OGGOA Caption Contest Result: Noah/Horford

We received a ton of submissions for the sixth ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive caption contest celebrating our @OnlyGators Twitter account reaching 10,000 followers, and a winner has been chosen to receive a FREE Florida Gators Fathead ($100 value).

Reader Andrew E. worked hard and came away with the No. 1 spot!

Winning caption: Noah and Horford watched in silent horror as Charles Barkley commenced his pregame ritual of devouring a small, innocent child

Because we had so many good entries, honorable mentions for this contest go out to the following readers and their submissions:

Two guys who know what back-to-back is all about (Jimi B.)

Knowing Noah’s weakness from their days at Florida, Horford resorts to the awkward but effective “tickle defense” (Joelle D.)

Noah and Horford pick an inopportune time to practice their secret Oh Fours handshake (Chris D.)

OGGOA has given away multiple Florida Gators DVDs, a Florida Field rug, Game Day purse, Into the Swamp book, pieces of Gators art, T Bow Towels, Gillette Pro Fusion razors, a Turlington Scarf and other goodies throughout our 19 months of existence. There are a number of other giveaways coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

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FOUR BITS: Weis, Muschamp, baseball, Demps

1 » The Florida Gators failed to get a commitment from four-star linebacker Raphael Kirby (Stone Mountain, GA) on Tuesday, but offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was in attendance at the Stephenson High School spring game to check in on commits four-star running back Mike Davis and three-star defensive lineman Jafar Mann. Those onsite at the game note that Weis and his Super Bowl ring (which he let a few fans try on) were a major attraction, and Davis was pleased to see his future coach was in attendance. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Mann ended up not participating in the scrimmage “after violating undisclosed team rules.”

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp continues to make his rounds of the state while Gator Gatherings are hosted in his honor. He was in Tallahassee on Tuesday and took the opportunity to talk about his counterpart with the Florida State Seminoles, Jimbo Fisher. “In our profession, we’re so busy throughout the year, it’s awful hard to maintain a relationship with anybody unless they’re on your staff,” Muschamp said, according to Florida Today. “But I’ve got great respect for Jimbo. I obviously know [his wife] Candi and the Fisher family very well. We worked together I think about six or seven years. Any time you spend that much time with somebody, I’ve got great respect for him as a football coach and a person. He does a good job.” It should be noted that FSU is no longer referred to the “Team Out West” and UF’s in-house posted schedules; Muschamp has changed it to read “Florida State.”

3 » No. 4 Gators baseball (39-14) struggled mightily Tuesday, allowing the unranked Jacksonville Dolphins (33-18) to rout them 11-2 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Jacksonville posted three quick runs in the first inning, and starting junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (4-2) was pulled after allowing four earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in 2.2 innings. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the first, but Florida’s offense stalled the remainder of the contest. Replacing Panteliodis, junior right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani did not have much luck either, giving up five runs (two earned) while striking out four in 2.1 innings. Jacksonville piled on two more runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and a pair in the eighth to cruised to the victory. The loss was difficult to deal with but relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things for Gators baseball. UF is set for a three-game series with Kentucky beginning on Friday that could determine if Florida, South Carolina or Vanderbilt wind up the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season champion. All three schools are currently tied for first-place with USC holding the tiebreaker.

4 » Putting together his “freaks list” for the 2011 college football season, ESPN Insider’s Bruce Feldman has placed Gators senior running back Jeff Demps at the very top. Here is a portion of what Feldman had to say:

Gators strength coach Mickey Marotti says the back can squat “an ungodly amount of weight.” And despite the added pounds, Demps has gotten faster. “He was a 10.1 guy, is now a 9.9 guy and probably will be a 9.8 guy,” said Marotti, who adds that Demps has really improved his acceleration. […]

“It’s his work ethic and his motor,” said Marotti. “It’s really something special. From the time he showed up here through today, it’s always full-go. This is an overachieving guy that has a lot of gifts. He has an energy and enthusiasm for everything. People feed off him. They love to be around him. He’s the hardest working guy on our football team and I can’t speak for our track coach, but I believe he’s probably the hardest working guy on our track team too.”

Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Preparing for the combine in Chicago

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

In Chicago, IL preparing for the 2011 NBA Combine, Parsons got in touch with us on Monday to submit his first entry while relaxing at the suburban home of former Florida big man and Chicago Bulls starting center Joakim Noah.

Noah, who was relaxed and focused between games of the Eastern Conference Finals, is about an hour away from the city where Parsons will work out for all 30 NBA general managers from Wednesday until Saturday.

