Gators win Outback Bowl but finish unranked

Though the Florida Gators (8-5) completed the 2010 season with an exciting 37-24 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, the team was once again unranked as the season’s final polls were released on Tuesday.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

Last Poll 1-25: Oregon (34*), Auburn (24*), TCU (1*), Wisconsin, Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Boise State, Virginia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Nevada, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Alabama, Utah, South Carolina, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Florida State, Central Florida, Hawaii

This Week 1-25: Auburn (56*), TCU (1*), Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Boise State, LSU, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Central Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Utah, Maryland, N.C. State
+ Florida received 10 voting points, good for 32nd overall

Last Poll 1-25: Auburn (36*), Oregon (23*), TCU (1*), Wisconsin, Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Boise State, LSU, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Utah, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Florida State, Hawaii, Connecticut

This Week 1-25: Auburn (56*), TCU (3*), Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU, Boise State, Alabama, Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Missouri, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Central Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, Tulsa, N.C. State
+ Florida received 19 voting points, good for 31st overall

* Numbers represent first-place votes.

Bills WR David Nelson: “…it changed my career”

Usually we have to convince our interview subjects to sit down and talk with us for a half hour. When it came to former Florida Gators now Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson, he had nothing but time while in the middle of a 22-hour drive from Buffalo, NY, to Dallas, TX, and in desperate need of some entertainment.

Catching up with him 14 hours into his trip somewhere in Memphis, TN, OGGOA spoke with Nelson about everything from his family growing up to what he thinks about new Gators head coach Will Muschamp and the future of quarterback John Brantley. He was honest and candid, as expected, and gave us a good look into the journey from high school star to solid college contributor to NFL undrafted free agent.

Nelson hauled in 46 receptions for 630 yards and seven touchdowns during his Florida career. As a rookie with Buffalo in 2010, he matched half that total with 31 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns (in consecutive games).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You’re one of eight children…where do you fall age-wise and what was it like growing up with so many siblings?
DAVID NELSON: “I’m actually the oldest of eight. Growing up there was only three of us – me and two of my younger brothers. My mom and dad were together and it was just us three. We were always real close, always competed and always playing sports and video games and trying to beat each other. We would fight and argue like brothers do, but looking back I cherish those times with my brothers more than anything. I always had a friend and brother to play with, always a partner to go out and do stuff with. It wasn’t until my mom and dad got divorced and both of them got remarried and had extra kids. My mom had three extra kids and my dad had two extra kids. My youngest sister right now is like three years old.”

AS: Christmas and Thanksgiving must be interesting then…
DN: “It is. It is. It’s a lot of fun though. It keeps it interesting and it keeps it fun.”

AS: What was it about Florida that made you decide to attend there over Notre Dame or staying in-state with Texas?
DN: “Growing up I never really knew much about Florida. I had seen them on TV every once in a while, when they were playing a bowl game or playing Florida State or something like that. I was never really a big fan growing up. I was from Big 12 country, so I grew up a huge Texas Longhorns fan, I watched all the Big 12 teams. When the recruiting process started, I didn’t hear anything from Florida. [Ron] Zook was there, didn’t hear anything from him or from his staff. Florida wasn’t even a consideration for me, never crossed my mind.

“When the whole issue with Tyrone Willingham getting fired [from Notre Dame]… I talked to Urban Meyer a little bit while he was at Utah, liked him a lot, but didn’t really feel comfortable going to Utah. When he accepted the job to go to Florida, he called me up and said, ‘Hey, I know you didn’t like it at Utah. What do you think about Florida?’ I was like, ‘I’ll research it, see what it looks like.’ The more I researched it, the more I learned about it, the more I liked it. I got a good feeling about it. [It happened] kind of late in the process, because it wasn’t until after the All-American game I started talking to him and took a visit up there. Got in town with my family, my family loved the community.

“I felt right with the coaching staff. I felt comfortable with the offense they were putting in. I knew that there was going to be something special that was going to happen there, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be one of the first recruiting classes to come in with them, because I knew Coach Meyer was going to be successful.”

AS: What were the first three years with the Gators like with you not getting much time on the field? Did you feel discouraged at all?
DN: “It was tough. It was real tough. An 18-19-20-year old kid coming in from high school, being heavily recruited, you automatically assume you are going to come in and you feel like you should be up for the Biletnikoff Award your first year on campus. When you’re a young kid, you buy into all the hype. You’re just really excited of what is going to happen. You come in and redshirt, the next year you sit on the bench, the year after that you sit on the bench again and you do get discouraged. You have all these people telling you how good you are, all these people from different angles saying you should be doing this…and you start to believe all the hype and all the cousins and the uncles calling you and you start to agree with them. You start to get these negative thoughts.

