Florida Gators 2011 National Signing Day notes

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEE BIOS

Mike Blakely • Running back
5-9 • 205
Bradenton • Manatee H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect rated the No. 6 running back in the nation and the No. 10 overall prospect in the state of Florida and No. 40 in the country according to Rivals.com… Also rated No. 74 in the ESPNU 150 class… Finished his junior season with 1,400 yards rushing and 227 yards on kick and punt returns with a total of 23 touchdowns… Added another 1,000-yard season as a senior, with 19 touchdowns on the ground… Was a first-team all-state running back in 2009… Participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2011… Chose Florida over Auburn, Clemson, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and USC… Coached by Joe Kinnan.

Clay Burton • Defensive Line
6-4 • 245
Venice • Venice H.S.
Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A three-star prospect rated the No. 35 linebacker according to Rivals.com… Ranked the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country by Rivals.com… Finished his junior season with 80 tackles and 13 sacks… Participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl… Chose Florida over LSU, Mississippi, Tennessee, Notre Dame and West Virginia among others… Coached by John Peacock.

Kyle Christy • Punter
6-1 • 185
Brownsburg, Ind. • Brownsburg H.S.
Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A three-star prospect rated the No. 2 punter nationally according to Scout.com… Completed 31 of 37 extra points and five of eight field goals with a long of 45 yards his junior year… Participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in 2010… Named AP Indiana 5A All-State Honorable Mention… Chose Florida over LSU… Coached by Brett Comer.

Jeff Driskel • Quarterback
6-4 • 238
Oviedo • Hagerty H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year… Gatorade Florida Player of the Year… Rated the No. 1 quarterback nationally according to Scout.com and Rivals.com… Threw for a career 4,844 passing yards and 36 touchdowns and helped lead the Huskies to their first winning season in their fourth year as a varsity program… Had 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns passing, 1,333 rushing yards with 20 touchdowns and caught two touchdown passes his senior year… Threw for 1,427 yards with 11 touchdowns and ran for 170 yards with five touchdowns his junior year… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game in 2011… Chose Florida over Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Mississippi and Clemson, among others… Coached by Nate Gierke.

A.C. Leonard • Tight End
6-3 ● 245
Jacksonville ● University Christian H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect and No. 5 tight end nationally according to Rivals.com… Member of the ESPNU 150 class and Rivals100 class… Averaged 20 yards-per-catch as a tight end… On defense, he recorded 21 sacks and 60 tackles with 10 for a loss… Also had two blocked punts, one blocked extra point, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game… Chose Florida over Alabama, Miami, Nebraska, UCF and FIU… Coached by Heath Nivens.

Javares McRoy • Wide Receiver
5-8 ● 170
Lakeland ● Lakeland H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect according to Scout.com… First-team All-State wide receiver for 5A classification in his junior year… Averaged 20 yards-per-catch… Listed as the No. 28 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com… In his sophomore year, he posted a 10.65 100-meter time at the FHSAA 4A Regional Track meet… Chose Florida over Auburn, California, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas Tech… Coached by Bill Castle.

De’Ante “Pop” Saunders • Defensive Back
5-8 ● 173
DeLand ● DeLand H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Rated a three-star prospect according to Scout.com and Rivals.com… In 2010, the 6A Florida Athletic Coaches Association Player of the Year for Seminole and Volusia counties… In his junior year, ran for 1,634 yards and 23 touchdowns… As a kick returner, had 580 yards and three touchdowns and led the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball to 6A state title game in his junior year… First-team All-State defensive back for 6A classification and named All-Central Florida Defensive Player of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel in 2009… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game in 2011… Chose Florida over South Carolina, Mississippi, Clemson, Cincinnati, USF and FIU… Coached by Kevin Pettis.

SIGNEE BIOS (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2011 National Signing Day notes

Muschamp shakes up staff with TE coach hire

With running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton departing for the Ohio State Buckeyes last week, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday during his National Signing Day press conference that some changes have been made to his first coaching staff.

Muschamp hired Derek Lewis to coach tight ends and shifted former TE coach Brian White‘s responsibilities to coaching running backs. Additionally, wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill will take over Drayton’s recruiting coordinator duties.

