TWO BITS: Starks, Pouncey help; Cooper waits

1 » Former Florida Gators offensive linemen Max Starks and Maurkice Pouncey – both now with the Pittsburgh Steelers –hosted a football camp at Lake Highland Preparatory School last weekend. However, the interesting story leading up to the event was an invitation extended to a 14-year-old boy named Edwin. You see, Edwin attempted to do a good deed when he found a lost three-year-old girl and tried to return her to her mother. Unfortunately, the woman he chased after was not the toddler’s parent. Instead of being rewarded, Edwin was arrested in front of television cameras and charged a felony count of false imprisonment by the Orange County Sherriff’s Department.

Under home confinement until June 24, the only way Edwin could attend the camp was if the county decided to drop the charges. Unfortunately, they kept him at his house; Edwin missed the camp (taking place at Starks’ alma mater and a school the youngster hopes to play for in the future) and the state attorney’s office has yet to drop the charges.

2 » The Philadelphia Eagles are doing their best to get all of their 2010 draftees under contract but are struggling in their efforts to have all 13 of them signed. Making some headway last week, the Eagles only have three players left to sign including wide receiver Riley Cooper. The Philadelphia Daily News believes that Cooper’s deal “ought to get done pretty quickly” because it will be the least financially difficult one to complete.

Seminoles chop Gators 8-5 in elimination game

Faced with elimination from the 2010 NCAA College World Series and the end of a stellar season, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (47-17) lost their second-straight game for only the third time all year, falling 8-5 to the unranked Florida State Seminoles (48-19) on Monday evening at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, NE.

The Gators entered the series hoping to earn their 48th win of the season – one which would tie the program high (2005) – but could not come away with a victory after first falling to UCLA 11-3 on Saturday.

Freshman starter Hudson Randall (8-4) was blasted by the Seminoles for four earned runs in 2.2 innings including a solo shot by outfielder Tyler Holt (3-4, two RBI, three runs) to lead-off the first inning and a three-run homer by outfielder/pitcher Mike McGee (2-4, four RBI, two runs) in the bottom of the third. Freshman Brian Johnson, in relief, fared a little better but still allowed two earned runs in 3.1 innings. Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani and junior Kevin Chapman each gave up an earned run of their own before senior Greg Larson threw the final out.

For the Seminoles, Brian Busch (6-2) only allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Geoff Parker tossed 2.1 innings of shutout relief before Daniel Bennett entered for an attempt to close out the game. However, Bennett would give up a three-RBI double to sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5) in the top of the ninth before being pulled for McGee (S13) who forced freshman catcher Mike Zunino to line into an infield double play to end the game.

Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4, two runs), freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox (2-5, RBI) and senior outfielder Jonathan Pigott (2-4, RBI, run) led the way for Florida offensively, but the team was unable to put a rally together until it was too late.

FSU defeated UF for the fourth time in five meetings this season; the Seminoles are also responsible for ending the Gators’ season twice in the past three years after knocking the 2008 team out of the NCAA Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.

Photo Credit: Daniel J. Muprhy/ Omaha World-Herald

Gators grab commitment from four-star LB Shazier

Just hours after three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) accepted his scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer, four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) decided to join the Florida Gators as the newest member of the team’s 2011 recruiting class.

One of the country’s top-ranked linebackers, Shazier received offers from more than three dozen schools including almost every major program in the country (Alabama, Ohio State, etc.) but decided to give his commitment to Florida in the end.

“Me, my mom and dad and my little brother went up to Florida to visit and we loved it,” Shazier told The Gainesville Sun. “We had a great time there. We felt that it was the best place for me for what I want to do academically and athletically. For me and my family (Florida) is where my heart is at and that’s the best place for me.”

At approximately 6’3” and 200 lbs. with a 4.5 40-yard dash, Shazier recorded 90 tackles and 19 sacks for Plantation High School as a junior in 2009. He is listed as the No. 71 overall recruit by ESPNU (No. 8 LB) and No. 165 overall by Rivals (No. 9 LB).

“I just committed today,” Shazier told Scout.com (subscription required). “Coach Meyer was real happy and said they are going to love to coach me. Today’s visit was great and my family loved it they are all on board and 100% Gators. I talked to Coach Durkin for a long time and he told me it made his day and he loved it. Coach Durkin was telling me he can’t wait to see me in a Gator uniform. My whole entire family is just happy we are Gators and I am done with recruiting.”

