Brantley to meet with Weis before deciding

Before he makes a final decision on whether or not he will remain with the Florida Gators for his redshirt senior season, quarterback John Brantley will meet with new offensive coordinator/QB coach Charlie Weis and then consult with his family, according to two reports released Wednesday.

“We hadn’t talked and probably won’t talk until Charlie Weis is here. I hadn’t even talked to him,” his father John Brantley III said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “We want to meet Coach Weis before John does anything. That may not be for a while,” Brantley III related to The Gainesville Sun.

Brantley struggled in his first season Florida’s starter, throwing for only 2,061 yards and nine touchdowns. He also gave up 10 interceptions and appeared to lack the confidence to toss the ball down the field. In a chance to redeem himself in the post-season, Brantley threw a pick on UF’s first offensive play of the 2011 Outback Bowl.

Even though the Gators held a team meeting on Wednesday, Weis was not in attendance as he is still fulfilling his current duties as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City will face Baltimore on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the NFL Playoffs.

Known for his proficient offenses and ability to develop quarterbacks, Weis may be just what Brantley needs to turn his career around at Florida.

The Sun reports that Brantley is enrolled in spring classes and attended the meeting. Juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill, both of whom have decided to but have not officially declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, were not in attendance.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 

Will Hill to forgo senior season, enter NFL Draft

Florida Gators junior safety Will Hill has decided to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility and plans to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, a source close to the team and a separate source close to the player confirmed to OGGOA on Wednesday.

Hill – a five-star recruit and PARADE All-American who was a consensus top-five high school football player in the country in 2007 – totaled 132 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack in three seasons at Florida.

He was chosen to the SEC All-Freshmen Team in 2008 after leading the Gators with 22 special team tackles including three in the 2009 BCS National Championship. Hill made five starts at safety in 2009 and once again led UF in special teams tackles (13).

As a junior in 2010, Hill caught two interceptions against Georgia including one in overtime that helped lead Florida to victory. (He also grabbed another on a two-point conversion attempt in the same contest.) He was suspended for the first two games of the season (disciplinary reasons) and sat out the beginning of the 2011 Outback Bowl.

OGGOA first reported following the bowl game that Hill left the field immediately after the final whistle and did not celebrate with his teammates or outgoing coaches. Most around the program did not expect him to remain with the team in 2011.

Projected to be a top junior NFL prospect before the season began, Hill was named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list but failed to live up to the expectations of both draft analysts and fans. ESPN grades Hill as a 68 in its “draftable defensive backs” projections, eight points below teammate and senior S Ahmad Black (76). His rating could improve significantly with a nice showing at the combine.

Fellow junior, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, is also expected to declare for the draft. The University of Florida will release statements when each player makes his intention to pursue a professional football career official.

UPDATE (1/10/11 at 5 p.m.): Since we first reported this story, Jenkins has decided to remain at UF and will not be entering the draft.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

Meyer and Tebow interviewed on the air Tuesday

Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow were both interviewed Tuesday, by Rich Eisen of NFL.com and sports talk radio host Dan Patrick, respectively. Below are choice quotes from each interview. Links to the complete audio can be found at the end of the post.

Meyer on if he will ever coach in the NFL: “I think we’ll cross that bridge somewhere down the road. I’ve always loved the NFL and growing up that was always a dream.”

Meyer on his current plans: “I’m going to go out to ESPN to work on the BCS National Championship. Those are great folks out there. I’m going to try that for a little while and then see where I’m headed.”

Meyer on if the opportunity to coach Tebow in Denver is appealing: “Somewhere maybe way down the road. Not now. Absolutely not. Not now.”

Meyer on Tebow’s potential for success in the NFL: “He’s going to be a winner if given the right opportunity.”

Meyer on New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “He is the most in-depth person I have ever been around. He comes down [to Gainesville, FL], he meets with every one of our prospects, he works them out himself and he’ll go spend up to an hour on each player with me and our coaches finding out what we think of them. That’s why they rarely make mistakes.”

Meyer on if his conversations with Belichick appear on the field: “Oh yeah, no question. He told me from way back how he was going to utilize Brandon Spikes and how he was going to utilize Aaron Hernandez.”

