The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (69-60)

With the 2010-11 athletic season now in the books and the 2011-12 season about to begin, the focus has shifted from some of the school’s smaller sports to, of course, Florida Gators football. In this new series, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, until the season begins.

68 – Leon Orr (New Port Richey, FL)
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle
6’4” 299 lbs.

Quick Bio: A social & behavioral sciences major, Orr was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who was rated as the No. 8 player in the nation at his position.

2010 Season: Dressed for four games but did not play and took a redshirt. Orr practiced a bit as a tight end and offensive lineman but transitioned back to his natural position as the season went on.

2011 Outlook: Now playing defensive tackle once again, Orr has a shot to see the field in 2011. Head coach Will Muschamp described him as “a bigger body guy that can hold the point inside” and had him listed as the back-up to sophomore DT Dominique Easley on the spring depth chart. However, two veterans were unable to participate in spring practice, and Orr will likely have limited opportunities to make an impact.

67 – Jon Halapio (St. Petersburg, FL)
Redshirt sophomore guard
6’3” 315 lbs.

Quick Bio: Though the mane poking out the back of his helmet makes him easy to spot, Halapio is quickly becoming a lineman that defenders hope to avoid when lining up. A social & behavioral sciences major, he played in three games as a freshman in 2009 but ended up receiving a medical redshirt. Halapio saw time at all five positions on the offensive line in high school.

2010 Season: The Gators’ starting right guard for seven games last year (including four of the final five), he played in 12 games in total and graded out as a Champion against both Kentucky and Georgia. Halapio was named to the 2010 Sporting News All-Freshman Team for his efforts.

2011 Outlook: Unless something changes, Halapio will start at right guard for Florida when the season begins. He has added a few pounds to his frame and was praised by sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell for his work during the spring. “Jon Halapio is a beast, man-child, doing great things on and off the field,” Powell said. “[He’s] just a great guy. You’d never know he’s the type of player he is when you see him off the field. He’s kind of a cuddly guy. On the field, he’s rough – rough.” He also received high acclaim from Muschamp, who said he is also thoroughly impressed with Halapio.

66 – James Wilson (St. Augustine, FL)
Redshirt senior guard
6’3” 325 lbs.

Quick Bio: The No. 2 overall prospect according to Rivals in his recruiting class, Wilson was a five-star recruit who redshirted as a freshman and played in 24 of the Gators’ 28 games from 2008-09, starting four contests. He is a social & behavioral sciences major who is looking to take his talents to the next level in his final collegiate season.

2010 Season: Wilson started at left guard against Miami (OH) but was unable to play in Florida’s final 10 games of 2010 due to a left knee injury.

2011 Outlook: Left off the spring depth chart and called “very limited” by Muschamp while continuing to recover from his knee injury, Wilson’s role in 2011 remains up in the air. With redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison moving to center, the left guard job is available for him to claim but there is plenty of competition he must beat out first.

65 – Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT)
Freshman guard
6’5” 297 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit, Jordan was the No. 2 prospect coming out of Connecticut and enrolled during the summer.

2011 Outlook: With plenty of depth at the position, he is a candidate for a redshirt.

64 – Kyle Koehne (Indianapolis, IN)
Redshirt sophomore tackle
6’5” 300 lbs.

Quick Bio: A social & behavioral sciences major like his linemates, Koehne was a three-year starter in high school who left as a three-star recruit. He dressed six times in 2009 but did not see the field.

2010 Season: Though he played in all 13 games, Koehne did so mostly as a member of the field goal unit. He lined up at both tackle and guard on occasion in a reserve role.

2011 Outlook: Slotted as the back-up left tackle on the initial spring depth chart, Koehne will move down to third string once redshirt junior Matt Patchan is declared healthy. He will likely reprise his 2010 role in 2011 unless he can impress enough to move up in the depth chart on the right side.

63 – Trip Thurman (Dover, DE)
Freshman guard
6’6” 302 lbs.

Quick Bio: The top recruit in his state, Thurman was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who also chose to enroll in the summer.

2011 Outlook: Another candidate for a redshirt as a freshman.

60 – William Steinmann (Daytona Beach, FL)
Senior tackle
6’5” 265 lbs.