Lewis, Minnesota’s tight ends and assistant special teams coach since 2007, was a graduate assistant with the Texas Longhorns from 2005-06. He had a solid career as a four-year letterman at Texas from 1995-98 and spent two seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams (1999-2000), with whom he earned a Super Bowl ring.

“A lot of Gator fans will remember him,’’ Muschamp said of Lewis. “He caught the pass against Nebraska [in 1996] that won Texas the Big 12 Championship and vaulted Florida into the national championship game. He has helped the Gators in the past.”

A running backs coach from 1991-92 with UNLV and 1995-2006 with Wisconsin (where he was also offensive coordinator from 1999-2006), White takes over a job he has plenty of experience doing. Some of the players White has seen succeed under his tutelage as RB coach include Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, Anthony Davis and Brian Calhoun – all four of whom were selected in the NFL Draft. He also produced eight 1,000-yard rushers in his first eight seasons with Wisconsin.

As projected by OGGOA on Jan. 27, Hill steps into the recruiting coordinator role after holding the position for the Miami Hurricanes in 2010.

“I’m really pleased with the job he did recruiting and what he brings to the staff, especially as a former Gator,” Muschamp said of his decision to give Hill the added responsibilities.

Position20102011
Offensive coordinatorSteve AddazioCharlie Weis
Quarterbacks coachScot LoefflerCharlie Weis
Defensive coordinatorTeryl AustinDan Quinn
Defensive line coachDan McCarney*Dan Quinn
Assistant: Bryant Young
Running backs coach
Recruiting coordinator
Stan DraytonBrian White
Offensive line coach
Running game coordinator
Steve AddazioFrank Verducci
Wide receivers coach
Recruiting coordinator
Zach AzzanniAubrey Hill
Tight ends coachBrian WhiteDerek Lewis
Linebackers coach
Special teams coordinator
D.J. DurkinD.J. Durkin
Defensive backs coachAustin/Chuck Heater*Travaris Robinson
Strength & conditioningMickey MarottiMickey Marotti

*McCarney was also assistant head coach; Heater held the role of co-defensive coordinator. Muschamp has not named an assistant (or associate) head coach as of press time.

Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Urban Meyer, Gators mutually sever financial ties

Announced as ESPN’s newest college football analyst on Monday, former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer said at the time he would continue working with the University of Florida in a to be determined capacity. Just two days later, Meyer and Florida have mutually agreed to end their financial agreement..

Fueled by concerns over potential NCAA recruiting violations (and likely a perceived bias on his part), Meyer will no longer be paid by UF; it is unknown if he will be allowed to retain his office inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“The University of Florida has been a big part of my personal and professional life for the past six years and while I will no longer be able to continue a professional relationship with the University, I will continue to support the many friends I made during my time there,” Meyer said in a statement released by the university.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley also shared his thoughts on the decision.

“We are happy for Coach Meyer that he is getting a chance to stay involved with college football – he has so much passion for the game and the players. He will provide great insight and background for ESPN’s audiences,” he said. “We were pleased to provide Coach Meyer with an opportunity within our athletic department, but the chance to work for ESPN was a perfect fit for him and his family. He will always be welcome here and we are forever indebted for what he accomplished and how he represented the University of Florida. He gave every ounce of energy to this program for six years and we certainly share a special bond with him. We will always remain close friends and I look forward to seeing him enjoy the next chapter in his life. Coach Meyer will always be a Gator.”

Meyer’s agent and former Gators star Trace Armstrong went more in-depth with the Orlando Sentinel on the mutual decision.

“Jeremy did it as a favor; he wanted Urban to understand that he was still a part of the program,” Armstrong told Mike Bianchi. “Nobody anticipated this would a problem with the NCAA. Usually, when a former coach is on ESPN, he has been fired and has broken ties with the school. This was a unique situation. In the end, we just thought this was the best resolution and the cleanest way to do it. This way, it removes any questions.”

DB Roberson ends up in Florida orange and blue

It didn’t take long for Florida Gators fans to breathe at least a mini sigh of relief on Wednesday as four-star defensive back Marcus Roberson announced that he has committed to the school and sent in his National Letter of Intent.