Meyer on having a one-on-one conversation with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: “I reached out to him at first. Ever since then we’ve been fairly good friends. There’s a lot of great things going on right now in professional and college football. But there are also some things headed in a very destructive direction.”

Meyer on what should be done to fix the problems: “It’s the same thing since the beginning of civilization. If you set a law, you have to have a punishment for it.”

Meyer on if college football should have playoffs: “The system is pretty good for an imperfect system. […] When I was at Utah, I was a big fan of the playoff system. But when you get to a place like Florida, if you had to play one more game after we played Oklahoma, I’m not sure we could have lined up. […] I don’t know if they could ever do a playoff.”

Meyer on if he will ever coach again: “I’m not sure. I’m not ready to answer that yet. I’m anxious to move on with the next chapter.”

Tebow on the weirdest thing he’s been asked to sign: “I have signed a baby – more than once. The forehead’s been asked a few times. It kind of reminds me of Will Ferrell, but it’s pretty funny”

Tebow on Meyer leaving the Gators: “I just congratulated him because I knew it was the right decision for him and his family. I really believe that.”

Tebow on if Meyer will ever coach again: “Give me three years and then ask me again.”

Tebow on if he could see Meyer coaching in the NFL: “No I could not. He likes investing in young men.”

Meyer’s NFL.com interview (at 27:30) | Tebow’s Dan Patrick Show interview

FOUR BITS: Temple, Gorman, Hounshell, Mularkey

1 » New Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio has made his first hire, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Addazio has tabbed Florida Gators offensive assistant Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. Frye played under Addazio at Indiana and joined Florida’s staff in 2009.

2 » Four-star safety recruit Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) plans to announce his commitment on Wednesday at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game and is expected to choose between the Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida – which desperately needs safety help in the 2011 class – is considered by recruiting analysts to be the favorite to land Gorman. He is ranked as the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) by ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) by Rivals. OGGOA will update you on Gorman’s decision tomorrow.

Current UF commits also participating include five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

3 » One Florida commitment who will not be enrolling early next week as originally planned is three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH). Hounshell, who remains committed to the Gators, said he will not be graduating early from high school and will instead take his time making his final decision. “I just don’t want to rush the most important decision of my life,” he told the Lake County News-Herald. “I was supposed to be moving down Wednesday, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school.” The only other school Hounshell is considering as of press time is Notre Dame.

4 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, currently the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be interviewing for the head coaching jobs with both the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. Mularkey has served as a position coach and coordinator most of his post-playing career but was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004-05.

Jeff Driskel named High School Player of the Year

Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) was officially named the Maxwell Football Club’s 2010 National High School Player of the Year in a release on Tuesday from club president Ron Jaworski.

“I’m excited to receive this honor,” Driskel said in a Maxwell Club release. “It’s a prestigious award and to be named national player of the year is awesome. There are all kinds of people I’d like to thank who have given me help to get here, from my parents, to the coaches I’ve had, to my teachers, and it’s great to know that all of the hard work that I’ve put in throughout my whole high school career has been recognized. But I think I’m most proud of my team. We never had a winning record, or were even close to a winning record before this year, and this team worked hard all summer to achieve a goal we set.”

Driskel, who will be presented with the award at a banquet on March 4, was previously named the FACA District 9 Class 5A Player of the Year and Gatorade Florida Player of the Year after throwing for 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 1,333 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season with Hagerty High School. He also caught two touchdown passes for a total of 138 yards in 2010.

“Jeff’s performance against Lakeland was the greatest single-game performance I have ever seen in my 20-plus years of remembering high school football,” Hagerty head coach Nate Gierke said. “Jeff led our team to the most wins in school history and a playoff appearance in only our fourth year of existence. For what he has done over the past four years, and especially for his performance and what he meant to our success this season, Jeff is the best high school football player I have ever coached or seen in person.”

This marks the second-straight year the award was given to a Gators commitment. Florida freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was the recipient of the Maxwell Club’s Player of the Year honors for 2009.

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

1/3: 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 UF’s back-to-back wins – 71-67 at the Xavier Musketeers and 84-59 over the Rhode Island Rams in the following post.

LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Just last week Donovan pointed to Florida’s penchant for turnovers and poor free throw shooting as two of the reasons they unraveled against Jacksonville. Though he still hopes for improvement from the charity stripe, he was pleased with the effort put forth by the Gators over the last two games. Speaking about the Rhode Island victory, Donovan said UF outplayed URI in all but four minutes of the contest.

“We played a pretty complete game – outside the last four minutes of the first half, they beat us by seven the last four minutes,” he said. “The difference in the game tonight was, one, the rebounding margin and, two, the way we defended the three-point line.”

Turnovers were still a minor issue for the Gators on Monday, but improvement in the team’s collective ball handling was evident.

“We’re getting better there. The two guys that have the ball that are our playmakers are Chandler [Parsons] and Erving [Walker] a lot. Erv has five assists, four turnovers; Chandler five assists, three turnovers. So of our 13 turnovers, [seven] come from those two guys,” Donovan said. “It’s hard for me to nit pick at those guys because they both play so hard and they both do a lot of things, but we’ve got to get those two guys in particular to do a better job. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Florida scored more than 80 points for only the second time this season (105 on 11/18 vs. North Carolina A&T)

“Our guys offensively…we’re getting better, we’re improving,” he said. “I didn’t know if we could hold them to 59 points because they have so many different offensive weapons, but we did. We’re getting better on offense. Alex [Tyus] and Kenny Boynton didn’t have great shooting nights for us, but Chandler did and we were able to get the ball inside and still able to manufacture 84 points.”

Read the rest of the notes and quotes from Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/3: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL regular season having come to a close, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 17 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the final week of the regular season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Four tackles (two solo, one for loss), 1.5 sacks, two QB hits, fumble recovery, Gator Chomp

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Seven receptions for 94 yards (targets: 11, long: 39)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Four solo tackles, two passes defended, interception (56-yard return)
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 16/36 for 205 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions (QB rating: 58.2); 13 carries for 94 yards; touchdown (long: 30)
DL JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Eight tackles (five solo, two for loss)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Eight receptions for 69 yards [team-highs] (targets: 14, long: 20); two rushes for -4 yards
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Three solo tackles, sack, forced fumble

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Solo tackle (for loss), fumble recovery
CB KEIWAN RATLIFF, Cincinnati Bengals: Two solo tackles
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Six solo tackles, pass defended
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Rec. for 12 yards (targets: 3), solo tackle
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Solo tackle
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Four solo tackles
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Three tackles (two solo)
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots: 10 carries for 35 yards
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Two tackles (one solo)
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Three tackles, three QB hits, sack
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Two receptions for 29 yards (targets: 4)
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Reception for five yards (targets: 4)
FB BILLY LATSKO, San Diego Chargers: Solo tackle
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Four solo tackles
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: 26/44 for 336 yards, two touchdowns, interception (QB rating: 88.8); carry for two yards; two fumbles lost

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) – WR David Nelson (Buffalo Bills), S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), DT Marcus Thomas (Broncos), DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), FB Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills); LB Jermaine Cunningham, TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots); LT Max Starks (Steelers); RB DeShawn Wynn (49ers)

NOTES
– Tebow started his third consecutive game for Denver but posted his worst QB rating even though he scored three touchdowns.
– After being held without a reception in eight of Cincinnati’s first 13 games (due to his spot on the depth chart), Caldwell has posted 89, 87 and 94 yards, respectively, in the last three games.
– Dunlap has registered at least a partial sack in seven of his last eight games. He has now earned 9.5 over the course of his rookie season.
– Latsko was signed as a free agent this week and registered his first – and only – playing time of the season.
– In one play during the Denver-San Diego game, Tebow completed a pass to Gaffney who was tackled by Siler. Siler also got some good shots on Tebow during the contest.
– Injuries: Pouncey suffered a neck stinger during the Steelers game, and Thomas left the Broncos game with a right groin injury and did not return.
– Wynn was released by the 49ers and signed by the Saints on Monday.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Review – Tim Tebow: Everything in Between

It is not often we get the chance to do entertainment reviews, though we always appreciate the opportunity. So when I found out that ESPN had chosen to send me a rough cut of Tim Tebow: Everything in Between (debuting on the network on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.), I was psyched to view it before the general public and review it for you.