Quick Bio: A scout player most of his freshman season, the unheralded Steinmann ended up playing against the Citadel in 2008 and saw action in five games in 2009 after suiting up for nearly every contest. He is a political science major who earned a spot on the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2009 and 2010.

2010 Season: Steinmann participated in 12 of the 13 games, mostly on special teams as a part of the field goal unit.

2011 Outlook: He was listed as the second-team left guard during the spring but will likely only see the field for special teams downs this year.

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

TWO BITS: Murphy deferred, Young in Latvia

1 » Florida Gators junior forward Erik Murphy has agreed to deferred prosecution for misdemeanor criminal trespassing, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Murphy, who will as part of the deal pay $440 in restitution and court costs while also performing 50 hours of community service and completing a substance abuse evaluation, was previously facing more serious charges before prosecutors agreed to reduce them. He will be on probation for alcohol and controlled substances for 12 months and must send a “meaningful” apology letter to the victim as well, the Sentinel reports. Murphy and redshirt freshman F Cody Larson, who also pled not guilty and will face the same charges on July 19, are currently indefinitely suspended from the basketball team. Head coach Billy Donovan said he would evaluate their statuses after their legal situations were settled. Receiving deferred prosecution and probation will likely allow Murphy and Larson (if he signs the same agreement) to return to the team for the 2011-12 season.

2 » Having lost twice during the event, the 2011 USA Basketball U19 Team finished in an uninspiring fifth place at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia. In his final game over the weekend, Florida sophomore center Patric Young turned in another efficient performance, going 4-for-5 from the field for nine points with five rebounds in 13 minutes. Team USA defeated Australia 78-77 in the contest, yet another close finish in an event filled with disappointment for the Americans.

Wambach’s game-tying goal propels U.S. to penalty kick victory over Brazil in 2011 World Cup

On the brink of the earliest elimination from a World Cup in their country’s history, the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team was saved as former Florida Gators soccer star Abby Wambach directed a sharp header into the net two minutes into injury time during extra time to tie the match 2-2 and force a penalty kick finish.

Leading 1-0 for most of the match after being on the positive end of an own goal by Brazil just minutes into the contest, the USWNT found themselves the victim of atrocious officiating. Following a questionable red card that took USA down to 10 women, Brazil was awarded a penalty kick as the foul occurred inside the box. After missing the try, Brazil was given a second chance after the referee noted that either USWNT goaltender Hope Solo moved off the line prior to the kick (she didn’t) or an American player encroached into the box before the kick.

Brazil took advantage and tied the match 1-1, forcing two 15-minute extra time periods. Marta, the five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, scored quickly for Brazil during the first extra time, putting USA at a distinct disadvantage as the clock was running down.

Failing to connect on attempt after attempt, the USWNT finally found their equalizer as Megan Rapinoe rocketed a cross in to the far post, allowing Wambach to propel herself forward and tie the match by heading the ball home.

Penalty kicks followed with USA making all five of theirs to complete an incredible come-from-behind victory and remain alive in the World Cup. The USWNT will square off against France on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (ESPN) in semifinal action.

Wambach’s teammate, fellow former Florida soccer star Heather Mitts, celebrated USA’s thrilling penalty kick victory with a post-match Gator Chomp:

Wambach’s post-match comments:

Former Gators RB Fred Taylor planking at home

With the NFL lockout still in effect and his playing career up in the air, former Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor recently joined Twitter and has been having a good time catching up with former players and friends while also promoting his charity, the Fred Taylor Foundation. On Saturday, while relaxing at home, Taylor decided to temporarily join the planking craze and posted three impressive pictures emanating from his home.

“I retired #planking already. Signed 1 day deal,” he tweeted.

The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (79-70)

With the 2010-11 athletic season now in the books and the 2011-12 season about to begin, the focus has shifted from some of the school’s smaller sports to, of course, Florida Gators football. In this new series, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, until the season begins.

Before going over numbers 79-70, OGGOA must take a step back and cover two freshman given higher numbers when the roster was released on Thursday.

97 – Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek, FL)
Freshman defensive end
6’5” 268 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Westbrook was one of the last Gators to commit and signed with Florida over schools like Connecticut, North Carolina, Purdue and South Florida.