“The thought had crossed my mind of transferring; we actually pursued it a little bit. My dad and I sat down and looked at some options. Coach Meyer told me to just think about it and get back to him. The more I thought about it, the more we researched, I realized I came here for a reason – I came here to be a part of something special. At that moment we were on the cusp of being a great program. We had just won the National Championship in Arizona, and we were on the cusp of being great. At that moment, I knew I came here, I started something. I’m going to see it all the way through. I’m going to stick to my word and I’m going to ride this out, see where it goes and where it takes me.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with David Nelson…after the break!
Continue Reading » Bills WR David Nelson: “…it changed my career”

Florida basketball stuck outside Top 25 polls

Florida Gators (12-3, 1-0 SEC) dropped out of the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls three weeks ago and have since been stuck in limbo. Though they won two games (one in impressive fashion, the other hard-fought) over the last week, Florida did not find themselves back in the polls when they were released on Monday.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
No. 7
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
No. 6
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
No. 2
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
No. 1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3

Last Week 1-25: Duke (31*), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Connecticut, Purdue, Kentucky, Texas, Georgetown, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Central Florida, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Memphis, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati
+ Florida received 9 voting points, good for 34th overall

This Week 1-25: Duke (31*), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Purdue, Connecticut, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisville, Washington, Georgetown, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Central Florida, Temple, Michigan State, Minnesota
+ Florida received 20 voting points, good for 33rd overall

Last Week 1-25: Duke (65*), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Connecticut, Missouri, Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Michigan State, Central Florida, Illinois, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Washington, Cincinnati, UNLV
+ Florida received 35 voting points, good for 31st overall

This Week 1-25: Duke (65*), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Purdue, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Brigham Young, Texas, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, Louisville, Temple, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Georgetown, Central Florida, Georgia, Cincinnati
Florida received 110 voting points, good for 29th overall

* Numbers represent first-place votes.


Jenkins spurns NFL for another year with Gators

Florida Gators junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, arguably the team’s best defensive player in 2010, has officially decided to return for his senior season rather than begin his professional career declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.

“After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to return to school for my senior year. I spent some time with my family and Coach [Will] Muschamp and came to the conclusion it was in my best interest to return to school,” said Jenkins, according to a University of Florida release. “Coach Muschamp was very supportive throughout the whole process, regardless of my decision, but he wanted to make sure I had all of the facts. I’m looking forward to working towards my degree, completing my rehab and getting back on the field with my teammates.”

Jenkins, who has totaled 106 tackles, eight interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), two sacks and two forced fumbles in three seasons at Florida, earned All-SEC honors from both the Associated Press (first team) and Southeastern Conference coaches (second team) this year for his stellar play.

“I’m excited that Janoris has made a decision to come back to school,” Muschamp said. “I would have supported him in whatever decision he made, but I commend him for making a mature decision. It would have been real easy for Janoris to make an emotional choice and leave early, but with our contacts in the NFL, we were able to assist him in understanding his draft status and he made an educated decision that will be beneficial to him in the long term.”

Projected to be a first-round pick as a junior before the season began, Jenkins was considered the third-best cornerback and No. 11 overall player available in this year’s draft, according to ESPN and Scouts, Inc.

He was ready to declare for the draft before sitting down with Muschamp.

With his return, Muschamp and young secondary coach Travaris Robinson have a reliable senior to champion an otherwise inexperienced unit. Florida will likely be starting sophomores at both safety positions (Matt Elam, Josh Evans) and may do the same at cornerback depending who wins the position battle in the offseason.

Jenkins sent Gators fans into a frenzy Sunday evening with the innocuous tweet “Gator Nation I’m back…” and did not follow up with any additional information. He confirmed his decision Monday morning with another tweet, “Headed to class with nothing but ‘joy.’ Gator Nation I’m back…”

OGGOA learned on Sunday that Jenkins has long had a desire to earn his degree and staying in school was always a strong consideration for him. He is pursuing a degree in anthropology and is believed to be on track to graduate next year.

