Top recruit Brad Beal signs LOI with Florida

Five-star shooting guard recruit Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) officially committed to play basketball for the Florida Gators on Wednesday, signing his letter of intent with the University of Florida on National Signing Day. He is the sole member of the Gators’ 2011 signing class.

Beal, who is considered by most analysts to be the best pure shooter in the 2011 recruiting cycle, is an impact player with a high basketball IQ, good ball handling skills and impressive defensive abilities. He has even drawn comparisons to Ray Allen.

“Clearly, I feel like we signed one of the best guards in the country,” head coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday. “We’re extremely excited about adding Brad, we believe he’s a special player and a winner, and excited that he’s going to be a part of our program.”

ESPNU, Scout and Rivals all have Beal ranked as the No. 7 overall recruit in the country. At 6’3” and 180 lbs., he could very well play right away for Florida and be part of a starting backcourt with sophomore SG Kenny Boynton and redshirt junior G Mike Rosario next season that could be the nation’s best.

Beal is the second player from Chaminade College Prep School to play for the Gators, following in the footsteps of current NBA All-Star forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors, who spent four successful years with Florida.

Photo Credit: Wiley Price/The St. Louis American

11/10: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH SPURRIER

Upon taking the Florida job, Meyer told anyone who would listen that one of the main reasons he did so was because he loved watching head coach Steve Spurrier‘s teams in the 1990s and had great respect for the Gators. Asked Wednesday how Spurrier’s continued prescence on the campus affects him, Meyer explained the two have become quite close since he arrived in Gainesville, FL.

“We’re fairly good friends now. Him and his wife and my wife and myself, we’re good friends. I actually lean on him quite a bit about the University of Florida when we get together,” he said. “He was Florida. He’s the reason I came here. I had such admiration for the way his teams played.”

RECRUITING ANOTHER DROP-BACK QUARTERBACK

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has always been more of a drop-back, pro-style passer. This was known the day he was recruited and every day since. Meyer addressed whether or not he would recruit a similar player again or if he would instead simply find guys who fit his system a bit better.

“We’ve played a multitude of different styles of offense really since I’ve been a head coach. It’s all about the personnel,” he said. “To be a drop-back quarterback, you really need a 220 lb. [running] back to hand off too. You also need a very stout and experienced tight end, which [we don’t have]. We’re going to continue recruiting the best players we can get our hands on and adapt to that. [...] If we do [recruit another drop-back QB], we just have to make sure we have the pieces around him to give that guy a chance.”

ADDRESSING NEWTON QUESTIONS ONE LAST TIME

Meyer began Wednesday’s media availability with a short statement aimed to prompt against any more questions regarding Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton.

“I addressed recent news stories yesterday that our [sports information director]made me aware of in the early afternoon,” he said. “Those stories have absolutely nothing to do with our team and preparation for South Carolina. Our entire focus is and will always be on our team. I will say, however, that I was very supportive of Cam when he left here and Cam and his family know that and we wish him all the best.”

Asked later if he felt a statement on the Newton allegations was necessary, Meyer replied, “I didn’t. My SID thought it was important. I didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do.”

MEYER & SPURRIER QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/10: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

TWO BITS: Starks out for season, Harvin better

1 » Two Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen were injured Monday night – former Florida Gators left tackle Max Starks and center Maurkice Pouncey. Though Pouncey was able to return from his right lower leg injury, Starks was not as lucky. The seven-year NFL veteran was placed on injured reserve by Pittsburgh on Wednesday with a neck injury. Starks damaged a disc in his upper vertebrae and will undergo surgery on it shortly. He is expected to be ready to begin the 2011 season (if there is one) and will continue playing on the four-year, $26.3 million contract ($10 million guaranteed) he signed with the Steelers in the summer of 2009.

2 » Playing hobbled on an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of his team’s practices last week, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was still able to turn in an electric performance on Sunday including a career-high 126 receiving yards. On Monday, head coach Brad Childress – with whom Harvin got into a heated argument with Friday over whether or not the player would get an MRI done on his ankle – said Harvin’s ankle was “still sore” but that he should progress better over the week and be healthier before the team’s game Sunday.