A former commitment to Texas Tech, Roberson decided to change his pledge to Auburn on Monday before completely pulling out of that commitment on Tuesday. Florida, which had been in the mix for a beginning, ends up the recipient of his services.

Roberson is the Gators 18th commitment for the 2011 cycle and the team’s fourth defensive back. He is listed as the No. 2 cornerback (No. 37 overall player) available by Rivals and No. 9 safety (No. 112 overall player) in the nation by ESPNU.

His commitment was first reported by 247Sports.

OGGOA will update this story as the day goes on.

Photo Credit: Unknown

No. 23 Florida edges No. 24 Vanderbilt in overtime

Winning after suffering a loss for the fifth time this season, the No. 23 Florida Gators (17-5, 6-2 SEC) clawed their way to 65-61 overtime victory against the No. 24 Vanderbilt Commodores (15-6, 3-4 SEC) on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons posted a team-high 18 points and game-high 11 rebounds on the way to his fourth double-double of the season and the 11th of his career. With 15 seconds remaining in the game and Florida up three, Parsons (shooting a career-low 51.7 percent from the free throw line this year) hit two foul shots to ice the contest and help the Gators capture their 12th victory in the last 15 games.

Florida and Vanderbilt both shot poorly in the first half, combining to go 21-for-59 from the field, 6-for-18 from three and 1-for-5 from the charity stripe. Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, also struggling with his shot, hit a trey at the halftime buzzer to give UF a 25-24 lead going into the locker rooms.

A 6-0 run by the Commodores put them ahead early in the second half as redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin headed to the bench with three fouls. That is when sophomore guard Kenny Boynton took over and scored five points as part of a 7-0 run to put the Gators up a game-high eight points, 43-35.

Florida would match their game-high lead with 4:53 to go; however, everything fell apart from there. Vanderbilt took off on a 9-1 run and tied the game at 56 with two free throws from G John Jenkins (a 90.6 percent foul shooter) with 25 seconds remaining in the contest. UF had two opportunities to extend their lead just seconds earlier, but Walker missed a floater and senior F Alex Tyus was rejected by the rim on a put-back dunk.

Walker, holding the ball for the entire final possession, missed a long three as the buzzer sounded and regulation ended The Gators failed to score a single field goal in the final 6:19 of the half, a drought which continued through the first 2:12 of overtime.

With 1:10 to go, Boynton nailed a trey to put Florida ahead two. He fouled Jenkins on a three-pointer of his own on the next possession, a miscue the referees missed.

Vanderbilt, which saw two starters and a key reserve foul out down the stretch, played most of the overtime period with a reduced roster. Jenkins led the Commodores with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting and tied a team-high with six boards.

Supporting Parsons’ 18 points were Walker and Boynton with 15 a piece on a combined 9-of-27 shooting. Boynton went 3-for-8 from downtown and was once gain a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, but the Gators out-rebounded their opposition 42-29 (12-6 offensively) for their third overtime win in four opportunities already this season.

Florida hopes build on their latest victory as they host No. 11 Kentucky on Saturday at 9 p.m. The game, which will be preceded by College GameDay being broadcast live from Gainesville, will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandin/Associated Press

Seven Gators invited to 2011 NFL Combine

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive has learned that seven former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) in Indianapolis, IN, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 23 to March 1, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staff look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2011 NFL Draft commences on April 28.

The seven former Gators student-athletes participating in the combine include:

Strong safety Ahmad Black – Group: 10; Camp: DB3
Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert – Group: 02; Camp: OL27
Kicker Chas Henry – Group: 01; Camp: PK7
Free safety Will Hill – Group: 10; Camp: DB22
Guard Maurice Hurt – Group: 02; Camp: OL24
Guard Carl Johnson – Group: 01; Camp: OL16
Center/guard Mike Pouncey – Group: 02; Camp: OL39

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
Continue Reading » Seven Gators invited to 2011 NFL Combine

No. 23 Florida vs. No. 24 Vanderbilt Gameday

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (ET)

