Five days later, A.C. Leonard recommits to Gators

Less than a week after decommitting from the Florida Gators, four-star tight end recruit A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) has renewed his pledge to the University of Florida and claims that it is his final decision, according to a report from Scout.com.

Leonard told Scout that outside influences were pulling him in different directions and giving him bad advice about his future; after thinking about it, he decided to recommit and is “shutting the whole process down” out of respect for the Gators.

“I will enroll early at the University of Florida in January to try and help bring a championship back to Gainesville,” he told Scout‘s Jason Higdon. “I want to apologize to the Gator Nation and coach [Urban] Meyer, coach [Scot] Loeffler and coach [Brian] White. [...] I am 100 percent Gator and the recruiting process is over.”

Florida’s second commitment for 2011 (he verbally agreed to join the team on Nov. 29, 2009), Leonard is also the third-highest rated behind five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC). After decommiting on Oct. 13, he said he was considering Alabama, Miami and Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Harrison Diamond/The Alligator

OGGOA RELATED: A.C. Leonard decommits, opens up recruitment

10/18: Donovan speaks on leadership, freshmen

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the key news and notes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional quotes after the break.

POST PRESENCE SHOULD HELP SHOOTING PERCENTAGE

A lot of factors contributed to the backcourt’s inefficiency shooting the ball last season. Looking back on the 2009-10 team, junior point guard Erving Walker and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton were basically on an island without any depth behind them. This led to the duo being fatigued and forced to shoot lower percentage shots earlier than preferred. Donovan believes that will no longer be an issue this year. He expects Walker, Boynton and senior forward Chandler Parsons to get “better and cleaner looks” than they had previously as Florida will be making it a point to establish a scoring presence inside early and often.

“[The players] have shot the ball pretty well in practice. Right now our defense is probably ahead of our offense. Chandler even made a comment to me that he thought in practice it was a lot more difficult to get to the rim, it was a lot more difficult to rebound, things that maybe he was able to do the last couple of years he sees as more difficult,” Donovan said. “The shooting part of it, I think Kenny and Erving and even Chandler will be better shooting the ball just with having a better understanding of shot selection. Both Erving and Kenny, part of their struggles percentage-wise, was a lot of minutes fatigue wise, we really needed them to score, and probably were in situations where they had to take some more difficult shots. Those guys, up to this point, have shot the ball better – maybe because they’re older.”

LEADERSHIP MAKING AN IMPACT

For the first time since the Oh-Fours left for the NBA and the remnants of the back-to-back National Championship teams graduated, the Gators have strong leadership in the form of upperclassmen who can do so both with their words and by example. “In terms of our older guys, they’ve been very good leadership-wise, they’ve practiced well,” Donovan said. “They’ve done a good job trying to lead. We went some tough physical practice here Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So far up to this point in time I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

Donovan also spoke about how important it is to have a team with some depth experience-wise. “Any time you have leaders and older guys that have been through it there’s no question it’s helpful. They can set a standard or measuring stick for your younger guys to understand where they got to get to,” he said. “Any coach would always want some upperclassmen and older guys on their team. That’s always a positive.”

PATRIC YOUNG “PLAYS LIKE TARZAN”

The entire freshman class has impressed Donovan with their energy, enthusiasm and effort through his team’s first three practices. And while all of the freshmen stand out in different ways, physically no one commands attention like four-star power forward Patric Young. Listed at 6’9” (though he will argue 6’10”) and 245 lbs., Young looks as if he was chiseled from stone and plays as if no one can hurt him.

“He’s been really, really blessed physically,” Donovan said of Young. “You can see guys that look great physically, but they don’t’ play well physically. It’s the old, ‘Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.’ He plays like Tarzan. Physically he goes after it. He enjoys contact, he wants physical confrontation – he likes that. There [are] a lot of guys that don’t want any part of that.”

One of Young’s most promising characteristics is his love for defense and shot blocking, something Donovan realizes is a major positive but must be corralled and used appropriately. “We are definitely a better shot-blocking team [with Young] and have more of a presence at the rim,” he said. “When you’re constantly leaving your feet to block shots, there [are] two things that really end up becoming a problem. One is fouls of guys being out of position and getting fouls. The second thing is, when they leave the floor, you can break block-out situations and you can give up a lot of offensive rebounds. So as much as Patric Young, energy-wise, just wants to jump around the lane and try to block shots all the time, for every shot he blocks he’s given up two or three offensive rebounds when he doesn’t block-out. And the decision of, ‘When do I go chase a shot and try to block it or when do I have to go back and try to block-out,’ those are things experience-wise that take a lot of time to figure out.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/18: Donovan speaks on leadership, freshmen

Florida honored by media in preseason SEC poll

The Florida Gators were predicted by members of the media on Monday to win the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship in men’s basketball.

Florida earned eight first-place votes for the overall title and 13 first-place votes for the East division crown. Mississippi State, which received 18 votes to win the West, followed them in championship polling with three votes. Kentucky was tabbed as second in the East with three votes.

The Gators return all five starters from a year ago and have significantly beefed up their bench with a young but talented freshman class. The media elected two starters, senior forward Chandler Parsons and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, to the preseason All-SEC second team. Boynton was named SEC Freshman of the Year last season.

Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. With basketball beginning practice last week and so much to discuss following the game, we unfortunately had to skip over our grades for the LSU Tigers game. However, this week, we are back with grades as we take a look at how the Gators fared against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the seventh game of the 2010-11 season, which took place on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State game

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 6 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 6 action, some 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 sixth week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: Six carries for 23 yards, touchdown (long: 6)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Three receptions for 21 yards, two rushes for 18 yards, 95-yard kickoff return touchdown (total: three returns for 134 yards)
DEFENSE
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: 16 tackles (10 solo)
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Two solo tackles, interception (62-yard return)

Videos of Tebow, Harvin and Haden’s plays available by clicking here.

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Five tackles (four solo, TFL), pass def.
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Team-high six rec. for 81 yards (long: 27)
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two solo tackles, sack
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Three solo tackles
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Beat for three touchdowns
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Six tackles (four solo), sack
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Four receptions for 61 yards (targets: 6, long: 30), one rush for 18 yards
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Three tackles (two solo)
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two solo tackles
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Reception for four yards, carry for 43 yards
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Tackle
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Target

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
DE Derrick Harvey [solo tackle], DT Jeremy Mincey (Jacksonville Jaguars)

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey, LT Max Starks (Pittsburgh Steelers); G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) – DE Jarvis Moss (Broncos), DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions), CB Lito Sheppard (Vikings) WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), RB Fred Taylor (Patriots), LB Brandon Siler (San Diego Chargers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

BYE WEEK
LB Andra Davis, WR David Nelson (Buffalo Bills); WR Andre Caldwell, S Reggie Nelson, DE Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)

INACTIVES
S Major Wright (Chicago Bears)

NOTES
- Tebow recorded his first NFL touchdown.
- Haden recorded his first NFL interception.
- Harvin recorded his third NFL kick return in two seasons.
- Crowder saw his first action this season after sitting out first four games (groin).
- Sheppard was beat for three touchdowns.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

TWO BITS: Wise wins No. 700, soccer triumphs

1 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (15-1, 9-0 SEC) won its 11th straight match on Sunday while also earning head coach Mary Wise her milestone 700th career win with yet another dominating victory in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. In fact, volleyball won twice at home over the weekend, defeating the Auburn Tigers 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-22) on Friday and the Georgia Bulldogs 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-19) on Sunday. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy reached a feat of her own on Friday, becoming the 29th player in program history to amass 1,000 points. She recorded her nation-high fifth triple-double of the season on Friday and performed in dominating fashion once again on Sunday. Combined she posted 26 kills, 43 assists and 19 digs in the two matches. Wise’s career record now stands at 700-131; she is the 16th coach in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball history to reach the milestone and has won 18 Southeastern Conference Championships while also coaching teams to 18 NCAA Regional Semifinal berths and seven Final Four appearances.

2 » Hoping to rebound from only their second tie and loss of the season last week, No. 13 Florida soccer (12-2-2, 6-1-1 SEC) also had a thrilling weekend, winning a pair of matches at home in Gainesville, FL. On Friday the Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (7-7-1, 4-2-1 SEC) 4-2, while on Sunday Florida took down No. 21 Georgia (9-3-4, 4-1-3 SEC) 2-1 in overtime. Junior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis (27’, 53’) and junior F Lindsay Thompson (29’, 32’) each posted a pair of goals for UF on Friday with sophomore MF/F Erika Tymrak (82’, 97’) running the entire offensive show on Sunday. The Gators only have three more regular season matches this season before the 2010 SEC Tournament begins on Nov. 3 in Orange Beach, AL.

Photo Credit: Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

Tebow, Harvin, Haden make big plays Sunday

Though OGGOA will still be posting our Florida Gators in the NFL week six recap on Monday, we wanted to take a moment to showcase the performances of three players in particular who made big plays for their respective teams on Sunday.

» Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow scoring his first career touchdown:

» Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin with his third career return TD:

» Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden with his first career interception:

Third-straight loss drops Florida out of polls

Defeated for the third-straight week, this time to an unranked opponent, the Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) become unranked themselves, falling out of both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Florida lost to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) 10-7 on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators are out of the top 25 for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer. No. 22, where Florida was ranked in both polls last week, was the lowest the team had been listed during Meyer’s tenure.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (49), Oregon (6), Boise State (1), Nebraska (2), TCU (1), Oklahoma, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Utah, Michigan State, South Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa, Stanford, Wisconsin, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Air Force, Michigan, West Virginia

This Week 1-25: Oregon (42), Boise State (11), Oklahoma (4), TCU (1), Auburn (1), LSU, Alabama, Michigan State, Utah, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Florida State, Arizona, West Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Miami (FL)

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (34), Oregon (15), Boise State (8), TCU (1), Nebraska, Oklahoma (2), Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, Michigan State, Stanford, Iowa, Florida State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Florida, Air Force, Oregon State, West Virginia

This Week 1-25: Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma, TCU, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Michigan State, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Stanford, Iowa, Arizona, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, South Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Miami (FL)

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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