FOUR BITS: Harvin, LaPorta, Macklin, facilities

1 » Hobbled by migraine headaches throughout his life, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin believes that – finally – the nagging issue is behind him. “This is the best I’ve felt, probably, since I’ve been in kindergarten,” he told Ed Miller of The Virginian-Pilot. “I met a couple of doctors. There were a couple of things they found in my neck that I won’t get into – some things they found and fixed, along with diet and the rest of the things that can cause them. It’s been great, and knock on wood, it’ll continue.” Harvin, who had a scary episode during practice in Minnesota last year, has visited dozens of doctors and specialists and received even more explanations and treatments the migraines than he can count. He believes it has been five or six months since he last experienced one and hopes this streak continues permanently.

2 » Cleveland Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta, one of the best baseball players ever to wear a Florida Gators uniform, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the club on Saturday after he severely sprained his ankle on Friday while caught in a rundown. LaPorta is currently hitting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBI.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with Dime Magazine, Florida center Vernon Macklin touches on a number of topics including his workouts leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft, decision to transfer to the Gators, opinion of how he can succeed in the pros, and plans for draft day. Here are a few choice selections from the interview, which can be read in full right here.

Dime: Are you happy with the decision you made to come to Florida for two years after spending your first two at Georgetown?
VM: I’m pretty happy about it. I think Coach (Billy Donovan) took a great risk in taking me, transferring from a school and not playing as much. But I think I went in there and played hard for him for the two years. And I sat out a year, I learned a lot from him and a lot of guys. So I think it was a great fit.

Dime: How did it feel to make such a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?
VM: It was good. I’m happy we made the run. It’s been a while for Florida to be back and playing good basketball. So us making a run to the Elite Eight and being able to compete every single game in the tournament was great for us. It was also great for Coach Donovan and the whole program.

4 » Some more improvements are going to be made to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – both inside and out – in the next two-to-three years. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabble, Florida is looking to upgrade some of the Gators’ facilities in ways that will benefit both student-athletes and fans.

The board also approved a variety of renovation projects, some using $2.8 million in reserves and the rest using $15 million in bonds planned to be issued. Reserves will be spent on projects that include the resurfacing of the Percy Beard Track and the conversion of staff and JV locker rooms in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to football meeting rooms and a player lounge.

The bonds, which still must be approved by the Florida Board of Governors, would be spent on projects that include renovations to the gymnastics studio in the O’Connell Center and the baseball and softball stadium scoreboards. Renovations would be made to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that include changes to concession stands and bathrooms, [athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

2011 College World Series: Florida vs. Texas

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – College World Series
Location: TD Ameritrade Park – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 24,505]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (7) TEXAS LONGHORNS
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Augie Garrido
Record: 50-17 Record: 49-17
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida: Sophomore LHP Hudson Randall (10-3, 2.29 ERA)
Texas: Junior RHP Taylor Jungmann (13-2, 1.38 ERA)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Texas met in the 2005 CWS Championship Series with the Longhorns sweeping the Gators via back-to-back 4-2 and 6-2 wins to earn the title. That is the only time that UT and UF have every gone head-to-head in baseball until Saturday.
» Florida is one victory away from tying a school record for most in a season.
» The Gators are 38-7 this year when scoring first and 40-3 when outhitting their opponent. Florida is also 34-6 when hitting a home run and 21-5 when playing error-free.
» UF has scored 201 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Florida is 27-0 when holding opponents to two or fewer runs and 36-1 when allowing three runs or less. The Gators are 7-15 when scoring less than three runs and 2-13 when trailing after seven innings.
» UF is 43-2 when scoring four runs or more and 43-0 when leading after seven frames.
» Florida is making its seventh appearance in the CWS and third since 2005. UF has never won a national championship in the sport of baseball.
» The Gators are one of two teams (South Carolina) to play in the final CWS held at Rosenblatt Stadium and compete in the first one at TD Ameritrade Park.
» UF is in the CWS in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
» Texas is the top-ranked team in the Big 12, finishing with a 19-8 record in league play.
» The Longhorns are 13-8 when not playing at home this season.
» UT is the winningest program in college baseball history (based on winning percentage) and has the second-most wins all-time (3,149).
» Texas holds the record for most CWS appearances (34) and most games won (82).
» The Longhorns have won six NCAA baseball titles (1949, 1950, 1975, 2002, 2005) and have appeared in the Championship Series a total of 12 times.
» The Florida and Texas boast different strengths. The Gators lead the Longhorns in batting average (.311-.272), runs scored (435-345), hits (715-580), homers (67-17) and RBI (404-304). However, UT holds advantages in steals (75-56), walks (286-228), ERA (2.27-3.01), saves (23-14), strikeouts (555-504) and batting average against (.196-.245).

