Gators’ newest footballers pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida Gators football is preparing to begin practice for the 2010-11 season in just about a week, it was time for the team’s newest members to choose theirs. The freshman roster, according to the University of Florida, can be found…after the break:
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Taurean Green headed to Spain for two years

Former Florida Gators two-time National Champion point guard Taurean Green has signed a two-year deal with C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 of the ACB League.

After averaging 15.3 points and 3.5 assists last season for AEK Athens in the Greek A1 League, Green will return to Spain where he first played with CAI Zaragoza (2008-09).

OF Jonathan Pigott signs with Atlanta Braves

Former Florida Gators outfielder Jonathan Pigott has signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. He is the fourth member of the 2010 team to sign with an MLB team and the only one to do so after not being selected in the 2010 MLB Draft.

Pigott has been assigned to the Gulf Coast League Braves, who play their home games at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.

A defensive-minded player, Pigott did not commit a single error in 267 chances during his four-year Florida career.

Closer Kevin Chapman (fourth round, Kansas City Royals), outfielder Matt den Dekker (fifth round, New York Mets) and catcher Hampton Tignor (36th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) are the other former players who found professional homes this offseason.

FOUR BITS: Haden, Caldwell, Dekkers, Smith

1 » With seven of their eight 2010 NFL Draft picks now under contract, the last thing on the docket for Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is to sign former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden to a deal. Here is what he had to say about the situation at a press conference on Wednesday:

“As far as Haden goes, those of you who have been around this for a long time, the number one picks you just need a domino to go and then it starts to happen. Then it just explodes and happens. We have had good discussions with Joe’s agents and I am hopeful that he will get in without too much loss of time. It’s very important for the young man, I will say that. I get the business part of it, even when I was coaching I did. It frustrated me to a certain extent, but I get it. This is a lot of money, but I also saw and lived through and experienced the importance of this with a lot of athletes. If they wait too long, they miss some really valuable stuff. [...] It’s hard to catch up in most cases. It’s important that he gets in here, but I’m not discouraged. I think we are making progress.”

2 » As draft picks are being signed left and right, the Cincinnati Bengals made a splash Wednesday officially signing veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens to a one-year contract. Owens’ signing will certainly impact former Gators WR Andre “Bubba” Caldwell, who had been penciled in as the team’s starting slot receiver in 2010. Instead, it looks like veteran Antonio Bryant will hold that role and Caldwell will be fighting for balls as the Bengals’ No. 4 pass catcher. Caldwell said he realizes his playing time will be “diminished” but “maybe not. I’m just going to keep grinding and playing my hardest.” Nevertheless, he has great respect for Owens. “I read his book. I’ve been watching all this time,” Caldwell said. “He’s one of the greatest receivers. […] To be able to learn from him is something I’m really looking forward to.” As far as team chemistry is concerned, Caldwell has no worries. “If Chad [Ochocinco] can’t disrupt this team,” I don’t think T.O. can,” he told the team’s website.

3 » Former Florida thrower Evelien Dekkers, who took home the 2010 NCAA National Championship in women’s javelin, was named the 2010 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Outdoor Women’s Field. Dekkers is the only female in school history to own a national title in javelin and holds a school-record toss of 58.99m/193-6.

4 » Good news came Wednesday for Gators redshirt senior gymnast Maranda Smith, who has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. A four-time All-American, Smith has suffered a stress fracture in her right shin and torn her right labrum in previous seasons. “I’m so grateful that the NCAA granted me another year of eligibility,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to competing with my Gator teammates again and having another chance to compete in front of the O’Connell Center fans is truly a gift.”

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

Broncos, QB Tim Tebow nearing agreement

Multiple reports coming out of Colorado on Wednesday have the Denver Broncos and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow nearing an agreement on a five-year rookie contract.

Tebow’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, is apparently asking that his client, the No. 25 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, receive more money than wide receiver Dez Bryant (selected 24th by Dallas) – a customary request, especially for first-round signal callers.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Sexton insists Tebow receive a larger deal including higher base salaries and a more substantial signing bonus because of his position.

ESPN, The Denver Post and NFL Network all confirm that the two sides are “feverishly” working toward an agreement and that the deal is “close” to being completed. Negotiations intensified Tuesday evening and continued throughout the day Wednesday; a resolution is expected within 24-48 hours.

With the Broncos opening rookie camp on Wednesday, Werder said head coach Josh McDaniels reached out to Tebow over the phone to try and get him in on time.

“You’re missing time and you can’t afford to miss it,” McDaniels supposedly said. “You’re not going to get these snaps back.”