He is only the second true freshman in school history to start at cornerback on opening day (Joe Haden) and was named to the 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team. Jenkins helped the Gators win the 2009 BCS National Championship by totaling five tackles in the game. He was equally effective in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, recording five solo tackles (one for loss) and a pass break-up in Florida’s win.

Jenkins registered 43 tackles, three interceptions and one sack as a junior in 2010 while playing most of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He had surgery after the regular season to correct the injury and missed the Gators’ 37-24 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

After speaking with two sports medicine experts, OGGOA has learned that Jenkins’ injury would not have prevented him from working out for NFL scouts before draft day should he have decided to play in the league next season.

Fellow junior, safety Will Hill, will declare for the draft though his intentions have not been made official yet. UF will release a statement if and when Hill’s decision to pursue a professional football career is official.

OGGOA RELATED 1/5: Will Hill to forgo senior season, enter NFL Draft

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following Florida’s 77-71 defeat of the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday.


As a young team the last few years, the Gators’ propensity for turning the ball over has been somewhat understandable. However, the team as-assembled features three seniors in the frontcourt and a junior point guard in Erving Walker, meaning it was time for bad habits to change. Going into Saturday’s game with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1 (201-200), Florida finally turned things around and dished 22 dimes compared to coughing the ball up only seven times. Though Walker has not been the only one turning the ball over, his ratio was the most concerning (he went 3:1 on Saturday). Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin and senior forward Chandler Parsons were part of the solution, combining for 11 assists and zero turnovers on the evening.

“I was really disappointed with us defensively tonight. Offensively we’re getting better. We’re starting to utilize each other. We’re taking higher percentage shots,” Donovan said after the game. “We ended up going 22 assists and seven turnovers – that’s how I’d like our teams to play. Our guys are getting better on offense; they’re getting better taking care of the ball.”


There is no question that after they fell to Jacksonville, even though they first defeated then-No. 6 Kansas State 48 hours earlier, the Gators were in turmoil. Donovan condemned the team for its selfishness and said the only way they could truly turn things around and have a great season was to play for each other. He expanded on that philosophy on Saturday.

“Selfishness is an interesting word because it’s all about how you play, what kind of intentions you play with,” he said. “When you’ve been around the game long enough, you know when guys are playing with intentions like, ‘I got to go do something.’ I would classify that as being ‘selfish.’ But it’s not so much selfish as, ‘I want to get my points,’ as much as it is, ‘I want to help my team.’

“It still comes across as they’re trying to do what they think they need to do to help the team. It looks that way. I think our guys are doing a better job. Our shot distribution is better balanced. Our guys are a little bit more patient. We have a better balance of inside-out than we’ve had in the last month or so.

“I started to see that change after the holidays. It was probably a blessing in disguise that we did not play the Fairfield game. Because we’re playing Xavier with no classes, and I got these guys with no time constraints on me. Playing Xavier on the back end, with what they did to us last year, we had [the players’] attention and I thought we got better that period there. I thought we made some strides.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, faced with his own struggles this season, said a team meeting during that time really turned things around. “We had a team meeting and we basically told each other, in order for everyone to be successful and do better as a team, we have to play as a team and not worry about individual stuff,” he said. “Since we had that team meeting, we’ve come out and played better.”

Read more from Donovan and the players on Saturday’s win…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Wild Card

With the 2010-11 NFL regular season having come to a close, a number of Florida Gators participated in Wild Card Weekend action during the NFL Playoffs. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the first week of the playoffs.

DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Six tackles (five solo, two for loss), pass def.
RB DeSHAWN WYNN, New Orleans Saints: Played but did not record statistics.
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Two receptions for 18 yards (targets: 4)
DE BOBBY MCCRAY, Philadelphia Eagles: Played but did not record statistics.

– Wynn was released by San Francisco and signed with New Orleans on Monday.
– McCray, a free agent this season, was signed by Philadelphia on Dec. 30.
– Both teams featuring former Gators lost this weekend in the wild card round.

Linebacker Mike Peterson (Atlanta Falcons); safety Major Wright (Chicago Bears); LB Jermaine Cunningham, tight end Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes, running back Fred Taylor, defensive tackle Gerard Warren (New England Patriots); center Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers)

REGULAR SEASON: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17

FOUR BITS: early enrollees, Dowling, Outback

1 » Though National Signing Day is nearly a month away, half of the Florida Gators current 2011 commitments have already enrolled at the University of Florida for the spring semester. Five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), four-star tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) and kicker/punter Kyle Christy (Brownburg, IN) will all be taking classes at UF by Monday. The Gators have eight more commitments to sign in the first week of February and have more than half a dozen spaces to fill before then.

