FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Rainey, soccer, Nelson

1 » Florida Gators junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was honored with a nomination to the 2010 Lou Groza Award preseason watch list late last week. Given annually to college football’s best place kicker, the award is being defended by UCLA’s Kai Forbath. Sturgis will have to compete with four other Southeastern Conference kickers and a total of 29 others from across the nation. Last week, Sturgis told reporters that he has been working on his accuracy all offseason. “I want to be more accurate on field goals,” he said. “I had some easy misses last year that I shouldn’t have had. That has obviously been my biggest struggle. That – and put the ball in the right spot for the kickoff team.” Unlike last season, when Jonathan Phillips was the team’s starter, Sturgis already has the job locked up.

2 » Florida head coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff have been experimenting with using players at a variety of positions this offseason. With redshirt junior Chris Rainey, his move from running back to wide receiver appeared to be a given from the get-go. “I never thought I’d be a receiver,” Rainey said, “because all of the stuff I looked at on YouTube had receivers going across the middle and getting big hits. Now that might be me. I’m just going to try and keep myself from doing that.” That being said, Rainey is having a good time with his new position. “Receiver is fun,” he said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You don’t get many injuries from it. You do a lot of running. It’s harder than running back, but I’m good at it. […] For receiver, you have to know everything. For running back, you know one thing and you’re done. Receiver is everything, whether you’re on the ball or off the ball.” Even blocking plays are simpler. “It’s way easier,” Rainey said about blocking downfield rather than picking up blitzes behind the line of scrimmage. “Especially when someone is coming at you, full speed, about 250 pounds and wanting to kill you.”

3 » Following up a big double-overtime victory against the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) on Friday, No. 11 Gators soccer (1-0) defeated the No. 25 Central Florida Knights 2-0 on the road in Orlando, FL. The game, which began at 7 p.m. and aired live on FOX Sports Florida, was put away at the top of the second half when junior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis scored from eight yards out at 48′. Annis would double up less than five minutes later with a 10-yard shot to the far post at 52′ as UF went on to shutout UCF.

4 » After a rough 2009 season, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson is looking to bounce back and return to the form that made him a first round pick coming out of college. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes that transformation is certainly a possibility. “What he’s doing right now gives him a chance,” Del Rio said. “He’s had some tough games, and when that happens, it can crush your confidence. We’re trying to build him back up right now.” Nelson may no longer be a starter, but he has been getting plenty of time in the preseason to prove that he deserves to get on the field a lot this season. “Whenever my number’s called, I just go play football,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to make the plays you can make, and if you don’t make one, you’ve got to move on from it. You can’t hold onto the last play. You’ve got to move on. You’re not going to do everything right. You can’t let the pressure bust the pipe.”

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

TWO BITS: Soccer wins in 2OT, football in Top 25

1 » Opening the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season on Friday, No. 11 Florida Gators soccer (1-0) defeated the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) 2-1 in a double-overtime match at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Scoreless in the first half, redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney kicked the ball across the goal to the far post at 49’ to put Florida ahead. In the blink of an eye, Miami’s Blake Stockton hit an equalizer at 53’. Almost an hour of game time later, now in the match’s second overtime, freshman forward Taylor Travis put the Gators ahead for good with a seven-yard golden goal into the far post at 107’. Florida will need to regroup quickly as the ladies will travel to Orlando, FL, for an away game against the Central Florida Knights on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. The match will air live on FOX Sports Florida.

2 » The defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll released Saturday with the Gators coming in three slots behind at No. 4. In between the two are the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 3 Boise State Broncos; Alabama was awarded 54 of 60 possible first-place votes. Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by the AP this preseason include Arkansas (No. 17), LSU (No. 21), Auburn (No. 22) and Georgia (No. 23). Florida finished last season listed No. 3 in the USA Today and Associated Press polls, also earning the No. 3 spot in the USA Today preseason poll released on Aug. 6.

Photo Credit: University of Florida/GatorZone.com

Surgeries sideline freshmen Green, Ajagbe

In the last five days, the Florida Gators lost two four-star freshmen – safety Jordan Haden and wide receiver Adrian Coxson – to transfer. In the last 24 hours, head coach Urban Meyer had to watch as two more freshmen underwent surgeries that will keep them out of action for the near future.

