Florida Gators freshman running back Mike Blakely has decided to transfer, becoming the third offensive player to do so under new head coach Will Muschamp.
“Mike has come to the conclusion that the University of Florida is not where he wants to play football,” Muschamp said in a school release. “We wish him the best of luck.”
Blakely, who graduated from high school early and enrolled in January, did not practice in the spring after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
“Everyone at Florida has been very supportive of me in my time here and I’m thankful for the experience that I had, but I’ve made a decision to continue my college football career somewhere else,’’ Blakely said in the same release.
His departure leaves the Gators with five scholarship running backs for next season including senior Jeff Demps, redshirt senior Chris Rainey, junior Mike Gillislee and sophomores Mack Brown and Trey Burton, according to the team roster.
UF initially beat out Auburn for Blakely’s commitment in October 2010.
“In my heart, I felt like I made the best decision,” he said after making his announcement.
Four Florida players have now left the program since Muschamp’s arrival.
Wide receivers redshirt freshman Chris Dunkley and freshman Javares McRoy both decided to transfer in April. Dunkley appears headed to South Florida, while McRoy will join his brother at Texas Tech.
Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from the team on April 26 after being arrested for possession of marijuana for the second time in 90 days. He is considering a transfer as well but a destination is currently unknown.
Photo Credit: Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Released Tuesday afternoon, the first Rivals250 for the class of 2012 is filled with players verbally committed to play for the Florida Gators next season. Though only one Florida commit was in the company’s Rivals100 released on Monday, six more are considered to be in the top 250 recruits in the nation.
Below is a breakdown of where the Gators’ commits are ranked:
No. 49 – Jessamen Dunker, OT (Boynton Beach, FL)
At 6’6” and 315 lbs., Dunker is listed as the No. 12 overall offensive lineman in the class and the third-best in the state of Florida. He has already accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and is rated a 5.9/6.1*.
No. 122 – Mike Davis, RB(Stone Mountain, GA)
The second running back to commit for 2012, the 5’9” 192 lbs. Davis was given a 5.8/6.1 ranking by Rivals and is listed No. 12 at his position in the nation and No. 1 in the state of Georgia. He recently earned a Most Valuable Player award at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA.
No. 157 – Matt Jones, RB(Seffner, FL)
Florida’s first running back commit, the 6’2” 200 lbs. Jones was heavily recruited by the Gators and is listed as the 16th best rusher in the country. Rated 5.8/6.1, he is ranked as the No. 3 back in the state.
No. 197 – Colin Thompson, TE(Warminster, PA)
The top player at his position in Pennsylvania, Thompson is 6’5” 225 lbs., rated 5.8/6.1 and ranked as the No. 6 tight end in the nation. Florida’s most recent commitment, he has accepted an invitation to play in the Under Armour game. (No other tight end was ranked higher than No. 68 overall.)
No. 218 – Jeremi Powell, LB(Largo, FL)
A 5.8/6.1 rated player like his future teammates, Powell is ranked as the No. 24 overall linebacker in 2012 but No. 2 in the state of Florida. At 6’2″ and 200 lbs., he is the Gators’ only commitment at the position.
No. 225 – Dante Phillips, DT(Venice, FL)
The No. 17 defensive tackle prospect in the nation, Phillips is 6’6” and 268 lbs. and is becoming a force in the middle. He is also rated 5.8/6.1 and listed as the No. 2 player at his position in the state.
No. 240 – Latroy Pittman, WR(Citra, FL)
At 6’1” and 190 lbs., Pittman may not have the size of an elite prospect, but his 5.8/6.1 ranking puts him up there talent-wise. He is the 36th-ranked wide receiver in his class and No. 6 in the state of Florida.
*Rivals’s ranking system grades prospects from 6.1-4.9:
6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect
6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region’s top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player
4.9 Sleeper; no Rivals.com expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about
Three members of the Florida Gators basketball team were arrested on April 10 for burglary in St. Augustine, FL. Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson were caught allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Joshua Adel was arrested for principal to burglary because he allegedly served as a lookout. No items were reported missing from the vehicle in the attempted theft.
One month later, all three men have had their respective charges lessened by the state with two of them still facing legal action, according to The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway who spoke with a representative at the State Attorney’s Office.
Larson and Murphy now have second-degree misdemeanor charges for criminal trespassing (instead of third-degree felonies for burglary), while Adel’s charge was not just reduced, it was thrown out altogether.
“[Larson and Murphy] have paid restitution to the victims to get a headlight fixed,” spokesperson Shannon Peters told the Sun. “The charges reflect that they tried to go into another person’s car without permission. [Adel] was charged as being the lookout when the evidence showed that wasn’t the case. He was, in fact, discouraging them.”
Brockway also reports that a court date has not yet been set for Murphy and Larson to enter their respective pleas.
