Wuerffel being treated for Guillain-Barre syndrome

Updated at 9:22 p.m.

Former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel was hospitalized for and is recovering from a rare condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a source close him confirmed to OGGOA Wednesday afternoon.

Wuerffel’s charity, Desire Street Ministries, of which he is the executive director, has provided the following statement:

“Fortunately, an early diagnosis identified the disease, permitting swift medical treatment,” writes Luder Whitlock, the board chair of DMS. “Consequently, his GSB specialist expects a full recovery. Meanwhile, Danny has asked me to express his appreciation for the prayers, love and support he has received during this time.”

In an e-mail he sent to a number of close associates that was forwarded to OGGOA late Tuesday evening, Wuerffel explained his current health episode.

A prayer request on my end. I caught a stomach bug last week on our Desire Ministry retreat in Colorado and my body got screwed up fighting the virus. I didn’t recover well. I started losing feeling in my legs, and then while in Montgomery this week visiting our ministry partner, Bryan Kelly, I started losing feeling and strength in my hands and arms. After a series of crazy tests all day Friday (it was actually a blessing to have been in Montgomery), I was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome, a pretty dangerous type of temporary but progressive paralysis. It was my immune system overreaction to the stomach bug that started attacking my nervous system. Fortunately, it was diagnosed early and I’m on a week-long treatment that should make everything be ok.

“He is OK but not great. Scary stuff,” the source said. “[The Wuerffels] are trying to balance privacy and keeping everyone informed.”

Wuerffel’s executive assistant, Sara Pace, told us late Wednesday that the Heisman Trophy winner “is thankful that he isn’t required to stay in the hospital overnight” but will continue receiving outpatient treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre syndrome “is a disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. […] The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu. […] In about 60 percent of cases, an infection affecting either the lungs or the digestive tract precedes the disorder.”

We will provide updates and relay any additional concrete information we learn about Wuerffel’s condition as soon as possible. For now, please respect his family’s privacy, pray for his health and hope for a speedy recovery.

Wuerffel has requested that any gifts, donations or letters of support be made to DSM rather than him personally. Should you wish to send any of the aforementioned, please direct them to adam@onlygators.com, and I will forward them to the appropriate contact.

Gators C Zunino reels in All-American honors

Florida Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino has been named an All-American by all three major voting bodies, though each organization placed him on a different team.

Baseball America announced Wednesday that Zunino was a first-team All-American: “The Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Zunino was a beast against elite SEC competition. In conference games, he led the league in slugging (.750), runs (36), RBIs (33) and doubles (14) and ranked second in batting (.422), OBP (.477) and homers (eight).”

Earlier in the day, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named Zunino a third-team All-American behind Wichita State’s Chris O’Brien (first team) and James Madison’s Jake Lowery (second team). Lowery joined Zunino on the first team but O’Brien was left off Baseball America’s All-American teams.

Zunino had previously been tabbed as a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on June 2. That organization picked Lowery for its first team and placed O’Brien alongside Zunino on the second team.

No. 2 Florida baseball (50-17) opens the 2011 College World Series on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Texas in Omaha, NE.

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner/Icon SMI

FOUR BITS: Blakely, Wright, Goble, The Voice

1 » In a conversation with Rivals affiliate AuburnSports.com, former Florida Gators running back Mike Blakely discussed at length his departure from the team and decision to transfer to the team he actually wanted to play for, the Auburn Tigers. “On signing day, I didn’t even want to sign,” he said. “I didn’t even want to put my name on the paper. But I saw the boys around me doing it and I was like, ‘Might as well do it.’ I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I signed and regretted it.” Blakely says that, contributing to his displeasure, was the head coaching change from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp, the offense switching from the spread to pro-style, and having (what he thought at the time was) unnecessary surgery on his shoulder.

Now looking back on his short time with the Gators, Blakely has fond memories of his former teammates and Muschamp, who he says he appreciates, respects and will still call ‘Coach’ whenever he sees him. Blakely goes into great detail about his situation and has plenty to say; click here to read the rest of the story.