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore LHP/DH Brian Johnson (concussion) – Cleared to play
Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox (foot) – Able to pitch; hitting to be determined

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.376), hits (92), homers (18), runs (72), slugging (.686)…and strikeouts (47). He also has 66 RBI on the season. Zunino has more home runs (18) this year than the entire Texas team combined (17).
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 68 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .314 with 83 hits, 53 runs, 14 homers and 27 walks.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…arguably the strongest fielder on the team who has also broke out offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .301 with 72 hits, 55 runs, 47 RBI and a team-high 50 walks. He has hit safely in 21-straight games.
» Maddox…who has made 19 relief appearances (24.1 innings) and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. He is also the team’s starting first baseman when healthy and is hitting .380 with six homers and 35 RBI.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde (0-0, 2.03 ERA)…who has made a team-high 33 appearances this season and earned two saves in 40 innings pitched. He has amassed 51 strikeouts against only seven walks this season. Just seven of the 26 hits he has allowed over the course of the year have gone for extra bases.
» Texas freshman third baseman Erich Weiss…who leads his team in batting average (.358), RBI (44), walks (53) and slugging percentage (.532) and has also scored 46 runs in 218 trips to the plate this season.
» Longhorns closer Corey Knebel (3-2, 1.15 ERA)…who has pitched in a team-high 37 games and amassed 19 saves via 60 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

FOUR BITS: USA Softball, Maddox, Claye, NCAA

1 » Two Florida Gators softball players, junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, were named to the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team on Friday. Unfortunately, senior first baseman Megan Bush and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle also competed for positions on the team but were not selected. Team USA will be competing in a number of events over the next five months including the World Cup of Softball VI and XVI Pan American Games.

2 » Reports coming out of Omaha, NE have Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan giving sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox (foot) a thumbs up to play with the team during the 2011 College World Series. Maddox has not played since injuring his foot while catching a pop foul on June 3. Should he be a go for the CWS, Maddox will give the Gators a pair of starting two-way players [sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion)] who are returning from injury just in time.

3 » Florida junior jumper Will Claye has been named the 2011 USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year, the organization announced on Thursday. A transfer from Oklahoma, Claye won the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championship and 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship in the triple jump as well as another SEC title in the long jump this year alone. He was also named 2011 SEC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year this season.

4 » The Gators football program self-reported two secondary violations to the SEC and NCAA in January, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George, who received the information via a records request. Florida disclosed that one assistant coach responded to a text message from a recruit and another called a recruit twice in one week. The school instituted a mandatory no-contact period from May 1-14 in order to atone for the mistakes. NCAA rules state that coaches cannot text recruits until they sign with the school; additionally, coaches can only call recruits once per week.

Thompson confident he will succeed at Florida

Four-star tight end Colin Thompson (Warminster, PA) has only been verbally committed to the Florida Gators for a month. Nevertheless, he is supremely confident that Gainesville, FL is the right place for him and can’t wait start playing for head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jamie Newberg, Thompson conveyed his excitement.

“I love [Muschamp’s] vision,” Thompson said. “There is just something about him. He’s so positive. There’s not a negative bone in his body. I remember when I committed to him I got a big ‘Yahoo!’ out of him. I think Coach Muschamp is a huge pickup for Florida.”

“The fact is if Charlie Weis wasn’t there they may not have even offered me,” he said. “He has been a big influence on me. How can you say no to Charlie Weis? He has intangibles, and I have nothing but great things to say about him. He will succeed there. There are no excuses for Florida because he’s their offensive coordinator.”

When it all came down to it, Thompson realized that wearing the Orange and Blue was the right move for him going forward. He says he will “shoot for the stars” at the University of Florida and do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“In the end I just realized that there was no better place for me in the country than Florida,” Thompson said. “I visited 15 schools, and I wanted to find the right place for me. Florida has great football, it’s a great school and Gainesville is a great town. Florida is the complete package with great people. The coaching staff is highly respected. I have become friends with them.”

Though Thompson talked to Newberg extensively about the Gators, the article’s focus is the impact he makes off the field and in the community, including his relationship with John Shulby, a teenager with Down syndrome who he befriended in eighth grade.

Thompson (6’5” 255 lbs.) is the No. 6 ranked tight end by Rivals but is considered the top player at his position in the country by ESPNU.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Danny Wuerffel comments on his condition

In the process of recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an internal disorder in which one’s immune system mistakenly attacks its nerves, former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel has now been receiving treatment for a full week.

