ATH Travon Van headed to Marshall instead

Former Florida Gators four-star athlete commitment Travon Van (New Berlin, NY) has enrolled in summer classes at Marshall University with hopes of improving his grades in order to qualify academically to play next season for the Marshall Thundering Herd, according to numerous sources.

Van, who moved from California to New York to attend Milford Academy in order to improve his grades so he could enroll early at Florida, was denied admission in January due to an academic qualification issue. He kept his commitment to the Gators – spurning suitors like West Virginia – and hoped to enroll during the summer session.

OGGOA has confirmed that Van has been released from his National Letter of Intent primarily due to his inability to qualify academically but also because of depth concerns.

He has since signed with the Thundering Herd to play under head coach Doc Holliday, the former associate head coach and safeties coach at Florida from 2005-07.

Van’s summer grades at Marshall will determine whether or not he will be eligible for the 2010-11 season; if they do not improve, he may be forced to sit out a year.

Photo Credit: MaxPreps.com

FOUR BITS: Super Regional, LaPorta, MLB Draft

1 » No. 4 Florida Gators baseball will begin action in 2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at 7 p.m. on Friday at McKethan Stadium against either No. 11 Miami (FL) or No. 20 Texas A&M. The two teams look to finish their weather-suspended game Tuesday at 1 p.m. for the right to travel to Gainesville, FL, later in the week.

2 » As OGGOA reported via Twitter on Monday, former Gators first baseman Matt LaPorta has been optioned by the Cleveland Indians to Triple-A Columbus. LaPorta, who started the season up with the team after being called up late last year, was only hitting .218 with one home run and seven RBI in 35 games.

3 » Day one of the 2010 MLB Draft came and went without a single Florida player being selected. Two seniors in particular – outfielder Matt den Dekker and closer Kevin Chapman – are looking to be selected somewhat early in the process. For more on Gators in the draft, check out OGGOA‘s post from Monday.

4 » Two former Florida baseball commitments – outfielder LeVon Washington and pitcher Karsten Whitson – are also up for selection in the draft and were profiled by The Gainesville Sun on Tuesday. Learn about their respective journeys to the big show.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

TWO BITS: Beal to Minnesota, Florida loses Hale

1 » Following up on OGGOA’s exclusive report from May 12 stating that former Florida Gators linebacker Brendan Beal would be transferring to another school, it has now been confirmed the former four-star high school recruit will be playing for the Minnesota Gophers in 2011-12 after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations. Beal, who received a medical hardship redshirt from the NCAA, will actually have three years of eligibility left when he finally suits up for Minnesota. Asked by GopherHole.com to comment on his reason for transferring out of Florida, Beal declined. “Sorry, I would not like to comment on that,” he said.

2 » Though the Gators were only one of his 17 scholarship offers, Florida (along with Penn State) was in the final three for four-star defensive tackle Joel Hale (Greenwood, IN). Unfortunately for head coach Urban Meyer, Hale publicly committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes Monday evening, becoming the school’s second commit in under a week. At 6’4” and 290 lbs., Hale’s commitment is No. 14 for the Buckeyes, one that will help them immediately get more athletic on the front line.

Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

Arguing whether or not Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL has seemingly become a national pastime with fans, league executives, former players, current players and analysts all having an opinion on his future without even seeing the former Florida Gators star step into a professional huddle.

Supporters and doubters alike realize that Tebow has some work to do in order to be a polished NFL quarterback. Nevertheless, what some term as “flaws,” others believe are characteristics that make Tebow unique and will allow him to succeed at the next level – perhaps even beyond his most ardent fans’ expectations.

ESPN spoke with a few former NFL signal callers known for their mobility – most prominently Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh – and asked them to evaluate Tebow’s ability to succeed in the pros.

Tarkenton: “I know that Tim Tebow is not the prototypical quarterback. I wasn’t either. Neither was Roger Staubach, even Bob Griese wasn’t. I had my own style of play and did OK. The only thing that will hurt him is coaches. Most coaches don’t understand quarterbacks. Don’t try to coach him into what he’s going to be. That would be a disaster. […] Peyton Manning can’t do what Tim Tebow does, and vice versa. […] The quarterback position is about playmaking, it’s about leadership. It’s a complex position you can’t test for.”

Read what else was said about Tebow and his future…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

TWO BITS: Gators in MLB Draft, Tebow vs. Rivers

1 » As they await their opponent for the 2010 NCAA Super Regional likely to be hosted at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, members of the No. 4 Florida Gators baseball team are on notice as the three-day 2010 MLB Draft begins Monday night at 7 p.m. Seniors outfielder Matt den Dekker and closer Kevin Chapman will likely be selected somewhat early in the process, especially considering it can go up to 50 rounds. Also poised to be picked at some point are seniors pitcher Jeff Barfield and outfielder Jonathan Pigott, junior second baseman Josh Adams, and redshirt sophomore pitchers Tommy Toledo and Justin Poovey. There are four other seniors on the Gators’ roster whose names could potentially be called. Unlike football and basketball, being eligible for or selected in the draft as an underclassman does not ruin eligibility; said player is not forced to hire an agent, sign a contract or leave school.

2 » Denver Post columnist Mike Klis took a different perspective on Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels’ decision to draft former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, saying he may be just what the team needs to finally equal or surpass the San Diego Chargers and their signal caller, Phillip Rivers. Here is an excerpt from Klis’ piece:

In Tebow, McDaniels believes he has a quarterback who can eventually match Rivers. Maybe not pass per pass, but play per play.

