8/17: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is in the midst of their second week of fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Tuesday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

INJURIES PILING UP

Redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks will miss about a month after having surgery on his back last week. He is expected to make a full recovery. Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (ankle) is sitting out while his main competition, redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist), is back working out. Like Nixon, redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (hamstring) is currently recovering and listed as day-to-day. Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) is at full speed, and though junior running back Jeff Demps has missed a few practices with a concussion, he is back, too.

MORE STRIPES COME OFF

Freshmen offensive tackle Ian Silberman and tight end Gerald Christian both had their black helmet stripes removed on Tuesday. That now makes 10 frosh who are stripe-less with 16 more to go.

POWELL TAKING A WHILE

With freshmen DTs Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley and safety Matt Elam impressing early, defensive end Ronald Powell is bringing up the rear in terms of development for arguably the team’s top four 2010 recruits. “Powell’s a little bit behind [Floyd and Easley], but he’s coming on,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “He gained a little weight, because he wants to be bigger. We’re trying to knock a few pounds off him.”

QUOTES

Meyer on sophomore S Will Hill’s improvement: “Night and day. There were a lot of issues. We’ve got 105 guys and he was a guy that drank the poison, or whatever you want to call it. Now he’s going as hard as we’ve ever had a safety go around here, and he’s doing really well. He and [co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach] Chuck Heater have a good little deal going on back there. His position coach is real strong. Everyone knows Heater. He handles things a certain way and expects great effort and great performance on- and off-the-field. We’re starting to see that now with him.”

Meyer on defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin’s effect on junior CB Janoris Jenkins: “The same thing you see from our safeties. We have a big saying around here: ‘power of the unity.’ That’s a unit that’s really going well and [Jenkins] is the leader. Night and day. You’re going to see a really good player this season. He’s no nonsense. He’s just 100 percent all the time. It’s a credit to his position coach. Change is good. The transition is good. Janoris is the man there and he knows it.”

Meyer on S Jordan Haden transferring: “Jordan’s a great young man. […] When you have that name on the back of your jersey, that’s darn near Tebow-ish. That’s Pouncey-ish. When you start talking about the name, there’s an expectation level that is sometimes not fair. […] I was worried about that when we first started recruiting him because those are tough shoes to fill right there. But he’ll be fine, and we’ll help him do all we can.”

Meyer on the WRs as a whole:Deonte [Thompson] is there, Carl Moore’s there. I’m hoping Omarius Hines gets there real soon. Quinton Dunbar is darn close – that kid’s good. Andre Debose is struggling – just dead legs right now, but he’s coming back.”

Meyer clarifying Hines’ role on the team: “He’s not a tight end, he’s a movement guy. [...] We’re kind of created a position in the last few years, the ‘Percy [Harvin] position’ and the ‘Aaron Hernandez position,’ and if you have that, you can be dynamic. I think he’s got that kind of ability. He’s doing well.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and The Gainesville Sun for the above quotes.

It’s a tough job, but John Brantley has to do it

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach put together an interesting profile piece Tuesday on Florida Gators redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley, covering his efforts to become a leader for the team along with the high praise he is already earning from three former players (including two family members).

Former Gators QB Shane Matthews: “He’s got more pressure on him than any player in college football history. […] I’ve been around Florida football since 1989. He’s the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen. People laugh at me when I say that, but they’ll see. […] There are a lot of ways to be a leader. There’s a fiery way, which is the way Tim [Tebow] was after a touchdown run. Danny [Wuerffel] would throw a touchdown, say a prayer and walk to the sideline. It’s going to take the Gator Nation a while to realize this kid is going to be a leader.”

Former Florida linebacker (and uncle) Scot Brantley: “I warned him, ‘Hey, Johnny, you’re going to be an outsider going [to Texas] and trying to win the No. 1 job and take it from a Texas quarterback. Are you nuts?’ He was born a Gator, only 35 miles down the road. […] I think it does help to have the [family] name recognition. […] It’s a position not many people would touch with a 10-foot pole. I believe Tim was the greatest player who ever played the game. There are only a few people who could replace him, and I think Johnny will do it.”

Former Gators QB (and father) John Brantley III: “It’s a situation I wouldn’t want to be in. But I think it’s a situation he’ll embrace. He’s been going to Florida games since he was 2 years old. He knows what he’s taking on, and he’s ready. […] John has a phenomenal support group around him. The most important thing is he has that locker room behind him. Those guys have his back.”

NOTES OF INTEREST

» Brantley’s family hosted a barbecue for the Florida offensive line a few weeks ago, particularly to help the signal caller and his guardians bond over some good eats.

