Venice pipeline flowing: DT Phillips commits

Just hours after three-star defensive end Clay Burton officially announced his commitment to the Florida Gators, 2012 defensive tackle recruit Omari Phillips (Venice, FL) followed suit. According to Rivals, Phillips has made his intention to play for the University of Florida known after heavy consideration and some influence from two very close friends.

“I made it official today and committed. I am a Gator,” Phillips told Rivals‘ Chris Nee. “They were my leader for a while, but the main reason I did it today is because when I moved to Venice me, Clay and Trey [Burton], I lived with them for a while during the summer time and me and Clay always talked about how if we got the same offer, that we wanted to go to the same school. He committed today and I committed today too. [...] They are like brothers to me. I can’t wait to keep playing alongside them.”

Recruited by both assistant head coach defense/defensive line Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio, the high school junior sports a 6’6″, 270 lb. frame and can play on both sides of the ball (though he prefers defense).

Phillips, a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List, has received offers from well over a dozen other schools including Alabama, Miami, Florida State and Tennessee.

OGGOA RELATED: UF doubles up, Clay Burton commits to Gators

UF doubles up, Clay Burton commits to Gators

Florida Gators quarterback Trey Burton has had a great freshman season so far in Gainesville, FL. It appears as if Burton’s success and happiness at the University of Florida has been noticed by at least one very important recruit – his brother.

Three-star defensive end/linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL) decommitted from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Monday in order to pledge his services to Florida, according to Scout.com.

“I’m a Gator,” Clay Burton told Scout‘s Jason Higdon. “It’s just an opportunity that I can’t pass up. I wasn’t ready a year ago, or even six months ago, but like my brother said, I’m ready now and I earned it. [...] Trey said we did it, and everything was right for me. This has to be the most selfless decision I’ll ever make.”

He originally committed to Notre Dame on June 18 and visited South Bend, IN, in late September with his mother and uncle – both of whom had approved of his choice. However, a phone call with Gators head coach Urban Meyer over the weekend quickly changed his mind.

“Meyer told me I earned [the opportunity],” Clay said. “He expects intensity and passion and that’s what I’m all about. I’ve grown as a leader and it speaks volume to the person that I am. That’s why I’m in the situation I’m in right now. I have belief in God and I trust in him and I prayed about the decision. I feel this decision is so right, and my brother is proof that if you put in the hard work you will be rewarded at Florida.”

Mother Burton is just as happy as her son.

“They offered and that was it. You want to have all of your options available to you before you make a decision, but we weren’t sure Florida was going to offer,” Cindy Burton MacFarlane told the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays. “Clay had to earn it and the only way he could do that was become a leader without Trey. At the University of Florida, those guys are hard to impress. That’s a top-notch football program and they only want the best of the best and Clay really had to earn it.”

Florida has very much become a family environment over the years with numerous siblings and relatives having donned the Orange & Blue. In addition to the duo of offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey playing to the Gators, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley‘s father and uncle both played in Gainesville and two of cornerback Joe Haden‘s brothers believed that UF was for them (safety Jordan Haden transferred to Maryland after enrolling this summer and running back Josh Haden joins the team via transfer from Boston College in Jan.).

OGGOA RELATED: Venice pipeline flowing: DT Phillips commits

10/25: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

FOUR AREAS OF CONCERN BEING ADDRESSED

Like last week, Meyer made mention of four particular areas in which Florida is struggling and needs drastic improvement in order to turn around their season. Specifically, he said the Gators must hold onto the ball (high turnover rate), return to making big plays (only four from the running game this season), complete more passes and be more efficient in the red zone. These are all glaring issues he has seen while watching tape.

“In the last three games we’ve had five interceptions and three fumbles. The way I have always evaluated turnovers is I put it with carelessness and toughness.” Meyer said. “Fundamentals fall underneath carelessness. We’ve had more turnovers this year than we had all of ’08 already.” He continues, “Our running backs have accounted for four [big plays] for the year. Just to give in relative terms, we had five in one game last year against FSU. So that tells you a lack of production. None in the last five games from the running back position.”

