Florida Gators football was profiled Wednesday on ESPN‘s College Football Live program in a discussion forum featuring analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Robert Smith, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and former Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer. The panel discusses Will Muschamp‘s transition from defensive coordinator to head coach, players finding the “hunger” to win, getting the team to play like a “blue collar” group, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis‘s impact and whether or not redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley can turn it around after a tough first season as the starter.
1 » Appearing at a charity event Tuesday with Denver Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller, second-year quarterback Tim Tebow made an impression on the No. 2 overall pick as well as the crowd in attendance. One notable thing Tebow said, which was picked up initially by the Denver Post, was a comment he made about players being role models. “I get sick when I hear athletes say,’ I’m not a role model,'” he said. “Yes you are. You’re just not a very good one.”
2 » Shutting out the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (29-20) in decisive fashion on Tuesday, No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (35-10) used two home runs and a career-high seven RBI from sophomore catcher Mike Zunino to propel them to an 11-0 victory. Zunino, who now has reached 10 dingers and 46 RBI on the season, turned in a 3-4 performance Tuesday. He has hit safely in nine-straight games and is 9-12 with three homers and 13 RBI in three games since Saturday. Rounding out the offensive performance for Florida on Tuesday was senior centerfielder Bryson Smith (2-5), who smacked a pair of RBI and scored three runs. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (3-1) was dynamite on the mound, striking out five in 4.1 innings for the win.
1 » Taking a second look at spring practices across the country, ESPN Insider’s KC Joyner has come to a conclusion that may surprise some Florida Gators fans: redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley played well. Here is what he saw by watching the film. To read the rest of The Football Scientist’s observations, click here (subscription req.).
It might seem a bit odd to be touting Brantley after a 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the Orange and Blue game, but consider this: In a three-game sample review of Brantley’s 2010 season, he threw a stretch vertical pass (defined as thrown 20 or more yards downfield) only 5 percent of the time. This is a very low number and indicates the Gators were not very effective at even threatening the long pass.
In the spring game, four of Brantley’s aerials fell under the “stretch vertical” designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 — not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis’ new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators’ running game as well.
2 » No. 2/3 Florida lacrosse (14-2, 5-0 ALC) is getting prepared for the 2011 ALC Tournament set to begin on Thursday, but in the meantime the conference announced its awards on Tuesday and honored seven different Gators. Florida sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen was named Player of the Year and head coach Amanda O’Leary earned Coach of the Year honors. Also singled out by the conference were All-ALC First Team members Cullen, sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns and sophomore defender Sam Farrell as well as Second Team members sophomore M Janine Hillier, sophomore D Haydon Judge and sophomore goalkeeper Mikey Meagher.
3 » Moving on with his professional career, Gators forward Chandler Parsons is currently working out in Los Angeles, CA and training for camps that he will compete in prior to the 2011 NBA Draft on June 23. The University of Florida’s website caught up with him to pick his brain on a number of topics including the realization that his college career has come to an end. “I can’t believe how fast everything went, it feels like I was just a freshman and now I’m graduated and trying to make a career out this,” he said. “It was a great experience; my time at UF was the best four years of my life. The relationships with my teammates and coaches, the entire staff, those memories will last a lifetime. […] A lot of people look at the NBA Draft night as an end point. For me it’s just a starting point. I know I have things to work on, but I’ve gotten good feedback from people, I’m going to work as hard as I can and do everything possible over these six weeks or so to put myself in the best position.”
4 » Another Gator has had a run-in with the law, but this one went head-on with an Alachua County deputy police officer.
1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, whose career hangs in limbo as he decides whether to try his hand at the NFL via the Supplemental Draft, another professional league or another college, is leaning toward the latter choice according to Len Pasquarelli of CBS Sports. Two sources told Pasquarelli that Jenkins will likely transfer to a non-Division I school in order to paint himself in a better light before the 2012 NFL Draft rolls around. “It’s about 50-50 right now that he tries to find a [college] to play and convince scouts that he’s really serious about an NFL career,” one of Pasquarelli’s sources told him.
