Gators lose LB commit Lorenzo Phillips

Four-star outside linebacker Lorenzo Phillips (Patterson, LA), considered by Rivals to be the 14th best player at his position and No. 160 overall high school football player, has officially decommitted from the Florida Gators according to various reports including one from

Phillips decommitted from Florida and said the Gators are no longer an option. He instead prefers to play college football closer to home.

When he pledged to play for Florida on June 15, Phillips became the highest-rated linebacker and sixth-best recruit on the Gators’ 2012 commitment list.

UF still has two linebackers – four-stars Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL) and Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook, IL) – committed for next year.

Florida will likely look to four-star OLB Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, GA) to take Phillips’s slot. At 6’5” and 208 lbs., Harvey-Clemons is ranked as the No. 2 outside linebacker and 37th most talented athlete nationally by Rivals.

10/20: Donovan on Gators’ progress, chemistry

With Florida Gators basketball having finally begun fall practice and just about three weeks away from the team’s first regular season game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday to discuss how practice is going up to this point.


Donovan lauded the team for how well it had performed over the first few practices but was less enthusiastic about Wednesday’s effort after the off-day on Tuesday. “We’ve been really good the first four or five days. Coming out of an off-day yesterday, yesterday was by far the worst day we had as a group,” he said. “I didn’t think the guys handled the adversity of practice well. That’s an area that we got to get a lot better at right now. The one thing about these guys that’s been pretty constant has been their effort. They’re a pretty competitive group. I didn’t think the attention to detail the first five days was there on Wednesday. We have an opportunity to come back today and improve on that.”

However, he was happy that the team is facing that obstacle now rather than later on in the process. “A lot of times guys get cranky. From a maturity standpoint, we better be able to move past those things. Because our season is so long, a lot of days you’re not going to feel great and you still have to have the mental toughness and fortitude to work through those things,” Donovan said. “It was good that it happened yesterday because the guys were able to see it and correct it. It’s never smooth sailing. I’d rather find out now what we’re dealing with going into the season. I certainly didn’t expect every practice to be totally perfect and great. We have an opportunity to regroup and handle the way we practiced yesterday better today.”


Though he may not have to start from scratch with this group because only two players on the current roster were not members of the team last year, Donovan realizes that it will be a work in progress as everyone learns their new roles and responsibilities.

Erving [Walker] and Kenny [Boynton], their roles and how they’re going to play the game is probably not going to change a whole lot other than that they’ve got more offense on the floor with them,” he said. “Patric [Young], Cody [Larson], Will [Yeguete] and Casey [Prather] are in totally different roles. Scottie [Wilbekin]’s role is pretty similar in terms of what he can do defensively. Brad [Beal]’s first time here; Walter [Pitchford]’s first time here. In a lot of respects, even though we’ve got some returning players, there’s different things they need to do to help our team. I think this is a completely different team from the way it was the last two years.”

For that reason, Donovan has put a hold on installing new offenses, defenses and plays from out of bounds. Instead he wants Florida to try and perfect what has already been implemented before moving forward and adding more layers.

“We could play in a game right now. There’s enough things offensively, defensively and on the sides. I feel confident we could play in a game. I don’t know how good we’d be in a game right now, but there’s enough things in,” he said. “What we need to do right now, before we start putting some more in, is really try to work on the execution part of getting better at what’s in right now. This time of year there’s always a fine line. […] Most of the guys are coming back so there’s not anything that’s drastically new for them. I’m not dealing with five new players that this is the first time. We’re probably, in terms of the group understanding, a little further advanced. However, in terms of executing it, we’re not great in that right now.”


» Donovan said junior forward Erik Murphy got a “finger to the eye” on Wednesday and ended up missing practice. He added that it was not his cornea, but a part of Murphy’s eye was scratched. There was swelling and he couldn’t open his eye but after visiting a doctor he was told that there was no damage to the eye and he was cleared to practice Thursday.

