TWO BITS: Pouncey in Miami, Black in Tampa

1 » Just days after being selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey went on the Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM in Miami, FL to discuss being drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Discussing draft day itself, Pouncey said he was worried when the Dolphins didn’t call him right away as the clock ticked away. “When they was on the clock, I was getting nervous. I leaned over and told my brother, ‘Man, I don’t think they’re going to call me,’” he said. “And they finally called me with like two minutes left on the clock. It was one of the best moments of my life, and I’m so happy to be a Miami Dolphin.”

Waiting to hear from Miami left tackle Jake Long so he can begin practicing with his teammates, Pouncey also talked to Rose about his bad snaps with Florida in 2010. “It was my first year playing center. As the season went on, I got better and better,” he said. “At the end of the year, it wasn’t even a problem. When I went out there the first game, I just let it get in front of me. I took shotgun snapping for granted basically.”

2 » Former Gators safety Ahmad Black may not been picked as early as he wanted (or should have been), but things worked out in the end as his favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, decided to give him a chance to succeed in the NFL. Speaking with his hometown paper, the Lakeland Ledger, over the weekend, Black was excited. “This is a blessing,” he said. “A lot of people have asked me where I wanted to go, and Tampa was always my first pick. That’s my favorite team. I didn’t really want to say I just want Tampa because there was always a chance I would go somewhere else.”

Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris won’t label Black position-wise, though he thinks he can assist in a number of ways. “He is a safety that has the ability to play corner [and is a] hybrid athlete that can do multiple things because of [his] instincts and awareness,” he said.

Tim Tebow calls John Elway’s support “amazing”

There was plenty of back-and-forth about the future of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in the media after former Denver Broncos QB John Elway took over the reigns of his former team as executive vice president after the 2010 season concluded. Elway and new head coach John Fox each gave mixed signals about Tebow’s future as well, saying that veteran signal caller Kyle Orton would be the starter if the season began at the time they were asked. Multiple NFL reporters even stated that Elway’s insistence on working out every rookie quarterback was due to his lack of belief in the future success of Tebow.

Elway gave a thumbs up regarding Tebow’s long-term potential late last week, telling ESPN‘s Ed Werder that he is the former Heisman Trophy-winner’s biggest fan and that the Broncos believe in him.

“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,” he said. “I think where we are as an organization, we’re going to go with Tim.”

Werder spoke with Tebow over the weekend, and the player expressed how it feels to have the entire Denver organization behind him.

“I believe in them, and they believe in me,” Tebow said Saturday while the 2011 NFL Draft was going on. “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.”

Elway has stressed to Tebow that, in order to be successful and win in the NFL, he will have to do so from the pocket, noting that his athleticism would be an added bonus.

“Any quarterback at this level has to be able to do that,” Tebow said. “That’s nothing new to me. It’s what I’m working to do so I can compete and we can win.”

Tebow has spent much of the offseason in Florida but has since returned to Colorado and plans to spend the remainder of his time (until the lockout is settled) taking snaps from under center, hanging in the pocket and practicing with his teammates.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Florida G Maurice Hurt falls to seventh round of 2011 NFL Draft, picked No. 217 by Washington

Round 7 – No. 14 (217 overall)
Maurice Hurt, G
Washington Redskins


Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 318 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Thought to possibly fall out of the 2011 NFL Draft after it was revealed he tested positive for marijuana usage at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, Florida Gators guard Maurice Hurt ended up being selected with the 14th pick in the seventh round (No. 217 overall) by the Washington Redskins.

The third Florida offensive lineman chosen in the draft, Hurt is the Gators’ first seventh-round pick since 2007 and the first UF player selected by Washington since wide receiver Taylor Jacobs was the No. 44 overall pick in the second round in 2003.

He projects as a reserve at the next level due to his overall lack of athleticism and questionable football IQ. Hurt will be the only former Gators player on the Redskins unless quarterback Rex Grossman is re-signed in the offseason.

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

» OGGOA’s 2011 NFL Draft Live Blog – Click here!