Early Friday, a University of Florida spokesman announced that four-star offensive tackle Chaz Green will miss two-to-four weeks after having hernia surgery. Later in the evening, the Miami Herald‘s Joseph Goodman reported that three-star linebacker Gideon Ajagbe would be out of action for 6-10 weeks after getting a partially torn rotator cuff repaired last Sunday.

Goodman spoke with Ajagbe’s Miami Ransom Everglades High School strength and conditioning coach, Mosi Blake, who said that the player is “feeling fine now that he’s out of the hospital and back with his friends in the dorms.”

8/20: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is completing their second week fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Tuesday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

FRESHMAN HAS SURGERY

Freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green had hernia surgery on Friday, according to a University of Florida spokesperson. He will be out of action for 2-4 weeks – likely the latter as a safety precaution considering he is not expected to be needed much in the rotation this season.

“HAVE THAT REMOVED”
Get the movie reference?

Freshmen defensive end Ronald Powell and cornerback Joshua Shaw are the latest players to have their black helmet stripes removed. That’s 13 down with 12 to go.

IS BRANTLEY’S ‘STACHE TRASH?

Shout out to the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser for his intrepid reporting regarding the longevity of Florida redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley’s mustache. Though QB coach Scot Loeffler contends that Brantley “needs to shave it” and promises that “he will, don’t worry,” the Gators’ signal caller has other plans. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Brantley, who is willing to fight to keep his facial hair, said. “If that’s what it has to come down to, I guess so.”

GOAL LINE QUARTERBACKS

Early in camp, it was converted redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed who was getting the majority of the work as the team’s goal line QB. Now that fall practices are coming to an end, freshman QB Trey Burton has been getting many of the short yardage opportunities. OGGOA touched on this subject two days ago during a podcast interview. There will likely be a number of different looks on goal line and short yardage situations this season with Brantley, Reed and Burton all getting opportunities behind center.

FINAL SCRIMMAGE

The Gators will hold their final scrimmage of the 2010 offseason on Saturday as coaches look to make some decisions on the team’s outstanding position battles – starting middle linebacker, starting cornerback, kick and punt returners, etc.

FOUR BITS: Harvin, Montana, Fisher, Whitson

1 » Reports coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp have former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin back with the team – though he is, of course, being kept out of action. After spending the night in the hospital, Harvin was seen on the practice field Friday morning exchanging pleasantries with players and coaches before heading inside the facility. All word from inside camp is that he is feeling much better and on the road to recovery from his severe migraine attack Thursday.

2 » Earlier this week, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana was a guest on The Matt Minkus Show. He discussed a number of topics but, most importantly to OGGOA readers, gave an endorsement of Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow. “I think he’s going to be fine. I think one of the things that people forget – they’re so worried and concerned about changing his motion. I’m not as concerned about changing his motion as just him learning footwork. I think that’s the most difficult part for him,” Montana said. “Today, they spent more time in the shotgun than taking snaps anyway. When you look at where he played – in the SEC – he’s not a D-III player playing against teams that are obscure and players who might be obscure. [He’s] playing against pretty good teams week-in and week-out. I think he’s definitely got the ability to have a successful career. You saw him the other night – made a couple great throws. He’s physical and he’s tough and he’s going to put in the work that’s necessary for him to get better. And I think that’s probably the biggest key.”

3 » New Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, who has failed to beat Florida in his last three years as the team’s offensive coordinator, has decided to begin referring to the Gators as “that little team down the road” rather than their proper name. Cute decision, even if it is a pretty weak response to Florida head coach Urban Meyer only calling FSU the “school out west.” Also notable is that Fisher’s statement is blatantly incorrect. The University of Florida enrolls over 10,000 more students (50,691 vs. 40,225) and is more than five times the size (2,000 acres vs. 395.15 acres) of Florida State University. Oh, and by the way, UF has outscored FSU by 90 points (127-37) in Fisher’s three games with the team. OGGOA‘s universal mantra? Win – then talk.