» Donovan on if he’s still pleased with the team’s backcourt chemistry: “I feel good about it right now. Our guys are trying to play the right way. That’s something that has been there. We’ve talked a lot about it. They’ve seen film of it. They’ve seen how you can look when there’s an understanding. It’s not so much the extra pass part. That’s a piece of it.”

» Donovan on how Larson has been playing: “Cody has been a guy that is doing a lot of really good things right now in terms of the little things that aren’t going to show up on a stat sheet. I’ve been pleased with what he’s been able to do for our team physically because we need another physical presence up front. I think Will provides that exact thing as well.”

» Donovan on if he’s seen improved shooting from downtown: “I look less at the shooting percentage right now as I do look at the total number of shots being taken. Patric Young has gotten the most shots, and that’s a good thing for our team. After the first five days, Erving was third to last on the number of shots taken. He’s been very dominant in practice with what he’s been able to do. I’m more concerned about the shot distribution in practice rather than the percentages. Casey Prather has not taken a whole lot of shots, and his shooting percentage is not great, but to me he’s playing his best basketball since he’s been here up to this point in time. The percentages come from ball movement, player movement, extra passes, getting good looks and making shots in the flow of the offense. Then what we can do is repetitively work with those guys in practice to get them better shooting the basketball just through the number of shots they’re going to take. We’ve got a very good shooting team. I’m not so sure the stats indicate that now, but I feel confident that we are where we should be.”

» Boynton on being ranked No. 10 in the preseason: “That’s a good accomplishment, but we haven’t proven anything yet. We have to go out and prove that we’re worthy of that ranking.”

» Boynton on if he’s being worn out by practice: “Not really but we’ve been going hard.”

» Boynton on who has been the best in practice: “So far Pat has been going hard. Erv’s been leading the team. Casey and Will have been doing good from last year, they’ve stepped up a lot..”

» Boynton on how Prather is progressing: “His confidence. He’s not forcing it. He’s taking the right shots, finishing and on defense he’s very intense.”

» Boynton on the chemistry in the backcourt: “So far it’s good. Everybody’s making the extra pass.”

» Boynton on what it’s been like playing with three guards: “We’ve been good. Pretty much it’s been fun. I feel like when we play different teams we’ll have a mismatch on someone.”

» Boynton on how the team is doing with the pressure defense: “We’ve been pressing every day. When we all get together on one team, if we try a three- or four-guard lineup, we’re going to get a lot of turnovers. […] It’s the same press. With our speed this year, we’re going to be alright out there. We can cheat some passes because we have the speed to get there.”

» Boynton on what he’s been doing to improve his game: “Overall I’ve just been hitting the gym a lot trying to keep getting more repetitions. […] My left hand gotten a lot better, as did my finishing at the rim.”

» Prather said this role this year is to be a rebounder who defends and can slash to the hoop. “We definitely lost Chandler [Parsons], Vernon [Macklin] and Alex [Tyus] so we need people like me ot rebound and defend,” he said.

» Prather on having an opportunity to excel at small forward: “That’s like one of the main reasons why I came here, because of the tradition they have at the three-spot.”

» Prather on how Yeguete is playing: “He’s playing so aggressive, looking tos core more, get to the rim and control the offensive rebounds”

» Prather on how Larson is playing: “He’s physical. He still brings it every day. He bangs with Pat, and that’s hard to do. He just accepts it and doesn’t back down.”

» Prather on why recruits should commit to the Gators: “Because we win here. It’s all about tradition with Coach Donovan and the University of Florida.”

Nat Moore: “I’m a Gator…that’s my No. 1 love.”

The Miami Dolphins will be hosting a special Gator Day celebration on Sunday to honor the 2008 national champion Florida Gators football team that won the 2009 BCS Championship 24-14 over the Oklahoma Sooners on Jan. 8, 2009 in Miami Gardens, FL. To commemorate the occasion, OGGOA sat down with Dolphins vice president Nat Moore, who had much to do with setting up this unique celebration.