2 » With offers from a number of other top-tier institutions, one of the best women’s basketball recruits in the state of Kentucky decided to commit to Florida on Monday. Sydney Moss, the daughter of NFL wide receiver Randy Moss, will sign with the Gators in November. She chose Florida over Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville, West Virginia, Dayton, Xavier and UCLA and averaged 22.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a junior in high school.
The 2011 NFL Draft came and went last weekend with four former Florida Gators selected during the three-day event.
Center Mike Pouncey was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the first round, tackle Marcus Gilbert was picked in the second round and is headed to join Pouncey’s brother with the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Ahmad Black had to wait until the fifth round to be selected by his childhood favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Redskins gave guard Maurice Hurt a chance in the seventh round.
The United Football League held its third draft on Monday with two former Florida players earning unique opportunities.
Cornerback Reynaldo Hill, a four-year NFL veteran (Tennessee Titans, 2005-08), was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the first round by the Omaha Nighthawks. Hill was a seventh round pick by Tennessee in 2005 but has been out of the league for years.
Defensive tackle Ian Scott, a seven-year veteran and fourth round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2003 NFL Draft, was chosen No. 30 overall in the sixth round by the Virginia Destroyers and head coach Marty Schottenheimer. After playing for Chicago (2003-06), Scott had a short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles (2007) before finishing his career with the San Diego Chargers (2008-09).
The duo join former Gators guard Tavares Washington in the UFL; Washington has played the last two seasons for the Las Vegas Locomotives.
It was another dominant weekend for the Florida Gators baseball and softball teams, which combined to win six games while outscoring their opponents by an impressive total of 41-7. Below are abbreviated recaps of each victory to keep you up-to-date with how Florida is performing week-in and week-out on the diamond.
Hosting the Ole Miss Rebels at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, No. 4/5 Gators baseball barely allowed their visitors to catch a breath on Friday, scoring in every inning except one on the way to a 9-3 victory fueled by 17 hits and a pair of 4-5 performances from senior second baseman Josh Adams (RBI, R) and redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (RBI, 2 R). Florida had plenty of offense with two RBI each coming from sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-4, BB), sophomore third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4, R) and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4, R). Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (8-1) picked up the victory by striking out six and only allowing three earned runs on six hits in 7.1 innings of work.
The Gators kept their foot on the pedal Saturday, scoring pairs of runs in four innings on the way to an 8-1 victory behind a superb performance from left-handed pitcher Johnson (7-1), who struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.2 innings. Zunino (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and junior third baseman Jeff Moyer (2-4, HR 2 RBI, R) each hit a home run in the contest with Johnson (2-3, R) and Maddox (1-4, RBI, R) also contributing at the plate.
Wrapping up the series Sunday was freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (6-0), who remained undefeated by tossing four strikeouts in six scoreless innings. Florida (34-10,17-4 SEC) jumped up 2-0 early and led 7-0 before Ole Miss (24-20,9-12 SEC) even got on the board in the seventh. Zunino (4-4, 4 RBI, 2 R) continued his scorching weekend, and junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, 2 RBI) drove in runs in the first and fifth innings to give the Gators a 7-2 victory.
A home game against Bethune-Cookman is upcoming for Florida on Tuesday before they hit the road for a three-game series at Arkansas Thursday-Saturday.
No. 5/7 Gators softball hit the road to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks for their three-game weekend series. Florida shut out South Carolina 5-0 on Friday behind five strong innings from senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher (16-1). She was supported by freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB), senior 1B Megan Bush (1-3, 2 RBI) and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-4, 2 R) as well as freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who threw the final two innings of the game to close things out.
