Florida Gators at Vanderbilt Gameday Preview

Location: Memorial Gym – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 14,316]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (ET)

Pre-game chat: OGGOA
TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(13) FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Record: 22-7 (10-4) Record: 20-9 (9-5)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +3.5; O/U 139.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Vanderbilt leads the all-time series against Florida 63-60, but the Gators are 22-11 against the Commodores under Donovan and have won four-straight games including three in 2011. VU is also 8-7 against UF at home since Donovan.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging at least 9.9 points per game.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 19 of 29 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 680 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Vanderbilt is the league’s most accurate team from beyond the arc, hitting 39.8 percent of their long-range attempts.
» The Commodores are hosting Senior Night on Tuesday and come into the game having won four of their last five contests with their sole loss coming to Kentucky.
» The Gators are 287-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points and 237-38 since 1998-99 when recording 15 or more assists in a game.
» Florida has won 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season after defeating Alabama. That mark is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.
» The Gators are undefeated (17-0) this year when posting a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and just 5-7 when that margin is even or negative.
» Struggling from the line in nonconference action, Florida is shooting a league-best 76.0 percent from the charity stripe.
» The Gators, which have already secured a top-four seed and a first-round bye in the 2012 SEC Tournament, can clinch the No. 2 seed with a victory on Tuesday.

LAST TIME OUT

Defeating Vanderbilt all three times the teams squared off in 2011, Florida extended their winning streak to four games with a 73-65 victory at home on Feb. 4. The Gators never gave up the lead the final 11 minutes of the game, forcing 17 Commodores turnovers thanks in part to a defensive press that kept them off-balance all afternoon. Florida also shot 45.8 percent from beyond the arc, and the Gators’ four primary guards each scored in double digits with Kenny Boynton (18 points) leading the way.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 136 consecutive games with 75-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (4,099) and ranks second in points (1,692), treys (275), assists (516), steals (150) and free throws made (417). Walker is No. 4 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 1 in assists, No. 7 in free throws, No. 2 in threes made, No. 1 in treys attempted (718) and No. 2 in minutes. He is also hitting a team-best 81.7 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe while averaging 12.5 points and an SEC-best 4.8 assists per game.
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shooting better than he has throughout his career (46.7 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks sixth in the SEC among active players in points (1,504) and third in three-pointers (250). He had hit a trey in 34-straight games and is the SEC’s second-leading scorer averaging 17.6 points per game. Boynton is No. 6 on UF’s list for threes made.
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year and is one of the most talented players to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over the team. He is averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the line, playing a team-high 34.1 minutes per game.
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joined the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action in 2011. He has four double-doubles on the season and scored a career-high 25 points against Arizona. Young is posting averages of 10.3 points, 6.4 boards and 1.0 blocks per game while hobbled with ankle tendinitis.
» Junior forward Erik Murphy (#33)…who is trying to add a post game and solid rebounding to his efficient shooting stroke. Murphy is averaging 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds with a team-high 1.1 blocks. He is one of three regular shooters on the team averaging better than 40 percent from three, hitting 42.9 percent of his attempts.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons at Rutgers and averaged 16.7 points per game his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ sixth man and is seeing 15.4 minutes of court time each game, averaging 7.5 points while shooting 42.8 percent from the floor and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.

VANDERBILT
» G John Jenkins (#23)…who is leading his team in scoring (20.0 points) and minutes (33.7 per game) while shooting an efficient 46.0 percent from three. He also hits a team-high 84.7 percent of his free throw attempts and is considered one of the most dangerous scorers in the SEC every time he is on the court.
» F Jeffrey Taylor (#44)…who is one of four seniors looking to make their final home game a special victory. Taylor is the Commodores’ second leading scorer at 17.3 points per game and is also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and a team-high 46.2 percent from downtown.
» C Festus Ezeli (#3)…who is another senior playing his last game in the Memorial Gym and hopes to dominate a thin Gators’ frontcourt. Ezeli averages 10.3 points, 5.4 boards and a team-high 2.2 blocks per game.
» F Lance Goulbourne (#5)…who is yet another senior Vanderbilt player that will give Florida fits in the frontcourt. Goulbourne averages a team-high 6.9 boards per game and can also hit threes at a 31.4 percent clip. He scores 8.9 points per game in 28.6 minutes each contest.