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas/ESPN

OGGOA RELATED: Three-star OL Tommy Jordan chooses the Gators

San Diego cuts former Florida DT Ian Scott

The San Diego Chargers released former Florida Gators defensive tackle Ian Scott on Monday. Scott, who started seven games in 12 appearances for the Chargers last season, was expected to remain the team’s starter going into 2010.

San Diego selected Cam Thomas of North Carolina in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and appear to believe he will be able to take Scott’s place on the defensive line right away.

Scott, 28, will likely be picked up by another team soon. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2003 draft and has also played for Philadelphia and Carolina.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

OGGOA RELATED: Saints unexpectedly release DE Bobby McCray

Three-star OL Tommy Jordan chooses the Gators

The Florida Gators nabbed another commitment stemming from their camp last week as three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) called head coach Urban Meyer and accepted a scholarship Monday morning, according to The Ridgefield Press.

“I pretty much knew what I needed to know about all the schools I was considering and I knew Florida’s the place I wanted to go,” Jordan told Rivals. “There’s no one better right now. The coaching staff is a great group of guys I would be honored to play for. This is just a great opportunity, it’s too good for me to pass up. I’m happy to get on board.”

Jordan is just another in the long line of recruits the Gators have pulled from the state of Connecticut since offensive coordinator Steve Addazio joined the program. A native of the state, he also helped Florida acquire New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed and freshman quarterback Tyler Murphy.

“Tommy visited Florida again this weekend and came back convinced that it was the school he wanted to attend,” Ridgefield High School head coach Kevin Callahan told the Press. “He’s always been a Florida fan, so it’s really exciting for him to be going there.”

One of the top players in the state, Jordan was not offered a scholarship by Connecticut; he chose Florida over Boston College and Rutgers, among other schools.

OGGOA RELATED: Gators grab commitment from four-star LB Shazier

Saints unexpectedly release DE Bobby McCray

Former Florida Gators defensive end Bobby McCray was released by the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Monday. McCray, who was the Saints’ third end but still started a quarter of the team’s games during his two-year run with New Orleans, made some impactful defensive plays as a starter during their playoff run last season.

Interestingly enough, the Saints acquired fellow former Gators defensive end Alex Brown via free agency in the offseason. Brown is expected to start for New Orleans on the left side even after McCray worked with the first team defense during mini camp over the last few weeks; his signing projected starting job most likely led to McCray’s dismissal.

According to Pro Football Talk, McCray was due a $1.25 million roster bonus in just over a week and was likely cut to avoid that payment. The team did not attempt to renegotiate and will also save $2 million on his 2010-11 base salary.

McCray, who made headlines for during the season for his vicious hits on Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre, was arrested during the season for allegedly driving under the influence. He complied 59 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three defended passes and a forced fumble in his two years in New Orleans.

OGGOA RELATED: San Diego cuts former Florida DT Ian Scott

2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/21): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 4:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Mike Martin
Starter: RHP Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.95 ERA) Starter: LHP Brian Busch (5-2, 3.97 ERA)
Record: 47-16 Record: 47-19
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida State leads the all-time series against Florida 119-96-1; however, the Gators have a 3-0 record against the Seminoles in the NCAA College World Series and are 10-3 against them (including seven of the last eight) in the NCAA Tournament.
» The two teams will be squaring off for the fifth time in 2010 with every game taking place in a different city. FSU is 3-1 this year against UF, winning in Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee; Florida won at home.
» O’Sullivan, throughout his time in Gainesville, is 4-7 against the Seminoles; 3-0 at home, 1-3 in Tallahassee and 0-4 at neutral sites.
» The last time these teams played in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators fell 17-11 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-5 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 434-282 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-12 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-13 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-16 when trailing after six, 2-15 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-15 when down through eight.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.591).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.355), runs (65) and hits (87). He is also on an eight-game hitting streak.
» Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana…who is hitting at a .333 clip through six NCAA Tournament games with nine walks, seven runs, three RBI, two doubles and a homer.
As of the beginning of the College World Series…
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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