It was a special weekend for Florida Gators softball, which sent its seniors off with a two-day celebration concluding in the team’s fourth-straight Southeastern Conference East division title. The baseball team, on the other hand, fought through a three-game road series that left their chances at a regular season title up for grabs.
Just two days after a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home against Florida State, No. 4 Florida softball was just as scrappy against the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, breaking a 3-3 tie with a solo home run from lead-off hitter freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn a 4-3 victory. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher drew the start for the Gators but was pulled after giving up three earned runs and only striking out two batters in 4.2 innings. Florida was down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth but rallied with two outs to tie the game. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers came on for the final 2.1 innings, striking out four and only allowing a single hit to earn the victory.
The Gators took advantage of the Volunteers early in Saturday’s game and held on to a two-run lead earned in the first frame to win the series with a 2-0 victory. With one out, senior second baseman Aja Paculba (2-3, R) singled to left field; senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) followed her by stepping up to the plate and smacking a homer to center field on a full count for the game’s only runs. Brombacher (3.1 IP, 2 K, 3 H) once again earned the start for Florida, but Rogers (3.2 IP, 4 K, 3 H) threw the second half of the contest to earn her second win over Tennessee. Saturday also marked the first half of UF softball’s Senior Day. Brombacher and catcher Tiffany DeFelice were honored prior to the game, which resulted in the team’s 24th shutout win on the year.
Putting everything together on Sunday, the Gators (47-8, 21-7 SEC) started hot out of the gate and routed the Volunteers (44-10, 20-8 SEC) 7-2 to conclude regular season action with nine-straight victories while simultaneously capturing the SEC East division title. Rogers (30-5) tossed a complete game, allowing single runs in the first and fifth innings on a total of five hits. Down 1-0 after the first three outs, Florida scored two runs in the bottom of the first and added another in the second. The Gators then poured on four runs in the fourth including a lead-off dinger from designated player Kelsey Horton (2-3, HR, RBI, R) on the first pitch she saw. Also performing well Sunday were junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-4, 2 R), Paculba (2-3, RBI, 2 R, BB), Bruder (1-3, RBI, R, BB) and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (2-4, 2 RBI, R). Florida honored Bruder, Paculba and first baseman Megan Bush before the game as the second half of the school’s senior day festivities. The day ended with the Gators not only capturing their fourth-straight SEC East crown (fifth overall) but also having won 17 of their last 18 games.
With their regular season now complete, UF has earend the No. 2 overall seed in the 2011 SEC tournament, which they will begin on Thursday with a first-round game against No. 7-seed Auburn. The game will air live on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 Florida baseball saw its dominant seven-game winning streak come to an end Thursday in Fayetteville, AR as they blew a 3-1 lead through six innings to fall 4-3 to the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks. After scattering hits through his first five innings, starter sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (8-2) allowed a triple and home run in back-to-back at-bats in the bottom of the sixth that let Arkansas tie the game at three runs apiece. Randall gave up his second homer of the game two innings later, and the Razorbacks escaped the first game of the series with a victory. Three Gators – junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R), senior 2B Josh Adams (2-3, R) and junior LF Daniel Pigott (2-2, RBI) – notched pairs of hits in the contest, but the team simply could not capitalize when it counted.
Florida fought from behind all night on Friday and eventually fell to Arkansas 5-3, dropping the road series after the first two games. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-2) lost his second game of the season after allowing three earned runs (four total) in just four innings of work. The Gators trailed from the first inning on, taking their only lead at 2-1 in the third before the Razorbacks scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to jump back ahead 4-2.
Florida (36-12, 18-6 SEC) got back to its winning ways on Saturday, rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to slay Arkansas (32-15, 12-12 SEC) 5-3; it was the Gators’ first road win against the Razorbacks since 2005 (eight games). Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (5.2 IP, 6 K, 3 ER, 6 H) shut out Arkansas through the first four innings of the game and allowed Florida to take an early 2-0 lead. The Razorbacks would respond with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, but sophomore RHP Austin Maddox came in to get the final out and stop the bleeding for the Gators. Florida responded with a fierce rally that scored three in the seventh. Three-straight singles ending with one from Tucker (1-4, RBI, R) scored sophomore SS Nolan Fontana (2-5, RBI, 2 R) from third to tie the game and another up the middle by Pigott (2-4, 2 RBI, R) allowed two more runs to cross the plate for the Gators. Maddox (2-0) tossed the final three innings, striking out one and walking one as Florida held on for the victory.
The Gators remain in the hunt for the SEC title but have two more series (on the road against Vanderbilt and at home against Kentucky) to play along with two non-conference games (home vs. North Florida and Jacksonville) before the regular season concludes. Vanderbilt leads the SEC with a 19-5 record, but Florida and South Carolina are both just a game back at 18-6.