Moore played for the Gators and head coach Doug Dickey from 1972-73 after transferring from a junior college. He played running back for two years and earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference as well as honorable mention All-American awards in 1972 after running 145 times for 845 yards with nine touchdowns and catching 25 passes for 351 yards and four more scores. A Gator Great who was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, Moore earned his degree from Florida two years after entering the NFL.

After the 1973 season, Moore was selected by Miami with the No. 78 overall pick in the third round of the 1974 NFL Draft. He joined a Dolphins team coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl wins including the perfect season of 1972. Miami moved Moore to wide receiver, and he rewarded them with a Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro season in 1977, when he hauled in a league-high 12 touchdowns. Moore retired from football after spending his entire 13-year career with Miami. He broke nearly ever Dolphins receiving record at the time of his retirement, concluding his career with 510 catches for 7,547 yards and 74 touchdowns and earning him a spot in the team’s Honor Roll.

Since retiring from football, Moore has been involved in a variety of activities. He serves as a vice president with Miami, runs the Nat Moore Foundation and at one point was a broadcaster with Sun Sports for Gators football. He now does preseason broadcast work with the Dolphins in addition to his other duties.

OGOGA had the opportunity to speak to Moore for a half hour about his time at Florida, experience in the NFL, idea for a celebration of the Gators and opinions about some players he has come across throughout his career as a broadcaster.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it that led you to the University of Florida considering you were born in Tallahassee and went to high school in Miami?
NAT MOORE: “As a kid growing up in Miami, I felt like I really wanted to get away to focus on my studies and have less distractions. You go to Gainesville and basically you’re there for two things. One – to get a good and solid education, and two – a chance to develop your craft in whatever athletic endeavor it is. For me, it gave me a chance where all my friends would be new friends unless they were up there from Miami or Tallahassee. It was close enough that I wasn’t too far away from home if I got homesick. It was a university that my basketball coach in junior college had played baseball with Doug Dickey, so that was the entry into attending the University of Florida. It was always the right place for me, and they were an up-and-coming program in the SEC.”

Read the rest of our interview with Nat Moore…after the break!
Continue Reading » Nat Moore: “I’m a Gator…that’s my No. 1 love.”

Florida at No. 10 in USA Today preseason top 25

The preseason USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll was announced Thursday with the North Carolina Tar Heels being slotted as the overwhelming No. 1 team in the country after receiving 30 of 31 first-place votes. North Carolina, which returns all five starters from 2010, is one spot ahead of the Kentucky Wildcats, which were not voted lower than No. 6 in any ballot submitted.

Four Southeastern Conference teams made the poll including Kentucky (No. 2), Vanderbilt (No. 7), the Florida Gators (No. 10) and Alabama (No. 17).

The 2010-11 Gators were ranked No. 11 heading into last season, which saw them win the SEC and end the year with a record of 29-8 (13-3 SEC) that included an appearance in the Elite Eight round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

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)-

Preseason 1-5: North Carolina (30), Kentucky (1), Ohio State, Connecticut, Syracuse
6-10: Duke, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Memphis, Florida
11-15: Pittsburgh, Baylor, Kansas, Wisconsin, Xavier
16-20: Arizona, Alabama, Michigan, Texas A&M, UCLA
21-25: Marquette, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, California, Missouri

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Florida basketball to introduce new uniforms

In addition to the Florida Gators roster being adjusted for the 2011-12 season, the team will also be sporting new uniforms when they step out on the court this year.

Florida provided a sneak peak of their updated threads at the team’s media day last Tuesday as players donned the new blue away uniforms featuring a bold orange font for the letters and numbers. OGGOA has learned that the Gators will also have new home uniforms as well as an alternate jersey this year.

All three designs are the same general style (the letters and numbers will likely be altered on the home/alternate uniforms) with different color combinations. The home kit is traditional white, while the alternate uniform is orange. Below is a real picture of the away uniform courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel‘s Gary W. Green (view the rest of his gallery) next to some OGGOA-made mockups of the home and alternate jerseys.

