walker has his choice of any school in the country and will likely be picking between UF and Alabama when it comes down to the wire. Though some believe he is leaning towards the Crimson Tide, he has a lot of Gators commitments (including a handful from his hometown) in his ear and a trip to UF is the last visit he’s taking before his ceremony on Aug. 24.

Read up on seven more players attending Friday Night Lights…after the break!
Continue Reading » Previewing Florida’s 2012 Friday Night Lights

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