In only their second year of existence, No. 4 Florida Gators lacrosse was hoping to do the unthinkable, not only win the American Lacrosse Conference regular season crown but also take home the 2011 ALC Championship by sweeping through the tournament in which they earned the No. 1 overall seed. Instead Florida (15-3, 5-0 ALC) fell 10-9 on Saturday to the No. 2-seed and No. 3-ranked Northwestern Wildcats (17-2, 3-2 ALC), who they defeated 13-11 just three weeks earlier.
Squaring off at the VU Lacrosse Complex in Nashville, TN, the Gators hoped to knock the Wildcats off their pedestal. Since the tournament began, Northwestern has been the only victors, and Florida failed in their opportunity to take the crown.
Up three goals, 8-5, with 13:17 remaining, the Gators allowed the Wildcats to go on a 5-0 scoring run to jump ahead 10-8 with 2:22 left on the clock. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns scored unassisted with 1:25 to go, but an illegal stick call seconds later took the next possession out of Florida’s hands and allowed Northwestern to hold on for victory.
Sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen, one of the best players in the country and Florida’s leading scorer, was held without a goal and only notched a single point on an assist. Sophomore A Caroline Chesterman led the Gators with three goals, while Bruns and sophomore M Brittany Dashiell each scored a pair of goals.
The Wildcats were led by M Shannon Smith, who scored five goals and delivered two assists for a game-high seven points.
With Northwestern now in their rear view mirror, Florida looks ahead to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. They were awarded the No. 4 overall seed during the NCAA Selection Show Sunday evening and are set to host Stanford in first-round action.
Whether visiting a lacrosse store or even the official Gator SportShop on campus, there is plenty of fantastic Orange & Blue gear that fans can wear to support the team both on campus or on the road. Support the Gators!
Suffering an early exit from the 2011 NBA Playoffs, former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights and the Philadelphia 76ers are now thinking about next year after being defeated 4-1 by the No. 2-seed Miami Heat.
A reserve on the Florida basketball team that won the 2007 NCAA National Championship, Speights started one season for the Gators (his sophomore year) before declaring for the NBA Draft and eventually being selected by the 76ers with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round. He sat down with OGGOA to discuss his college experience, the tough decision he faced after his second season with the team and what team he thinks will end up taking home the NBA title this year when all is said and done.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN:Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of the upperclassmen holding starting roles. How was it walking into a team with established guys like Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Chris Richard already getting major minutes? MARREESE SPEIGHTS: “It was a learning experience because the guys in front of me had already won a championship before I got there. It was a learning experience for me. A year to get better and a year to learn college basketball.”
AS:That team went on to win the National Championship for the second-straight time that year. What was it like playing on such a big stage so early in your career? MS: “It was a great feeling. It is an opportunity nobody really has. A lot of people don’t really have that opportunity, so it was a great accomplishment for me.”
AS:Before the next season began, head coach Billy Donovan left for the NBA to lead the Orlando Magic only to change his mind and come back a few days later. How hard was that situation to deal with as a player? MS: “It was hard because at one point we didn’t have no coach. It was a few guys with no coach, and everybody was wondering what was going to happen. But he came back and everything was good.”
AS:Were any of the players worried that he might leave again? MS: “You could tell he really liked Florida a lot, that’s why he came back. We knew that when he came back he was going to be here for a while. It wasn’t going to be one year; it was going to be long-term.”
AS:The next year you became a starter and took advantage of it. I know Coach Donovan expected that, even as well as you played, you would be back at least one more season. When you first declared for the draft, were you doing it just to check your stock or was it always your plan to leave? MS: “I was doing it just to check my stock. I really wanted to come back, but I heard the good news and I thought I should take the opportunity while it was there. I had to. It was real hard to tell him that I was going to the draft because I knew if I came back the team would have gotten even better. I had the opportunity, so I had to take it.”
AS:The decision obviously worked out as you were taken in the middle of the first round by Philadelphia. What was that transition to the NBA like? You played a lot of minutes right from the start in your rookie season. MS: “The transition was kind of cool. I had to get used to travelling, playing against players [I] watched growing up and stuff. But it was a good step.”
AS:You started your second NBA season with a bang but then went down with a MCL injury. How difficult was that for you to deal with? MS: “It was kind of hard because it kept me out for a long time. It was something I wasn’t used to, so I started working harder to get back there.”
AS:This year your minutes were pretty inconsistent. Some games you played over 20 minutes and others you were only on the court for a few if at all. How tough is that to deal with as a player? MS: “The first season, I knew I was going to come in and play consistent [minutes]. This year, it was so inconsistent that I never knew how to prepare for the game because I never knew if I was going to get in or not. It was hard for me to prepare myself this year. I might have a good game one game and then come back and play three minutes and then after that DNPs [“do not play” – a designation given by the coach] for three games and then come back and play 15 minutes. It was the whole year – inconsistent. I feel like if I can get in there, I’ll produce. That’s how I’ve been my whole career.”