Updated 2:45 p.m. Florida just decided to release two sneak peaks of the official home jersey for this season, which looks like this:

UF will play an exhibition game against Catholic University on Nov. 3 before beginning the regular season Nov. 11 against Jackson State. Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m.

FOUR BITS: Gator Day, Tebow, Georgia, Murray

1 » With Sunday’s Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL also serving as a Gator Day that will honor the 2008 national champion Florida Gators, Dolphins president Mike Dee said Wednesday that his team has sold 10,000 since Tim Tebow was named the Broncos’ starter last week. “The demand and interest in the game clearly has picked up since the announcement was made,” Dee said, according to the Palm Beach Post. In addition to a halftime ceremony honoring the team (which includes a performance by the Pride of the Sunshine University of Florida Fighting Gator Marching Band), there will be a pre-game event featuring Nat Moore, Louis Oliver and potentially other former Florida football players. Up to 20 Gators will be on hand including former head coach Urban Meyer.

2 » On a conference call with the media Wednesday, Tebow spoke about returning to Miami and the festivities surrounding the game. Though he said he appreciates the team being honored, he is not thinking about what is going on at halftime and is only concentrating on getting ready for the game right now. Tebow also said he’s excited that he gets to see Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and will be prepared to face Miami’s defense. “They have a very athletic defense. They have a lot of speed,” he said. “We’re just going to have to take care of the ball, be smart and ultimately execute.”

3 » The Southeastern Conference announced early Wednesday that two Georgia Bulldogs – defensive linemen Kwame Geathers and safety Shawn Williams – will be suspended for the first half of their next game for violations that occurred against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Williams – a starter – committed a flagrant personal foul, while Geathers was involved in a fight during the game. Georgia’s next contest is against Florida in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL on Oct. 29.

4 » The Gators are in the heads of at least one member of the Bulldogs, and that is quarterback Aaron Murray who admitted this week that he dwelled on his overtime interception to then-Florida free safety Will Hill. “I think the week after, I watched it five to eight times. Something like that,” he said, according to ESPN. “I watched it a couple of times a day for a while, and then throughout the offseason I watched it in the summer.” Murray attributes his poor performance in 2010’s contest due to excitement but believes that will be behind him this time around. “It’s a big game, so I was probably a little too juiced up,” he said. “Hopefully I got that out of my system last year and can go in there and just relax and play.”

UF coaches say winning starts with mental prep

If there is one thing Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan understands, it is the pressure of high expectations regardless of the age of your players.

Coming off of consecutive national championships in 2006-07, Donovan was faced with a young squad of up-and-comers who were expected to pick up where the Oh Fours left off. While his players had confidence and held those same expectations, there were plenty of factors working against them in addition to their inexperience.

“Players, when they’re young, they look at a program or a school or a team and think, ‘If I go there, this is going to happen for me.’ They don’t understand the commitment and the understanding of what goes into it,” Donovan explained on Monday. “When young guys are playing, it’s not just a guarantee that guys understand how to win.

“It takes time to do that.”

It all starts with understanding how to win at the collegiate level, something Donovan related to what the football team is going through right now after three-straight losses.

“Young players have to go through that to understand what goes into winning. There’s a process. You don’t just go in and just win,” he continued. “No one is immune from it. Everyone has to go through it. It just doesn’t happen because you’re ‘at Florida.’

“‘Because we’re at Florida, we’re going to win.’ It doesn’t work like that. That’s the beauty of competing – there are ingredients that go into practice habits, preparation, the mental part of the game, chemistry, covering for each other, knowing when it gets really hard how to handle adversity. A lot of times, when these guys are young, it’s the first time these guys have gone through adversity.”

Adversity is exactly what the football team has been faced with recently, and head coach Will Muschamp on Tuesday agreed with Donovan’s assessment that it all starts with gaining an advantage in the mental aspect of the game.

“I talked to Brian Orakpo this summer, a guy I coached at Texas,” Muschamp said. “He was an All-Pro his rookie year. I asked him, I said, ‘Being an All-Pro as a rookie is very difficult. How did you do that?’ He said, ‘Will, everybody I play against is as good as I am. I watch 30 more minutes of film. I stay on the field 25-30 more minutes after practice.’ He’s gaining the mental edge of what it takes to be successful.”