2011 Outlook: Westbrook, a raw player who hopes to develop under defensive line coach Bryant Young, is a candidate for a redshirt and likely will not see the field in 2011.

80 – Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL)
Freshman wide receiver
6’3” 196 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Story was a member of the ESPN 150 who also played quarterback. He scored 17 total touchdowns (12 rushing) as a senior and picked UF over Ohio State.

2011 Outlook: With the Gators’ lacking depth at wide receiver, Story has the opportunity to see the field early if he can shine during fall practice.

78 – David Young (Edwardsville, IL)
Redshirt junior guard
6’4” 304 lbs.

Quick Bio: A recreation and event management major, Young played the season opener as a freshman in 2008 and eventually took a redshirt. He saw the field as a part of the offensive line and special teams during every game in 2009 except the Sugar Bowl.

2010 Season: Played early in the year but missed the final 10 games of the season after suffering a knee injury.

2011 Outlook: Limited during the spring, Young was not listed on the initial depth chart but is expected to wind up on the second unit behind either redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio or whomever earns the left guard job.

77 – Ian Silberman (Orange Park, FL)
Sophomore guard
6’5” 285 lbs.

Quick Bio: Silberman enrolled early in January 2010 coming out of high school as a four-star recruit. He majors in social & behavioral sciences and was the No. 8 player at his position nationally according to Rivals.

2010 Season: Though he dressed for all 13 games, Silberman only played in the season opener against Miami (OH).

2011 Outlook: He has bulked up significantly since last season and was in line to be the back up for junior Xavier Nixon at right tackle. However, head coach Will Muschamp announced in April that he had permanently switched from tackle to guard.

75 – Chaz Green (Tampa, FL)
Redshirt freshman tackle
6’5” 289 lbs.

Quick Bio: Ranked by Rivlas as the No. 6 offensive lineman in the country coming out of high school, Green is a social & behavioral sciences major who hopes to see the field for the first time in 2011.

2010 Season: Dressed for 12 of the team’s 13 games but did not play and wound up taking a redshirt to preserve four years of eligibility.

2011 Outlook: Muschamp was pleased with Green’s versatility during the spring, noting that he can play on both the left and right side of the offensive line. He was listed as the starting left tackle on the spring depth chart but is expected to be a back up this season. “Chaz Green is a great player,” sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said in April. “Definitely going to be an outstanding tackle for the Gators.”

73 – Xavier Nixon (Fayetteville, NC)
Junior tackle
6’6” 290 lbs.

Quick Bio: A 13-game starter who has seen action in 22 contests while wearing the Orange & Blue, Nixon is a sociology major who won the high school version of the Maxwell Award and was named the Gatorade Football Player of the Year for the state of North Carolina. Both of his parents are members of the United States Military.

2010 Season: After starting a handful of games in 2009, Nixon started eight more in 2010 primarily at right tackle.

2011 Outlook: Slated to start at right tackle, Nixon will have to fend off some hungry youngsters who hope to unseat him. He struggled at times in 2010 after being a nice surprise as a freshman just one year earlier but impressed Muschamp and offensive line coach Frank Verducci during spring practice.

72 – Jonotthan Harrison (Groveland, FL)
Redshirt sophomore center
6’3” 300 lbs.

Quick Bio: A psychology major who was previously specializing in social & behavioral sciences, Harrison redshirted in 2009 after dressing nine of the team’s 14 games.

2010 Season: Though he played in all 13 games, Harrison did not get the chance to start until the Outback Bowl against Penn State. He saw plenty of time on special teams and found a role at left guard as the season came to a close.

2011 Outlook: Slotted at a left guard on the initial spring depth chart, Harrison was moved over to center in late March and worked hard to get a handle on the position throughout the rest of the spring. Muschamp said Harrison “brings an element of toughness to our football team” while also noting that he has a lot of work ahead of him. “There’s an awful lot on the center as far as snapping and blocking,” he said. “If you’ve never done it before, there’s an awful lot to it. I’ve been pleased with his progress.”

71 – Matt Patchan (Tampa, FL)
Redshirt junior tackle
6’6” 292 lbs.

