New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

With eight years of professional football under his belt, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is moving on from the Chicago Bears to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. In a brand new city with an upbeat and positive mindset, Brown landed in Louisiana on Wednesday to start preparing for training camp. The first thing he did after touching down? Provide OGGOA with an exclusive half-hour interview covering everything from his recruitment and time with the Gators to the Bears’ Super Bowl run and why grits are his favorite thing about the city of New Orleans, LA (so far).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in a small town, was it difficult to get noticed by the University of Florida and make an impression on head coach Steve Spurrier?
ALEX BROWN: “Yeah, it was. I just wanted to go and play football – that’s all I did. I was nervous because I didn’t know if people would see me. My dad was really good just staying on me about it. ‘If you go play, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.’ That was his big thing. All I did was go play – and they found me.”

AS: What made you decide to attend Florida rather than going to Georgia or another school? Were you always a Gators fan?
AB: “I actually was not a Florida fan at all. I really wasn’t even going to take a visit to Florida. University of Miami – that year – my last visit I was going to take was going to be to the University of Miami. And I was going to choose between Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Auburn. There was a kid that got killed at Miami – I want to say it was like on a Monday or Tuesday – and I was supposed to go on a visit that coming weekend. And my mom was like, ‘No way, you can’t go. You can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I will not take another visit.’ I talked to [Buffalo Bills linebacker] Andra Davis, who I’ve known since like fifth grade, and he had just taken his visit to Florida and that was the celebration of the National Championship – that was that week. He had a great time. So I talked to him and he said he was going to Florida. He’s like, ‘Just take your visit there, you’re not going to go to Miami, so take your visit to Florida.’ Early in the week, I called coach [Jimmy Ray] Stephens, he was the offensive line coach at the time and the guy that recruited me. He said, ‘OK.’ I was in Gainesville for a day. [Atlanta Falcons LB] Mike Peterson was my host and, by the time I left, they could have left me there. I was going for sure. As soon as I got back, I started calling all the other coaches and letting them know that this is what I want. It wasn’t too far from home but far enough away, I guess. And they were good. I played linebacker, and they had [former DE] Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and [former LB] Johnny Rutledge – and I thought I fit right in. It was a great match for me and took me all of a day-and-a-half to figure that out.

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Alex Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and seniors center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black and defensive end Justin Trattou represented the University of Florida on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press conferences at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Media Days from Hoover, AL.

HAMMOND’s SCHOLARSHIP REVOKED

Though most of the pre-event hoopla surrounded allegations that former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey accepted $100,000 from a runner for an unnamed agent, the biggest piece of news Meyer divulged was that (former?) Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. has had his football scholarship pulled after being arrested for driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol in June.

“Frankie Hammond, Jr. is off of scholarship at Florida. If he tries to come back and play, which I understand he will, he will have to pay his own way and earn a spot like every other person who would like to be a member of Florida football – on his own,” Meyer said. “There will be playing time taken away from him, and he will be on probation like other players who have made mistakes. If he does something again, it will be probable dismissal. As of now, he is not on the football team. He is working out and training away from the team, and he’s off of scholarship. And we’ll see how he shows up and if he goes. If he goes, then we’ll make the adjustment as we move on.”

Last Friday, Hammond was sentenced to a year of probation and 50 hours of community service as part of a plea deal with the prosecution of his case. He was suspended from team activities by the coaching staff and university just one day after being arrested.

REACTIONS TO POUNCEY ALLEGATIONS

Before the Gators had the chance to be asked about the rumors surrounding Pouncey, the player denied that he was paid by an agent through a two sentence statement that was released early Wednesday. “I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said. “I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”

Nevertheless, Meyer and Florida’s players were asked about the alleged incident.

“Anytime [there is] an accusation about a recruiting rule or a phone call or I simply hear it, I go right to our compliance and they go through the right channels. And then I’ll go to the source,” Meyer said. “When the [Maurkice] Pouncey anonymous note or whatever came through, it went right to our compliance, I went to Maurkice and he said it didn’t happen. I certainly didn’t investigate – we have people that do that. I have not been this concerned. I don’t like our pictures going across the ticker and everything else. If something happened, then he should be punished severely. If it didn’t happen, then that’s nonsense. I heard his denial today, and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey.”