» Former Gators QBs including Matthews, Chris Leak, Doug Johnson, Kerwin Bell and Eric Kresser have been keeping in contact with and supporting Brantley.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

FOUR BITS: Hammond, Whitson, Nixon, Alli

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. disappointed his coaches, teammates and fans with his unlawful actions over the summer, but according to WR coach Zach Azzanni, he is doing his best to make amends on the field. “He’s got a good attitude, Azzanni said, according to the Miami Herald. “It’s like I tell him, ‘You can’t walk around here with your head down all the time.’ He’s a great kid who made a bad – a bad, bad – choice and a bad decision. He knows that. He’s a good kid, and he’s just trying to make amends right now by keeping his mouth shut and playing as hard as he can.”

2 » Florida baseball got some shockingly good news late Monday evening as 2010 MLB Draft first-round pick pitcher Karsten Whitson declined to sign a rookie contract with the San Diego Padres before the league’s midnight deadline. Rather than compete as the No. 9 overall pick for approximately $2 million, Whitson has decided to take his talents (video) to Gainesville, FL, and the Gators. At 7-3 with 123 strikeouts in 55 innings last season, Whitson will not be allowed to re-enter the draft until after his junior season.

3 » Though he got some work as a starter at left tackle last season as a true freshman (five games), sophomore Xavier Nixon is currently competing with redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan for the first-team role and is doing what he can to win the job. “I see it as no different than last year,” Nixon said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Whether you’re on the blind side or the front side, the guy across from you is trying to kill you, so you better protect yourself and the quarterback.”

4 » Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson spoke out about his position-mate redshirt freshman Stephen Alli on Monday, nothing that he has really been coming along. “He’s making strides,” Thompson said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “He’s going to be a great player here in the near future. He’s getting his game down. Coach Z is one of the best things that could happen to him because he’s going to get him back to fundamentals and teaching him the game. Yeah. He’s a freak athlete. He goes up and gets the ball, too.” Azzanni agreed. “Alli needs to figure out what he can do well,” he said. “Once he figures out that his job is going over the top of people and being physical, he’s going to start blossoming some more.”

Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen, Jr./St. Petersburg Times

FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Brantley, Arkansas, Page

1 » Remember how former Florida Gators center/guard Maurkice Pouncey was supposed to start at the latter position for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that fans should not jump to any conclusions considering the fact that Pouncey has actually been splitting time with incumbent starter Justin Hartwig at first-team center in recent practices. Whether or not Pouncey starts at center during the first week of the 2010-11 NFL season is of no consequence; already getting reps there is indicative of his bright long-term future with the team.

2 » Speaking with the Sporting News, former Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel said he doubted Alabama running back Mark Ingram could repeat his 2009 honor while putting Gators redshirt junior starter John Brantley firmly in the running. “I’m not just being a loyal Gator on this one – OK, maybe a little bit. Brantley has tons of young offensive talent around him and supposedly a new scheme that fits his style better so he could put up huge stats,” Wuerffel said. “Plus, the best teams on Florida’s schedule – Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida State – all return less than half of their defensive starters from last year. If UF loses two regular-season games or less,which I think is likely, Brantley will be in the discussion.”

3 » Arkansas radio personality Renee Gork was fired by her station – KAKS – on Monday after Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bobby Petrino became enraged that she wore a Gators hat to his press conference on Saturday. According to the Associated Press, “Gork, a Florida graduate, said she grabbed the hat without thinking Saturday because it was raining outside. She also said she sent a letter of apology to the university and Petrino.”

4 » Former Florida star women’s basketball player and 11-year WNBA veteran Murriel Page was hired as an assistant coach under head coach Amanda Butler on Monday. Inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame this past April, Page (1994-98) was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference honoree in 1997 and 1998 and a finalist for the 1998 Naismith Player of the Year and Associated Press National Player of the Year awards. “Murriel’s professional experience, her passion for the Gators and the quality of person that she is makes her the perfect fit for our program,” Butler said in a UF release. “We looked at a number of different applicants from a variety of backgrounds and locations and Muriel stood out to everyone.”

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

FOUR BITS: Story, Harvin, Howard, McGarity

1 » Three-star wide receiver recruit Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL) committed to the Florida Gators on June 28, but his actions more than a month later may – or may not – have an impact on that decision. According to the Hernando County Sherrif’s Office, Story was arrested late Sunday night on charges of battery after attempting to break up a fight between four women (one of whom was the mother of his brother’s child). “When I turned around, her and a woman and her two daughters was about to fight,” Story told The Gainesville Sun’s Edward Aschoff. “So I came over because there was knives and I took a box cuter from my brother’s [girlfriend], but one of the other girls had two knives. I tried to tell her to leave but she wasn’t listening.” Contrary to what a spectator told police, Story said he did not hit anyone but simply pushed the parties apart. “I was just trying to break everything up since no one else was,” he added. “I didn’t do anything wrong. The only thing I did wrong was be there.”

