SIX BITS: Marotti, Driskel, Meyer, rings, Tebow

1 » Now that Urban Meyer had donned the whistle for the Ohio State Buckeyes, it is time for him to fill up his staff. Meyer has already plucked director of football administration Mark Pantoni (who was reportedly fired from his post) from the Florida Gators and is not surprisingly trying to bring strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti along for the ride, too. Sources close to the program have confirmed to OGGOA that Marotti is leaning towards leaving Florida for Ohio State. Apparently a decision has already been made but has yet to be announced by one party or the other. Rumors are that Meyer is also looking to bring linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin over to the Buckeyes though his former tight ends coach (now running backs coach) Brian White has already decided to stick with the Gators, according to ESPN.

2 » Despite freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett passing him on the depth chart in the middle of the season, classmate Jeff Driskel is planning on staying right where he is to compete for Florida’s starting job in 2012. “Great to be a gator. Here for the long run,” he tweeted on Monday. Driskel’s father also told ESPN that his son has not even considered leaving the program. “Jeff wants to be the quarterback at Florida,” Jerry Driskel told the network by text. “That has never changed.”

3 » The News-Journal‘s cartoonist Andy Marlette created the following piece of art, depicting Meyer running away from The Swamp off to his new job with Ohio State.

4 » Former Gators reserve offensive lineman Brad Hiers’s home was burglarized and a pair of national championship rings were stolen on Nov. 20, according to News Channel 8. He reported the break-in to police and has been calling pawn shops in hopes of finding his rings and getting them returned to him. “My hope is that people will talk about it. And then say, ‘Oh yeah, I know those are stolen’ and at least have a heart and get ‘em back somehow,” he told the station. He also said he is not inclined to simply order replacements, which do not hold the same sentimental value.

5 » According to beat writer Evan Woodbery, Florida head coach Billy Donovan’s daughter Hasbrouck, a champion rider, has committed to attend Auburn and compete with the school’s equestrian team. Hasbrouck has already accomplished plenty in her young career and won a number of tournaments including some this year.

6 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow had the top selling NFL jersey for months after being drafted in 2010. Now that he is the (somewhat) permanent starter and Denver is winning, his jersey sales have begun rocketing up the charts once again. Tebow had the second-best selling jersey among NFL players last week, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell and how has the sixth-best selling jersey this year (beginning in April).

Billy Donovan talks about hitting 400 wins

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan won the 400th game of his career on Monday when Florida routed Stetson 96-70 in Orlando, FL. Following the game, Donovan was hit with a Gatorade shower in the locker room and got to celebrate for a short while with the team and visitors Chandler Parsons and Jason Williams. In his post-game press conference, Donovan spoke at length about reaching 400 victories and his coaching career.

On what winning 400 games means to him: “One, I’m definitely clearly getting older. A guy like Jason Williams is here at the game, and he was obviously a part of it when it first started, coaching him. Chandler came in the locker room [and I thought about] his time here. Joakim Noah has been on campus a lot with the lockout. The Brent Wrights of the world. The [Udonis] Haslems. I think more about the time here and the guys that have come through. There have been a lot of special guys. Not only the guys that people get a chance to watch that are in the NBA, because those are obvious guys, but the Justin Hamiltons, the Brent Wrights, the Major Parkers – that first recruiting class. Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh, Brett Nelson, there have been so many guys that have come through that were close to making the NBA that maybe didn’t make it that had a huge significance and impact on our program. It’s not just the NBA guys, it’s a lot of really good quality kids I’ve coached for a period of time. It’s hard to believe you see Jason Williams. The guy is married, he already has a couple of kids and is retired from the NBA. It’s definitely a reflection that time is moving on and you’re getting older.”

Read everything else Billy Donovan had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » Billy Donovan talks about hitting 400 wins

Gators F Erik Murphy could be back next week

Despite what first appeared to be a serious knee injury, Florida Gators junior forward Erik Murphy could be back in action as soon as next week, head coach Billy Donovan told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday.

“The meniscus tear was from when he hurt it his sophomore year in high school,” Donovan said. “It looks like this was just a bone bruise.”

Donovan said the hope is that Murphy is back on the court in “a week to 10 days,” putting him in line to return when Florida hosts Arizona on Dec. 7.

This is great news for the Gators, a team thin in the frontcourt and in desperate need of Murphy’s size despite consecutive blowout victories in his absence.

In the interim, sophomore F Will Yeguete has filled in and played admirably well, picking up his first career double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds during his second start of the season on Monday.

Yeguete would return to the bench as the primary frontcourt reserve but would likely see increased minutes due to the impact he has had in Murphy’s stead.

