Gator Charity Challenge an immense success

Raising money for charity while allowing fans the opportunity to see the team compete over a month before the 2011 season is set to begin, the Florida Gators held the fourth-annual Gator Charity Challenge at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday night.

With six teams going head-to-head in three events – sled push, tug-of-war and torpedo hold – only one could be victorious. That group was the Go Gettas, led by team captains sophomore running back Trey Burton, redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

The Go Gettas won the sled push, tied for second in the tug-of-war and came in second in the torpedo hold to win the event, which supported the Salvation Army of Alachua County.

Fans donated more than 650 pounds of canned food and tons of personal hygiene products that will be passed out to those in need.

The strength & conditioning event undoubtedly took a toll on the team, but everyone in attendance got a lift when a walk-on fullback won the individual push-up competition.

Junior Jesse Schmitt, who is listed at 5’7” and 175 lbs. on the official roster, walked on to the team last year and outlasted both redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey and redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown in the finals of the push-up event.

“I did my training [for the Marines] last summer, so we did a lot of push-ups there,’’ Schmitt told University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter. “That certainly helps. I’ve got a lower body weight than most of those guys by at least 100 pounds, so that comes in handy. These guys are incredible. They are just athletic freaks. It’s great to work out with them. It makes it hard to keep up.”

Speical thanks to the Orlando Sentinel for the video above.

Hernandez, Ochocinco joke about No. 85 swap

New England Patriots fans were undoubtedly excited when they learned wide receiver Chad Ochocinco had been traded to their team for nothing but a pair of late-round picks. The first thought in the mind of Florida Gators fans? “How much is he going to pay tight end Aaron Hernandez for No. 85?”

Though he wore No. 81 throughout college, Hernandez was forced to don No. 85 during his rookie season because his number was already taken by another veteran. With No. 81 becoming available once again due and No. 85 in need by another player, Hernandez had a tough decision to make.

As it turns out, he did not ask Ochocinco for a dime and instead extended his hand (and the jersey number) as a welcome gift for the six-time Pro Bowl receiver.

“We’re playing at a high level, so all of us have a decent amount of money. I definitely should have [asked for some], but I didn’t,” Hernandez said with a laugh, according to “It was just a welcome to the team. […] I thought he may look better and play better in 85, because that’s his last name. So why not give it to him?”

Ochocinco joked that all he had to offer Hernandez anyway was the use of his Toyota Prius on the weekends and some McDonald’s coupons. “It was Mr. Hernandez’s way of greeting me here,” he said. “I just shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you.’”

Though some may be disappointed that Hernandez did not cash in when given the opportunity, Florida fans will be happy to see him wearing his new old number while tearing up the field in New England.

“I had a chance to get my college number back, and he obviously wanted 85,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t a problem. So I thought he deserved it and should get it.”

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

Weis, Bradford talk football in Gainesville

If you followed @onlygators on Twitter this summer, you likely saw a tweet or two from OGOGA about St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford spending some time in Gainesville, FL along with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper.

While he was visiting, OGGOA speculated that Bradford very well could have been in town to pick the brain of new Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis considering he was unable to meet with Josh McDaniels, St. Louis’ new offensive coordinator, due to the NFL lockout still being in progress.

Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples actually spoke to Bradford about his trip to Gainesville and, as it turns out, that was the exact reason he stopped by the town of the team that defeated the Oklahoma Sooners for the 2009 BCS Championship.

“They spent time in New England together,” Bradford told Staples, “so their offensive philosophies are fairly similar. Obviously, they don’t run the exact same offense. But I just thought if I could come down and just talk some ball with Coach Weis and get a feel for what his philosophy is, then it could possibly help me try to transition to Josh’s offense.”

Weis, who through a Florida spokesman declined to comment for this story, also showed Bradford a video that helped drive home some of the concepts in the playbook. “I have the playbook. I can look at the paper all I want,” Bradford said. “But it’s a lot different when you actually have someone who can kind of talk you through it — someone who has experienced it, knows what the reads are and can kind of tell you what to expect.”