2 » As reported by Len Pasquarelli on Sunday, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin rejoined the Minnesota Vikings on Monday after having missed training camp since July 31. In the interim, his grandmother passed away, his migraine headaches once again became a nuisance and some believe he also lost a close personal friend. Regardless, Harvin is now back on the field after answering a “five-day letter.”

Two more BITS on Jaye Howard and Greg McGarity…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Story, Harvin, Howard, McGarity

8/16: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is going into their second week of fall practice and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during the morning session. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the early portion of the day…more later…

PLAYERS RETURN

Both senior linebacker Brandon Hicks (dehydration) and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) returned to practice in full on Monday.

JENKINS PULLS AHEAD

LB coach D.J. Durkin told reporters that redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins is currently ahead of sophomore Jon Bostic, but they are not necessarily playing the same position right now and may both start. It is expected that only one of the two will be able to start alongside Hicks and redshirt senior A.J. Jones.

MORE STRIPES REMOVED

Three more freshmen – quarterback Trey Burton and defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley – had their black helmet stripes removed by the coaching staff. That is now a total of six frosh who no longer have their stripes on.

Some are reporting that safety Matt Elam and WR Quinton Dunbar lost theirs over the weekend. This is likely considering how the staff raved about them after the scrimmage.

MEYER STILL SPECIAL

Senior punter Chas Henry noted that head coach Urban Meyer, not special teams coach Durkin, remains in charge of the punt return and coverage units. Perhaps Durkin is handling the kickoff and field goal teams at this point.

QUOTES

Defensive line coach Dan McCarney on Floyd and Easley: “They really scrimmaged well. They’re showing each day that they belong on the field this year, and they’re going to help our defense as true freshmen. I’m proud of them. They’re physical guys. We felt they were two of the better players in the country last year. They were two of the guys we targeted from the beginning. We’ve still got a ways to go, but in the scrimmage and all the practices, they don’t look one bit out of place. They look like they belong. The look like they belong on the field this year.”

Running backs coach Stan Drayton on sophomore RB Mike Gillislee: “He had a phenomenal scrimmage. He toughed it out, played through some injuries. He made plays. He had some explosive plays down the sideline in the run game. He protected in the pass game. I’m really excited about where GIlly is at this point. [The light] is definitely coming on for him. He’s feeling it. He knows he’s being counted on to play for us. He’s ready to go. He’s getting himself ready to play a game.”

Drayton on freshman RB Mack Brown: “His potential is phenomenal. But he’s still playing slow because he’s thinking a lot. We threw a whole big playbook at him in a week. He’s sitting there trying to assess all that, then execute the play. He’s playing slow, but the ability is there. When we are able to just give him something he knows, you see the flash of a great talent. That will all come in time.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun here and here for the above quotations.

Tebow’s debut: the good, the bad and the ugly

Considering every other media outlet has or will dissect Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow‘s first game as a professional, OGGOA figured we would take a look at the former Florida Gators signal caller’s performance by breaking it down into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Throughout Sunday night’s game, Tebow displayed much of what helped him succeed at Florida – a strong arm, good pocket awareness, solid decision making and the ability to go through his progressions. However, there were some faults to his game to point out as well (see below).

Keep reading for more details and a video complete with all of Tebow’s highlights.
Continue Reading » Tebow’s debut: the good, the bad and the ugly

Freshman S Jordan Haden granted transfer

Though rumors of displeasure with his role on the team existed throughout the week, Florida Gators freshman safety Jordan Haden was believed to simply be going through the growing pains of college football. Instead, according to the Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman, Haden has decided to transfer from the University of Florida.

“Haden will be transferring,” his father Joe Haden, Sr. told the paper, without providing many more details other than the fact that head coach Urban Meyer and the staff are “working on” getting the scholarship release request completed.

UPDATE: The Gators have granted Haden an unconditional release without any restrictions on where he can attend.

“No hard feelings. Florida is a great program and we love them. It just wasn’t the best fit for Jordan,” Haden, Sr. added.

It is unknown how this will affect the status of Jordan’s brother, former Boston College running back Josh Haden, who was expected to transfer to the Gators in January.

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