Former Gators at the 2012 NFL Combine: Jenkins

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was dismissed from the team and spent the 2011 season with North Alabama, had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Tuesday afternoon. Below are the results of how Jenkins measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27)
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 193 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 in.
Hand Size: 8 1/4 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.46 seconds (Video)
Broad Jump: 121.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Bench Press: DNP

Overview: A prototypical cornerback at the next level with immense ability and athleticism, Jenkins may very well have been a first-round pick in 2011 if a shoulder injury did not play a part in him returning to school. After being dismissed from Florida for multiple arrests for possession of marijuana, Jenkins found himself at North Alabama where he had a solid year against a lower level of competition. Character concerns and integrity issues will be the main problems Jenkins has to overcome but all the positives he brings to the table could wind up outweighing those deterrents in the long run. In addition to being a solid cover corner, Jenkins has also shown an aptitude for returning kickoffs and punts, which may given him additional value in some teams’ eyes. His speed and quickness, fluid hips, coverage skills and strength at the line of scrimmage allow him to cover in both man-to-man and zone defensive schemes.
Strengths: Coverage, athleticism, speed/quickness, fluidity, hips
Weaknesses: Character concerns, off-field issues, size

Quotes from and about Jenkins:

Jenkins on what he told teams about his arrests and family situation (supporting four children all under the age of three): “I was honest, straightforward, told [the teams] I did it. I admitted to everything. I came in here to show them I’m not a bad kid. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I learned from them. […] I was just being a college kid, partying, having fun, doing things that aren’t really acceptable. It showed me that in order to get where I wanted to go, I’ve got to eliminate some things and some people.”

Jenkins on being dismissed by head coach Will Muschamp: “He was new to the program and there was nothing else he could do. I respect him for calling me to his office and telling me to my face like a man before it got out. No love lost for that man.”

Jenkins on using marijuana: “I’m done with it forever, man. I can’t do it. It’s something I can’t let myself do again.”

AFC team executive to Yahoo! Sports on Jenkins: “I know we haven’t decided what to do with him. We might take him off our board. I know there will be three or four teams that will take him off right away, at least for the first round.”

NFC team executive to Yahoo! Sports on Jenkins: “You want to hear if he has a plan to deal with it. He might convince you that he has it under control. […] Most of these guys don’t know what to do with the first dollar they make. If this kid could follow a plan, he wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. I know this movie. It usually doesn’t end well.”

Detroit general manager Martin Mayew on Jenkins: “We talked to Janoris at the Senior Bowl and plan to talk to some other guys here who’ve had some off-the-field situations. We evaluate those [players] on an individual basis. The key thing is to go into it with an open mind. We just go into it, have a conversation with them about their past and about their future.”

Florida running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24) completed his on Sunday with some impressive times, and Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL 22) finished his workout on Monday, raising some eyebrows with his speed.

The event, which was held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consisted of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

Florida looking for leadership, passion at Vandy

On a three-game winning streak before being embarrassed by rival Georgia on Saturday, the No. 13/16 Florida Gators travel to Nashville, TN to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Monday to discuss his team heading into the upcoming game.

REPLACING WALKER AS FLORIDA’S TEAM “LEADER”

The Gators were visibly struggling on Saturday against a less talented and less successful UGA team, something that Donovan attribute to the fact that their opponents played “with very good passion and energy,” were physical and willing to battle and would not allow UF to come in and walk over them on reputation alone.

“I don’t know if we had that kind of energy, passion that we needed to [have in order] to play with them,” he said. “You don’t really give yourself a chance at all against any team in this league if your effort is not where it needs to be. Obviously that starts with me and trying to get those guys [ready]. We just didn’t play at the level that I would have liked to have seen us play at.”

Donovan, as much as he preaches to the team in practice and during timeouts, cannot also be a leader on the court for the team, a role that a player must step into. He had hoped that senior point guard Erving Walker would take that job but has learned over the course of the season that is not likely to happen any time soon.

“Erving is a really good player and he’s done a lot of great things here,” he said. [But] he’s a pretty even-keeled guy. There are some times that your team can reflect the personality of the guy in charge. With him being in charge, when things are not going well for our team, there are times where we need some more fire out of him.

“We have guys that are out there playing that are left to their own thoughts. There is not enough communication going on. With that being said, I think the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. He’s got to just worry about himself and playing with energy and passion and emotion. I’ve got to stop trying to put him into a situation where he’s trying to [do too much]. I got to get someone else to do it because that needs to happen, especially when you’re playing on the road where it’s hostile and it’s loud. Someone’s got to get in there and grab each other and [direct]. There’s not a lot of that.”