Photo Credit: Bill Haber/Associated Press

FOUR BITS: assistants, Frazier, Lochte, Coyle

1 » Not only will members of the Florida Gators basketball team have to get used to a new trio of assistants this season, those assistants also need to build chemistry and get to know each other. The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway, in Lake Buena Vista, FL for an AAU tournament, got a chance to catch up with them and see how things are going. “I feel very fortunate to be part of that staff,” assistant John Pelphrey said. “Those guys are tremendous, both Matt [McCall] and Norm [Roberts]. I just want to play my role to make us be the best we can be and help Billy [Donovan] be the best he can be.” The youngest of the bunch agreed. “It’s been terrific,” McCall added. “[They are] two guys that are hard not to get along with. Just great people, and terrific coaches too.” Roberts explained how the trio has been trying to build a bond. “We’ve done a lot of things with our families,” he said. “We’ve all gotten to know each other in that way, and then being on the road together, talking constantly about recruiting and those things.”

2 » Four-star 2012 shooting guard commit Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) is as confident as ever in his decision to play for the Gators next year. Also speaking with Brockway, Frazier reiterated that he made the right decision making his pledge two years before he graduated. “My dad told me that I don’t need to waste other people’s time if I know where I want to go,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that because they could be recruiting other guys to help their program. So I just went ahead and committed early because I wanted to be a Gator.” The No. 82 player in the country according to Rivals, he has recently become close with fellow 2012 commit point guard Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC), the No. 57-ranked player. “I think we could be a great combo, him at the one, me at the two,” Frazier said. “He can really shoot it. It probably will take some pressure off of me, and we’ll be able to open each other up.”

3 » Just one day after setting a world record and winning his second gold at the World Swimming Championships in China, former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte went on to win two more in the 200-meter backstroke and as the anchor for the United States’ 4×200-meter freestyle relay team. He has now won four medals during the event to go along with his world record time, which marks his third on the international stage.

4 » Just days after her Gators teammates won the 2011 World Cup of Softball as members of Team USA, sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle was named to the 2011 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team. “Representing the USA has always been a dream of mine from a very young age,” Coyle said in an official release. “I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to represent my country on and off the field. I look forward to being able to compete with and against some of the best young softball players from all over the world.”

Lochte sets world record, tops Phelps again

Soon after defeating 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps by 0:00.35 to win the 200-meter freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in China, former Florida Gators standout Ryan Lochte continued his efforts to become the face of USA Swimming with a world record performance on Thursday.

Previously the owner of four world records, Lochte added a fifth by topping Phelps for the second-straight race and finishing the 200-meter individual medley with a world-best time of 1:54.00 in Shanghai, China.

Lochte shaved 0:00.10 off his previous best and set the first world record since high-tech bodysuits were banned at the beginning of last year.

“I wanted to do something that everyone thought was impossible,” he said after the race. “Since they banned those suits, everyone thought a world record would never get touched again. I just wanted to show everyone that can happen. That’s why we have records — they’re meant to get broken. Hopefully everyone now can start realizing that, ‘Hey it’s possible,’ so hopefully a lot more records will fall.”

Last December, Lochte set two world records and won seven medals at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The two world records were the only ones set during the entire year.

With two more races to go and a pair of gold medals to potentially be won, Lochte is not nearly done at the championships. He hopes to continue improving his technique as he looks ahead to the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: USA Swimming

Ex-Gators the center of NFL moves this week

Updated on July 29 at 2 p.m.

One day after defensive end Jarvis Moss re-signed with the Oakland Raiders for one year and $1.25 million, a trio of former Florida Gators football players found out there would be changers to their respective NFL careers.

The flurry of happenings started early when Denver Broncos wide receiver Jabar Gaffney learned he had been traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for DE Jeremy Jarmon. Gaffney likely would have seen a reduction in field time and may even have been cut from the Denver roster had the team not found a suitor for his services.

Going into his 10th NFL season, he posted career-highs in receptions (65) and yards (875) in 2010 during his second year with the Broncos. Gaffney previously spent four seasons with Houston and three with New England.

San Francisco 49ers DE Ray McDonald, who impressed in a reserve role during the 2010 season, re-upped with the team that selected him with the No. 97 overall pick in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft to the tune of five years and $20 million. McDonald recorded 19 tackles and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown) one year ago and will move into a starting role with the ball club.

He received $7 million guaranteed in the deal after saying earlier this summer that he was tired of coming off the bench. “I know I’m an every-down player, a starter,” he said, “and that’s what I’m looking to do this year. I’m not looking to back up anybody.”