2 » The NFL is currently investigating the usage of images of a handful of its players by Exxxotica Expo 2011 in promoting its May event in Miami, FL. According to the ABC affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago, IL, an on-the-field picture of former Florida now Chicago Bears safety Major Wright was used in advertisements for the event. Billed as one of the party’s hosts, Wright was featured in the ad alongside pictures of players from the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Though Wright cannot personally be held liable, the Bears are upset that their team was featured on the ad, and the NFL is bothered by the company violating licensing rights. “While Wright could not be reached, he is a fixture in Miami’s South Beach party scene, and he appears in ads and videos as the host of similar club events,” WLS-TV reports.

3 » Gators assistant women’s golf coach Jay Goble has been named head coach of the Baylor Bears. From the University of Florida: “Florida reached the postseason and improved in each of Goble’s three seasons in Gainesville. In 2009, the Orange and Blue finished 16th in the NCAA East Regional, eight spots shy of the top-eight finish needed to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The following season, the Gators placed 11th in the NCAA East Regional and in the 2011 NCAA East Regional, secured a berth in the NCAA Championships after landing in seventh.”

4 » Whether or not you are a fan of the new singing competition The Voice on NBC, it was interesting to learn Tuesday night that the show features a pair of connections to Florida. Kendra Andrews, the fiery redheaded sister of ESPN reporter and former UF dazzler Erin Andrews, is not only the main choreographer on the program, she also appears from time-to-time as a backup dancer (including last night during the second-to-last performance). Additionally, Casey Weston, a singer on Adam Levine’s team, is the sister of Gators junior volleyball player Sundai Weston. Should you wish to vote for her, you can do so up to 10 times (for free now through Monday) by calling 1-855-VOICE-02. Good luck to both ladies for the duration of the program.

UF’s Kelsey Bruder wins Honda Sports Award

Florida Gators senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder was named the 2011 Honda Sports Award winner for softball on Tuesday, an honor which recognizes her as the nation’s top collegiate athlete in the sport. She earned the achievement after a national balloting of the 1,000 NCAA member institutions was conducted by the organization.

“Winning the Honda Award is such an incredible honor. To be recognized as the best player in college softball seems absolutely surreal and I could not be more grateful to be among both the past and present Honda Sports Award nominees and recipients,” Bruder said in an official release from the University of Florida. “Receiving this award would not have been possible without every single one of my teammates. The dedication of our players is extremely admirable and has motivated me to create an even better work ethic. I am so blessed to have played with these tremendous athletes. I’m confident we will continue to build upon the tradition of success associated with the University of Florida.”

Bruder, who finished her final season in the Orange and Blue batting .387 with 19 homers, 71 RBI, 79 runs and 48 walks, is now in contention for the Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year Award and Honda-Broderick Cup (presented to The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year).

She also captured 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors in May after leading the SEC in seven categories (home runs, RBI, hits, runs, doubles, total bases, slugging percentage) and was named to the 2011 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team.

With the award, the two-time All-American earned a $5,000 donation from Honda to the general women’s athletic program at UF.

Young, Wilbekin hope to make USA U19 team

Set to compete in the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp from June 17-24 in Colorado Springs, CO, Florida Gators sophomores center Patric Young and freshman Scottie Wilbekin both hope to earn a spot on USA Basketball’s team for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship taking place in Latvia from June-July.

Speaking with the media on Monday, both players conveyed their excitement and how important making the team is to them.

“Guys definitely want to make this team,’’ Young said. “It’s cutthroat. Guys are coming out there and bringing out their A-game. Some guys have great defense, great offense, but it comes down to how great of a team player you are and what you can bring.’’

Wilbekin agreed. “I watch the Olympics every four years, just to get the opportunity to do something like this is really special to me,’’ he said.

Young also appreciates the opportunity he has been afforded to play for his country.

“There’s some national pride,’’ he said. “You go out there and everyone cheers for us because we are the United States. We have that ability to represent the United States at such a young age, it’s so great.’’

Not only will the duo be competing for a spot on the national team, they will be doing so in front of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who was hired as a court coach for the training camp. While that may seem like an advantage, Donovan will no doubt be tougher on them and expect even more from his players.

“It’s going to be a little bit of pressure on me to perform a little bit better,” Young said. “It’s encouraging that Coach Donovan is invited to come out there.”

To prepare for the camp and his sophomore season, Young said he has added 10 pounds of muscle (pushing him to 255) and has been concentrating on improving his overall offensive game. Wilbekin has been doing the same, focusing on making his shot more consistent and increasing an already impressive assist-to-turnover ratio.

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway and the University of Florida’s Scott Carter for the quotes in this post.