4 » The following was written for OGGOA by Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog.com

The much talked about and debated NCAA “no-agent” rule could end up hurting an incoming Florida baseball player who is recognized as one of the best pitching prospects in the country. Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, recently decided that he would not sign with the San Diego Padres and would instead play at least three years for the Gators. Unfortunately, his student-athlete status may be at risk after a couple of articles mentioned that his advisor might have been negotiating directly with the Padres. The no-agent rule specifically states that a player may not have his advisor speak directly to a team on his behalf or even be in the presence of the team when the player is negotiating his deal. There is no word yet as to whether the NCAA is investigating this matter.

FOUR BITS: Dowling, Thomas, Benjamin, Brown

1 » Florida Gators freshman safety Jonathan Dowling is excited about his first season of college football, but no game is getting him more pumped up than one coming up on Oct 2. “I can’t wait until the Alabama game,” Dowling told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “I am just going to keep working hard, doing what I am told. Hopefully I can get on the field this year. That is my main goal. I will just keep going as hard as I can these next few weeks and that decision will be left up to the coaches.” Dowling also said that junior S Will Hill has taken him under his wing. “I follow everything he does, learn as much as I can,” he said. “He teaches me as much as he can so I just pay attention to everything he does and try to copy everything he does to the best of my ability. I want to make myself as good as he is, or try to get even better.”

2 » Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow may be getting all of the attention from Florida fans, but three other former Gators – defensive end Jarvis Moss, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas are also trying to do big things with the Denver Broncos. “It’s down to the wire,” Thomas told The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley. “I put it in the mindset that I’m back in college. This is the fourth year of college. It’s time to start producing. You can’t be a rookie forever. I see guys get cut and never sign on with anyone else. I don’t want people to be wondering what ever happened to [me].”

Reflecting on his college career, Thomas wishes he could have done things differently. “I look back at Florida and I really, really blew it. I’m definitely more mature now. I thought I had thrown my career away at the time,” he said. “[I] missed out on the national championship game. I was happy they won but I should have been out there. It hurt. It really hurt. On the flip side, when I was watching the game, I was wishing I was playing for Ohio State. There was some resentment. But when I look back, I was being prepared for the real world. In college, you’re still being babied. You come out here and there are no second or third chances. […] The [Gators] had some regulations and restrictions I pretty much violated. I was doing well on the field and I felt like they pretty much needed me. I thought I was bigger than the team. Urban [Meyer] proved I wasn’t.”

3 » Glades Central High School head coach Jessie Hester has told the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser that four-star WR recruit Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) currently has Florida in the lead for his services. At 6’5” and over 200 lbs., Benjamin is one of the best players in the country and will likely stay in the state no matter what school he chooses. “I think he’s leaning toward Florida right now, believe it or not. He’s up there a lot,” Hester, a former Florida State WR, said. “Miami’s just down the road and I know he hasn’t been there much — if any. The only time he went to Florida State was when we had the 7-on-7 [event]. So I think it’s Florida.”

4 » Just two days after being “outed” by Star Magazine as the woman with whom country music star Kenny Chesney is having an affair, former Gators softball player and ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has been announced as Icehouse’s new national spokesperson and brand ambassador. “Icehouse doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Brown said in a company press release. “It’s like a loyal friend who’s always having fun and knows that time spent with buddies should never be less than great… and never watered down. And what’s better than watching football with an ice-cold Icehouse?” Watching it with almost any other beer on the market.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas

Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

Coxson second freshman to transfer in four days

Following in the footsteps of freshman safety Jordan Haden, who was granted a full release with no transfer exceptions by head coach Urban Meyer on on Aug. 16, wide receiver Adrian Coxson has also decided to leave the Florida Gators.

Citing home sickness as his chief reason, Coxson’s transfer has been agreed to by the University of Florida; he will be released from his scholarship effective immediately.

Early Thursday, freshman safety Matt Elam wrote the following innocuous message on his Twitter account: “I hate to see young men my age run away from something because it’s hard. Just destroying our class.”

A highly-rated four-star recruit from Maryland (like Haden) Coxson’s name had not been heard much in fall practice. The Gators signed four other WRs in their 2010 recruiting class including Chris Dunkley, Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton and Robert Clark and already have two-to-four committed for 2011 (depending on position choice).

UPDATE: Coxson will be transferring to Maryland, according to numerous media outlets.

OGGOA RELATED: Freshman S Jordan Haden looking to transfer

 Page 480 of 643  « First  ... « 478  479  480  481  482 » ...  Last »