2 » Five-star 2010 commitment S Jonathan Dowling, who was kicked off the Florida football team in November due to a violation of team rules, recently decided to transfer to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and is petitioning the NCAA for a waiver so he does not have to miss another season. According to the Bradenton Herald, new Gators head coach Will Muschamp “made a last-ditch effort” to get Dowling back on the team but was rebuffed even though the player reportedly passed his first semester of classes.

3 » Some believed that Florida did not necessarily deserve the opportunity to play in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to their regular season performance but apparently the committee knew exactly what they were doing in scheduling them to face the equally underwhelming Penn State Nittany Lions The Outback Bowl drew a 7.6 overnight rating on ABC, up 105 percent from the 2010 contest between Northwestern and Auburn (3.7 on ESPN) and up 171 percent from the 2008 game which featured South Carolina and Iowa (2.8 on ESPN). UF-PSU drew the highest overnight rating for a non-BCS college football bowl game on broadcast television since 2008, according to SportsBusiness Daily, and even out-drew the 2011 Fiesta Bowl later that night (6.7).

4 » Four-star WR Kelvin Benjamin, a long-time Gators target who was scheduled to visit Florida next week after Muschamp initially convinced him to delay his decision, committed to the Florida State Seminoles over the weekend and will no longer take a trip to Gainesville, FL. Benjamin, who was choosing between the big three colleges in Florida, is considered an impressive WR prospect and adds yet another big name to head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s 2011 recruiting class.

Gators hang on to prevail 77-71 against Rebels

Suffering some disappointments early in the season, the Florida Gators (12-3, 1-0) started Southeastern Conference play with a bang in the form of a 77-71 win over the Ole Miss Rebels (12-4, 0-1) on Saturday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida junior point guard Erving Walker eclipsed 1,000 points in a victory that saw the Gators take a large lead, give it up and still manage to win handily.

The game got off to a rocky start for both teams until Florida took off on a 14-2 run over the last 3:04 of the half to head into the locker rooms up 39-28.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons hit the Gators’ first trey of the game to give them a 28-26 lead. Walker followed with a three of his own; he stole the ball on the next possession and lobbed a terrific outlet pass to freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin for the layup. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin followed with a dunk, and Parsons hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half strong for Florida.

Up a game-high 12 points on a dagger three-pointer by sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, the Gators quickly lost their lead as the Rebels erupted on a 13-3 run and eventually narrowed the gap to 45-43 with Florida ahead.

Ole Miss G Chris Warren, who caught fire in the second half, hit a trey to tie the game at 51. After some back-and-forth action, UF would re-take the lead permanently on four-straight points by Walker (including a floater that helped him eclipse the 1,000-point mark) to put them up 65-61.

Boynton closed out the game for the Gators with a four-point play, three-pointer off a missed trey and acrobatic lay-up to score nine-straight points on his own. His four-point play was his fourth this season (he’s a perfect 4-for-4 when given the opportunity), third in as many games and sixth of his career.

Walker became the 47th player in school history to eclipse 1,000 career points and did so while dishing three assists and turning the ball over twice. Wilbekin, Walker’s reserve, dished six dimes and did not commit a single turnover. Florida, as a team, had a 22-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio with the trio of primary ball handlers (Walker, Wilbekin and Parsons) going 17-to-2.

Four of the Gators’ starting five did the majority of the work on the evening. Boynton and Parsons each finished with 17 points; the former added three dimes while the latter contributed seven boards and five assists. Macklin’s 16 points came on 8-of-12 shooting, and he added seven rebounds.

For the Rebels, Warren – after being shutout in the first half – scored all 20 of his points in the second period. He shot 6-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown in the second half and hit all four of his free throws. F Reginald Buckner posted the game’s only double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), and F Terrance Henry was efficient scoring 12 points and grabbing eight boards.

Florida was uncharacteristically out-rebounded 33-28 in the contest but dished 14 more assists (22-8), committed four fewer turnovers (7-11) and was safer on defense (11-17 turnovers). The Gators shot 50 percent from downtown and 80 percent from the charity stripe, two areas they had struggled previously.

Hoping to build on their third-straight victory, Florida will look to make it four-in-a-row when they travel to Knoxville, TN, to face Tennessee on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN with live coverage online from OGGOA.

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