Quick Bio: The son of a Miami Hurricanes star offensive lineman Matt Patchan, junior has been unable to stay healthy since arriving at Florida. A USA Today first-team All-American out of high school, the five-star recruit started a game at defensive tackle as a freshman in 2008 but injured his leg and missed the final three games of the season. He returned to the offensive side in the ball in 2009 and played the first four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury that lingered for quite some time.

2010 Season: Though Patchan dressed for four games, he wound up sitting out all of 2010 and has still only played in 15 games over three seasons. He had recovered from his knee injury but hurt his wrist and was forced to have multiple surgeries that were not able to correct it enough so he could play.

2011 Outlook: Patchan, who likely would have started at left tackle in 2010, will get the opportunity to do so in 2011. He sat out spring practice while still rehabbing his wrist but was cleared to lift in April and should be good to go this year.

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

FOUR BITS: O’Dome, summer, Bullard, awards

1 » Having just completed a $900,000 renovation that included – most notably – brand new seats in the lower bowl along with wider aisles and handrails – the Stephen C. O’Connell Center continues to remake itself year after year. Through the brand new seats will be more comfortable for students and season ticket holders, they still do not have seatbacks (an addition that would have cost the arena nearly 1,000 seats, according to O’Dome director Lynda Reinhart). As it stands now, the capacity has been reduced by approximately 200 seats and is now somewhere around 11,800, according to The Gainesville Sun. The paper also reports that “the men’s basketball practice courts inside the arena were re-surfaced” and “gate signs were re-numbered and work was done on the pool deck.” Financing for the project came directly from the arena’s reserve with no additional contributions needed.

2 » Three Florida Gators baseball players – redshirt junior first baseman Vicksah Ramjit, senior infielder Jeff Moyer and redshirt freshman INF Alex Freedman will be playing for the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League over the summer. Freedman, who redshirted the 2010-11 season, has been with the team all summer; Ramjit and Moyer joined this week. All three will be back in Orange & Blue next year.

3 » As OGGOA has reported numerous times, former Gators defensive lineman Thaddeus Bullard continues to work toward being a full-time WWE wrestler as he competes with Florida Championship Wrestling, the organization’s primary developmental territory. On Friday, Bullard (who wrestles as Titus O’Neil) will return to Gainesville, FL for a FCW show at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multipurpose Center.

4 » Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard and junior tackle Xavier Nixon were both named to the 2011 Outland Trophy Watch List on Friday. The Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football, has never been awarded to a Gators player. The closest one has come to winning it was when tackle Jason Odom finished in the top three alongside Ohio State’s Orlando Pace and UCLA’s Jonathan Ogden (the award’s winner) in 1995. Howard was also named to the watch list for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, an award presented to the country’s top defensive player.

Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

By Nicole Boyett – OGGOA Student Correspondent

The WNBA may not be a professional sport followed by many Florida Gators fans, but it is time for them to start taking notice if they haven’t already as the only woman representing the Orange & Blue in the league, DeLisha Milton-Jones, has been nominated as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time.

During her time at Florida, Milton-Jones led the Gators to four NCAA Tournament appearances (including the 1997 Elite Eight) while earning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press All-American honors her senior year. She followed up her stellar collegiate career by playing in the ABL for two years before being was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Now in her 13th WNBA season, Milton-Jones is one of the most accomplished players to step on the hardwood.

She has won two Olympic gold medals for Team USA (2000, 2008), back-to-back WNBA titles with Los Angeles (2001, 2002) and a pair of Euroleague Championships (2003, 2006) while also having been named a WNBA All-Star twice (2000, 2007).

At of the end of the 2010 season, she was 11th in the WNBA in total points, 10th in total rebounds, ninth in field goals made, 14th in free throws made, sixth in total steals, 13th in total blocks, 11th in minutes per game, and seventh in total minutes played. Despite her impressive career and overwhelming talent on the court, Milton-Jones continues to be overlooked as one of the greatest female basketball players to ever lace up her shoes. The hope is that her talent is recognized on July 23 when the WNBA announces the league’s all-time Top 15 players at the 15th annual All-Star Game in San Antonio, TX.

Milton-Jones sat down with OGGOA’s Nicole Boyett for an exclusive interview just a handful of games into her 13th WNBA season. Averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, she continues to lead the Sparks and hopes to be recognized for the impact she has made on women’s basketball in the United States.