Gatorade goes Inside the Edge with Ryan Lochte

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, now a six-time Olympic medalist (three gold) for the United States, shot a commercial with Gatorade that takes the viewer inside his training routine and mindset as he prepares for the 2012 London Olympics.

The owner of four world records including the 200-meter individual medley (long and short course), 400-meter individual medley (short course) and 4×200-meter freestyle relay (long course), he hopes lead Team USA with a Michael Phelps-like performance in 2012. In the commercial, Gatorade goes Inside the Edge with Lochte, who sports plenty of orange and blue for its duration.

CB Brian Poole is Florida’s 11th 2012 commit

It has been just about five weeks since the Florida Gators got good news on the recruiting trail, but head coach Will Muschamp and company were no doubt pleased to learn that four-star cornerback recruit Brian Poole (Bradenton, FL) decided to commit to the Orange and Blue on Monday.

Ranked as the No. 75 overall player in the country and No. 8 at his position, Poole at 5’11” and 187 lbs. is only the second Rivals100 player thus far to pledge for Florida. He is the second defensive back in the team’s 2012 recruiting class, joining three-star Willie Bailey (Miami, FL), who committed in early April.

“Florida has been the most loyal and best to me the whole time,” Poole told InsideTheGators.com‘s Andrew Spivey. “They also favor me the most there was no better place for me then Florida so why keep them waiting. Also my mom and dad both feel in love with the school and coaches.”

Poole told Spivey on May 26 that he has 17 offers but had a top five of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida State.

On the Gators specifically, Poole said: “I have a good relationship with the coaches there. I feel like I fit in their defensive scheme well. Also me and Coach [Travaris] Robinson have talked a lot and he is a really good guy. And Coach Muschamp has a history of producing good cornerbacks and getting them to the next level.”

The 11th commitment for Florida to date, Poole is ranked slightly lower by ESPNU, which has him as the No. 136 overall player and No. 9 cornerback in the nation. He also plays running back for Southeast High School and scored 21 touchdowns while piling on 925 yards of rushing as a junior last year.

Poole’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com but has since been confirmed by InsideTheGators.com and ESPNU.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie, Bradenton Herald

FOUR BITS: Whitson, Calipari, Pittman, Schintzius

1 » The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Monday announced that Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson has been named a first-team Freshman All-American. One of 16 standouts to earn the distinction, Whitson is also in line for the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday. With an 8-0 record, 2.45 ERA and 83 strikeouts on the season, he the only player on the first team representing the Southeastern Conference.

2 » Remember when the Kentucky Wildcats and head basketball coach John Calipari defeated Florida in Lexington, KY and the school held a mini 500th victory celebration? Well, according to the NCAA, that should never have happened, and the organization is now taking steps to ensure that Kentucky does what they can to make that information public. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari’s 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK’s statement “must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release.”

Because the NCAA forced Massachusetts and Memphis to vacate a total of 42 victories achieved under Calipari due to a variety of transgressions, the governing body insists that his victory total was only 458 on that day and now stands at 467 for his career. For more on the matter, click here.

3 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun after a recent visit to Gainesville, FL for a football camp, Gators four-star 2012 wide receiver commit LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) discussed his experience. “It felt great just getting out there, getting a feel for Coach [Aubrey] Hill, how he coaches and how he sees me,” he said. “As far as hands-on and doing drills, that was the first time I really got to see how he would coach me.” Pittman, Florida’s first commit of the 2012 cycle, plans to return for Friday Night Lights.

4 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators C Dwayne Schintzius made his first major public appearance during a Florida basketball game on Feb. 24 and was in great spirits. Last week he attended a fundraiser for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission with the belief that he would be supporting his father, Ken, who was going to be handed an award from the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s alumni association. Schintzius was instead surprised to learn that he was being honored with a special award for courage. “He wouldn’t have wanted to come to the dinner but after I told him the award was for me, he said he’d come,” Ken told Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune. “It worked. We got him. We played it right to the hilt.” Though he has been praised extensively for his strength in fighting his disease, Schintzius wanted the praise to go where it belongs. “People are giving me an award, I guess, for fighting for my life,” he said. “I don’t deserve the award. The people at Moffitt [Cancer Center] are the ones who are the true heroes. They saved my life.” Click here to read more about Schintzius’s battle and the events of the night.

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