Muschamp has been trying to explain to his team how important that factor is for winning for months, but he notes that the inability for some young players to understand that from the start may be due to how much success they saw in high school.

“That’s what’s hard, especially with the way recruiting is nowadays,” he said. “Young men have an inflated opinion about where they are as a player. So when they come in, they don’t understand what Billy referred to as the process it takes to be a good player. What is that process? The mental preparation. The physical attributes may be the same as the guy you’re lined up against. What’s going to be the difference at the end of the day? The mental preparation, the mental edge, the mental belief in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. And that’s called ‘discipline.’

“There’s no question that young players that generally mature quicker are players that understand what it takes to be successful and understand that it’s not just about what happens on the field. It’s about what happens in the classroom. It’s about what happens in the meeting rooms. It’s about what happens in the weight rooms. And they continue to advance their professional career the right way off the field not necessarily what you’re doing on the field. There’s no question that’s a huge growing process. Generally the ones that play as freshmen and contribute and play a lot and play well are the ones who are mature enough to understand what it takes.”

That’s not to say Florida’s mental preparation is lacking in all areas, but it certainly needs to improve. Another thing the Gators have to fix is the team’s health, something Donovan said has undoubtedly cost them some victories thus far in the season.

“The other thing with the football situation just to me on the outside looking in – and I know nothing about football,” Donovan joked, “it is very clear that if you take a team’s starting quarterback and starting tailback away and replace them with a freshman quarterback…that would be like taking Erving Walker and Patric Young out of our team and expecting to be really good. That would be an incredible blow to our team.”

Muschamp, who has refused to use injuries as an excuse because they happen every year in one way or another, did admit Tuesday that he does not think Florida has a long ways to go in order to step up their game to the next level.

“We’re not that far away. I really don’t believe that. I just don’t. I think the biggest issue we have as much s anything is depth right now,” he said. “In this profession, something that has held true for me is that it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems. It’s somewhere in between. I don’t think we’re far off – I don’t. I don’t believe that. I think we’ve got good players in this program.

“I think we’ve got some depth issues we have to work through because that helps competition. It’s different when you got a guy standing behind you that’s ready to take your job. Right now, quite frankly, at some positions we don’t have that. That gets better play – it gets more consistent play.”

Considering the Gators have half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 16 juniors) on the roster as they do underclassmen (34 sophomores, 33 freshmen), depth is looking like something Florida may find very shortly with another solid recruiting class or two.

How those future Gators prepare mentally to be part of a winning football team is what remains to be seen.

10/19: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators over a week away from their eighth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the Georgia Bulldogs, he spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into the bye week.


Updating an item he touched on Tuesday, Muschamp reiterated that Brantley (though he has shed his crutches) is not expected to practice at all this week and that the overriding hope is that he will be able to return on Monday. “He’s very limited as far as his running around, and he has not practiced,” he said. “I don’t foresee him practicing at all this week. I hope to get him back Monday. That’s where we are at this point. His rehab has gone well. He’s worked awful hard, done everything we’ve asked him to and then some. He’s lived in the training room trying to get back and get healthy.”

When he does return, however, Muschamp believes the turnaround will be fast and that he will be ready to play in any given week. “John’s very sharp mentally. For him to be able to get back pretty quickly shouldn’t be an issue,” he said.


» On the SEC East race: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we need some help at this point.”

» On favorite memories from Florida-Georgia series as a player: “There weren’t many good ones, that’s for sure. It’s a great game, a great rivalry game. The setting there in Jacksonville is pretty amazing. Of course when I was a player, the [Jacksonville] Jaguars were coming in and they were redoing the stadium. We played one game in The Swamp my senior year. It’s a great rivalry.”

» On playing Florida-Georgia at a neutral site: “I don’t think there’s any question that the game needs to be in Jacksonville. It’s a great environment and a lot of fun to be a part of.”

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