HEALED INJURIES PROVIDE HOPE

Though Meyer said that redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose is questionable for the Georgia game with an ankle injury, he is relatively confident that juniors running back Jeff Demps (foot) and kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) will be able to play. Demps, Meyer said, “ran on the treadmill, he’s going to practice 20-25 snaps today.” Sturgis missed three weeks with a severely injured back he had been struggling with early in the season. Senior punter Chas Henry has been filling in for him; he made two field goals against Alabama but has missed every other attempt since. “Good news on Sturgis,” Meyer said. “We’re going to try him this week, see what happens.”

RAINEY READY TO RETURN?

Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey, who had been suspended from the team for a month, was reinstated last week by Meyer on a provisional basis. During the Southeastern Conference teleconference last Wednesday, Meyer said Rainey would be eligible for the Georgia game but would not play unless he met specific requirements laid out by the coaching staff and administration. He reiterated that fact Monday, noting that a decision on Rainey’s availability will be made on Thursday. He has been practicing with the team for two weeks and was on the sidelines in normal clothes for the Mississippi State game.

MEYER INVOLVED IN PLAYCALLING

Brushing off whether or not playcalling is an issue for the Gators, Meyer said he evaluates every play that is called each week. “We don’t have a bad play. I don’t allow that. That’s kind of my job,” he said. “There’s no such thing as saying, ‘Boy, that’s a bad play.’ It might look awful because someone doesn’t block the right guy or someone doesn’t execute. So I go back to efficiency. I evaluate every play called. I do that every week. Is there times where I would have liked to run this as opposed to this? Yeah. Is it a bad play? There’s not a bad play that goes into a game. It’s poorly executed because we didn’t efficiently practice it.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/25: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 7 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 7 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the seventh week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Three receptions for 51 yards, touchdown (targets: 6, long: 37)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Three rushes for 41 yards (long: 17), rushing touchdown, team-high five receptions for 65 yards (targets: 8, long: 37), three kickoff returns for 81 yards (long: 48)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Interception return for touchdown, tackle

Videos of Cooper and McDonald’s plays available by clicking here.

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Two solo tackles
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Six tackles (one solo)
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Two receptions for 25 yards (targets: 4, long: 16)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Reception for 10 yards
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Three tackles (one solo)
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Six tackles (five solo)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Team-high four receptions for 54 yards (targets: 9, long: 22)
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Team-high 10 tackles (seven solo)
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Tackle
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Three solo tackles
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Three solo tackles
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Team-high five receptions for 54 yards (targets: 8, long: 24)
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Solo tackle
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Tackle
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two quarterback hits
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Two rec. for 29 yards (targets: 4, long: 20)
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Fumble recovery
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Solo tackle

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
LT Max Starks (Steelers); G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) – DE Jarvis Moss (Broncos), QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), FB Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

BYE WEEK
DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions)

INACTIVES
S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), CB Lito Sheppard (Vikings), RB Fred Taylor (Patriots)

NOTES
– Murphy re-injured his clavicle and left the game.
– Cooper recorded his first NFL touchdown. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, telling Cooper that he should celebrate, did a Gator Chomp on his behalf on the sideline.
– McDonald recorded his first NFL interception.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

FOUR BITS: Impressive weekend for UF women

1 » No. 12 Florida Gators soccer (14-2-2, 8-1-1 SEC) moved one step closer to earning the Southeastern Conference regular season title with a 3-1 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (5-10-3, 2-6-2 SEC) Sunday afternoon at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida, which is tied atop the SEC with No. 18 South Carolina, will play in a de facto championship game against them on the road to end the season on Fri., Oct. 29. Sunday’s victory came on the heels of three goals from the Gators. Sophomore midfielder Holly King got things started at 14:31 with a header, but Arkansas’ Ally Atkins tied it up at 53:35 with an eight-yard strike. Florida would have none of that, scoring on a goal from junior MF Sarah Chapman (her first of the season) at 62:58 and a 10-yard bullet from redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney at 67:33 to put it away.

