Gators lose four-star LB Shazier to Buckeyes

Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) decided to decommit from the Florida Gators early Friday while taking an official visit in Columbus, OH, only to commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes later that evening.

One of the country’s top-ranked linebackers and a top-five commitment for the Gators, Shazier had received offers from more than three dozen schools including almost every major program in the country but committed to Florida and head coach Urban Meyer in June. After Meyer resigned, Shazier decided to look around and was called on by Ohio State and the LSU Tigers.

Because he plans to be an early enrollee, Shazier had to make his decision now rather than later.

New head coach Will Muschamp had met with Shazier and expressed his interest in retaining him as one of the Gators’ recruits. With his reneging, Florida will only have one front seven defensive commitment left on board in four-star defensive end Clay Burton (Venice, FL). Four-star DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), formerly the Gators No. 2 overall commit, decommitted in late Nov.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas/ESPN

Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

According to the University of Florida, 33 student-athletes will be earning their degrees in commencement ceremonies on campus over the weekend. Twelve Florida Gators football players and eight swimmers lead the pack, which also includes some of the most accomplished athletes in school history like football’s Chas Henry and swimming’s Gemma Spofforth. OGGOA readers can view the entire list below as compiled by the University Athletic Association.

Continue Reading » Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

Could Tim Tebow start Sunday for the Broncos?

With veteran quarterback Kyle Orton performing well in front of him much of the season, Denver Broncos rookie signal caller Tim Tebow was relegated to back-up and spot duty. Though he has scored four touchdowns this year (three rushing), Tebow and many of his fans knew it would be a reach for him to start a game in 2010.

That is until things changed in Denver.

The Broncos began playing worse and worse each week, head coach Josh McDaniels was fired and replaced with interim coach Eric Studesville, and Orton injured his ribs on Sunday against Arizona during a terrible performance.

Those events have led to Tebow taking the majority of first-team snaps during the last two practices even though Studesville claimed earlier in the week that Orton would be his starter. Studesville changed his tune a bit Thursday, saying he was “not in a hurry to make a decision” about his starting QB.

“He did a nice job in practice yesterday. He went in there and ran the huddle, he did a nice job throwing the ball, and going through alert systems in the run game,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said, according to The Denver Post. “It was great for Timmy to get in there and have the majority of the snaps. As practice went along he got better and better, he felt more and more comfortable with everybody.”

Columnists and fans in the Mile-High City have been clamoring for the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft to see the field for an extensive period of time behind center. That time may finally come on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Checking in on former Florida Gators in the NBA

With the 2010-11 NBA season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators have been making strong impressions on the league with a few having a significant impact on their team’s game-to-game performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores for approximately the first third of the season to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished thus far. Figures below are per-game averages:

F/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks: 17.0 points* [57.1% shooting – team-best], 9.8 rebounds [team-high], 3.3 assists, 0.85 blocks, 0.81 steals, 83% FT …in 33.4 minutes with 26-of-26 starts

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: 14.0 points [51.4% shooting], 11.7 rebounds [team-high], 2.7 assists, 1.63 blocks [team-high], 1.17 steals, 73% FT …in 36.8 minutes with 24-of-24 starts

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: 14.8 points [44.6% shooting], 10.1 rebounds [team-high], 3.8 assists, 0.18 blocks, 1.00 steals, 72% FT …in 35.9 minutes with 17-of-25 starts [17 games played~]

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: 8.0 points [51.2% shooting], 8.2 rebounds [team-high], 0.5 assists, 0.23 blocks, 0.54 steals, 80% FT …in 26.5 minutes with 0-of-27 starts [13 games played`]

G/F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves: 9.6 points [36.9% shooting, 28.3% downtown], 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.19 blocks, 1.81 steals [team-high], 75% FT …in 25.1 minutes with 3-of-26 starts

F/C MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: 6.9 points [43.3% shooting, 51.5% downtown (team-best)], 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.28 blocks, 0.33 steals, 75% FT …in 21.4 minutes with 0-of-24 starts [18 games played]

C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Philadelphia 76ers: 4.9 points [45.0% shooting], 3.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.33 blocks, 0.19 steals, 65% FT …in 12.5 minutes with 0-of-25 starts [21 games played]

PG JASON WILLIAMS, Orlando Magic: 2.4 points [37.1% shooting, 31.8% downtown], 1.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals …in 11.4 minutes with 0-of-25 starts [14 games played]

G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: Has yet to play this season after breaking his thumb during preseason practice; is expected to return to his team soon.

