With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2010 season on Wednesday, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece.
Below are the uniform numbers for early enrollees from the Florida Gators‘ No. 1-ranked 2010 recruiting class (as well as those for some walk-ons):
» S Matt Elam – 22
» CB Joshua Shaw – 29
» CB Jaylen Watkins – 14
» OL Ian Silberman – 77
» WR Solomon Patton – 83
» TE Gerald Christian – 32
» DT Leon Orr – 68
» S Jordan Haden – 39
» QB Trey Burton – 13
» WR/KR Robert Clark – 81
» NT Neiron Ball – 48
» Brandon Sanders – 37
*Carver High School – Ocala, FL
» Gery Marseile – 53
*Booker T. Washington High School – Miami, FL
» Thaddeus Blue – 20
*Miami Carol City High School – Miami, FL
» Phillip Bellino – 86
*Santa Fe Community College, Pope John Paul II High School, Boca Raton, FL
Lost among the hysteria of the Florida Gators‘ Pro Day and an appearance by the basketball team as a No. 10-seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars was the beginning of spring practice for the football team – something that (perhaps most importantly) also saw the official return of head coach Urban Meyer from his leave of absence.
Meyer, who told reporters that he actually returned in an official capacity a few weeks ago after taking some personal time to get healthy and rested, spoke confidently about his health. “I’m not going to get into all that, but I feel fine. I feel good,” he said after the three-hour practice. He also declined denied to speak about a number of tests he underwent in February.
1 » Competing in the first night of the finals of the 2010 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship meet, the Florida Gators women’s team has already taken home a national title. UF’s 200-yard free relay team – seniors Gemma Spofforth and Stephanie Napies and sophomores Shara Stafford and Sarah Bateman – won the title behind a school-record 1:27.79 time. The Gators are in fourth place with 107 points after the first day of competition, even with their 101st national title being captured.
2 » Though they failed to reach the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Florida women’s basketball team (15-16) got off to a quick start in the WNIT with a 61-54 win over the South Florida Bulls (15-16) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Senior guard Steffi Sorensen scored a team-high 16 points as sophomore center Azania Stewart contributed 11 of her 15 points in the second half. The Gators move on to face the Miami Hurricanes (19-13) on Sunday at the BankUnited Center.
3 » Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy of the Florida volleyball team has been announced as one of 24 players selected to the roster of the 2010 U.S. Women’s National A2 team. The 2008 AVCA National Freshman of the Year, Murphy ranked third in the SEC in hitting percentage (.344) and seventh in assists per set (7.04) in 2009. She is the 35th Gators volleyball player to receive this honor since 2001.
4 » One of OGGOA’s favorite all-time Florida football players is Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of our all-time favorite Gators’ mom’s is his very own – Pauline. Aside from helping raise Channing and supporting him throught his life, Pauline has started a Football 101 for Women & Friends class that has become quite popular in South Florida. You can read more about it here.
Having now competed in the 2010 Senior Bowl, 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and his school’s Pro Day, the only things left on former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s plate before the 2010 NFL Draft are workouts and interviews with individual teams.
As of March 8, only the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks had arranged individual workouts with Tebow. However, the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins can now be added to that list, according to SportingNews.
The Browns, which had their president, general manager and head coach in Gainesville for Florida’s Pro Day, are expected to draft Gators cornerback Joe Haden with their No. 7 overall selection on April 22. The team is also in need of a quarterback of the future with 35-year-old Jake Delhomme as their only legitimate starting option and possesses an early second-round pick.
One of the first teams to work out Florida players after their Pro Day every year, the Patriots – especially head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft – hold Gators head coach Urban Meyer and his players in high regard. In fact, the team also took a close look at tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes on Thursday. (Spikes has reportedly also met with the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin.) Tebow would fit well in New England as a back-up who could sit comfortably behind Tom Brady for a few years.
The Redskins, which recently signed former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman to a free agent contract, are still looking for a starter with incumbent Jason Cambell seemingly always on the hot seat. Head coach Mike Shanahan is a former Gators offensive coordinator, and his son Kyle holds that same position under his father.
Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, the No. 10-seed Florida Gators had two chances to put away the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars. Alas, the Gators failed on both occasions, leading the game to enter a second overtime and the Cougars to an eventual 99-92 victory in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, OK.
BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette led his team with 37 points on 50 percent shooting, while Michael Loyd, Jr. came off the bench for the Cougars with a career-high 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting in a surprising turn of events. Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton posted a career-high 26 points of his own, hitting 8-of-17 shots from the field and 5-of-10 from downtown. Unfortunately for the Gators, Boynton fouled out with 3:57 remaining in the second overtime, removing the team’s most dynamic player from the court in the waning minutes.
Tournament Team Previews from ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi:
» Florida basketball is making their 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, their first since winning the second of back-to-back National Championships in 2007.