DE Lynden Trail: “It was time for me to go.”

Redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail has been on quite a journey during his time with the Florida Gators.

From doing whatever he could to keep the highly touted 2010 recruiting class together to marrying his wife to putting smiles on fans’ faces with his planking pictures over the summer, Trail has accomplished a lot during his time in the orange and blue.

In fact, he’s done everything except actually step on the field and play football for the Gators.

On Monday, Trail decided to transfer from Florida, a school that he remains passionate about and plans to continue following no matter where he winds up. He will remain to be a fan of the Gators but realized that his time was up in Gainesville, FL.

“I just spoke with my mother for a minute about it and told [the coaches] today. The coaching staff handled it very professionally, and I did it on my end as well,” he explained to OGGOA Monday. “They told me they loved me. I told them I loved them, too. I just told them I thought this decision is what was best for me, and they respected everything.

“When I spoke with my mother, the thing she wanted to know was why was I not at least on the sideline with the team. These were questions I couldn’t answer. They were left up to the coaching staff. I respect every decision that they made and have been positive about a lot of things throughout this journey here with Gator Nation. I just kept hoping and praying and things just did not work out the way I wanted them to.”

Head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn each said this year that Trail was not playing well enough in practice to play let alone dress for the team.

Trail himself confirmed that the coaches told him this but maintained that he was playing to the best of his ability and trying his hardest to improve with each practice.

After redshirting his first year and not playing a down in his second season with the team, he knew it was time to take the next step in his life.

“My mother has always taught me to plan for the future,” Trail said. “I’m just trying to make the best move for me and my wife right now because my family is depending on me to come out with a degree or come out with a NFL contract. To stay in one spot and not make progress, I had to do what I had to do.”

Trail does not know where he is headed for the next chapter of his life but is not going to picky. He chose to stay in-state when committing to Florida but will be happy to go to whatever school provides him with the best opportunity going forward.

“Coming out of high school I always felt like I had to stay in Florida. As of right now, my mindset is that I just have to go somewhere that’s going to let me play, give me an opportunity to show them what I can do and get some film,” he said.

He could not speak to the specific reasons why nine other players in addition to him have transferred this season but said a lot of it probably has to do with mental makeup.

“I feel like, coming in, there are a lot of four and five star recruits, therefore everybody is highly recruited. In high school, they have this persona of being the big man on campus,” he explained. “Due to the fact that everybody probably wasn’t getting the attention that they wanted or needed, it probably played a big issue in a lot of things. The level of competition is great, but at the same time, many feel that they should be starting or at least playing, and that can play with an athlete’s mind.”

Though Trail was not sure the exact reasons why fellow redshirt freshman safety Joshua Shaw also decided to transfer Monday, he guessed that it had to do with his distance from home and the fact that he was not too pleased with his spot in the rotation at safety.

He may no longer be wearing orange and blue in 2012, but he was adamant that the colors will continue to course through his veins no matter where he winds up.

“I still love Gator Nation. I still love all my teammates that are here, and I will keep in contact with a lot of them. I will still keep in contact with a lot of Gator fans, who I now consider Gator friends,” Trail said passionately.

“I do want them to know that I’m not leaving because I don’t like the school. I’m leaving because my time is up and I’m just looking for a better opportunity. Overall it was time for me to go somewhere else where I can get an opportunity to step on the field.

“I still love Gator Nation.”

S Shaw, DE Trail to transfer from Florida Gators

Two more Florida Gators football players – redshirt freshmen safety Joshua Shaw and defensive end Lynden Trail have decided to leave the program, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley confirmed Tuesday.

Both four-star recruits from Florida’s heralded 2010 recruiting class, Shaw and Trail are the 10th and 11 players to depart since head coach Will Muschamp took over.

“We wish Lynden and Josh the best of luck in the future and we certainly appreciate their contributions to the football program,” Muschamp said in a school release.

Shaw registered 22 tackles (one for loss) and a pass breakup in 10 games this year, while Trail never saw the field and did not even dress for the vast majority of contests.

“I have enjoyed my time at Florida but I feel like I need to be closer to my family right now,” Shaw said in the same school release. “This is not a football decision, this is a family decision. I need to be with my family.”

Each player came into the program with a previous relationship. Shaw (Palmdale, CA) was close to and from the same state as sophomore defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA), and Trail attended the same high school as redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (Booker T. Washington).

“I have decided that I would like to pursue opportunities elsewhere,” Trail said. “I want to thank the fans and Gator Nation for their support. I’ll always be a Gator at heart.”

Trail also wrote about his decision on his Twitter account Tuesday.