Gators SS Ahmad Black falls to Tampa Bay at No. 151 overall in fifth round of 2011 NFL Draft

Round 5 – No. 20 (151 overall)
Ahmad Black, SS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Height: 5’10” – Weight: 184 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Arguably the Florida Gators most valuable starter in 2010 and perhaps the most talented player coming out of Gainesville, FL this year, strong safety Ahmad Black was selected Saturday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 20th pick in the fifth round (No. 151 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Chosen late in the process due to concerns about his size (5’10” 184 lbs.) and speed (4.74-second 40-yard dash), Black has proven over his four-year college career that he has every other attribute necessary to be successful at the next level. He is tough, durable, smart and can sniff out passes with the best of them.

“I’ve done a lot, a lot, a lot. And people always doubted me about my size,” he told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday. “Definitely, that’s one of the biggest reasons. As frustrating as it is, I’ve just got to live with that.”

Black is the second Florida safety drafted in as many seasons. Major Wright was chosen in the third round with the 75th overall pick by the Chicago Bears in 2010.

He joins former Gators running back Earnest Graham on Tampa Bay and is the ninth Florida player selected all-time by the franchise. The Buccaneers last picked offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker with the No. 14 overall pick in 2001.

A Tampa Bay fan growing up, Black also has an aunt who was previously a cheerleader for the team. His last collegiate game – the 2011 Outback Bowl – was played in Raymond James Stadium. Black won the contest for the Gators with a game-sealing 80-yard interception return for a touchdown. He was named the Most Valuable Player.

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

» OGGOA’s 2011 NFL Draft Live Blog – Click here!

Steelers add Gators OT Marcus Gilbert with No. 63 overall pick in second round of 2011 NFL Draft

Round 2 – No. 31 (63rd overall)
Marcus Gilbert, OT
Pittsburgh Steelers


Height: 6’6″ – Weight: 330 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

After a 48-slot delay between selections, the Florida Gators had a second player get picked in the 2011 NFL Draft as offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert was chosen with the 31st pick in the second round (No. 63 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday evening.

The first Florida player at his position to be drafted since Max Starks was a third-round selection by Pittsburgh in 2004, Gilbert has most of the tangible qualities NFL teams desire for starting-caliber offensive linemen.

He started all 27 games the Gators played over the last two seasons; however, during the pre-draft evaluation process, teams differed at which position they believe he will be best suited for in the pros. Gilbert is tall, long, athletic and strong and could have the opportunity to start right away for the Steelers at either right tackle or guard.

Gilbert will join Starks and former Florida center Maurkice Pouncey on Pittsburgh. The Steelers selected Pouncey with the No. 18 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft; he made the Pro Bowl in his first season and started all but one game for Pittsburgh as a rookie.

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

» OGGOA’s 2011 NFL Draft Live Blog – Click here!

TWO BITS: Demps featured, Hernandez gives

1 » Florida Gators senior running back and junior sprinter Jeff Demps was featured on the front page of NCAA.com and written about in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday for his amazing ability to be a two-sport athlete who thrives in both disciplines. Demps told NCAA writer Tim Turner that, upon begin injured against Tennessee, his focus was solely on his football career and getting back as soon as possible. “All I was thinking about was recovery and getting back for football,” Demps said. I wasn’t thinking about track. I give all the credit for the strength and conditioning coach for getting me back out there. I recovered better than I thought, and being hurt made me want to make the best of opportunities to compete. [Being in the SEC], I know each week I am going to compete against the best athletes in the country in each sport. Every week you have to go out there as if you are playing for the national championship. You never know who is going to have that 10 flat or run a 9.86.”

Demps discussed participating in the 2012 London Olympics with the Inquirer and whether or not that will have an impact on his future in the NFL. “I’m not really sure,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it that much. Sometimes it will go through my mind, but I have to stay away from thinking about it and focus on the present.” You can read the rest of both of these features, respectively, here and here.

2 » One year ago, former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez saw his stock fall due to character concerns stemming from at least one positive marijuana test. After a stellar rookie season in which he caught 45 passes for 563 yards and six touchdowns for the New England Patriots, Hernandez has decided to give back by taking advantage as a unique platform he has being one of the few Latin players in the NFL.

According to the Boston Herald, Hernandez spent time on Friday “sharing his story and delivering his message to a group of third- and fifth-graders at Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston. Later in the evening, he’ll attend the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology’s annual gala to support the Dr. Cynthia Lucero Latino Mental Health Program, which benefits the local Latino community’s mental health resources.” He spoke about his decision to give back to the community. “I just feel like I can be really influential to young kids because I’ve been through a lot,” Hernandez told the Herald. “For me, I knew I always had someone I could look up to, and someone I could follow. When you have that role model in front of you, doing the right things, it can take you to where you want to be in life. You can get anywhere, as long as you have the drive, and you have someone to look up to. If you have no one to look up to, you have nowhere to go.” Having his father pass away due to complications from hernia surgery when he was only 16, Hernandez knows the importance of having role models to look up to.