2 » Continuing their stellar play with another shutout victory on Sunday at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, No. 1/1 Gators volleyball (18-1, 11-0 SEC) rolled the Kentucky Wildcats (11-11, 5-7 SEC) to win their 13th-straight match 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-13). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy led Florida by posting yet another double-double thanks to a match-high 12 kills and 16 assists. UF’s next match – against South Carolina on Wed., Oct. 27 – will begin at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPNU.

3 » Due to stellar play throughout the event, the only players remaining in the ITA Women’s Tennis Southeast Regional represent Florida. The Gators will have to go head-to-head in both the singles and doubles finals for the event in order to earn a qualifying spot in the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Freshmen Alex Cercone and Olivia Janowicz will go head-to-head in the singles final while the pair of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Sofie Oyen will face off against junior Joanna Mather and sophomore Carolina Hitimana in the doubles championship. Both matches will begin at 3 p.m. on Monday and be played at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA.

4 » Freshman forward Cody Larson, who committed to Florida on April 20 during a slew of new signings by head coach Billy Donovan, is contrite and regretful yet ready to move on after a tough end to his high school career. According to court documents, Larson was found with Hydocodone (pain killer) in his home during an investigation into extensive prescription drug use at his school and was charged with a misdemeanor for being in a room where it was known that drugs were stored and utilized. Accepting a plea deal, he received two years of probation and was ordered to volunteer three days a week until he left his hometown of Sioux Falls, SD, for Gainesville.

The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway caught up with him recently and discussed his community service work. “It was a real humbling experience,” Larson said of working at homeless shelters and group homes. “I’ve moved past it though. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from it and I’m kind of just moving on. […] [I learned] not to take anything for granted. Appreciate the opportunities I have, especially at Florida. […] I’ve learned some lessons and I’ve made some changes in my life.”

Former Gators McDonald, Cooper shine Sunday

Though OGGOA will still be posting our Florida Gators in the NFL week seven recap on Monday, we wanted to take a moment to showcase the performances of two players in particular who made big plays for their respective teams on Sunday.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald with a pick-six:

» Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper brought in a great 43-yard reception. He also scored his first career NFL touchdown and was taught how with a Gator Chomp to celebrate by teammate running back LeSean McCoy:

Special thanks to OGGOA Twitter follower John C. for the final video.

Success: It’s how far will you bounce back?

As the Florida Gators coaching staff is spread out across the state recruiting and the players relax during this bye week, one thing in particular holds true: There is plenty of season left for this team. Florida controls its destiny in the Southeastern Conference and can still earn a berth to the championship game by defeating the rest of its conference opponents (notably South Carolina). A measure of success is still within reach for the Gators. With that in mind, OGGOA felt we should share with you this video.

Success has a single tense and a simple quantity: Now. It disregards the last title and cares little for the old trophy. The great moments pass. The grand leaders graduate. But the expectations never leave and the exams never cease. Success has another definition: It’s how far will you bounce back? The answer begins with the most urgent hour: Now. — By Tom Rinaldi, ESPN

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TWO BITS: soccer rolls, Newton for Heisman?

1 » No. 12 Florida Gators soccer (13-2-2, 7-1-1 SEC) continued its winning ways on Thursday by defeating the LSU Tigers (6-7-4, 3-3-3 SEC) 2-0 on the road in Baton Rouge, LA. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference with South Carolina, Florida earned the win with goals from freshman forward Taylor Travis (4’) and sophomore F/midfielder Natalia Torosian (71’). Redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine also made four saves. The Gators will play their final regular season match at home in Gainesville, FL, at the James G. Pressly Stadium this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Arkansas. The 2010 SEC Tournament runs from Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, AL.

2 » Florida has a track record for producing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks. However, this year, it looks like a former Gators QB may have the opportunity to win that award for a rival school. As if you didn’t know already, Cameron Newton (now of the Auburn Tigers) has been tabbed as a frontrunner for the award, but if it was his choice he’d be competing for it while still wearing the Orange & Blue. “If it was up to me, I would still want to be at Florida,” Newton told ESPN early this week. “My heart is still at Florida because of the long-lasting relationships I have with my teammates there. Leaving them was the hardest part.”

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