After I spoke to you on Monday, I spent the rest of the week continuing to workout in Los Angeles, CA, doing the same stuff and working on my conditioning. David Lee actually came out there and was working with all of us, and the trainer and I were just putting on some finishing touches and sharpening a few things up before I left.

I headed over to Oklahoma for my first workout, which went really well. The Oklahoma City Thunder invited 12 players to the Sunday workout and split us up into two groups of six. They held it at 9 a.m. on the day the team played game seven [of the Western Conference Semifinals].

Right when I got in there Saturday, there was a room in the hotel where a bunch of people who work in the front office for the Thunder interviewed me. [They asked] typical questions about my game, upbringing and childhood – basically every question you could imagine they were asking just to get to know me better. There were also a lot of questionnaires and surveys and a background check.

On Saturday night before the workout, the GM [Sam Presti] took me to dinner. There were 12 players there, and I was the only one to go to dinner, so that was pretty special.

Sunday was everything else including a psychological test and physical tests. They looked at my vertical [jump], height, [wingspan], the size of my hands and legs, did balance testing and a shuttle run. You do everything possible testing-wise and then you actually go on the court and do a hour workout with their player personnel staff.

The workout was at 9 a.m., and I had a flight already scheduled right out of there to Chicago. I ended up getting in around 10 p.m. on Sunday and just checked into my apartment. [Monday] morning, I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and started doing just everything I’m going to do at the combine this week.

I did spot-shooting at 18-feet and from three-point range, worked on catching and shooting on the move, and did four-spot one-dribble pull ups going each way. I also had a little conditioning and some ball handling drills mixed in to stay sharp. That lasted until 11:30 a.m. I grabbed lunch, came back at 3:30 p.m. and lifted with E’twaun Moore from Purdue, who is also with my agent [Mark Bartelstein].

All of my Chicago workouts are with my trainer Josh Oppenheimer and strength coach Ryan Thompson. I worked out with them in Chicago before I went to Los Angeles. Josh is a great guy; he’s really intense.

Over the next few days I will basically just be getting a lot of reps up – because you know exactly what they’re going to be doing at the combine. There’s nothing competitive this year. It’s just basically all shooting, two-on-one/three-on-two fast breaks and a whole interviewing process where every team there that is interested will interview you.

I will go through a whole bunch of tests, go to the hospital and get X-rays, ultrasounds and all sorts of tests to make sure my body is right and I don’t have any injuries. The next couple of days I will be rehearsing those things while keeping my conditioning, working on my all-around game and working on my shuttle run and vertical.

My agent has said that tons of teams are very interested in me, so I’m going to have anywhere from 12-16 workouts. I’ve already done Oklahoma City, I have the combine this week, and then I got invited to a group workout – the only group workout – in Minnesota. It’s where the top 24 prospects get invited and all 30 NBA GMs can come and watch you.

Go Gators,

Alvarez voted to College Football Hall of Fame

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Carlos Alvarez has been voted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced on Tuesday.

One of 79 All-American players and nine coaches made eligible for selection by the voting committee, Alvarez will be one of 16 inductees (14 players, two coaches) who will be officially enshrined in July 2012 after being honored at a dinner in Dec. 2011.

He played on the Gators for three seasons (1969-71) and still holds three school records for career receiving yards (2,563), receptions in a single season (88) and receptions in a game (15). Alvarez also set the then-University of Florida and Southeastern Conference career receptions mark with 172 catches in 1971.

“I’m hardly ever speechless, but I am,’’ he told UF senior writer Scott Carter. “When you look at college football and the number of people who have played…I feel honored just to be mentioned.’’

Alvarez is the third Florida player elected to the Hall of Fame since 2006.

He will the ninth overall representative of the Gators to be enshrined in the hall, joining coaches Charlie Bachman (1978), Doug Dickey (2003) and Ray Graves (1990), and players linebacker Wilber Marshall (2008), running back Emmitt Smith (2006), quarterback Steve Spurrier (1986) and defensive ends Dale Van Sickel (1975) and Jack Youngblood (1992).

“Carlos is a great example of all that is good in college athletics. His tireless work and commitment to excellence translated into success both on and off the field,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a school release. “He has maintained his level of commitment and success in his professional career as well. I’ve had the opportunity to see Carlos a number of times when he visits Gainesville and he remains a tremendous ambassador for our program. The honor is well deserved.”

