TWO BITS: Andrews’s cameo, Muschamp’s gaffe

1 » ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews will be up on the silver screen in the near future after filming a cameo in the upcoming movie I Hate You, Dad staring comedian Adam Sandler. Andrews, who will have a very small part in the movie, is part of a cast that also features such big names as Leighton Meester, Susan Sarandon and James Caan. Other actors/celebrities also appearing in the film include Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Ciara, Vanilla Ice and Dan Patrick. “I had like four lines, and it was the coolest thing ever,” she told Complex.com. According to IMDB, the movie is about “A disagreeable father who moves in with his son before he’s about to get married.” It is currently filming and does not have a scheduled release date.

2 » Whether you want to call it a gaffe on his part or a case of someone else taking a comment a bit too seriously, a thought provided by Gators head coach Will Muschamp at the 2011 SEC Media Days a few weeks ago has the University of Florida’s faculty union president John Biro perturbed. Asked about what it takes to build a quality team, Muschamp responded, “You can’t have union guys. Those are the guys who make a great play and then take the next play off because they think they are in a union.” According to The Gainesville Sun, Biro (who confessed that he does not pay attention to football) was not amused by this comment. “Obviously he’s been watching too much TV and all the union-bashing going on,” Biro told the paper.

Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

Updated at 9 p.m.

With NFL training camp finally underway after an extended lockout cancelled organized team activities and mini camps, more than three dozen former Florida Gators are working out and trying to earn their keep this year. Below is a comprehensive look at each player in the league as well as those still looking for work.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

Siler, Harvey with new teams on one-year deals

Two members of the Florida Gators defense that helped bring home the 2006 National Championship, linebacker Brandon Siler and defensive end Derrick Harvey found homes with new NFL teams on Monday.

Siler – a seventh-round draft of the San Diego Chargers who amassed 123 tackles, three sacks, a safety and two interceptions in four seasons with the team – was allowed to walk as a free agent and agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Though he played in 58 games over four years, Siler did not get his first chance to start for San Diego until 2009. He had started 12 of 28 games over the last two seasons for the Chargers, but the team decided to let him seek greener pastures in the offseason.

On the other side of the fence, Harvey was the No. 8 overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and struggled in three years with the club. After amassing 3.5 sacks in nine starts over 16 games as a rookie, Harvey started every game in 2009 but only managed to total 57 tackles and two sacks. He has registered 88 tackles in three seasons along with eight sacks and one interception.

Harvey was cut by Jacksonville last week and decided to join a rebuilding Denver Broncos team. Quarterback Tim Tebow was already on the club as a holdover from last season, and linebacker A.J. Jones was picked up as an undrafted free agent one week ago. The team recently traded wide receiver Jabar Gaffney but decided to bring back defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, signing him to a contract on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Scott Boehm

FOUR BITS: Crowder, Pouncey, Starks, swimming

1 » The Miami Dolphins cut veteran linebacker Channing Crowder over the weekend, ending his six-year run with the team that selected him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. With declining production, bad knees and a contract that would have counted for $5 million against the 2011 salary cap, Crowder leaving was nevertheless a tough decision for head coach Tony Sparano, who (as the rest of the team did) viewed him as a defensive leader. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Sparano said. “It’s still hard for me. But it’s football. It happens.”

2 » Miami may make another personnel move that could affect a former Florida Gators player on its roster. The Dolphins are looking at bringing in veteran center Shaun O’Hara; he is already in South Florida for an official meeting with the club. Should O’Hara be signed, first-round pick Mike Pouncey will likely be forced to move to right guard for the 2011 season. O’Hara’s signing, however, would not be an indictment on Pouncey’s ability but rather a necessity due to the team’s lack of top-notch guard play. Richie Incognito will be starting on the left side for Miami, but the Dolphins are not pleased with the performance of 2010 third-round pick John Jerry on the right side, hence necessitating plugging in Pouncey for the time being. Check out this recent one-on-one interview with Pouncey after his first day of practice.

3 » Though he was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers late last week, tackle Max Starks was proud to hear that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sported his oversized No. 78 jersey to practice the next day to honor his former teammate. “Max and I were the last two from my draft class,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “His locker has always been next to mine for the past seven years. So I saw his jersey there and I wore it in honor of Max.” Starks, who put on some weight in the offseason and is dealing with neck issues, is hoping to catch on with a club soon in order to have a full preseason and continue playing in the league. He had signed a four-year, $26.3 million deal with Pittsburgh in 2009 and was two years into his contract before being cut.

4 » Florida captured another pair of gold medals on Sunday at the conclusion of the World Swimming Championships. Former Gators standout Ryan Lochte and current Florida swimmer Elizabeth Beisel each won the 400-meter individual relay for their respective gender. Lochte’s gold was his fifth of the event and, coupled with a world record and two head-to-head defeats of Michael Phelps, rounded out an outstanding performance for possibly the United States’ best bet for medals at the 2012 London Olympics. Beisel, who will return to the Gators for her sophomore year with the team, captured her third international gold with her victory.

Florida’s 2011 NFL draftees all under contract

With Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey agreeing to a four-year, $9.3 million deal with the team late Saturday evening, all four former Florida Gators selected in the 2011 NFL Draft have officially been signed by their respective clubs.

Pouncey, who missed the first two days of practice while his agents and Miami’s brass were working out his deal, was pleased to announce to fans that he would finally be lacing up his cleats on Sunday.

“Thanks for all the support,” he wrote on Twitter around midnight, “the deal is done see you all at practice tomorrow.”