NOTES
* SG Joe Johnson averages 17.1 points per game for Atlanta, 0.1 more than Horford.
~ Lee has missed eight games after suffering a serious infection in his elbow.
` Haslem is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his foot.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

TWO BITS: Noah out 10 weeks, Greene’s mistakes

1 » It looks like the Chicago Bulls fright over center Joakim Noah‘s thumb was justified. One day after sources told ESPNChicago.com that Noah could miss at least eight weeks with a possible torn ligament in his right thumb, their suspicions became reality. After starting and posting a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in Chicago’s 110-93 victory over Toronto on Wednesday, Noah was notified that he will miss up to 10 weeks as he will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament in the thumb. Noah, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension before the season started, is averaging 14.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season. “I’ve had the exact same surgery before on my left hand. It sucks,” Noah said. “It’s not what I want, but you can’t … I’ve [played] through it for a couple weeks now and I got to get back to playing at a high level.” He has been playing with the injured finger since Nov. 27.

In related news… Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem will likely miss the entire season after tearing a ligament in his left foot back in Nov. The team recently received a salary exception for his contract this season. Teammate guard/forward Mike Miller is slowly on his way back to the Heat after breaking his thumb during practice in Oct.

2 » Former Florida Gators point guard and Gainesville, FL, native Orien Greene bleeped-up one too many times for the NBA. A staunch defender who is currently averaging 23 points (on 52 percent shooting, 48 percent from downtown), five rebounds and five assists per game for the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League, he is someone who should be playing on a prime time stage if not for a number of character flaws that have arisen over the years. Will a team give him chance? Can someone who has realized their mistakes get yet another shot at redemption? Perhaps in time. For now, Greene can only hope. “Lord willing, lord willing, somebody’s going to call me and I can get back in,” he told ESPN’s Henry Abbott, who wrote this feature story on a once very promising young basketball player.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

TWO BITS: Noah worries Bulls, Lee scares self

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who is currently playing through a right hand injury, is expected to continue starting until the team returns home on Thursday. However, team officials are concerned, according to ESPNChicago.com, that Noah may have suffered ligament damage in his right thumb. Should that be revealed as the reason for pain later this week, Noah will miss at least two months of playing time. Noah first hurt the thumb on Nov. 27 and has been playing through pain. He is averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds so far this year.

2 » As OGGOA recently reported, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee experienced a career-saving moment recently when he finally fought off an infection that had grown in his left elbow after New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler’s tooth punctured his skin. FanHouse takes a deeper (no pun intended) look into the situation as Lee finally looks to take the court again after missing an extended period of time. “It’s the toughest league in the world, and I’m basically out there playing with one arm,” Lee said. “It’s very, very tough. Any time I make contact with anybody on that side of my body, there’s pain that’s tough to describe. I’ve played through just about every injury possible, and this is the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Extra BIT » None of the Florida Gators first-year NFL players will likely win the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Nevertheless, both Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey are among the league’s top 10 rookies, according to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. and ESPN. Check out what Williamson had to say about Haden’s play. Hint: he says that, before long, Haden will be “an upper-echelon coverage man in any style defense.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 14 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 14 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 14th week of the season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Six tackles (four solo, one for loss), interception (17-yard return)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Three solo tackles, three passes defended
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three solo tackles (two for loss), sack
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Eight tackles (seven solo, one for loss)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Six rec. for 59 yards, touchdown (targets: 11)