Photo Credit: University of Florida archives

FOUR BITS: SEC titles, Lemmens, Kirby, Rollins

1 » Over the weekend, the Florida Gators men’s and women’s track and field teams both turned in second-place finishes at the 2011 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships. Though both squads fell short of team titles, Florida student-athletes took home seven individual SEC titles. Junior Gray Horn (decathlon), junior Will Claye (long jump, triple jump), senior Terrell Wilks (100-meter dash), freshman Fawn Miller (javelin) and junior Genevive LaCaze (steeplechase) all won SEC Championships, as did the men’s 4×100-meter relay team. Horn now holds the unique distinction as only the second athlete in SEC history to win three consecutive league decathlon titles. His total of 7,828 points over the weekend also set a school record for the event.

2 » As part of the continuing series “Parting Shots” on InsideTheGators.com, I sat down with former Gators defensive end Duke Lemmens for an extensive interview which spanned his entire career in the orange and blue. Lemmens spoke with me candidly about a number of topics including former head coach Urban Meyer, his place at Florida, thoughts of transferring and much more. Part one of the two-part series is available free to OGGOA readers. You can check it out by clicking here.

3 » If it was up to Florida’s four-star running back commitment Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA), all of his top high school teammates would be committing to the Gators this year. Though some have already made declarations for other colleges, four-star linebacker Raphael Kirby (Stone Mountain, GA) is set to announce his decision at his team’s spring game Tuesday night and is believed to have Florida as his leader. Kirby told InsideTheGators.com that both offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci will be in attendance Tuesday for the “first time to see me in person.” Kirby also had this to say about the Gators:

“I had a great visit when I went down there it was awesome, I got to meet all the coaches and go into The Swamp. The Swamp was awesome. I love the atmosphere down there I could definitely see myself fitting in there. I have two teammates there so it would be cool to go there with them; we have definitely talked about it. As far as football goes they have a great defense that really gives you an edge when it comes to getting into the NFL. I like Coach Muschamp as well as he is a very straight forward coach who has a lot of intensity about himself. He will have an immediate impact on the program.”

4 » He may not have been offered by Florida this time around, but Florida State University School DE/LB Keviron Rollins (Tallahassee, FL) plans to play for the Gators sooner than later. Rollins, who officially committed to Dean College (a junior college in Massachusetts) on Monday, told the Tallahassee Democrat that he hopes to be wearing orange and blue after he graduates from Dean College in two years. “My vision is I’m going to go up there for two years and then after that I’m going to transfer to UF,” he said. “I’m a diehard Gators fan. That’s my vision.”

Extra BIT » Former Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta had a great night for the Cleveland Indians. He was interviewed on ESPN‘s SportsCenter afterward:

Calgary signs former Florida DL Torrey Davis

The Calgary Stampeders of the CFL announced on Monday that they have signed former Florida Gators defensive lineman Torrey Davis.

Davis, who made a pair of clutch goal line tackle to stop Oklahoma from scoring a touchdown in the 2009 BCS Championship Game that Florida eventually won, transferred to Jacksonville State due to academic issues and legal troubles.

He played for the AFL’s Spokane Shock last season after trying out for but failing to make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster.

WR Cornelius: “I just tried to do whatever I could.”

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius has one of the biggest smiles you will ever see. And he has plenty to be happy about these days. Having settled down in his hometown of Fort Meade, FL, Cornelius is the head coach of his high school team and is continuing the legacy of his former coach, whose retirement two years ago gave him the opportunity to take the reigns.

Married with three children, Corenlius chose stability over chasing his original dream – playing in the NFL. Speaking with me last week for a feature published on InsideTheGators.com, he opened up about choosing to attend Florida, going through two coaching changes, how his coaches developed him as a player and person, putting the desire to play professionally in his rear view mirror and doing what he can to improve the play and character of his student-athletes.

Check out the feature I wrote last week (subscription required) and supplement it with the remainder of my 45-minute interview with Cornelius found here:

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Talk about growing up in Fort Meade and how that experience is different from how other people you know grew up.
JEMALLE CORNELIUS: “It was different. I grew up in a real small town, not much to do. All we had as kids was sports. We didn’t have no movies or much stuff to do for entertainment. So we played sandlot football during football season, played baseball during baseball season. Year-round we were just playing sports; that’s pretty much all we had. My dad was a pastor at a church, so he was always involved in the community. He coached me when I was growing up – every sport I played. He was always there. I saw [sports] as my way out, my opportunity.”

AS: Was football always your best sport?
JC: “I started off playing baseball. I was a good baseball player. In Fort Meade, it was crazy, when I was coming up we didn’t even have little league football. We had to go to another city just to play. When I grew up, I played a lot of sandlot football, but it was baseball because we had a baseball team. I first got involved with football in seventh grade. When I got to high school, I just got tired of playing baseball because that’s all I did. It just kind of got boring and football was more exciting, so I leaned towards that.”