GATORNATION I LOVE YALL AND LOVED ALL YALL SUPPORT I LOVED THE COACHES MY TEAMMATES AND THE STUDENTS HERE ONCE A GATOR ALWAYS A GATOR <3

[and]

I have nothing negative to say about UF I LOVE THE PROGRAM THE STUDENTS THE FRIENDS I MADE AND OVERALL THE FANS #GATORNATION

The duo join DE Chris Martin, WR Chris Dunkley, WR Javares McRoy, running back Mike Blakely, tight end Michael McFarland, linebacker Dee Finely, TE Gerald Christian and WR Robert Clark as players who transferred this season. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from the team following two marijuana arrests in less than 90 days.

Additionally, redshirt junior offensive lineman Daivd Young announced that he plans to graduate and will not participate in his final year of eligibility. Young saw action in all 12 games so far this season.

The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Urban Meyer is off to Ohio State to coach the Buckeyes, fulfilling a lifelong dream and continuing his storied career just 10 months after choosing to leave Florida because it was “time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

Gator Nation was rocked when the more-solid-than-ever rumors began a week ago and continued its uproar Monday when it was confirmed and later officially announced that Meyer would indeed be heading to Ohio State.

Plenty is being said in regards to whether or not Gators fans have a right to be upset at Meyer for taking a job just months after declaring that he needed to reevaluate his health and relationship with his family but there is not one correct answer as to how Florida fans should feel about Meyer’s decision and the way in which this situation unfolded.

Whether the perception is that Meyer was dishonest when communicating his intentions for leaving Florida, a culprit of circumstance with his dream job suddenly becoming available years sooner than expected, or a college football addict unable to satisfy his fix while sitting behind a desk working for a major network, each observation has its own legitimate merits to be considered for evaluation.

Let’s take a more complete look at the situation by examining each angle of the story.
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12

With the 2011 NFL season in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 12 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 12th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Eight receptions for 95 yards [team-highs] (targets: 8, long: 39), touchdown; five carries for 11 yards; kick return for 104 yards

HONORABLE MENTIONS
David Nelson, Major Wright, Reggie Nelson, Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman (see below)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12

Donovan earns 400th win as Florida routs Stetson

Despite some coaching news that may have hit Florida Gators fans the wrong way earlier in the day, Gator Nation had an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of head basketball coach Billy Donovan Monday evening.

Donovan picked up the 400th victory of his head coaching career as No. 9/10 Florida (5-1) routed the Stetson Hatters (3-3) 96-70 in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at Amway Center in Orlando, FL.

Donovan became the youngest active coach with at least 400 Division I victories with the win but gave all of the credit to the talented players he has coached over the years.

Freshman guard Brad Beal led the way for a Gators with the best performance of his young career, notching his second double-double including career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 50 percent from the field, beyond the arc and at the line, blocked three shots, grabbed two steals and accounted for two assists for Florida.

As has been tradition this season, the Gators started hot out of the gate and used an impressive 20-4 run including four threes to take an early 38-16 lead.

The Hatters answered quickly by posting 13-straight points as UF went on a 4:36 scoring drought, but Florida responded by hitting six free throws and a three-pointer to end the half on a 9-0 run and take a 47-31 lead on Stetson into the break.

Though the Gators maintained a comfortable lead in the second half, the Hatters were relentless on both ends of the floor.

Florida hit nine threes to start the game but went 10:53 through the half without knocking another in from downtown. Senior point guard Erving Walker finally connected on a trey with 11:52 remaining, marking a school record six-straight games in which the Gators have hit at least 10 triples.

Despite the back-and-forth play, Florida pulled away in the end and took a game-high 26-point lead on a three by Walker with under two minutes to go.

Walker finished with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-for-7 from three) with five assists. Junior G Kenny Boynton, who struggled early in the game, added 13 points and was just 3-for-8 from downtown.

Sophomore center Patric Young was tagged four quick fouls and scored just nine points, but sophomore forward Will Yegeute picked up the slack with his first career double-double of 10 points and 11 boards. He started his second-straight game in place of junior F Erik Murphy, who remains out of action with a tear in his meniscus.

The Gators also got quality minutes from sophomore G/F Casey Prather, who scored five points and picked up two steals but was the first player in over a year to foul out of a game for Florida.

UF shot just 45.3 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown but hit 70 percent of their free throws. The Gators outrebounded the Hatters 40-33 (14-5 on the offensive glass), stole the ball 12 times, forced 17 turnovers and only gave the ball up nine times. Stetson was held to just 1-of-18 shooting (5.6 percent) from three and hit 40.7 percent of their shots from the field.

Florida will face their second top-five ranked opponent this season when they travel to face No. 3/4 Syracuse on Friday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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