Donovan had hoped that Walker would be the heir apparent to Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin, players who stepped up as leaders their senior year. Though Walker does everything Donovan asks from him from a playing perspective, he has not become the leader he expected (both vocally or consistently through his actions).

“Some of the stuff that can take our team to a different level, I’m not so sure he’s capable or wants to,” he said. “Sometimes with him, because he is a very internally deep-rooted thinking kid, sometimes when you make a player start worrying about other players, it becomes too much for them.

“When Erving is really locked in as your point guard and as a senior, he plays with a n energy and passion that effects our entire team whether he says a word or not. But when he’s not doing well and he’s not talking, we don’t have somebody grabbing somebody by the shirt, pulling guys in here and having one clear voice on the court all the time. When we’re playing well, it kind of all flows together. But when we’re not, when we’re in those battles and those struggles and those challenges, we need some of that.

“To be in that role, you’ve got to be a consistent guy every single day. I don’t know if there’s necessarily one person I would say that would fall onto.”

Because the Gators are “starving” for leadership, as Donovan put it, he has looked to three younger players – freshman guard Bradley Beal, sophomore center Patric Young and sophomore PG Scottie Wilbekin – to fill in.

Beal said he is ready and raring to go. “Coach addressed it yesterday in practice. He addressed me and Scottie to be more vocal leaders on the floor, in terms of huddling guys up and making sure everybody is on the same page. I told him that I was more than willing to do that,” he said.

Young noted that becoming a leader is a process and “you can’t just throw a guy in there and tell him to lead.” He would like to fill that void as well but knows that he has to first work on his own mental makeup.

“I definitely would love to eventually come in to that role. That’s something I think I need to work on,” he said. “I think I need to learn how to lead myself as far as moving on to the next play, not being frustrated, saying focused in on what the team is trying to do. I can’t just claim myself to be that leader right away. These guys have to have confidence in me. I have to come in to practice and work hard every day and be consistent.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on sharing the game of basketball with his father: “[Florida has] allowed him to kind of be a part of it. My dad loves basketball. The one thing I really appreciate more than anything else is how great the coaches around the league have been to him. He loves the game. He loves watching games. He DVRs every game. He watches every single game. He loves basketball. Like anything else, when you’re a parent and your kid is growing up, there is always a level of sacrifice that goes into raising kids. For me to be able to enrich his life, and for him to be able to share in some of that stuff, has in a lot of ways meant a lot to me because I know he really enjoys it. At his age it has given him something that he’s really passionate about that he can really share in.”

» Donovan on if the team should shoot fewer three-pointers: “We don’t want to take bad three-point shots. That’s not what we want to do. But we do have a good shooting team, and when we’re open we do need to shoot the ball. Any team, whether it’s behind the line or inside the line, can have a good or bad offensive game shooting the ball.”

» Donovan on UF’s defensive breakdowns: “Any time you watch film, there’s a couple questions you always ask your team. One – do you know what you’re doing? Two – is that player physically capable of doing what you’re asking them to do? And then if those questions are answered “Yes,” then why not? I don’t think there was anything in the game – Georgia’s been basically running the same offense and doing the same things. I just didn’t think that we were alert enough, aggressive enough, on edge, urgency, whatever it may be. We did not defend like we needed to defend. I don’t know if it is any more complicated than that.”

» Donovan on overcoming a bad shooting night: “It’s always a lot easier playing a game when shots are going down. Really I think your resiliency as a team, your competitiveness as a team, your competitiveness in terms of playing to win has a lot to do with competing when the game is not going well for you. […] Our team has got enough games under their belt that they understand, if they’re not shooting the ball well, there’s got to be an internal resiliency to battle and fight in the game to put yourself in a position to win.”

» Donovan on dealing with a roster that may lose players to the draft: “It’s the day and age and every coach is dealing with it. My feeling right now is that I think it would be hypocritical on my part where I’m all excited when a guy signs to come here and then they make a decision to leave [and] I’m not supportive. All of the guys I’ve had here over the years that have had the opportunity to leave early have been really good about focusing on what’s in front of them with the season and addressing [the NBA] after the year is over with. There’s no question, things can really change and it can really become challenging in recruiting because you may be recruiting a player [worried about another undecided player].”