Brombacher got the nod again on Saturday for UF but only threw four innings before Rogers was given the reigns the rest of the way and picked up the win. The Gators torched the Gamecocks 6-1, scoring six-straight runs in the final three innings of the game after being faced with a 1-0 deficit since the first inning. Sophomore RF Brittany Schutte (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB) was the offensive star and was supported by solid efforts from Bush (1-3, 2 RBI, BB) and Coyle (1-2, RBI, BB).
Rogers (27-5) was left to her own devices Sunday and came through in a big way, tossing a complete game and only giving up a single earned run. Schutte (2-3, HR 2 RBI, R, BB) and Coyle (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) continued their phenomenal weekends at the plate as Florida (43-8, 18-7 SEC) led South Carolina (25-27, 6-19 SEC) from start-to-finish and proved they were the team to beat over the weekend.
UF faces a four-game homestand to end the regular season this week, taking on Florida State on Wednesday before going up against Tennessee in the weekend series.
1 » Just days after being selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey went on the Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM in Miami, FL to discuss being drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Discussing draft day itself, Pouncey said he was worried when the Dolphins didn’t call him right away as the clock ticked away. “When they was on the clock, I was getting nervous. I leaned over and told my brother, ‘Man, I don’t think they’re going to call me,’” he said. “And they finally called me with like two minutes left on the clock. It was one of the best moments of my life, and I’m so happy to be a Miami Dolphin.”
Waiting to hear from Miami left tackle Jake Long so he can begin practicing with his teammates, Pouncey also talked to Rose about his bad snaps with Florida in 2010. “It was my first year playing center. As the season went on, I got better and better,” he said. “At the end of the year, it wasn’t even a problem. When I went out there the first game, I just let it get in front of me. I took shotgun snapping for granted basically.”
2 » Former Gators safety Ahmad Black may not been picked as early as he wanted (or should have been), but things worked out in the end as his favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, decided to give him a chance to succeed in the NFL. Speaking with his hometown paper, the Lakeland Ledger, over the weekend, Black was excited. “This is a blessing,” he said. “A lot of people have asked me where I wanted to go, and Tampa was always my first pick. That’s my favorite team. I didn’t really want to say I just want Tampa because there was always a chance I would go somewhere else.”
Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris won’t label Black position-wise, though he thinks he can assist in a number of ways. “He is a safety that has the ability to play corner [and is a] hybrid athlete that can do multiple things because of [his] instincts and awareness,” he said.
There was plenty of back-and-forth about the future of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in the media after former Denver Broncos QB John Elway took over the reigns of his former team as executive vice president after the 2010 season concluded. Elway and new head coach John Fox each gave mixed signals about Tebow’s future as well, saying that veteran signal caller Kyle Orton would be the starter if the season began at the time they were asked. Multiple NFL reporters even stated that Elway’s insistence on working out every rookie quarterback was due to his lack of belief in the future success of Tebow.
Elway gave a thumbs up regarding Tebow’s long-term potential late last week, telling ESPN‘s Ed Werder that he is the former Heisman Trophy-winner’s biggest fan and that the Broncos believe in him.
“He’s one of those guys who – if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be – then we’re in pretty darn good shape,” he said. “I think where we are as an organization, we’re going to go with Tim.”
Werder spoke with Tebow over the weekend, and the player expressed how it feels to have the entire Denver organization behind him.
“I believe in them, and they believe in me,” Tebow said Saturday while the 2011 NFL Draft was going on. “To have John Elway say positive things about you is just amazing. He’s played the game at the highest level possible, and I’m excited because he’s going to be a great asset for me.”
Elway has stressed to Tebow that, in order to be successful and win in the NFL, he will have to do so from the pocket, noting that his athleticism would be an added bonus.
“Any quarterback at this level has to be able to do that,” Tebow said. “That’s nothing new to me. It’s what I’m working to do so I can compete and we can win.”
Tebow has spent much of the offseason in Florida but has since returned to Colorado and plans to spend the remainder of his time (until the lockout is settled) taking snaps from under center, hanging in the pocket and practicing with his teammates.
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