AS: You were a standout wide receiver your junior year of high school, but senior year you did it all: starting quarterback, defensive back and punt returner. What was it like being asked to do so much?
JC: “My junior year, we had a real good team. We were stacked. We had a lot of guys coming back; we just didn’t have as many athletes. Coach just kind of pulled me to the side and told me he was going to put me at quarterback. I was the back-up quarterback the year before. At that time, all I wanted to do was win a state championship, so I felt like that was the best thing for me to do. I went over to quarterback. I played defensive back. I returned punts and kicks. I just tried to do whatever I could to, first of all, win a state championship, and then being recruited as a player, the more you can do the better you look to a college coach.”

AS: It must have been tough losing those three title games…
JC: “We went three years in a row – my sophomore year, junior year and senior year – we went to state and lost to North Florida Christian. They had [Florida State linebacker] Ernie Sims at the time, and every year he beat me. Every single year.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Jemalle Cornelius…after the break!
Continue Reading » WR Cornelius: “I just tried to do whatever I could.”

Florida shares SEC lead after Vanderbilt series

Fighting and clawing their way through a three-game road series against the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores over the weekend, No. 5 Florida Gators baseball won two of three games over a four-day span that included an extra-inning finale to create a three-way tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference regular season standings.

FRIDAY: Florida hit the road hoping to take advantage of Vanderbilt early and often. They had no such luck during their first day as sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall drew the start and gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits in five innings without striking out a single batter. The Gators trailed the Commodores 4-2 through five innings before rain and lightning suspended the game until Saturday.

SATURDAY: The second half of the game begin with a pair of scoreless frames. Then Florida tied it up 4-4 in the top of the seventh. With one out and redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (1-2, R) on base after smacking a lead-off single up the middle, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) homered to right field to even up the contest. Vanderbilt took a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, but UF did what they could to take advantage of their three remaining outs.

Senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) led off the inning with a solo shot to left to tie the game. Then, after junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (1-4, R) singled to left field with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, senior center fielder Bryson Smith (1-5, RBI) doubled to right to score Pigott before the frame ended two batters later. Junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-2) picked up the win after getting the final two outs of the eighth, and sophomore RHP Austin Maddox earned his second save of the season by pitching a hitless ninth.

Just a few hours later, the Gators and Commodores went at it again. Florida took an early 1-0 lead in the second game of the series after Smith (1-4, HR, RBI, R) homered in the top of the third, but Vanderbilt piled it on from there scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning, six in the fifth, two in the sixth and four more in the seventh to annihilate UF 14-1. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-3) had the worst start of his career, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings of work. If that wasn’t enough, freshman LHP Daniel Gibson, the second reliever out of the bullpen, coughed up five earned runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.

SUNDAY: With the series even and VU still holding down first place in the SEC, the Gators had their work cut out for them in the rubber match. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson got the call for Florida but only lasted 4.1 innings after giving up three earned runs on five hits while striking out five. Vanderbilt led 3-1 through the first four innings with UF’s sole run coming on a solo homer by Maddox in the top of the second.

Junior LHP Nick Maronde relieved Whitson and played top-notch ball for the Gators, striking out three and only allowing a single hit in 3.1 innings. His efforts allowed Florida to tie the game with single runs in the seventh and eighth inning. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino smacked a solo shot to start the seventh, and the Gators rallied in the eighth to get Fontana (3-5, 2 R) home from third base. With the bases loaded and one out, Zunino hit a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game 3-3.

The Commodores blew a chance in the ninth by stranding a pair of runners, and both teams left two on base with one out in their portion of the 10th. Vanderbilt got Florida to ground out thrice in the 11th, and junior RHP Tommy Toledo struck out back-to-back batters with the winning run on third base in the bottom of the inning.

The Gators took a breath and entered the 12th hoping to bring the game home. Fontana walked on a full count to start the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and was joined on base by Tucker, who was intentionally walked. The Commodores called for a pitching change, replacing Jack Armstrong with Navery Moore. After working Moore to a full count, Zunino (2-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) hit a three-run homer to right field to give UF (39-13, 20-7 SEC) a 6-3 lead and clinch the series at VU (42-8, 20-7 SEC). Toledo (3-3) picked up the win after striking out three in two full innings.

The victory propels Florida into a three-way tie for the SEC lead with Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Each team sports a 20-7 conference record and is set for a separate three-game series next weekend. UF will host Kentucky Thursday-Saturday at home after facing Jacksonville on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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