» Donovan on playing without sophomore forward Will Yeguete: “We need to play at a high-intensity level, especially with Will being out because Will was a guy for us who played with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion. I wouldn’t classify Will as a leader, but his play on the floor, in the press, rebounding, doing those things, you take him away right now and who’s the guy that does that on the team? Who is that? Who does it consistently? Will was kind of like that lunch pail, dirty work guy where he did it.”

Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Howard

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Monday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22)
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 301 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 in.
Hand Size: 9 7/8 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.82 seconds (No. 12 time of any DL)
Broad Jump: 106.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 27.5 inches
Bench Press: 24 reps (of 225 lbs.)

Overview: With plenty of size, strength and off-the-ball quickness, Howard can impact the game at defensive tackle and proved during his senior season that he can perform well while on the field for the majority of downs. He did his best to erase concerns raised during his junior season in which he disappeared at times in games, showing that he is a durable and affecting player who can make a difference when he’s on the field. Howard became a trustworthy veteran for a team in need of leadership, but his perceived inconsistency will be something teams focus on throughout the evaluation process.
Strengths: Size, strength, durability, tackling
Weaknesses: Inconsistency, effort, blocking

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Tuesday, while Gators running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24) completed his on Sunday with some great times.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

Gators knocked back in latest top 25 rankings

The 16th editions of the 2011-12 regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Kentucky Wildcats (28-1, 14-0 SEC) held on to the No. 1 spot in both rankings, receiving 94 of 96 combined votes as the near-unanimous top team in the country.

The Florida Gators fell in the rankings after dropping their second of two games played last week. Florida went down two and four spots to No. 13 and No. 16 in the respective polls on the heels of a blowout victory at home against Auburn (63-47) on Tuesday evening and a tough upset loss on the road against Georgia (76-2) on Saturday afternoon. The Gators are one of just two Southeastern Conference teams listed in the rankings this week.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Kentucky (31), Syracuse, Duke, Kansas, Michigan State
6-10: North Carolina, Marquette, Missouri, Murray State, Baylor
11-15: Ohio State, Georgetown, Florida, Wichita State, Wisconsin
16-20: Michigan, UNLV, Louisville, Notre Dame, Indiana
21-25: Saint Mary’s, Florida State, San Diego State, Creighton, Temple

Last Week 1-5: Kentucky (31), Syracuse, Missouri, Duke, Kansas
6-10: Michigan State, North Carolina, Georgetown, Ohio State, Marquette
11-15: Florida, Murray State, Michigan, Baylor, Wisconsin
16-20: Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Wichita State, UNLV
21-25: New Mexico, Temple, Saint Mary’s, Indiana, San Diego State

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Kentucky (63), Syracuse (2), Kansas, Duke, Michigan State
6-10: North Carolina, Missouri, Marquette, Baylor, Ohio State
11-15: Georgetown, Murray State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Wichita State
16-20: Florida, UNLV, Indiana, Louisville, Notre Dame
21-25: San Diego State, Florida State, Temple, Virginia, Creighton

Last Week 1-5: Kentucky (63), Syracuse (2), Missouri, Kansas, Duke
6-10: Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Georgetown, Marquette
11-15: Michigan, Florida, Baylor, Murray State, Florida State
16-20: Wisconsin, Louisville, New Mexico, Wichita State, Notre Dame
21-25: UNLV, Temple, Indiana, San Diego State, Virginia

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Florida women win SEC Indoor track & field title

No. 6 Florida Gators women’s track and field captured their seventh conference indoor title and second since 2010 on Sunday, winning the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship in Lexington, KY with 132 total team points.

Florida took down the No. 2 LSU Tigers (109) and No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks (99) in the women’s competition for the school’s first league title of the 2011-12 season. The No. 1 Razorbacks (151) got a measure of revenge on the men’s side by topping the No. 2 Gators (137) and No. 24 Georgia Bulldogs for the other SEC Indoor title.

Despite Florida winning the women’s championship, only one Gators student-athlete won an individual title on that side of the competition. Sophomore distance runner Florence Ngetich captured the 5,000-meter title in 16:12.64.

The men, on the other hand, lost the overall championship but won three individual titles. Sophomore hurdler Eddie Lovett defended his 60-meter hurdles title with a time of 7.78 seconds, junior jumper Omar Craddock won Florida’s fourth-straight SEC Indoor triple jump championship with a distance of 16.44m/53-11.25, and senior thrower Kemal Mesic won the shot put title (19.89m/65-3.25) for the third SEC Indoor meet in a row.