It’s too much to expect Tebow to keep up with Rivers this season. But maybe by 2011, Tebow can stare down Rivers and mix in 190 yards passing with a touchdown and 55 yards rushing with another touchdown. There’s the offset to the typical Rivers game against the Broncos.

Before he can beat Rivers, though, Tebow has to win over his locker room.

“When you earn respect from people, then they begin to like you, and then they believe in you, and then they begin to love you, and then you have a team that is united and cares about each other more than anything else,” Tebow said in a backroom session with The Denver Post. “And then you go out there and you play for each other, you play for your coaches and you win championships.”

Six home runs help Gators dominate Owls 15-0

In their most dominant performance of the season, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (45-15) throttled the Florida Atlantic Owls (37-24) 15-0 to win the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium and advance to Super Regional competition.

Fueled by sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson – who posted a three home run, six RBI performance in which he went 4-for-5 – the Gators smacked six homers over the outfield wall (a school postseason record) while simultaneously shutting out the Owls behind seven strong innings by freshman starter Brian Johnson (6-4).

Johnson also went 3-for-5 from the plate with a homer. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (4-6, four RBI) and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) provided the other two dingers of the evening. In all, Florida tallied 19 hits and five walks, stranding 10 on base.

Relievers redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo and junior Kevin Chapman tossed the final two innings of the contest to complete the shutout.

Johnson was honored with the Gainesville Regional’s Most Outstanding Player award after the game for his .625 (5-8) performance at the plate for the series and dominant outing from the mound on Sunday. UF as a whole placed seven players in eight spots on the All-Tournament Team, including Johnson, Thompson, Tucker, Zunino, senior outfielder Matt den Dekker and freshman pitcher Hudson Randall.

The win advances the Gators to Super Regional action for the second-straight year and fourth in the last seven. Gainesville, FL, will once again host the event, which will consist of a three-game series against the winner of the Coral Gables Regional (to be decided Monday night between Miami and Texas A&M).

Florida is 20-1 in night games at home this season and won its 13th consecutive game on Sunday. The Gators outscored their three opponents 32-5 over the weekend.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

Baseball tops OSU, softball eliminated from WCWS

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (44-15) took it to the Oregon State Beavers (32-23) early, scoring seven runs in the third innings to propel them to a 10-2 victory in the winner’s bracket semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.

Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (10-2) tossed a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings and was relieved by sophomore Greg Larson, junior Matt Campbell and senior Chas Spottswood – all of whom shutout the Oregon State. Panteliodis’ 10th win makes him the first Florida pitcher since Alan Horne (2005) to achieve 10 victories in a season.

Offensively, the Gators were propelled by home runs from senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-4), junior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3). Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox’s 3-5 day included two RBI and a run scored, and freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-3) also had a nice performance from the batter’s box.

With the win, Florida advances to the final game of the Gainesville Regional, set to be played on Sunday at 7 p.m. against the victor of Oregon State vs. Florida Atlantic (36-23) match-up earlier in the afternoon. The winner will have to defeat the Gators twice in order to knock them out of the 2010 NCAA College World Series.

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-9) was handed a different fate Saturday evening, falling 3-2 in a close back-and-forth game to the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (50-12) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. With the loss, the Gators were eliminated from the tournament and officially end their 2010 season.

Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (35-8), just hours after tossing a complete game shutout against No. 9 Missouri, started her second game of the day, once again going the distance. Tallying three earned runs (two in the first inning), Brombacher did her best to keep Georgia at bay but was unable to register a single strikeout.

Down much of the game, Florida rattled off runs in the fourth and fifth inning to tie it up 2-2. Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3) launched her third home run of the day and 19th of the season in the fourth, putting her alone at second-place in UF’s single-season record books. Pinch runner Lauren Heil scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, the Gators’ only other run of the game.

“We didn’t play our best; we played our hardest. I thought we went out and fought pretty heavily to the end,” head coach Tim Walton said after being eliminated. “It’s just one of those things, like we talked about two days ago, how hard it is to come back from the losers’ bracket. Anytime you’re eliminated it really hurts.”

Florida’s season ends with them sitting the school’s and Southeastern Conference’s single-season records in home runs (109) as well as six other program records in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.627), on-base percentage (.432), runs (432), RBI (402) and total bases (936).

It was also the final game in the college careers of seniors outfielder Francesca Enea and third baseman Corrie Brooks, who each appeared in the WCWS three times, played in four Super Regionals and won more games than any players in team history.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Homers, pitching help Gators dominate Tigers

Three home runs and a standout pitching performance earned No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-8) a 5-0 elimination game shutout victory over the No. 9 Missouri Tigers (51-13) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3, three RBI) knocked two dingers over the outfield wall in the fourth and sixth innings, and junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3) joined her with her own solo shot in the fifth.

Schutte’s two homers moved her into a tie for second on UF’s single-season list.

Florida’s five runs provided support for a stellar performance from junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (35-7), who overcame her propensity for picking her back foot up off the ground (which caused four illegal pitches on Thursday) to toss a complete game shutout with six strikeouts.

With the win, the Gators eliminated the Tigers from the WCWS and now move on to a second elimination game Saturday evening against No. 6 Georgia. The game will air live on ESPN and online at ESPN3.com.

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