Dolphins nab Gators C/G Mike Pouncey with No. 15 overall pick in first round of 2011 NFL Draft

Round 1 – No. 15
Mike Pouncey, C/G
Miami Dolphins


Height: 6’5″ – Weight: 303 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Upon returning to the Florida Gators for his senior season, center/guard Mike Pouncey declared that his goal was to learn how to snap the ball so he could become a first-round pick and selected than his brother. Waiting patientely in the green room at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, Pouncey learned Thursday evening that his goal had been accomplished when he received a phone call from the Miami Dolphins, who decided to select him No. 15 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

“I just think it was a perfect fit. I think they were just trying to hide it from other teams that they were interested in me,” he said while on the phone with local media Thursday night. “I mean, I was kind of shocked that they didn’t bring me in or work me out. But I was hoping on draft day that they picked me and I’m glad they did.”

A starter at Florida for three seasons, Pouncey may be able to line up from day one for Miami, a team desperately in need of assistance in the interior of their offensive line. Pouncey can start at guard right away and could, like his brother, have the opportunity to win the center job during training camp, seeing as the Dolphins re-signed starting left guard Richie Incognito in the offseason and selected John Jerry in the third round of last year’s draft to play right guard.

“I’m just going to go out there and work as hard as I can, learn both positions,” he said. “And it’s up to coach [Tony] Sparano and my teammates what position I’ll be playing.”

Pouncey is the first Gators player selected by the Dolphins since then-head coach Nick Saban picked linebacker Channing Crowder in the third round of the 2005 draft.

He was chosen three slots ahead of his brother, center Maurkice Pouncey, who was selected No. 18 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. Maurkice started every game except the Super Bowl (injury) and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

“Obviously I know that I’m coming in with big expectations because of all the success that my brother’s had but I’m just going to go out there and earn the respect of my teammates and try to earn a spot on that team,” Pouncey said.

The 43rd Florida player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, he is the fifth consecutive first-round pick for the Gators and 12th in the last 15 years.

WHAT POUNCEY SAID
VIDEO: Roger Goodell announces the pick
Conference Call Transcript
Interview with Finsiders (radio)
Press Conference on Friday

WHAT THEY SAID
Dolphins Conference Call Video/Transcript

Head coach Will Muschamp: “I’m happy for Mike that he is getting the chance to realize a lifelong dream. I didn’t coach Mike, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet him and you can tell that he has a passion for the game. I wish him the best of luck.”

» OGGOA’s 2011 NFL Draft Live Blog – Click here!

TWO BITS: Pouncey’s science, Noah’s dirty?

1 » Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey, likely to be a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday evening, recently took part in a segment for ESPN‘s Sports Science feature. You can view it below:

2 » Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger accused Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah of being a dirty player on Tuesday, saying he took cheap shots at some of his teammates during a recent game. “The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly,” Granter told ESPNChicago.com. “And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.” Asked his thoughts on the subject, Noah dismissed Granger’s claims and said he did nothing of the sort. “I played dirty? OK. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man,” he said. “It’s the name of the game. I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. They play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s OK.”

Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who mentored Noah during back-to-back NCAA National Championship runs, said nothing could be further from the truth than Granger’s claims. “I don’t know Danny Granger at all, but I do know Joakim, and I do not agree with that one bit,” Donovan said during an interview with ESPN 1000 “Jo to me is the guy that I’ve got a tremendous amount of love and affection for. He’s one of those guys, that I think if you’re the opposing team, you don’t like him. […] I think the last thing I would say about him is that he is a dirty player, that’s the farthest thing from the truth, but again, I don’t know Danny Granger. I don’t know what the intent was of that, but I’ll tell you this, when you go against Joakim, you better bring it, because he is coming every single possession for every offensive, defensive rebound and run the floor. He’s going to do what he’s gotta do to out there to try and help his team win, and that could be misconstrued by Granger saying he’s dirty, but Joakim Noah is not a guy that I ever felt coaching or being around him that he was a dirty player.”

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