» The Gators have reached four Final Fours, three of which have come under head coach Billy Donovan this century (2000, 2006, 2007).
» Florida and BYU have met twice, with the Gators falling to the Cougars both times. The teams have never met in the postseason and have not squared off since 1991.
» The only two current Florida players with NCAA Tournament and Final Four experience are senior forward Dan Werner and redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin. Werner was a bench player for the Gators’ 2007 National Championship team, while Macklin played for Georgetown during the same Final Four.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Junior forward Chandler Parsons…who has scored in double figures in nine of his last 11 games and has four double-doubles on the season. He has also helped run the point and dish the ball while surpassing over 1,000 career points on March 11.
» Double-digit scoring by Vernon Macklin…the Gators are 14-4 when the redshirt junior center finishes in double figures and 7-8 when he does not.
» The dynamic duo of freshman guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore point guard Erving Walker…who combined for 42 points in the Gators’ last outing and are first and second, respectively, on the team in scoring. Boynton is eight treys shy (67) of breaking the school’s freshman three-point shooting record.
» Junior F Alex Tyus…who returned to his dominating ways with a season-high 24 points in the SEC Tournament against Auburn before struggling in the quarterfinals against Mississippi State. Tyus also reached the 1,000-point plateau this season.
» BYU guard Jimmer Fredette…who is easily the team’s most explosive player, averaging 21.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. He shoots almost 45 percent from downtown and hits 90 percent of his shots from the charity stripe. Fredette is the country’s 12th-leading scorer.
» The Cougars’ trio of other double-digit scorers – Jackson Emery, Tyler Haws and Jonathan Tavernari…who combine to score 34.2 of the team’s 83.0 points per game.
» Florida has won 12-straight NCAA Tournament games (last loss in 2005). They can tie Duke (which won 13-straight between 1991-93) with a win Thursday against BYU.
» The Gators are 22-7 in the NCAA Tournament under Donovan and 29-12 all-time.
» Florida is 5-6 all-time against the Mountain West Conference and 0-2 versus BYU, losing in 1959 and 1991.
» The Gators have not played in Oklahoma City, OK, since 1995, but the team is 2-0 all-time in the city.
» With 21 regular season victories, Florida reached 20+ wins for the 12th consecutive season. The Gators are only one of six schools in the nation to accomplish this feat every year since the 1998-99 season.
» Though they fell to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, Florida is 13-5 when out-rebounding the opposition this season.
» The Gators have made a three-pointer in a school-record 611 consecutive games beginning Jan. 11, 1992.
» BYU lost their sole game against a ranked opponent this season, falling 83-81 to then-No. 12 New Mexico on Feb. 27. Florida is 2-5 against ranked opponents, defeating then-No. 2 Michigan State on Nov. 27 and then-No. 17 Tennessee on Feb. 23.
» The Cougars have the most NCAA Tournament appearances in the event’s history (24) without reaching the Final Four.
» Falling in the first round each of the last three years, BYU has lost seven-straight NCAA Tournament games.
» However, the Cougars are playing better than they have in years, ranking second in the nation in scoring offense (83 points per game) and scoring margin (17.8 points), while leading the country in free throw shooting (78.6 percent) and placing third in three-point efficiency (41.9 percent).
1 » Miami Dolphins and former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne, who defeated former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in his final college game – the 2008 Capital One Bowl – claims the two-time National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner will not be successful in the NFL. “My judgment is that he’s not an NFL quarterback,” Henne said during an interview on WQAM in Miami, FL. “I’ll leave it at that.” As a Dolphins fan it pains me to say this, but some would argue whether or not Henne fits that distinction himself. You can listen to the interview here.
2 » Two roster moves affecting former Gators occurred Wednesday as QB Rex Grossman signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Bryan Augenstein was optioned by his team to Triple-A Reno. Grossman will team up with new Redskins head coach and former Florida offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan as well as his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who coached Grossman last season with the Houston Texans.
3 » Still rolling through the 2010 season is the No. 6/13 Gators softball team (20-3, 4-1 SEC), which defeated the Auburn Tigers (15-9, 2-3 SEC) 7-0 and 5-4 in a doubleheader Wednesday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Junior Stephanie Brombacher tossed both games, extending her record to 16-3 by picking up two victories. Junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder supported her with a combined 3-6 performance including two home runs and a game-winning double in the second game – a come-from-behind victory.
4 » Led by a six-goal and four-assist performance by freshman attacker Ashley Bruns, Florida lacrosse (4-3) took down the Marist Red Foxes (2-3) 22-3 Wednesday evening at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The Gators outshot their opponent 37-10, only allowing three shots the entire second half.
The Silver Lining is an exclusive column written by Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com affiliate InsideTheGators.com. OGGOA readers can receive a special discount on a subscription to InsideTheGators, which can be accessed by clicking the image!