On Monday, FOX Sports reported that two top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft – Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston and Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard – tested positive for marijuana use at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
According to Pro Football Weekly, which confirmed the FOX report on Tuesday, Florida Gators offensive lineman Maurice Hurt also tested positive at the event.
Hurt, who may have been selected in the third day of the draft if he was at all, has likely had his stock drop even further with NFL teams because of this development.
Combining a lack of top-tier production and numerous injuries in college with a failed drug test before the biggest set of job interviews in his career, Hurt will certainly be a question mark going into the draft over the weekend.
1 » Florida Gators center/guard Mike Pouncey already knew his answer when the higher-ups called to officially invite him to the 2011 NFL Draft. Now just days away, Pouncey is preparing to be a first-round selection and had to choose who would be joining him in the green room. According to the Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Owens, Pouncey will be accompanied by his agent, parents, brother (Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey), former teammate (New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez) and former position coach (Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio).
2 » Plenty of NFL scouts speak to reporters under the condition of anonymity before the draft, and one did just that when discussing the mindset of Florida safety Will Hill with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently. “The guy is ignorant and crazy,” the scout said when discussing Hill’s questionable off-the-field character. “I wouldn’t touch him.” Though he is still compared favorably to fellow Gators S Ahmad Black due strictly to his prototypical size and speed, the immense character concerns surrounding Hill could very well see him go undrafted or picked much later than Black in the draft.
Florida Atlantic Owls assistant coach Matt McCall will be the third and final member of Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan’s coaching staff, two sources close to the team confirmed to OGGOA over the weekend. As exclusively reported by OGGOA on April 3, McCall was contacted about the job in late March and has been considered Donovan’s top choice for the role for quite some time.
“Matt is someone that worked for our program for seven years, he knows the University of Florida and he knows me,” Donovan said in a school release on Monday. “I felt, in losing three assistant coaches, that it was really important to have a level of familiarity on my staff. He is a hard worker, he was a part of us winning two national championships here and he helped FAU win its league title this year. He has great ties in the state of Florida, will be a great fit to our staff and I’m thrilled to have Matt come back to the University of Florida.”
UF’s director of basketball operations from 2004-08, McCall spent seven years under Donovan also serving as a team manager, head manager and graduate assistant. Donovan, who said last month that he wanted a young assistant to fill the spot vacated when Larry Shyatt departed for the head coaching job with the Wyoming Cowboys, has always held McCall in high regard.
Back in 2008, Donovan called him “a tireless worker and a first-class person” who “knows the state of Florida,” brings “the energy and passion necessary to be successful” and is someone he views “as one of the bright young minds” in coaching.
McCall has worked at FAU since 2008 and is one of head coach Mike Jarvis’s top assistants. He is responsible for bringing in the Owls’ best player, Gainesville native Greg Gantt, who averaged a team-high 14 points per game as a sophomore.
The Ocala native and former all-area player will be returning home to North-Central Florida to fill Donovan’s third spot on the bench behind former head coaches John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts, both of whom were hired two weeks ago.
Each competing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Gainesville, FL over the weekend, the Florida Gators baseball and softball teams combined to defeat their opponent five of six times – all in exciting fashion. No. 5/5 Florida baseball outscored Alabama 18-3 over a three-day span, while No. 8/9 Gators softball won back-to-back games against the Crimson Tide after being shutout in the series opener.
Coming off a tough road loss to Central Florida where head coach Kevin O’Sullivan emptied the bullpen, Florida upended Alabama 7-0 in the first game of the weekend series on Friday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (7-1) continued to pitch with confidence, scattering four hits in 6.1 innings for the victory. After manufacturing a single run in the third inning, the Gators rallied to score a total of six in three consecutive innings. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5, HR, 3 RBI, R) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hit a pair of homers, while sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-5, RBI) couldn’t be kept off the bases. Florida amassed 14 hits in the game and saw seven different players cross the plate.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (6-1) got the call for the Gators on Saturday and, after allowing a single run in the first and solo shot in the top of the second, held the Crimson Tide scoreless for his final three innings to pick up the win. Junior RHP Greg Larson, sophomore LHP Steven Rodriguez and freshman RHP Keenan Kish combined to strike out six over the final four innings of the contest to solidify anther victory for Florida. The offense did their part to make Johnson feel comfortable early, rallying for pairs of runs in their first two frames to negate Alabama’s production. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) and junior pinch hitter Ben McMahan (1-1, HR, RBI, R) each hit homers and Adams (1-3, 2 RBI) continued his hot streak at the plate.