The news was not as pleasant for Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Max Starks, who was informed by the team late Wednesday that his services will no longer be needed just two years after signing a four-year, $26.3 million contract that included $10 million in guaranteed money.

Likely a cap casualty due to his release saving the team $5.14 million in salary, Starks could rejoin the team at a reduced rate, though he may be able to sign a larger contract elsewhere. The 2004 third-round pick is a two-time Super Bowl champion who traveled to the big dance three times and started in 68 of 95 career games.

Positive news came early Thursday morning for Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, who announced via his Twitter account that he agreed to terms to return to the team. Details of his new contract are currently unknown.

Former first-round pick defensive end Derrick Harvey and linebacker Channing Crowder concluded the week by finding themselves out of work after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins, respectively. After three disappointing seasons, Harvey only racked up eight sacks in 47 games (32 starts) for Jacksonville. Crowder, who was selected in the third-round of the 2005 NFL Draft, amassed 469 tackles but only 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in six seasons with Miami.

Photo Credit: Unknown

TWO BITS: Moss re-signs, Thompson ready

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss, who spent the conclusion of the 2010 season with the Oakland Raiders after being released by the Denver Broncos in Nov., agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million deal with his new club on Tuesday to remain in Oakland for the 2011 season. Moss, who has only registered 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble in his four-year NFL career, will be used as an end with the Raiders after being moved back-and-forth between end and linebacker in various defensive schemes with the Broncos. The former No. 17 overall pick hopes to start from scratch and pick things up in Oakland.

2 » Recounting when he and the team learned that head coach Will Muschamp tabbed Charlie Weis as the team’s offensive coordinator, redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that it came as a shock to everyone. “We were at the Outback Bowl,” he said, “and one of the receivers came in and said, ‘We’ve got Charlie!’ We were like, ‘We ain’t got no Charlie Weis.’ Then it came across the TV, and we were like, ‘Oh, man, Coach Champ is making moves already.’ Everybody was on board, and it gave us a sense of energy.” Thompson, who stated multiple times during the 2011 SEC Media Days that Weis’s goal is to keep it the offense “simple” and “fast” so everyone can pick it up quickly, believes 2011 will finally be his breakout season. “I think it’s going to happen this year,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of getting the confidence going and just getting the quarterback’s confidence going and the whole offense, and everything should fall into place.”

RB Demps will return to Gators for 2011 season

The University of Florida officially announced Tuesday that Florida Gators senior running back Jeff Demps remains committed to football and will join his team during the first week in August to begin preparations for the 2011 season.

Though fans have wondered whether or not Demps would eventually give up football to concentrate solely on a career as a track & field sprinter, he made it clear Tuesday after meeting with head coach Will Muschamp that he only has one focus going forward when the fall semester begins.

“When I came to Florida I wanted to compete at a very high level in both sports and I’ve done that,” Demps said in a release from the school. “Football has been my first love but I also love running track. All of my coaches have been supportive and I’ve always been able to concentrate on whatever sport I’m competing in during that season.

“I concentrated on track this past spring and summer and I’m now ready to concentrate on football. I’m looking forward to getting back together with my football teammates and having a great senior season.”

Muschamp also commented on Demps’s decision and conveyed his excitement for having Florida’s leading rusher in 2010 returning to the sidelines as expected.

“As I stated last week in Birmingham, Jeff Demps will be joining our football program when our squad reports for camp on Aug. 5 and when we start practice on Aug. 6,” Muschamp added. “I met with him today and Jeff is looking forward to focusing on football for his upcoming senior season.”

Rumors about Demps possibly forgoing his final year of eligibility to go professional in track were fueled two weeks ago with various reports stating he had yet to make up his mind and was even considering a lucrative offer from Nike. However, his high school football coach told OGGOA on July 16 that no such move would take place.

“I spoke with Jeff [Friday] night and he has every intention to be a member of the football team this fall,” South Lake High School coach Walter Banks said. “Jeff also said the thought of leaving the University of Florida has not crossed his mind.”

Demps, who was one of eight Southeastern Conference rushers named to the 2011 Doak Walker Award watch list on July 15, is set to begin the season as Florida’s starting running back. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is excited about his potential.

“6.53 [seconds in the] 60-meters?,” Weis joked on March 16. “I might be able to figure out something to do with him.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

 Page 482 of 770  « First  ... « 480  481  482  483  484 » ...  Last »