Florida softball cleans up annual SEC awards

The Southeastern Conference released its annual awards for the sport of softball on Wednesday, and the Florida Gators came away with two individual awards and 10 total placements on the various All-SEC teams.

Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder became the third Florida player to be named SEC Player of the Year (first since 2006). She leads the SEC in home runs (11), RBI (36), hits (40), runs (32), doubles (10), total bases (83) and slugging percentage (.883).

Joining her with an individual award is head coach Tim Walton, who was named a SEC Co-Coach of the Year along with LSU’s Yvette Girouard.

First Team All-SEC
LF Kelsey Bruder (senior)
1B Megan Bush (senior)
DP Brittany Schutte (sophomore)

Second Team All-SEC
CF Michelle Moultire (freshman)
2B Aja Paculba (senior)
P Hannah Rogers (freshman)

Freshman All-SEC Team
SS Cheyenne Coyle (freshman)
P Hannah Rogers (freshman)

SEC All-Defensive Team
CF Michelle Moultrie (freshman)
P Hannah Rogers (freshman)

South Florida pushing for Dunkley and Blakely

Shortly after he decided to transfer from the Florida Gators, wide receiver Chris Dunkley singled out the South Florida Bulls as his destination of choice and appears to have made his decision final.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, South Florida is waiting to receive Dunkley’s formal transcript from Florida in order to begin the process of getting him enrolled.

Speaking with Dunkley’s high school coach Blaze Thompson, the Times’ Greg Auman reports that Cincinnati, Marshall and West Virginia also inquired about the player’s availability. “Honestly, I believe it’s going to happen with USF,” Thompson said, noting that Dunkley finished his final semester with a grade point average between 2.5-2.6.

Just weeks after Dunkley decided to transfer, the Gators also found out that freshman running back Mike Blakely has decided to move on and play for another team. The Bulls have already been in contact with hopes of bringing him on board as well.

Blakely, whose release notes that he cannot transfer directly to Florida State, Miami or another Southeastern Conference team, has become a top target for USF, which Auman reports “has already received a release to speak with Blakely.”

Photo Credit: Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

OGGOA Caption Contest: Fathead for 10,000

On Wednesday, our @OnlyGators Twitter account surpassed the milestone of earning the readership of 10,000 followers. As promised, OGGOA has acquired a prize worth 10,000 pennies ($100) to award to the winner of another one of our caption contests.

If you like FREE SWAG and think you have a good sense of humor – this is the contest for you! E-MAIL your funniest caption to the picture along with your Twitter username to us at contest@onlygators.com for the chance to win a FREE Florida Gators Fathead of your choice! There will be ONE WINNER, but you are encouraged to submit multiple captions in order to increase your chances of winning.

NOTE: You must be following @OnlyGators on Twitter in order to win.

OGGOA has given away multiple Florida Gators DVDs, a Florida Field rug, Game Day purse, Into the Swamp book, pieces of Gators art, T Bow Towels, Gillette Pro Fusion razors, a Turlington Scarf and other goodies throughout our 19 months of existence. There are a number of other giveaways coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

Best of luck to everyone!

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5/10: Donovan introduces his new assistants

Having now filled his depleted coaching staff following the departure of all three of his assistants, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to introduce new coaches John Pelphrey, Norm Roberts and Matt McCall. Below are some choice notes and quotes from the press conference and media availabilities.

BILLY DONOVAN

» Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson remain indefinitely suspended from the team after being (at the time) arrested for third-degree burglary. “[I want] to wait to see what actually happens. There’s a lot of things they’ve got to go through. Them getting through this and finding out exactly what they’re being charged with and what’s going to happen. Once it happens, then me stepping in to react here, I’ll do. I’m disappointed with what’s happened. Once it gets resolved and once I find out what the resolution is, I can react from there.”

» Team manager Josh Adel was not involved in the activities as initially cited by police. “There was a perception that Josh Adel was ‘the lookout.’ That wasn’t the case.”

» Florida will not be going to another country to play as initially planned during the summer. Donovan said freshman center Patric Young and signee guard Brad Beal have invitations to tryout for USA Basketball in June and July. Additionally, signee forward Walter Pitchford has to go through the NCAA Clearinghouse, the legal situation has to be resolved and the July recruiting period is important.

» On the dedication of McCall: “You want to have guys that bleed orange and blue. [John] is a Gator. Matt McCall more so than anybody else out there [is a Gator]. The University of Florida really means something to him. When you look at great programs across the country, it is the pride that somebody has inside their program that really matters. For Matt being a young guy, he lives and breathes the profession, recruiting and what goes into it.”