AS:You played against every team remaining in the playoffs this year. Which has the best chance to win the whole thing? MS: “Miami. They are really coming together and they’re going to win it. On the court, you can tell how good they really [are], even things you can’t see on TV. It’s just some of the things they do and stuff. The connection they’ve got so early.”
AS:Philadelphia is known as a very critical sports city. What has it been like playing there with the fans? MS: “It’s a hard place to play at because, if you don’t give them what they want, they’re going to boo you. It’s kind of hard but, this year we were winning, so we got a lot of support. The fans show a lot of support.”
AS:How have your relationships with some of your former teammates and coaches changed and/or developed since you left? MS: “I talk to Coach [Donovan] all the time. It’s a pretty good relationship. Vernon Macklin, me and him were practically teammates at Hargrave [Military Academy], so we’re really close. I’ve known him for like 5-6 years. I talk to all of them but mostly him. I talked to him [Wednesday] for like 20 minutes about preparing for the [draft] process.”
AS:Looking back on your career at Florida, aside from winning the title as a freshman, what is the one moment you will always remember – either on or off the court? MS: “Other than the championship, I got a couple. There was a home game my freshman year when we played Alabama. I came down and scored like eight-straight points and we won that game [4-for-4 for eight points in five minutes in the first half]. Then the first-round tournament game against Jackson State. I had a good game there, too [7-for-10 for 16 points with six boards in 10 minutes].
After three successful seasons as a back-up with the Montreal Alouettes including back-to-back Grey Cup championships, former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak was cut by the team in February. He did not last long as a free agent, signing a two-year contract by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday.
Saskatchewan, which was defeated by Montreal in the two Grey Cups Leak won, had an open spot on its roster and felt they could use Leak as a back-up behind starter Darian Durant. Leak could come in as either the No. 2 or No. 3 signal caller.
Since not being selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, he has bounced around looking for an opportunity to play. Leak first signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears but was cut before the regular season. He then planned to play in the never-formed All-American Football League and tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs but, once again, did not make the roster.
His CFL career began with a six-day stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2008; he was waived and claimed by Montreal, which kept him for almost three full seasons.
1 » Combining the accomplishments of football and basketball teams nationally thus far during the BCS era, Rivals.com has listed the Florida Gators as the top overall program in the country. With 81 total points (44.5 from football and 36.5 from basketball based on their specific scoring system), Florida is 12 points ahead of the runner-up (Ohio State, 69) and out in front by 16 points over No. 3 overall (Texas, 65).
2 » Working his way up draft boards, Gators forward Chandler Parsons is currently training on the West Coast in preparation for the 2011 NBA Draft. ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford recently got to watch him practice along with a number of other prospects and came away impressed, bumping him up to potential first-round pick status.
Parsons really surprised me. I knew he was skilled and athletic for a 6-foot-10 player. But he showed aggressiveness that I just hadn’t seen at Florida. […] He showed the ability to take [Paul] George off the dribble to the rim, rise up and hit jumpers over George’s freakishly long arms and most importantly he made a number of spell-binding passes to [Malcolm] Thomas. Parsons’ decision-making in the sets was fantastic. So was his shooting. He was hitting just about every shot he took and showed range out to the NBA 3-point line.
3 » Taking a look at players who are “soon to be stars” in the AFC East, Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson thoroughly discussedNew England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes’s future in a blog post on ESPN on Thursday:
Brandon Spikes is the perfect fit as the heavier take-on inside linebacker in Bill Belichick’s 3-4 scheme. Pass coverage — particularly man coverage against tight ends and swifter running backs — will probably always be a problem for Spikes, but what Spikes does, he does very well. This guy stops the run. And he stops the run very well. Spikes is a downhill player who is very quick to react. He does his best work between the tackles and as a fantastic take-on linebacker. He is also the ideal complement to Jerod Mayo, who is more of the athletic free-lancing type. Spikes rarely plays a bad game and is a model of consistency — even at such a young age (23).
4 » Choosing to workout up north with his brother and some of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, Miami Dolphins center/guard Mike Pouncey is trying to get in shape so he is read if/when the lockout is lifted. “I’m just doing offensive line drills with the guys, and I’ll be going down to Miami in two weeks to do that stuff with my offensive line,” Pouncey told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “But I’ve been talking to Jake [Long], [Richie] Incognito and Vernon [Carey]. I can’t wait to get down there and learn from them.” Volin also spoke with his mother, Lisa Webster, who noted that her son is fueled by some of the shots he’s taken from NFL Draft analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who say he is not the same caliber player his brother center Maurkice Pouncey has become. “It pisses him off. They’re so competitive,” she said.
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