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

No. 23 FLORIDA GATORS No. 24 VANDERBILT
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Record: 16-5 (5-2) Record: 15-5 (3-3)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -4; O/U 139

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Vanderbilt leads the all-time series against Florida 63-56 and won both meetings last season. However, the Gators are 15-5 in their last 20 games against the Commodores; they are also 18-11 against them under Donovan including 11-3 at home and 8-1 in their last nine matchups in Gainesville.
» Florida has won 11 of its last 14 games with seven victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» A win Tuesday would give the Gators double-digit wins at home for the 14th consecutive year under Donovan.
» Florida is turning the ball over fewer than 10 times per game in SEC play and has turned it over in single digits in four of seven contests.
» Vanderbilt features players who, individually, lead the SEC leaders in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage.
» The Commodores best the Gators in both points per game 78.8-71.4 (20th-120th) and field goal percentage .463-.458 (65th-81st) nationally. Vanderbilt and Florida are similar in their ability to rebound and dish the ball, averaging approximately 39 boards and 14 assists per game. UF ranks 19th in RPI (.6265) and 13th in strength of schedule nationally compared to VU being 22nd (.6214) and 24th, respectively.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (43.0%) and three-point percentage (39.5%). He has single-handedly accounted for 45 of Florida’s 122 treys this season. Walker became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat earlier this year.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (10.3) while leading the Gators with 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.8 percent this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game while being a major presence for Florida.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably UF’s most talented player but is back in a slump after breaking out of one previously. Boynton is only shooting 36 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.0 points per game and hits 81.5 percent of his free throws.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are the Gators primary reserves averaging 17.3 and 17.0 minutes per game, respectively. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.6 boards off the bench.
» Vanderbilt G John Jenkins…who plays a team-high 34.1 minutes and is his team’s leading scorer (19.1 points per game). Jenkins also shoots 90.6 percent from the charity stripe, hits 41.5 percent of his three-pointers and leads the SEC in scoring average.
» Commodores F Jeffrey Taylor …who is his team’s second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder while playing the second-most minutes.

1/31: DONOVAN PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » No. 23 Florida vs. No. 24 Vanderbilt Gameday

FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Dwyer, Beisel, Debut

1 » Contrary to a bevy of reports stating that he is definitively out for Super Bowl XLV, Pittsburgh Steelers starting rookie center Maurkice Pouncey considers himself probable for the game with a self-described “pretty bad” high ankle sprain. “I hope so. Right now it’s 75/25, and I’m hoping to play,” he told ESPN’s Chris Berman during media day on Tuesday. “I feel great out the cast, man. I’ve been walking around pretty good. Hopefully I’ll get on the bike today and get some pool action in later. It feels pretty good. Everybody’s been pretty positive about me. It’s a nasty little purple color, but it’s getting better. I don’t know why everybody’s trying to rule me out early. Offensive linemen don’t get ruled out until the last day.” If he is able to step on the field, Pouncey will be the only former Florida Gators player to participate in the championship.

2 » With National Signing Day set for Wednesday, some things appear to be getting clearer with the two recruits from Dwyer High School that the Gators have their eyes on. According to the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter, Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels “has a good idea” of where four-star linebacker Curt Maggitt (West Palm Beach, FL) is going and believes he will end up choosing Tennessee over Florida. Daniels also expects four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL) to make his declaration at halftime of his high school basketball game on Friday. Brissett is choosing among Florida, Miami, Wisconsin and Washington and is thought to be favoring UM.

3 » For the third-straight year, Florida freshman swimmer Elizabeth Beisel has been named Rhode Island Female Athlete of the Year and will be honored as such at the state’s annual banquet on Feb. 20. Beisel also took home Female Swimmer of the Week honors from the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday. Joining her with recognition are Male Swimmer of the Week senior Conor Dwyer and Freshmen of the Week Hilda Luthersdottir and Marcin Cieslak.

4 » The University of Florida announced Tuesday that the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut spring game will be moved from 1 p.m. to noon in order to air live on Sun Sports on April 9. Last year the game aired live only on UF’s GatorVision; it is unknown if the contest will be broadcast live online as well.

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