One significant disappointment on the men’s side came as junior sprinter Jeff Demps failed to win the 60-meter dash for the third consecutive season, finishing his attempt in 6.64 seconds, 0.01 seconds behind the victor.

Florida has two more meets next month before competing in the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships from March 9-10.

Tucker sets Florida career RBI record as Gators baseball earns first series sweep of 2012

No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (7-1) cruised over the weekend to their first sweep of a three-game series in 2012, defeating the William & Mary Tribe (2-5) by a combined score of 14-5 from Friday-Sunday at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida did not trail for a single frame in the series’ first two games, scoring in the bottom of the first inning on Friday, adding a solo home run in the fifth by senior center fielder Tyler Thompson (2-4, RBI, R) and rallying for two more runs in the eighth to pull away with a 4-1 victory. Junior catcher Mike Zunino (1-3, R, 2 SB) and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (0-3) added a RBI each, and sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-4, R) and freshman designated hitter Taylor Gushue (2-3, R) also had impressive outings at the plate.

Junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (1-0) picked up his first win of the season by striking out four and allowing just one earned run on five hits in 6.1 innings. Junior RHP Austin Maddox (S2) came on in the seventh to close out the game, fanning four batters of his in the final 2.2 innings.

The Gators picked up where they left off the next day with senior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, 2 R, SB) hammering a solo shot in the bottom of the third. He became Florida’s all-time RBI leader with the dinger, amassing a school record 215 runs batted in over 205 games played (at that point). Tucker received a standing ovation from the home crowd, a highlight moment in the young season.

He continued his stellar outing by singling to lead off the bottom of the sixth, following it up by stealing second and eventually coming around to score thanks to a one-out double by Gushue (1-4, RBI, R), who earned his first start at first base. Turgeon (2-3, 2 RBI, R) concluded Florida’s three-run inning with a two-run homer, the first round-tripper of his career in orange and blue.

Junior left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K) pitched six innings of shutout ball but was relieved shortly after giving up a solo bomb in the top of the seventh. Senior RHP Greg Larson pitched the final 2.2 innings in relief, striking out three and walking just one to clinch the victory for Johnson.

Florida fell behind early on Sunday as sophomore RHP Karsten Whitson took the hill to start the game and looked a bit out of sorts. He gave up an earned run on two hits and a walk while only registering two outs before being pulled by head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. Junior LHP Steven Rodriguez (2-0) and freshman RHP Jonathon Crawford came on in his stead and combined to earn the win by striking out seven and walking two while allowing three hits and two earned runs in the final 5.0 innings of the weather-shortened game.

Tucker (1-3, RBI, R) and Fontana (1-2, 2 RBI, R, BB) each homered in the contest, and the Gators also got solid performances at the plate from freshman left fielder Justin Shafer (2-2, 2 RBI, R) and junior 1B Austin Maddox (2-3, R).

UF faces a tough test next weekend, travelling to Coral Gables, FL to take on Miami in a three-game series from Friday-Sunday. Florida will follow that series up with an 11-game home stand, playing from March 6-20 in Gainesville.

Photo Credit: Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Rainey

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Sunday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24)
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 180 lbs.
Arm Length: 30 3/4 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds (No. 2 time)
20-Yard Shuttle: 3.93 seconds (No. 1 time)
60-Yard Shuttle: 11.06 seconds (No. 1 time)
3-Cone Drill: 6.50 seconds (No. 1 time)
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Bench Press: 16 reps (of 225 lbs.)

UPDATE: Rainey’s times in the shuttles and three-cone drill are the fastest of any player who has participated in this year’s combine through Monday.

Overview: With speed and quickness rivaling or topping every other running back in the 2012 draft class, Rainey is agile and electric on the field, making him an intriguing prospect as a rusher, wide receiver or kickoff and punt returner. He is powerful for a player his size with track-like speed and top-notch elusiveness. However, he is not a polished blocker and is much more effective outside the tackles where he can make plays in space as opposed to between the tackles where he is forced to draw contact.
Strengths: Speed, quickness, agility, experience
Weaknesses: Size, blocking, next-level durability

Quote: “I’m going for the 4.1. I’m going for the big one.” – Rainey on trying to break the combine 40-yard dash record

Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22) and former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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