“First, I’ll start by saying I talked to my brother and it’s not true,” his brother Mike told the press. “He pretty much cleared that up in the statement today. I feel bad about it because it ruined somebody’s name that don’t really know who me and my brother are.
Those that know who we are know we’re not those kind of people. We pride ourselves on having a great clean name. It’s just hard right now. [...] We’ve been totally cooperative with any questions that they have to ask us. We’re just ready for it to be done with. [...] My mom and my dad, they took it real personal because, you know, we come from a great family. We pride ourselves on being great people, having a family-type organization as far as our family goes. You know, they took it pretty tough.”

AND THE REST…

With the two juiciest tidbits out of the way, the rest of the media availabilities focused on the latest news surrounding agents tampering with student-athletes and, you know, the upcoming football season. Some choice quotes have been provided…after the break:
Continue Reading » 2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

Maurkice Pouncey denies he was paid $100K

Former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey has denied allegations that he took $100,000 from a runner for an agent between the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship and 2010 Sugar Bowl in a statement sent to The Gainesville Sun.

“I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim. I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”

Pouncey, who is still being investigated by the NCAA and University of Florida for a potential rules violation, has “provided phone, bank and credit card statements that do not show large payments,” ESPN‘s Joe Schad previously reported.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was allegedly paid by a Lakeland-based go-between. A letter sent to tip-off UF about the supposed incident was postmarked in Canada and apparently “contained photographic evidence of an alleged runner for an agent in social situations,” according to Schad.

Pouncey did tell investigators that a Cadillac Escalade and pieces of jewelry he owns were purchased after the draft with a deferred line of credit. These possessions were shared with his brother, senior center Mike Pouncey, on occasion.

“We were made aware of some information in early June that we reported to law enforcement and we then shared with the NCAA and the SEC,” Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement Monday morning. “At this time we have no information that has indicated that there are any compliance issues for the University of Florida.”

OGGOA RELATED: Pouncey plans to deny allegations on Tuesday
OGGOA RELATED: Maurkice Pouncey allegedly paid $100K by agent

Five-star DE/LB Chris Martin transferring to UF

Five-star defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin, one of the top recruits in the nation last year, will transfer to the Florida Gators after originally committing to the California Golden Bears, according to Rivals.

Martin, who was heavily pursued by Florida throughout the recruiting process, decided to attend California in order to be close to his hometown of Oakland, CA. As OGGOA reported early Wednesday, Martin felt he was too distracted by playing close to home and wanted to concentrate on both football and his studies in Gainesville, FL.

“When you’re distracted like that your heart isn’t fully focused on where it needs to be and it wasn’t out there,” Martin told The Gainesville Sun. “I felt it was somewhere else, and I think I found the place. [...] I came to this decision because I felt that’s where my heart was and I decided to follow it. It ended up being a decision that my family supported me through. I probably have one of the craziest stories on how I ended up at Florida. It’s been a wild, wild road.”

Considered the top recruit coming out of Colorado (he recorded 11 sacks and five forced fumbles for Grandview High School in Aurora, CO), Martin will have to redshirt his first season because he had already enrolled in Berkley, CA.

“I’m not upset about [redshirting],” he said per the Sun. “I’m actually looking forward to it because it will allow me to get into the weight room and get me in the playbook. It will give me a chance to get in and settle down, because when I get there there’s going to be a lot of stuff thrown at me. Next year is when I’ll do all my damage, but this year it’s going to be an adjustment.”

Rivals ranked him the No. 18 overall recruit in 2010 and fifth best DE/LB; ESPNU had him pegged as the No. 111 player available and a top 10 DE.

Martin could play either strongside defensive end or outside linebacker and is looking forward to joining the nation’s top recruiting class.

“I have been blessed to have a second chance with Florida,” Martin told ESPN. “That was where I was going until coach [Charlie] Strong left for Louisville. Then I made up my mind I was going to Florida again. Then it came out about coach [Urban] Meyer and his heart problems. I freaked out and couldn’t do it. It just didn’t feel right at the time for me with the Gators. [...] My heart was in Gainesville.”