Report: Newton, father wanted “pay-for-play plan”

One week after ESPN reported that Cecil Newton, father of Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton, allegedly requested money for his son’s college commitment through a third party and one day after FOX Sports reported that the son was caught cheating three times while attending the University of Florida, sources told ESPN’s Joe Schad that the Newtons each “admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.”

According to Schad’s sources, a Mississippi State Bulldogs recruiter was told by Cecil Newton that his son would only join the program if he received “more than a scholarship” for his services. The recruiter was then pointed to a third party who the father said could provide further details. The school failed to comply and Cameron Newton ended up at Auburn because, as the player supposedly explained another recruiter with great emotion, “the money was too much” for his dad to allow him to go to Mississippi State.

The alleged compliance offenses were related to the Southeastern Conference by Mississippi State in January, Schad reports.

The Newtons have previously denied all allegations of requesting or accepting money but refused to entertain the questions surrounding any cheating at Florida. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse talking about it,” Cameron Newton said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s not going to affect me in any way, shape or fashion.”

The player has previously admitted that attending Auburn was his father’s choice as he had originally desired to play for former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, now the Bulldogs’ head coach.

OGGOA RELATED: Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info | Report: Newton’s cheating at UF led to transfer

Photo Credit: Getty Images

11/9: Addazio, players speak to the media

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, and defensive tackles redshirt senior Terron Sanders and redshirt sophomore Omar Hunter spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its win against the Vanderbilt Commodores and ahead to its game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER BEHIND CENTER

With redshirt junior starter John Brantley, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed and freshman Trey Burton all sharing quarterbacking duties these days, Addazio was asked Tuesday if he has ever seen a team employ a similar strategy and why it happens to work for Florida. “No. Three quarterbacks? No, I have not,” he said. “For us it’s working right now, and it’s working because we have some really unselfishness guys who really want all for the team and winning. That’s very evident. It’s created a level of excitement and energy; it’s been a real positive thing for us.”

Though each player has his own specialized plays and duties, managing three signal callers with such unique skills is proving to be a work in progress for the entire coaching staff. “You’re moving a lot of checkers around and that takes a lot of time,” Addazio said. “You got to be exact in your practice time; you have to be exact in things. Systematically it’s a little different routine than what you’ve been accustomed to. Our whole deal has always been trying to get the right pieces in the right places.”

SATURDAY’s BIG GAME WEIGHING ON SENIORS IN GOOD WAY

In addition to playing for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title on Saturday, the Gators’ senior class will be participating in their last home game of real significance seeing as Florida State is a road game this year. Sanders realizes how important the outcome of the game is not only to the team but also his classmates. “This is a make it or break it game for us,” he said. “As seniors, we don’t want to not make it to the SEC Championship game. It will hurt knowing that we had it right in the grasp of our fingertips and we let it go if we don’t come out and do what we need to do.”

Hunter, who has been wearing the orange and blue for some pretty big games already in his young career, doesn’t think Florida holds any advantage due to the game’s importance. “I think it’s irrelevant. It’s the SEC. Every week is a big game,” he said.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/9: Addazio, players speak to the media

Shane Matthews: “A tough situation for Johnny”

When college football fans think about Florida Gators football in the 1990s, three names in particular come to mind: head coach Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. A three-time first-team All-SEC selection (1990-92) who finished fifth in the 1991 Heisman Trophy voting as a junior, Matthews set Florida’s career passing yards record, led the SEC in passing for three consecutive years and led the Gators to their first official SEC Championship.

Finishing his college career 9,287 yards and 74 touchdowns, Matthews moved on to the NFL where he played for 14 seasons as mostly a back-up with Chicago, Carolina, Washington, Cincinnati, Buffalo and finally Miami.

Enshrined in the University of Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2002, he spoke to us on Tuesday as a precursor to his involvement in the 90’s Gators Celebration benefiting Desire Street Ministries during this all-important weekend in Gainesville, FL (more information below).