NICOLE BOYETT: What does it mean to you to be the only Gator in the WNBA and to have had such a long and successful career?
DELISHA MILTON-JONES: “I am proud that I’m the lone standing Gator in the league, but I’m also sad because I feel like there should definitely be more of us in the league. When [former Florida star] Murriel Page* decided to leave after her achilles injury, that was pretty much it for us, and I think that her and I both did a great job of representing the Gators all these years.”
*Page was selected No. 3 overall in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. She is now an assistant coach under Amanda Butler at UF.

NB: As a Gator, you won SEC Player of the Year, were an All-American and went to the NCAA Tournament every year. With all of your accomplishments at Florida, do you get the opportunity to come back and talk to the team or head coach Amanda Butler?
DMJ: “It is difficult to support the team the way I would like to because, in the off-season during their season, is when I leave for Europe. After the WNBA season, I usually have a week, maybe less, to prepare myself for the next eight months in Europe, so there’s really no downtime for me. For the past 11 years, I’ve been playing in Europe as well as the WNBA year-round, so it is very difficult to get back. I wasn’t even able to come back when I was inducted into the WNBA Hall of Fame because it was during an important time in the season in Europe and the team wouldn’t allow me to come back, so I had to miss it. My mother had to go in my place. I’m hoping that – when it’s all said and done and I decide to retire – that they allow me to come back and be able to participate in the ceremony in a different way.”

NB: You’ve won two gold medals with Team USA, two WNBA Championships and two Euroleague titles. How do those compare to each other and how does winning a gold medal compare to winning a championship?
DMJ: “A championship is a championship, but they all feel good. I think the difference is that the gold medals probably have more value to me because it’s on the largest stage possible and I won. I consider myself to be so blessed, lucky, and privileged to have been a participant in several Olympics. That’s just a dream come true and it lets you know that you are in a category that many people would give their arm for just to be able to participate in. To be able to walk into the opening ceremonies and participate in the game is something that was so special that if I hadn’t gotten the gold medal, it wouldn’t matter because the memories will last a lifetime. Any time I think of that feeling, it just sends chills down my spine.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Milton-Jones…after the break!
Continue Reading » Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

FOUR BITS: baseball deals, tennis, Ball, Mudd

1 » A trio of now former Florida Gators baseball players signed professional contracts this week. Seniors second baseman Josh Adams and right-handed pitcher Matt Campbell agreed to their deals, and junior left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde gave up his final year of eligibility by choosing to play professionally in 2011. Adams, the No. 403 overall pick in the 13th round by the Florida Marlins, will begin his career with the Class A Jamestown Jammers (New York-Penn League). The No. 751 overall pick in the 24th round, Matt Campbell signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and will report to the rookie league Gulf Coast League Phillies. Maronde was picked the highest out of all his teammates as the Los Angeles Angels selected him with the No. 104 overall pick in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He will head over to the Pioneer League’s Orem Owlz and try to work his way up the ranks.

2 » The 2011 USTA Collegiate Team was announced on Thursday and two Gators made the cut. Juniors No. 4 Lauren Embree and No. 9 Allie Will were selected for the team, which is funded by the USTA and administered in conjunction with the ITA. Players will have the chance to train and develop as they compete on the USTA Pro Circuit. Joining the duo, on the men’s side, is junior Sekou Bangoura, Jr..

3 » Florida sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, still recovering from an arteriovenous malformation found in his brain in Feb., is expected to sit out the 2011 season as he continues to recover. The Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George spoke this week with Ball’s brother-in-law, who told her that the player underwent “radial surgery” that was performed with the hope “that the malformation withers up and dies over time.” Having not practiced since the spring and unable to work out with the team, Ball would not be in shape to play in 2011 even if completely cleared by doctors. His brother-in-law confirmed this to the Sentinel but also provided good news about his overall heath. “He’s healthy. He’s fine,” he said. “He’s probably going to miss next season. […] We’re all appreciative to Coach [Will] Muschamp, the doctors, the staff, everybody.”

4 » Former Florida All-American golfer Jessie Mudd has turned in his orange for white after being named assistant men’s golf coach for the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday. Mudd helped propel the Gators to three top-10 NCAA finishes and won multiple awards including notably being named co-SEC Freshman of the Year.

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