Fellow Denver first-round pick, WR Demaryius Thomas, is also unsigned and likely won’t be until Tebow’s deal is worked out. Training camp officially begins on Aug. 1.

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

Bengals sign DE Carlos Dunlap to rookie deal

Former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a 2010 NFL Draft second-round pick, came to terms Wednesday on a four-year, $3.01 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal includes a $1.22 million signing bonus, $1.779 million in guaranteed cash and an additional $649,000 available through incentives.

Dunlap, who the team had hoped to successfully sign before training camp, was selected by the Bengals 54th overall, just one slot after the New England Patriots picked defensive end/linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.

The Gators now have six of nine draft selections under contract with cornerback Joe Haden (Cleveland), center/guard Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh) and quarterback Tim Tebow (Denver) still awaiting deals. Wide receiver David Nelson and running back/kick returner Brandon James have already agreed to undrafted free agent contracts with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts, respectively.

Photo Credit: CNATI.com

TWO BITS: Pouncey update, Rosario recruits

1 » Former Florida Gators center/guard Maurkice Pouncey is on the verge of signing his rookie contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been making sure to keep in shape so he is fit and ready to participate in training camp beginning this weekend. However, allegations that Pouncey received $100,000 from a runner for an agent while at the University of Florida put him off schedule a bit recently, something his speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw noticed. “He’s disappointed that this stuff has come up and thrown a wrench in. That’s the reason why he missed [workouts],” Shaw told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last Wednesday. “He’s gotten to a point where he’s trying to make sure he still has his [good] name. He wants to be able to go back to the University of Florida and still be respected.” Nevertheless, Pouncey is ready to go; now he just has to sign his contract and put the rest behind him.

2 » Florida transfer guard Mike Rosario, who will be eligible to play for the team during the 2011-12 season after sitting out a year due to NCAA rules, spoke with SNY’s Adam Zagoria Wednesday about watching two of the nation’s top recruits – five-star Gators commit Brad Beal and five-star recruit Austin Rivers – play in the AAU U-17 Super Showdown on Tuesday. “I watched them go head-to-head,” he said. “It was a great matchup. Those guys [have] been playing well. I love Brad Beal’s game. He has a smooth game like Ray Allen. I love the fact that Austin Rivers can shoot the ball, put it on the floor. Both of those guys are capable of helping us win a conference championship. I hope they both come here so we can turn this program into a special program.” Rosario also noted that the biggest adjustment he has had to make since stepping on campus is dealing with the heat. “You walk out of the dorm room, it’s just a sauna,” he noted.

Extra BIT » The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Florida has offered a scholarship to 2012 guard/forward recruit Jarmal Reid. “That Florida offer really excited me,” Reid told the paper. “I like the whole atmosphere there. They have great fans and one of the best coaches around in Billy Donovan. I would love to be coached by him.”

Photo Credit: Rob Tringali

TWO BITS: Tebow praised, Beal struggles

1 » As agent Jimmy Sexton attempts to get his client under contract before training camp officially begins on Aug. 1, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is working to accomplish at least one feat: winning over his new teammates. Outsider linebacker Darrell Reid has already noticed Tebow’s work ethic and came away impressed with what the Heisman Trophy winner has to offer.

“I’ve actually sat down with Tebow. I call him Lucky Lefty,” Reid said. “I told him, ‘I know they say you’re not as talented, your arm’s not as tremendous as his, but your work ethic reminds me so much of when I was with Peyton [Manning] in Indianapolis.’ I told him, ‘I think you’re going to do big things for us, and I can’t wait to see you get on the field.’ [...] I think the thing people don’t know about him is he’s a very, very, very, very hard worker. He’s almost like a perfectionist. That’s what carries him further. Most people who end up being great, it’s because they want to be great and wind up working harder than everybody else. Whether it’s working on his throwing motion or in the weight room or running, he’s almost always the last guy out of the building. He’s a very humble kid, and he’s a proven winner who will do whatever it takes. That’s why we love him.”

2 » Competing in the championship of the AAU U-17 Super Showcase on Tuesday, Gators five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and former Florida five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) squared off. Unfortunately for Beal, who called it his “worst game ever” on Facebook, he finished with only 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting (1-for-5 from downtown). Rivers, on the other hand, shined with 24 points including a highlight package alley-oop dunk in the first half.

After the game, Rivers spoke with reporters and said that he does not have a favorite in his recruitment with UF, Duke and North Carolina occupying the top three spots in no particular order. “Right now I’m not leaning toward anybody and I like all schools the same,” Rivers said. “I haven’t taken any official visits yet so I don’t have any favorites over the others. But I’m really looking forward to making the visits.”

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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