Matthews gave us almost 30 minutes of his time; unfortunately, OGGOA experienced some technical difficulties during the interview. Even though 50 percent of the conversation was missed, we were able to recover a portion of it for publication, which you can read below along with some summary answers to our other questions.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You spent 14 years in the NFL, first seeing extensive playing time during your sixth season in 1999 (167-of-275 for 1,645 yards and 10 touchdowns). What did it feel when you were actually given the opportunity to show your stuff?
SHANE MATTHEWS: “The reason I lasted as long as I did in the NFL was because of my mind. I could learn plays in a second, an entire playbook in a day and never have to look at it again. I was only 6’3” 190 lbs. at the most. Didn’t have the arm strength or the size to take a pounding, but when I did get my chance, I had some good games and some good moments, but I also had some bad ones. That just comes with the position. You’re going to play well at times, you’re going to play poorly at times. I enjoyed my 14 years in the NFL. In 14 years, I think I only played in 35 games, so I knew my role on teams – didn’t rock the boat – tried help the other quarterbacks and the coaching staff knew they could count on me.”

AS: With Saturday’s game featuring two of Florida’s greatest coaches, how do you compare and contrast Spurrier and current head coach Urban Meyer?
SM: “Urban and coach Spurrier are a lot alike – extremely strong competitors. However, they run their programs differently. Urban’s a great motivator, kind of runs a tight ship and keeps everybody in line, where coach Spurrier is kind of that laid back southern personality. His practices are more laid back and relaxed by comparison. The biggest thing is, coach Spurrier is an offensive-minded head coach where Urban is a defensive-minded head coach. Both of them have done a tremendous job for the University of Florida.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Shane Matthews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Shane Matthews: “A tough situation for Johnny”

Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info

When ESPN reported last week that a man claiming to represent Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton asked the Mississippi State Bulldogs for $180,000 for his signature on a letter of intent during his recruitment from Blinn College, some media members and college football fans found a way to finger Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer as the main reason for the information being leaked to the media.

A full week has passed and FOX Sports, in an unrelated report, claims Newton left Florida at least partially due to being caught cheating in class on three occasions. Similar to last week’s reaction, some members of the media and plenty of fans have once again pounced on Meyer, claiming he provided the information sourced in the story.

Early Tuesday, Meyer emphatically denied through a University of Florida statement having any involvement. “Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina,” he said. “For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”

Meyer also spoke with Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun about the both allegations. “Obviously it’s a joke,” Meyer said. “I don’t know anything about anything. I heard they’ve got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It’s ridiculous.”

Unconfirmed Internet reports stated Meyer was a part of a conference call with Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and former MSU QB John Bond and advised both men to speak with the the media about the alleged illegal recruitment of Newton.

The contention from some media members is that Meyer is angered at the success Newton has achieved since leaving Florida and is looking to bring him down. The coach denies that philosophy as well.

“We had a great relationship right until the time he left,” Meyer told the Sun. “Cam and I and his family always had a great relationship. I don’t know where this is all coming from, but it didn’t come from me. I know nothing about nothing.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 9 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 9 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 ninth week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Team-high five receptions for 48 yards, two touchdowns (targets: 9, long: 22)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Team-high nine receptions for 126 yards (targets: 12, long: 28), fumble, five kick returns for 88 yards (long 22)

LB MIKE PETERSON Five tackles (three solo, two for loss), sack, two passes defended
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Two receptions for 19 yards (targets: 5)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Four solo tackles
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Three tackles (two solo), pass defended
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Four solo tackles (one for loss)
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Three tackles (two solo)
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Eight tackles (four solo)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Two solo tackles (one for loss)
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Four tackles (two solo), QB hit, fumble rec.
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Tackle

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey, LT Max Starks (Pittsburgh Steelers); G Cooper Carlisle (Oakland Raiders) – FB Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

BYE WEEK
WR Jabar Gaffney, DE Jarvis Moss, QB Tim Tebow, DT Marcus Thomas (Denver Broncos); DE Derrick Harvey, DT Jeremy Mincey (Jacksonville Jaguars); DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills), S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), CB Lito Sheppard (Vikings), RB Fred Taylor (Patriots), WR Louis Murphy (Raiders), LB Brandon Siler (San Diego Chargers)

NOTES
– The initial touchdown scored by Hernandez was the first of his career.
– Crowder accused Baltimore’s FB LeRon McClain of spitting in his face during Sunday’s game; it is being reviewed by the league.
– Pouncey left Monday night’s game with an injured lower right leg but would return to action and finish the game at center.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

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