Gators at No. 23 in USA Today preseason poll

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners earned the No. 1 spot in the USA Today coaches preseason poll released Thursday with the Florida Gators being slotted in the bottom fifth of the rankings at No. 23.

Oklahoma received 42 of 59 possible first-place votes with Alabama (13), Oregon (2), LSU (2) and Florida State rounding out the top five.

Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by USA Today this preseason include 2010 SEC East champion South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 14), 2010 SEC West champion Auburn (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and Georgia (No. 22).

Florida began the 2010 season at No. 3 in the USA Today poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press top 25 but finished unranked after going 8-5 (4-4 SEC).

The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (39-30)

With just 30 days to go until the Florida Gators‘ 2011-12 football season gets underway, the seventh part of OGGOA‘s new series, The Countdown, takes a look at those players expected to contribute on the field wearing jersey numbers ranging from 39-30.

36 – Moses Jenkins (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Redshirt senior cornerback
6’2” 190 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Jenkins majors in social and behavioral sciences and is entering his fifth season with the team after being seriously injured (head) in 2009 and also missing games one year ago.

2010 Season: Earned his first career start in the season opener, but hyperextended his left elbow and sat out the following seven games. Ended up earning two more starts and playing in four more games but only amassed 15 total tackles and one interception on the season.

2011 Outlook: Granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA in 2010, Jenkins hopes to win a starting cornerback job opposite redshirt junior Jeremy Brown but will be competing with sophomore Cody Riggs among others for the opportunity.

34 – Lerentee McCray (Ocala, FL)
Redshirt junior defensive end
6’4” 250 lbs.

Quick Bio: A highly-ranked four-star linebacker in high school, McCray is a social and behavioral sciences major who has since shifted to defensive end. He played in 11 games over his first two seasons with the team but received a medical redshirt in 2009.

2010 Season: Back from injury, McCray played in 10 contests last year, missing three because of a sprained right ankle. His season highlight came in the Outback Bowl when he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, but he also shined against Vanderbilt by registering a tackle, forced fumble and two hurries.

2011 Outlook: McCray will be competing to be one of the team’s primary starters at defensive end this fall. Senior William Green has one side locked up, and McCray that his athleticism and tenacity help him stand out from the pack for the other available spot. Head coach Will Muschamp, who put McCray at SAM linebacker at time during spring, also praised him for his leadership. “I love the new defense. You’ve just got to see it on the field. It’s a different concept, a different style of defense,” McCray said on March 21.

33 – Chris Johnson (Ocala, FL)
Freshman safety
5’10” 198 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit who attended the same high school as redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, Johnson enters the season as a versatile defensive back who gives Florida plenty of options.

2011 Outlook: “Chris Johnson from Trinity is a very physical player, in the box safety,” Muschamp said on National Signing Day. “He’s shown skills to play outside in the deep part of the field.” Johnson may not make much of an impact in 2011 beyond playing on special teams and is a candidate for a redshirt.

33 – Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA)
Sophomore running back
5’10” 205 lbs.

Quick Bio/2010 Season: One of the top running backs in the country coming out of high school, he was a four-star recruit who currently majors in social and behavioral sciences. He appeared in two games as a true freshman in 2010, carrying the ball three times for 23 yards.

2011 Outlook: One of five scholarship rushers on the roster, Brown has a pair of seniors (Jeff Demps and redshirt Chris Rainey) in front of him as well as junior Mike Gillislee. He was broke his fibula during the spring but had successful surgery and was supposed to return to working out in July. Between the injury and the stacked depth chart, his potential impact in 2011 is up in the air.

32 – Gerald Christian (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Sophomore tight end
6’3” 245 lbs.

Quick Bio/2010 Season: An early enrollee last January, Christian was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, where he was teammates with fellow Gators safety Matt Elam and wide receiver Robert Clark. The social and behavioral sciences major played in eight games as a freshman on the field goal unit and in goal-line formations.

2011 Outlook: Muschamp worked Christian out extensively at linebacker in the spring (also giving him some time at tight end) but ultimately decided that offense was where he belonged. He said on April 21 that Christian had returned to playing tight end and fullback and would likely stick with that role. “He’s working awful hard. I’m very proud of his effort and what he’s trying to do,” Muschamp said. “He’s done some nice things for us at tight end.” Christian will have to compete with redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed (the likely starter) and four-star commit and early enrollee A.C. Leonard for playing time.

31 – Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Sophomore cornerback
5’9” 180 lbs.

Quick Bio/2010 Season: A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Riggs is a social and behavioral sciences major who is one of only six true freshman to play in all 13 games in 2010. He earned three starts (one in the Outback Bowl) and registered 18 tackles, three pass breakups and one interception. In addition to seeing plenty of time on defense, Riggs played as a gunner on the kickoff and punt coverage teams and had a solid first season in the Orange and Blue.