He spoke with The New York Times on Thursday and opened up for the first time about his unfortunate circumstances.

“It puts life into perspective, doesn’t it?” Wuerffel told the Times’ Ray Glier. “The last time I was [in Birmingham, AL] we thought the shoulder was serious stuff.”

Wuerffel also communicated to the paper that former Florida head coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, as well as current Gators head coach Will Muschamp, have reached out to him to send their best wishes.

As OGGOA first reported Wednesday, Wuerffel is not being forced to stay in the hospital overnight while he continues to receive treatment. However, he is not completely out of the woods yet even though the expectation is that he will recover from, as the Times put it Thursday, “the most serious aspects of the disorder.”

We will provide updates and relay any additional concrete information we learn about Wuerffel’s condition as soon as possible. For now, please respect his family’s privacy, pray for his health and hope for a speedy recovery.

Wuerffel has requested that any gifts, donations or letters of support be made to DSM rather than him personally. Should you wish to send any of the aforementioned, please direct them to adam@onlygators.com, and I will forward them to the appropriate contact.

Johnson cleared to play; Maddox still day-to-day

The Florida Gators’ medical staff has cleared sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion) to play in the 2011 College World Series, the University of Florida announced on Thursday.

He has been sidelined since May 28 after he was hit in the back as sophomore catcher Mike Zunino tried to throw out a runner stealing second base.

Johnson will slide back into his spot in the lineup and will likely be added back to the starting pitching rotation as well. He is 8-3 with a 3.66 ERA on the mound and hitting .312 with five home runs, 27 RBI, 26 runs and 19 walks at the plate.

The news is not as positive for Gators sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox, who hurt his foot while catching a pop out in foul territory on June 3. He continues to be listed as day-to-day and it is unknown if he will be able to return this season.

No. 2 Florida (50-17) opens the CWS on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Texas.

Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Workouts intensify as draft nears

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Jet-setting across the country working out for nearly every team in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday while spending a rare day off in Denver, CO. After fitting in four workouts in a handful of days, including traveling to-and-from the northeast, he finally found an opportunity to rest while on the West Coast for a three-meeting swing. Parsons will end his scheduled workouts in Boston, MA on June 20 and will be checking in with us once more before the draft and one more time afterward.

We last spoke with Parsons the night before he met with the New Jersey Nets.

New Jersey went really well. It was the first time I got to workout against Kyle Singler from Duke. Also there was [head coach] Avery Johnson, their GM [Billy King] and basically their whole staff was there watching the workout. I shot well, played well and got really good feedback from them. I felt that they were really big on me.

It was pretty much the same as most of the workouts but there was a lot of drill work. They put us in their plays and sets and had us play out of them – coming off curls, coming off flares, playing one-on-one on different spots on the floor.

After that I went to Washington and that was really cool. Sam Cassel, the old Florida State guy [and now an assistant coach], ran that workout. Their coach was there, Flip Saunders, and that was another really good workout. I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein] today, and he said the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards right now – those three are showing a lot of interest.

I actually got to workout with Vernon Macklin that time and that guy Jeremy Tyler, who didn’t go to college and went straight to Japan. Also there were Malclom Lee from UCLA and Nolan Smith from Duke.

Vernon’s been doing good. I haven’t been working out with him much – he works out for different teams than I do for the most part – but I’m hearing he’s doing really well. I heard he did really well at Portsmouth [Invitational] and I heard he’s been doing good at the workouts. At the workout I did with him, he did really good. The guy he went against, Jeremy Tyler, is a projected first-round pick and Vernon did just as good as he did. He’s working really hard at it.

Those guys [including Alex Tyus] are continuing to help themselves. They’re playing hard, showing their athleticism and, going through this process, they’ve gotten a lot out of it and helped themselves for this draft.

After Washington I went over to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was tough. It was probably the hardest workout yet. Not just because of length, but they legit had me do running and conditioning, three suicides in two minutes. It was also a great workout. It was me, Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State, Klay Thompson from Washington State and Alec Burks from Colorado. It was top guys, first-round guys in the workout. Everyone was going hard. They did a drill at the end that before even the drill started, the coach pulled us aside and said, ‘This is a really tough drill.’

In the NBA there’s the defensive three seconds. So basically it’s a drill where there’s a coach on one wing, a coach on the top of the key and a player on the other wing. You’re sliding back-and-forth in the lane getting your feet in and your feet out. When the other coach on the wing slides, you have to step up outside the lane, stop him, and then he skips it to the guy and you have to close out and play one-on-one from there. You have to do that for all six of the guys you’re working out against. And that’s after an entire workout – a full-blown shooting, three-on-three, one-on-one and three suicides in two minutes. That was pretty tough.