JOHN PELPHREY

» On returning to Florida: “It’s a blessing to have a chance [to come back here]. He’s been such a big part of my life. My focus right now is on my faith, on my family and on my Florida. If I can focus on those things, then I have a chance to be at my best and be a part of a coaching team that has a chance to bring out the best in Billy and hopefully our players.”

» On Donovan bringing out the best in others: “Everybody understands how great a coach he is, how good at recruiting he is, but when you get a chance to be around him over an extended period of time, you understand he’s just a great human being. He’s hardworking. He’s a normal guy. He has no idea he’s a hall of fame coach. He does not know that and that’s pretty cool. In life, success changes people. It doesn’t for Billy. One season ends, he starts over evaluating, looking and trying to figure out a way to be better the next day. When you get a chance to spend time with him, you see it’s real, you see it’s genuine because that’s the way he is every single day.”

» On the unique opportunity to return to Gainesville, FL: “I don’t see myself having taken this opportunity anywhere else. You’re talking about a guy that there’s only one place in America that, after two and a half weeks, he would have gone back to work. I’m pretty fortunate. [Knocks on the table] You don’t have a job and then two and a half weeks later you get the only one you would take? I think it’s a miracle. I think the good lord had his hand on it.”

» On if this is a temporary job for him: “I was here before the renovations to the O’Dome. I was here before the practice facility was built. I was here before the first run to the national championship game. I’m a little bit invested. Any leader wants the guys in the organization to be invested. For me, this is not just another place. This is a special place. […] I knew this was right.”

NORM ROBERTS

» On why he chose the Gators: “There were three things that were really important to me about the next job I would take. I had opportunities to take some Division I jobs, but they were jobs I would say would not lead to much afterwards. I wanted to coach at a high level, recruit at a high level and, for my family, try to go somewhere where we would enjoy living. […] I wanted to work for a guy I really respected. Especially when you’re a head coach and you’re coming back in, that’s what you really want to do. I’ve respected what Coach Donovan has done for quite some time.”

» On why Donovan is such a good coach: “He is a tireless recruiter. He’s done a great job in recruiting and the different players that he’s recruited all over the country. The other thing Coach Donovan does that is paramount is he does a great job recruiting players. That player may have a specific skill set that he’s really good at. And then what he does is, he allows that player to play to his strengths and then encompasses that into the team as well as developing his weaknesses. That’s very unique.”

» On the players he will be coaching: “A lot of the guys I knew already [from recruiting], so it made it a little bit more comfortable.”

» On going from head coach to assistant: “Both me and Pel understand the business; this is a new opportunity for us, an exciting opportunity for us. The one thing you try to do in this business is build great relationships and have people respect what you do. We left both those places [St. John’s, Arkansas] in a lot better shape than they were when we got there.”

MATT McCALL

» On his responsibilities right now: “From a recruiting standpoint, Coach Pelphrey and Coach Roberts have really honed in on the 2012 guys. For me, I’m trying to cast a huge net out there for 2013 and 2014.”

» McCall said he has a lot of in-state connections and will help the other assistants recruit for 2012 while also looking ahead toward the future as it is important to develop relationships as young as possible.

» On what returning to UF means to him: “To be able to say ‘Matt McCall, assistant coach at the University of Florida’ is exciting. I bleed orange and blue, like Coach Donovan told you. I grew up here coming to games, always wanted to be a ball boy when I was little. This is the profession I chose. For me, it’s more than just the University of Florida. It’s Coach Donovan, one of the best coaches in the game.”

Former Gators F Dan Werner offered plea deal

Arrested in the early morning on April 12 in Gainesville, FL for driving under the influence, former Florida Gators forward Dan Werner has been offered a plea deal by the State Attorney’s Office and is expected to accept it sooner than later.

According to First Coast News, Werner’s punishment would include one year of supervised probation, a six-month license suspension, $500 fine and 50 hours of community service. He must also take and pass a DUI education course and could have his charged reduced to reckless driving.

Werner, who played professional basketball last season for Virtus Bologna of Italian Serie A, was pulled over in a Silver Kia with a tail light out and its high beams on. He told the officer he was driving for his intoxicated girlfriend but failed field sobriety tests when administered. Werner also submitted to a breath test and blew below the legal limit (0.08) twice but was arrested anyway.

First Coast News obtained a video copy of the DUI arrest from the SAO in Gainesville:

The Gainesville Sun reported last month that Werner admitted to playing beer pong and “drinking at least two drinks containing whiskey” at some point during the evening.

Freshman RB Blakely transferring from Florida

Florida Gators freshman running back Mike Blakely has decided to transfer, becoming the third offensive player to do so under new head coach Will Muschamp.

“Mike has come to the conclusion that the University of Florida is not where he wants to play football,” Muschamp said in a school release. “We wish him the best of luck.”