Due to the brand new collective bargaining agreement, Pouncey’s rookie contract is significantly less than his brother’s was one year ago even though the former was selected three slots higher. Center Maurkice Pouncey was chosen with the 18th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and signed a five-year, $17.96 million deal. Mike’s contract is fully guaranteed while Maurkice’s included $10.35 million of guaranteed money.

Also signing with his team this week was Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert, who agreed to a $3.227 million deal including an $847,000 signing bonus. A second-round pick, Gilbert hopes to join Maurkice on Pittsburgh’s starting offensive line this season and spent the lockout getting tips from him while learning about the offense.

“It’s been pretty straightforward,” Gilbert told the Beaverton County Times late in the week. “It’s just trying to switch over the language of the offense and little stuff here and there that I never ran in college. The older guys are taking me under their wing and showing me how to do it the right way.”

Florida’s two late round picks – safety Ahmad Black (fifth round) and guard Maurice Hurt (seventh round) – each signed four-year deals with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins, respectively.

Black told the New York Times that he knows he has his work cut out for him and is still getting acclimated to the professional game. He is willing to start from the bottom and work is way up to a starting role.

“It’s a little bit different than college,” Black said on Friday. “Coming from Florida with coach [Urban] Meyer, he always stressed special teams so it’s nothing new to me. A lot of guys think since they started in college, they will start here. That’s definitely not the case. I’m going to earn my role on special teams to work my way on the defense.”

OGGOA will keep you up-to-date with all four rookies (as well as all of the undrafted free agents who signed with teams) through training camp and the 2011 regular season.

Gator Charity Challenge an immense success

Raising money for charity while allowing fans the opportunity to see the team compete over a month before the 2011 season is set to begin, the Florida Gators held the fourth-annual Gator Charity Challenge at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday night.

With six teams going head-to-head in three events – sled push, tug-of-war and torpedo hold – only one could be victorious. That group was the Go Gettas, led by team captains sophomore running back Trey Burton, redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

The Go Gettas won the sled push, tied for second in the tug-of-war and came in second in the torpedo hold to win the event, which supported the Salvation Army of Alachua County.

Fans donated more than 650 pounds of canned food and tons of personal hygiene products that will be passed out to those in need.

The strength & conditioning event undoubtedly took a toll on the team, but everyone in attendance got a lift when a walk-on fullback won the individual push-up competition.

Junior Jesse Schmitt, who is listed at 5’7” and 175 lbs. on the official roster, walked on to the team last year and outlasted both redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey and redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown in the finals of the push-up event.

“I did my training [for the Marines] last summer, so we did a lot of push-ups there,’’ Schmitt told University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter. “That certainly helps. I’ve got a lower body weight than most of those guys by at least 100 pounds, so that comes in handy. These guys are incredible. They are just athletic freaks. It’s great to work out with them. It makes it hard to keep up.”

Speical thanks to the Orlando Sentinel for the video above.

Hernandez, Ochocinco joke about No. 85 swap

New England Patriots fans were undoubtedly excited when they learned wide receiver Chad Ochocinco had been traded to their team for nothing but a pair of late-round picks. The first thought in the mind of Florida Gators fans? “How much is he going to pay tight end Aaron Hernandez for No. 85?”

Though he wore No. 81 throughout college, Hernandez was forced to don No. 85 during his rookie season because his number was already taken by another veteran. With No. 81 becoming available once again due and No. 85 in need by another player, Hernandez had a tough decision to make.

As it turns out, he did not ask Ochocinco for a dime and instead extended his hand (and the jersey number) as a welcome gift for the six-time Pro Bowl receiver.

“We’re playing at a high level, so all of us have a decent amount of money. I definitely should have [asked for some], but I didn’t,” Hernandez said with a laugh, according to ESPNBoston.com. “It was just a welcome to the team. [...] I thought he may look better and play better in 85, because that’s his last name. So why not give it to him?”

Ochocinco joked that all he had to offer Hernandez anyway was the use of his Toyota Prius on the weekends and some McDonald’s coupons. “It was Mr. Hernandez’s way of greeting me here,” he said. “I just shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you.’”

Though some may be disappointed that Hernandez did not cash in when given the opportunity, Florida fans will be happy to see him wearing his new old number while tearing up the field in New England.

“I had a chance to get my college number back, and he obviously wanted 85,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t a problem. So I thought he deserved it and should get it.”

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

Weis, Bradford talk football in Gainesville

If you followed @onlygators on Twitter this summer, you likely saw a tweet or two from OGOGA about St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford spending some time in Gainesville, FL along with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper.

While he was visiting, OGGOA speculated that Bradford very well could have been in town to pick the brain of new Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis considering he was unable to meet with Josh McDaniels, St. Louis’ new offensive coordinator, due to the NFL lockout still being in progress.

Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples actually spoke to Bradford about his trip to Gainesville and, as it turns out, that was the exact reason he stopped by the town of the team that defeated the Oklahoma Sooners for the 2009 BCS Championship.

“They spent time in New England together,” Bradford told Staples, “so their offensive philosophies are fairly similar. Obviously, they don’t run the exact same offense. But I just thought if I could come down and just talk some ball with Coach Weis and get a feel for what his philosophy is, then it could possibly help me try to transition to Josh’s offense.”

Weis, who through a Florida spokesman declined to comment for this story, also showed Bradford a video that helped drive home some of the concepts in the playbook. “I have the playbook. I can look at the paper all I want,” Bradford said. “But it’s a lot different when you actually have someone who can kind of talk you through it — someone who has experienced it, knows what the reads are and can kind of tell you what to expect.”

Photo Credit: Bill Haber/Associated Press

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