2011 Outlook: Muschamp said Riggs “had a great spring playing both corner and nickel” during a speaking engagement in April and said in March that he is the team’s most versatile defensive back. “Cody’s a good football player. He’s got a tremendous heart [and] all the ability as far as playing hard and playing fast and doing the things you got to do to be a good football player,” he added. With the loss of senior Janoris Jenkins, Muschamp may count on Riggs to start opposite Brown but could also use him in a variety of other ways.

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

LB Morrison makes his call for the Gators

The good news continues to roll in for the Florida Gators on the recruiting front as head coach Will Muschamp gained his 16th commitment for the 2012 class Tuesday with four-star linebacker Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook, IL) pledging to continue his football career in Gainesville, FL next year.

The No. 8-ranked inside linebacker according to Rivals, Morrison is also considered the seventh-best recruit coming out of Illinois in 2012.

“Coach Muschamp tells me every time I talk to him that I’m his number one guy at middle linebacker and that he needs me in this class,” he told Rivals back in June. “He tells me that I have the talent to come in and contribute early to the team. That means a lot to hear someone like him tell me that.”

Morrison chose Florida over Illinois but but was also pursued heavily by Alabama, Oregon and Tennessee.

Though he did not attend Friday Night Lights, Morrison visited the University of Florida campus this past weekend; his family came away impressed.

“I will commit as soon as I get the feeling that the school is the right fit,” he said in the same June interview. “I want to see the campus and facilities and see how the college life is at each school.”

Morrison, who was recruited primarily by Muschamp, also decided the Gators were the right team for him because of extra effort put in by defensive line coach Bryant Young. A native of Chicago Heights, IL, Young grew up 45 minutes away from where Morrison currently lives (both towns are suburbs of Chicago).

Though the player actually made his decision on Tuesday (it was posted on InsidetheGators.com‘s message board), he specifically requested those who were alerted of his choice to not report on it until he made an official announcement. That happened Wednesday evening on the Facebook page of the Bolingbrook Raiders.

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Reports: Broncos pick Orton to start over Tebow

Updated 11:45 p.m.

When the Denver Broncos failed to complete a successful trade for veteran quarterback Kyle Orton last week, questions arose about what exactly the team would do now that it might be stuck paying him nearly $9 million in 2011.

The organization answered those queries Wednesday and officially named Orton the team’s starting signal caller, according to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter and the NFL Network, relegating second-year QB Tim Tebow to a back-up role.

Though Schefter and the NFL Network stand by their reports, head coach John Fox dismissed the notion that the team has made their minds up one way or another when he spoke with the Associated Press late Wednesday.

“My story’s been the same regardless of what you hear,” Fox said. “And I’m in those meetings every day and know what’s said to everybody. Nothing’s changed. We’ve been singing the same song as seven months ago.”

Reports coming out near the conclusion of the NFL lockout had Denver looking to get rid of Orton after deciding to roll with Tebow in 2011. Though the former was the team’s 2010 starter and completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games, the latter earned the final three starts of the season and scored at least a passing and rushing touchdown in each game.

Tebow finished 2010 with 654 yards through the air, five passing touchdowns, three interceptions, 227 rushing yards and six rushing scores. He completed passes at a 50 percent rate but also rushed for 78 and 94 yards in week 14 and 16, respectively.

Many wondered whether Fox and team executive vice president John Elway believed in Tebow going forward, but the former standout QB answered those questions in a May interview with ESPN‘s Ed Werder.

”He’s one of those guys who – if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be – then we’re in pretty darn good shape,” Elway said. “I think where we are as an organization, we’re going to go with Tim.”

Responding in kind, Tebow felt uplifted by how much support he received from Elway and the Broncos’ front office.

“I believe in them, and they believe in me,” Tebow said. “To have John Elway say positive things about you is just amazing. He’s played the game at the highest level possible, and I’m excited because he’s going to be a great asset for me.”

Yet while offseason signs pointed to the former Heisman Trophy winner starting under center during week one, something obviously changed when the players were free from the restrictions of the lockout.

Orton stepped on the field at the onset of training camp and was handed the majority of and eventually all first-team snaps. Reports coming out of Denver had him shining during practice while Tebow struggled with his accuracy but still completed some impressive passes to the team’s second-team receivers.

For now, Tebow’s Broncos career remains in limbo. Denver must decide whether or not they will sign Orton to an extension, keeping him at Mile High for the foreseeable future, or allow him to walk as a free agent and roll with Tebow in 2012.