Blakely, who graduated from high school early and enrolled in January, did not practice in the spring after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

“Everyone at Florida has been very supportive of me in my time here and I’m thankful for the experience that I had, but I’ve made a decision to continue my college football career somewhere else,’’ Blakely said in the same release.

His departure leaves the Gators with five scholarship running backs for next season including senior Jeff Demps, redshirt senior Chris Rainey, junior Mike Gillislee and sophomores Mack Brown and Trey Burton, according to the team roster.

UF initially beat out Auburn for Blakely’s commitment in October 2010.

“In my heart, I felt like I made the best decision,” he said after making his announcement.

Four Florida players have now left the program since Muschamp’s arrival.

Wide receivers redshirt freshman Chris Dunkley and freshman Javares McRoy both decided to transfer in April. Dunkley appears headed to South Florida, while McRoy will join his brother at Texas Tech.

Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from the team on April 26 after being arrested for possession of marijuana for the second time in 90 days. He is considering a transfer as well but a destination is currently unknown.

Photo Credit: Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Seven Gators placed in first Rivals250 for 2012

Released Tuesday afternoon, the first Rivals250 for the class of 2012 is filled with players verbally committed to play for the Florida Gators next season. Though only one Florida commit was in the company’s Rivals100 released on Monday, six more are considered to be in the top 250 recruits in the nation.

Below is a breakdown of where the Gators’ commits are ranked:

No. 49 – Jessamen Dunker, OT (Boynton Beach, FL)
At 6’6” and 315 lbs., Dunker is listed as the No. 12 overall offensive lineman in the class and the third-best in the state of Florida. He has already accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and is rated a 5.9/6.1*.

No. 122 – Mike Davis, RB (Stone Mountain, GA)
The second running back to commit for 2012, the 5’9” 192 lbs. Davis was given a 5.8/6.1 ranking by Rivals and is listed No. 12 at his position in the nation and No. 1 in the state of Georgia. He recently earned a Most Valuable Player award at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA.

No. 157 – Matt Jones, RB (Seffner, FL)
Florida’s first running back commit, the 6’2” 200 lbs. Jones was heavily recruited by the Gators and is listed as the 16th best rusher in the country. Rated 5.8/6.1, he is ranked as the No. 3 back in the state.

No. 197 – Colin Thompson, TE (Warminster, PA)
The top player at his position in Pennsylvania, Thompson is 6’5” 225 lbs., rated 5.8/6.1 and ranked as the No. 6 tight end in the nation. Florida’s most recent commitment, he has accepted an invitation to play in the Under Armour game. (No other tight end was ranked higher than No. 68 overall.)

No. 218 – Jeremi Powell, LB (Largo, FL)
A 5.8/6.1 rated player like his future teammates, Powell is ranked as the No. 24 overall linebacker in 2012 but No. 2 in the state of Florida. At 6’2″ and 200 lbs., he is the Gators’ only commitment at the position.

No. 225 – Dante Phillips, DT (Venice, FL)
The No. 17 defensive tackle prospect in the nation, Phillips is 6’6” and 268 lbs. and is becoming a force in the middle. He is also rated 5.8/6.1 and listed as the No. 2 player at his position in the state.

No. 240 – Latroy Pittman, WR (Citra, FL)
At 6’1” and 190 lbs., Pittman may not have the size of an elite prospect, but his 5.8/6.1 ranking puts him up there talent-wise. He is the 36th-ranked wide receiver in his class and No. 6 in the state of Florida.

Check out the entire Rivals250

*Rivals’s ranking system grades prospects from 6.1-4.9:

6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect

6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region’s top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player

4.9 Sleeper; no Rivals.com expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about

Gators Murphy, Larson, Adel get charges reduced

Three members of the Florida Gators basketball team were arrested on April 10 for burglary in St. Augustine, FL. Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson were caught allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Joshua Adel was arrested for principal to burglary because he allegedly served as a lookout. No items were reported missing from the vehicle in the attempted theft.

One month later, all three men have had their respective charges lessened by the state with two of them still facing legal action, according to The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway who spoke with a representative at the State Attorney’s Office.

Larson and Murphy now have second-degree misdemeanor charges for criminal trespassing (instead of third-degree felonies for burglary), while Adel’s charge was not just reduced, it was thrown out altogether.

“[Larson and Murphy] have paid restitution to the victims to get a headlight fixed,” spokesperson Shannon Peters told the Sun. “The charges reflect that they tried to go into another person’s car without permission. [Adel] was charged as being the lookout when the evidence showed that wasn’t the case. He was, in fact, discouraging them.”

Brockway also reports that a court date has not yet been set for Murphy and Larson to enter their respective pleas.

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