I was exhausted – exhausted after that. I ate, interviewed and got on a plane to New York City. I flew into LaGuardia [Airport] to work out of the New York Knicks, but it’s not in MSG it’s at their practice facility, which is about an hour away. I got in around 8-9 p.m. and then had to wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. to workout for the Knicks.

The Knicks were awesome. Everybody was there – [head coach Mike] D’Antoni, [director of pro scouting] John Gabriel, [former team president now consultant] Donnie Walsh, [assistant general manager] Allan Houston – their entire staff. It was kind of a last-minute thing, but they wanted to really see me. So it was just me and three other guys. These workouts are tough with six guys, so you can imagine how it is with four guys.

I was going against Justin Harper from Richmond, who is also projected to go first round. It was two-on-two full court instead of three-on-three and a lot of one-on-one drills. Limited breaks because there were less people. It was good. Allan Houston called my agent afterward and said I was a lot more athletic than they thought, competed well and am in really good shape.

I flew out from there last night to Denver. The best part about this whole this is the unlimited room service. So I’ve been eating filet mignon, French onion soup and ahi tuna like it’s my job! I have off all day today, so I woke up with some pancakes, fruit, chocolate milk and went down to the hot tub and the steam room for a while.

Now me and E’Twaun Moore [of Purdue] are going up to the practice gym to get the shots up. I can finally relax and just kind of catch my wind, get the jet leg out of me before another big workout tomorrow.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome during this draft process?
PARSONS: “Every city, every team I work out for is a job interview. You got to go in there, and you got to prove people wrong. You only have one opportunity for a first impression, so I put all my chips on the table and I go into every workout working as hard as I can, showing these people what I can do. I want to show these teams I’ve gotten more athletic, stronger, that I can handle the ball. I want to show these teams what I can do and how I can help their system.”

Q: Growing up in the Orlando area, was it always your dream to play for the Magic or just to play professionally in the NBA?
PARSONS: “My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but my family has been season ticket holders since day one for the Magic. Looking at the draft and what the Magic have, they only have one pick which is the 53rd pick. Doubtful I’ll be around for the 53rd pick, so my chances of playing for the Magic are very slim. That would have been awesome, but no matter what city I go to I’ll be living my dream. I’ll eventually play in Orlando [on the road]. My family has been so supportive my whole career. I could go to Toronto and they’re going to be at a lot of games. It would be awesome to play in Orlando so I could have my friends and family see me play, but how supportive and how good my family’s been to me, no matter where I go, they’re going to be there.”

Go Gators,

OGGOA Caption Contest: Win a Scentsy Warmer

If you like FREE SWAG and think you have a good sense of humor – this is the contest for you! E-MAIL us your funniest caption to the picture at contest@onlygators.com for the chance to win a FREE Florida Gators Scentsy Warmer (with a complimentary fragrance bar)! There will be ONE WINNER, but you are encouraged to submit multiple captions in order to increase your chances of winning.

OGGOA REVIEW: Whether you are a huge Florida Gators fan or you simply want the rooms in your house to smell better than they ever have before, adding an Orange and Blue Scentsy Warmer with the Gatorhead logo prominently featured on the front may be just what you need. Using a low-watt bulb, these warmers slowly melt specially formulated wax that gives off an amazing scent that you simply won’t believe. There is no flame, smoke or soot as a result of this process as the Scentsy wickless candle system is a safe way to enjoy a wide variety of fragrances. The bars come in a wide variety of scents, ranging from baked apple pie and cinnamon vanilla to pima cotton and Mediterranean spa. There is even a men’s collection with options like Hemingway, Route 66 and embers. Perhaps best of all, the Scentsy Warmer is safe enough for a child’s room and there are so many other styles and colors (if you so choose) that you could have one in every room in your home. If you want to avoid messy candles, spray bottles and ugly plug-ins but still want an area to smell fantastic, a Scentsy Warmer is the way to go. A portion of the proceeds from the Florida Gators Warmer goes to the University of Florida.

OGGOA has given away multiple DVDs, a Gators Fathead, Florida Field rug, Game Day purse, Into the Swamp book, pieces of Gators art, T Bow Towels, Gillette Pro Fusion razors, a Turlington Scarf and other goodies throughout our 20 months of existence. There are a number of other giveaways coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

Best of luck to everyone!

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