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Reception for 11 yards, touchdown
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Six tackles (five solo)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Five solo tackles
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Pass defended
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Team-high three rec. for 48 yds (targets: 8 )
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Three solo tackles (one for loss), QB hit
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two solo tackles, sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Two tackles (one solo)
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Two rec. for 19 yards (targets: 4)
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots: Three rushes for 16 yards (long: 10)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Sack, two QB hits
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two solo tackles
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: QB hit
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Reception for 11 yards, solo tackle
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Two solo tackles
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Tackle
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Reception for five yards, rush for two yards, solo tackle

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Oakland Raiders) – QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), LB Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills), WR Andre Caldwell (Bengals), WR Percy Harvin (Vikings), LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots), LT Max Starks (Steelers)

NOTES
– Haden ended a streak of four-straight OGGOA Player of the Week awards.
– Nelson’s touchdown was the second of his professional career after he caught his first last week.
– Spikes was suspended for the remainder of the regular season.
– Moss saw the field with Oakland for the first time this season.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

Muschamp’s excitement extended to the players

A handful of Florida Gators were available for comment after head coach Will Muschamp’s introductory press conference on Wednesday. Here is what they said:

Junior running back Jeff Demps

On his impression of Muschamp: “I think that helps out a lot to have that players’ coach. Guys that you want to be around, you want them to have that high-energy. The team feed off the coaches, and that’ll be great.”

On what Muschamp said to them an hour earlier: “Basically the same stuff, but he went into a lot more detail, obviously.”

On if he’s pumped for next year: “Yeah, I’m very excited. He’s a high-energy guy.”

On concerns about the offense changing: “It was a little concerning at first because we was just running around like a chicken with our head cut off not knowing what’s going on. But to sit down and actually talk with him, having a conversation with him, know he’s a real, great coach and he told us that it would be in his best ability to bring in the best guy he feels can help turn this offense around. So I’m not really worried anymore.”

On former head coach Urban Meyer remaining involved: “It helps out a lot because if we have a question that we feel like we can’t talk to coach Muschamp as soon as possible, we know we can still fall back on coach Meyer – he’ll maybe have an answer to it.”

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley

On meeting Muschamp for the first time: “We were real excited to have a chance to meet him. He approached the team like any other head coach would, with a lot of confidence. He told us our plans, how to finish out this season. I think he’s going to be a great fit for here, the University of Florida.”

Freshman QB Trey Burton

On the team’s excitement level: “Yeah, real excited. We’re all real excited as team, so we got to take it and ride with it.”

On if it is hard to have a new head coach so early in his career: “It’s tough but it comes with the job. You got to know when you’re going to a school that it’s possible you [won’t] know who your coach is the next day. Coaches change all the time.”

On winning the 2011 Outback Bowl: “He’s a Hall of Fame coach, one of the best coaches ever to play college football. That’s our main goal: to get him out here with a win, especially against coach [Joe] Paterno.”

On his thoughts about Mickey Marotti returning: “Coach Mick’s an awesome coach, he gets the best out of you. I think we’re all looking forward to him staying.”

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.

On Muschamp: “Everybody embraces him. I feel like he has a tremendous history at Florida, being from here. It gives you definitely a little more comfort knowing he knows the expectations, the traditions and everything that goes on in the university.”

On Muschamp’s speech: “As he was talking, I just found out that he had a lot of history at Florida. That definitely was a plus, him knowing the traditions and being at some of the games. That definitely made me feel a little more comfortable.”

On what the team is focused on: “It’s been kind of hectic, but we are just focused on the bowl game and sending Coach Meyer out the right way. You want to end on a positive note. [Having Coach Muschamp around[ probably might make practice – amp it up just a little bit – knowing that he’s out there. That definitely will help out.”

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard

On being coached by Muschamp after he recruited him to Auburn: “I really wanted him to be my coach and now he’s my coach.”

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown

On Muschamp: “He’s definitely a very fiery coach. He’s very passionate about what he does. He loves football.”

Sophomore tight end Omarius Hines

On Muschamp: “I’m excited to see what Coach Muschamp has for us. We’ve got a new coach now, so we don’t have to stress about who we’re going to get.”

Thanks to the University of Florida, Gainesville Sun and Orlando Sentinel for the quotes from Hammond, Howard, Brown and Hines.

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