With a four-minute trailer for the then-unsold film released in September by Fiction and XV Enterprises, I knew going into my viewing that the movie began after the conclusion of the 2010 Sugar Bowl and lasted until Tebow had his name called with the No. 25 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft just over three months later.

What I did not anticipate, however, was how comprehensive, expertly produced and well-edited the film would be. Two things I look for in any production – documentaries especially – are their ability to capture my attention and then whether or not they can hold that attention for their duration. Chase Heavener gives the viewer a brief yet broad behind-the-scenes look at the process Tebow went through to make the transition from Florida Gators legend to legitimate NFL prospect.

The viewer has the opportunity to see Tebow do everything from participating in interviews with Sports Illustrated and ESPN to conducting one of his own with his future agent Jimmy Sexton in a board room at the University of Florida.

“All this looks really good and is really fancy and is really nice. And ya’ll speak really well. But a lot of people around the country either believe in me or don’t believe in me. Or they say I can do this and I can’t do this,” Tebow says while fidgeting with a packet of information after listening to Sexton’s best sales pitch. “If you want to draft me then draft me. If you want to recruit me or you think I can be a quarterback, then I will be. If not, then don’t talk to me because I want somebody that wants me. And I want an agent that wants me and believes that I am going to be a quarterback and believes that I am going to be good at what I do. And why do you think I will be?”

From there the documentary takes you to D1 Sports Training in Nashville, TN, where Tebow threw so many passes while working on adjusting his mechanics that the gloves he was wearing were literally torn apart. The viewer observes as he struggles mightily at the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and is pummeled with criticism from analysts including ESPN’s Todd McShay, who is portrayed throughout the film as the antagonist for Tebow’s protagonist.

Both his physical and mental toughness are tested continuously throughout his journey. Tebow trucks on through an infection during the Senior Bowl even finding humor when a doctor feeding a tube down his nose asks if it has even been broken. “Who knows? Probably,” he quips. The level of exertion he puts in to each and every workout – he says – is not matched by any other college football player in the country.

Tebow shows the ability to block out detractors by ignoring McShay, who he hears doubting his ability to play at the next level on a blasting television in the background while he signs dozens of autographs and is surrounded by friends, family and business associates. He also defends his decision to participate in the controversial Focus on the Family Super Bowl commercial alongside his mother.

“Whoever you are, you can at least respect that I have an opinion on [abortion] and that I believe in something and that I’m going to stand up for what I believe,” he says. “That’s something that I’m taking pride in, that I’m standing up or what I believe in, and I’m showing conviction about something. For me, that’s big.”

With the hard work and dedication complete, Tebow’s largest looming decision – one that garnered much media attention – was where he would actually watch the draft that would decide his professional future. Contrary to popular belief that delaying his decision was a publicity stunt, Tebow’s indecision less than 48 hours before the draft is put at the forefront as Sexton pleads for him to make a choice.

Sexton himself proves to be a pivotal figure in Tebow’s tale, especially in the film’s final scenes. He tells the family exactly how he has projected the draft, is met with trepidation when things do not go as smooth as planned, and then is as excited as a school boy when his original prediction – “My bet is Denver from 22 to 30.” – comes to fruition.

Whether you are a fan of Tebow’s or someone who feels a strong sense of disdain for him, the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion ends up in the role of the underdog by the documentary’s end. Being exposed to Tebow’s character on a more personal basis puts the viewer in a position where one would have to be stone cold inside not to be genuinely happy for him when he receives a phone call from the 303 area code as the story nears its end.

As comprehensive as Heavener’s film is, its short run time of 50 minutes (due to television programming restrictions) does his work an injustice. With three months of film collected there is bound to be at least another 20 minutes of compelling material that unfortunately must have hit the cutting room floor. It is worth holding out hope that an extended edition will be available in some form at a later date.

Tim Tebow: Everything in Between is the first in a series of shows set to be a part of ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback programming initiative, a year-long examination into the lives and careers of quarterbacks from high school to the pros.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart
 

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