One option that is likely not in the cards for the Broncos is trading Tebow; his contract makes that a near impossibility. Set to earn a fully guaranteed $1.618.75 million base salary in 2011, Tebow is also set to earn a $6.275 million bonus 29 days after the league year begins. The nearly $7.9 million combined figure is too much for any team to take on for an unproven second-year quarterback.

Of course, there are four preseason games to play between now and the start of the 2011 regular season and anything can happen during the year, too.

Photo Credit: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2011-12 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball announced the team’s 2011-12 non-conference schedule on Wednesday. Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament while also participating in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

“We’ve made it a practice to play a difficult non-conference schedule, and this is perhaps the toughest one yet,” head coach Billy Donovan said in an official school release. “That’s something that really helps prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. We’re also looking forward to playing games in front of our great fans from several different areas of Florida, and we host some exciting matchups on our home court, as well.”

Below is the official 2011-12 non-conference schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
1113 at 9:30 pm (CBSSN)vs. Navy (Md.)Veterans'
11/16 at TBA (TBA)vs. N.C. A&TTip-Off
11/21 at TBA (TBA)at St. Joseph'sTip-Off
11/22 at TBA (TBA)vs. TBA (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/25 at TBA (TBA)vs. Vermont (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/27 at TBA (TBA)vs. FGCU
12/1 at TBA (TBA)vs. Richmond
12/8 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Miami
12/12 at 6:00 pm (ESPN2)at Michigan State
12/19 at 4:00 pm (FSN)vs. Okla. StateOBBC
12/22 at TBA (TBA)vs. Jacksonville
12/29 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)vs. Florida State
1/30 at TBA (TBA)vs. West VirginiaSEC-Big 12

SCHEDULE NOTES

» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.

TWO BITS: Pouncey’s progress, Taylor’s honor

1 » Just like his brother one year ago, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is quickly finding out that he will be able to compete quite well as a rookie in the NFL. Going up against massive defensive tackle Paul Soliai during the first few days of training camp, Pouncey stood his ground and pushed right back. “He was aggressive,” Soliai told the Sun-Sentinel. “He’s pretty tough. He wasn’t scared; he wasn’t afraid.” Head coach Tony Sparano, a former offensive line coach, also heaped praise on Pouncey’s performance during his first few professional practices. “There are so many natural things that he did … that made him stand out,” Sparano said. “Some things that he did in the run game. Some things that he did in the protection drills, one-on-one, those types of things. This guy – there was some awareness out there.”

2 » One of the top track & field athletes during the 2010-11 season, Florida Gators junior jumper Christian Taylor is now one of three male finalists for The Bowerman – the track & field equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Though a committee will be voting for the winner, The Bowerman also allows the fans to choose who they think deserves the award; the athlete with the largest margin receives one extra vote. To lend your support to Taylor and Florida, click here.

Extra BIT » Former Gators assistant golf coach Steve Bradley was named the head coach for the Mercer Bears on Tuesday. During his three years at Florida, Bradley helped the Gators reach the NCAA Tournament thrice and saw the team capture the 2010 SEC Championship, too.

TWO BITS: Andrews’s cameo, Muschamp’s gaffe

1 » ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews will be up on the silver screen in the near future after filming a cameo in the upcoming movie I Hate You, Dad staring comedian Adam Sandler. Andrews, who will have a very small part in the movie, is part of a cast that also features such big names as Leighton Meester, Susan Sarandon and James Caan. Other actors/celebrities also appearing in the film include Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Ciara, Vanilla Ice and Dan Patrick. “I had like four lines, and it was the coolest thing ever,” she told Complex.com. According to IMDB, the movie is about “A disagreeable father who moves in with his son before he’s about to get married.” It is currently filming and does not have a scheduled release date.

2 » Whether you want to call it a gaffe on his part or a case of someone else taking a comment a bit too seriously, a thought provided by Gators head coach Will Muschamp at the 2011 SEC Media Days a few weeks ago has the University of Florida’s faculty union president John Biro perturbed. Asked about what it takes to build a quality team, Muschamp responded, “You can’t have union guys. Those are the guys who make a great play and then take the next play off because they think they are in a union.” According to The Gainesville Sun, Biro (who confessed that he does not pay attention to football) was not amused by this comment. “Obviously he’s been watching too much TV and all the union-bashing going on,” Biro told the paper.

Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

Updated at 9 p.m.

With NFL training camp finally underway after an extended lockout cancelled organized team activities and mini camps, more than three dozen former Florida Gators are working out and trying to earn their keep this year. Below is a comprehensive look at each player in the league as well as those still looking for work.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

 Page 461 of 750  « First  ... « 459  460  461  462  463 » ...  Last »