Photo Credit: ESPN

FOUR BITS: Lee injured, Tebow’s playing time, Beal respected, Martin transferring

1 » Tuesday, OGGOA alerted you to a great story about new Golden State Warriors forward/center David Lee and how the former Florida Gators product was a great teammate and face of the organization for the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, Lee ended up having a tough day; he injured his right middle finger during his first practice with USA Basketball in Las Vegas, NV, while trying out for the men’s national team. “I looked down and my finger was completely turned to the side,” Lee told ESPN. “It’s possibly a tendon or a dislocation of some sort. It’s something I’ve got to go have looked at either way. Hopefully it’s something I can splint up and play with. That’s up to the doctors to decide.” He met with Dr. Bill Green in San Francisco, CA, Tuesday evening, and the prognosis appears to be a dislocation, which could be serious enough to keep him out for a while. Nevertheless, Lee will be returning to Las Vegas late on Wednesday to rejoin his teammates – even if he cannot play.

2 » Denver Broncos beat writer Dave Krieger of The Denver Post expects to see plenty of former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in the team’s wild horse offense this season. “My guess is more than you think,” Krieger writes. “In fact, my guess is the Broncos will lead the league in what other teams call wildcat plays, unless Tebow’s place in the formation determines what you call it, in which case the counting could get complicated. […] I would be surprised if [head coach Josh McDaniels] drafted Tebow in the first round to be a clipboard holder for even one year. […] Even if he is not ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, Tebow is likely to be a better passer than most running backs and a better runner than most quarterbacks.”

3 » Surveying “30 of the top recruits across the country,” Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports wanted to see who high school basketball stars agreed was the best of the best for 2011. Florida five-star commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) made it on two of the top lists – best player and best shooter. Beal received six votes for best player (only one behind the winners) and 11 votes for best shooter (eight more than the next three players).

4 » Five-star 2010 defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin (Aurora, CO), who was heavily considering the Gators during his recruitment, has decided to transfer from the California Golden Bears. Martin, who recorded 11 sacks and forced five fumbles last year for his high school team, feels he is too distracted in Berkeley, CA, and wants to concentrate both on football and his studies elsewhere. Florida and Oklahoma have emerged as the two favorites to bring in Martin but little of consequence has been reported on the matter thus far.

Extra BIT » Via his Twitter account Tuesday morning, Gators redshirt junior forward Adam Allen explained that he hopes to return to playing basketball at some point. “Great rehab [session] this morning,” Allen tweeted. “Don’t count me out, there’s still hope for a comeback [people].” OGGOA wishes him the best in his recovery.

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Pouncey’s statement delayed until Meyer speaks

Former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey planned to deny allegations that he accepted $100,000 from the associate of an agent between the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship and 2010 Sugar Bowl on Tuesday but will instead release an official statement after head coach Urban Meyer completes his press conference for the 2010 SEC Media Days on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Joe Schad.

Meyer is set to speak to the media from the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL, at 5:30 p.m. Preceding him are seniors center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black and defensive end Justin Trattou, who will hold a scheduled press conference earlier in the day.

OGGOA RELATED: Pouncey plans to deny allegations on Tuesday
OGGOA RELATED: Maurkice Pouncey allegedly paid $100K by agent

Tebow’s Nike Trainer 1.2 ad graces magazines

To help promote the release of EA SportsNCAA Football 11 video game and Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow as their newest endorser, Nike will release a signature Florida Gators-colored sneaker in the coming weeks. Blue with orange and white accents, the sneaker features reminders of Tebow’s “Promise” speech on Sept. 27, 2008, a company logo and mention of the video game on the Velcro strap.

What should also be noted is that this special edition sneaker is not the only product Tebow is endorsing for Nike; in fact, he is the face of their entire Nike Trainer 1.2 line. The following print advertisement, his first for the company, appeared in copies of ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated this week (click to enlarge):

If using the advertisement image above, please provide proper credit to OGGOA.

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