The Gators (31-10, 14-4 SEC) completed the weekend sweep by squeaking out a 2-1 victory over the Crimson Tide (25-18, 8-10 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson(5-0) looked fantastic, striking out seven and only giving up three hits over 6.2 innings. Whitson held Alabama without a single run until his finally batter capitalized with two men on base to smack an RBI. He was promptly pulled for Rodriguez who, along with juniors RHP Anthony DeSclafani and LHP Nick Maronde (S2), closed out the victory for Florida. Fontana (3-4, 2 RBI) knocked in both runs, hitting a double to score junior right fielder Daniel Pigott (1-3, R) in the third and a single to help junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-2, R) cross the plate in the fifth.
With the three victories, the Gators have now defeated the Crimson Tide in eight of their last 10 meetings and can look ahead to a home series against Ole Miss next weekend.
Still fighting her way back from an arm injury, senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher (15-1) drew the start Friday but coughed up two runs (one earned) after tossing three shutout innings for her first loss of the season. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who had been handling the pitching duties in Brombacher’s stead, was roughed up in her four innings as well, striking out six but allowing three earned runs on three hits and three walks. Alabama starter Kelsi Dunne (21-2) looked strong in the effort, limiting Florida to only three hits in seven innings while striking out six.
Not allowing themselves to get down after such a tough loss, the Gators responded in a big way in the next two games, ending both with exciting finishes. Senior LF Kelsey Bruder, who has been nearly unstoppable at the plate recently, hit a walk-off three-run home run on Saturday followed by a walk-off infield single on Sunday (in extra innings) to send her team to two victories.
Brombacher got the call again Saturday, pitching 6.1 innings and striking out four but also allowing four earned runs. The Gators were faced with a 2-0 deficit early but rallied with back-to-back homers by senior 1B Megan Bush (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R) and senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, HR, RBI, R) in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Brombacher allowed a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game and gave up a two-run bomb in the seventh to put the Crimson Tide ahead 5-3 before Rogers came in to get the final two outs. Florida benefited with a lead-off walk in the bottom of the inning, and junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (1-2, R, 2 BB) followed with a single through the right side to put the game-winning run at the plate. With one out, Bruder (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hammered the first pitch she saw to pick up the win (see video below).
Bruder’s weekend heroics were not done, however, as she came through in the clutch once again on Sunday. Rogers and Dunne each pitched fantastic games on the day, holding shutouts through regulation. A fielding error in the top of the eighth allowed two Alabama batters to score, but Florida rallied to tack on two runs (including a RBI by Bruder) in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going. After Rogers (25-5) retired the side one-two-three in the top of the ninth to complete the longest outing of her career, Bruder (2-5, 2 RBI) found herself back at the plate with the winning run in scoring position. On a 1-0 count, she smacked a single to second base to score freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (1-4, R) from third and give the Gators (40-8, 15-7 SEC) an impressive extra innings victory over the Crimson Tide (42-7, 16-6 SEC).
Florida will get a week of rest before jumping on the road to face South Carolina in a three-game weekend series. The Gators will then play four-straight home games to end the regular season the following week.
Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins’s two arrests for marijuana possession made headlines this spring, but two other Florida Gators defenders were also picked up on a similar charge, according to a report by the Palm Beach Post.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Martin and redshirt sophomore defensive end Kendric Johnson were each cited with misdemeanors when officers from the Gainesville Police Department found them in their respective vehicles with approximately two grams of marijuana on separate occasions.
According to the Post, Martin was arrested on Jan. 29 when officers “detected the scent of the drug coming from [his] vehicle.” He complied with their request and turned over the cannabis in his possession. Johnson was picked up earlier in the month on Jan. 9 for speeding and the situation unfolded in a similar manner.
Both Martin and Johnson were offered and accepted deferred prosecution by the state and will likely have an opportunity to clear themselves of charges by paying fines and completing community service.
This information comes just one day after Jenkins was arrested for marijuana possession for the second time in under 90 days. Neither head coach Will Muschamp nor a University of Florida spokesperson has commented on any of the three arrests.
Easter Sunday was a day of celebration for the Florida Gators tennis program as both the men’s and women’s teams won a 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship after fighting their way through their respective tournaments.
The No. 17 and five-seed men’s team (18-8) defeated the No. 11 and three-seed Kentucky Wildcats (26-8) 4-0 in the tournament final at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The victory is Florida’s fourth men’s tournament victory (1994, 2000, 2005) in seven opportunities.
Senior Alexandre Lacroix, junior Nassim Slilam, sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr., sophomore Bob van Overbeek, sophomore Billy Federhofer and freshman Andrew Butz all saw victories on Sunday. The duos of Slilam/Federhofer and van Overbeek/Butz both won their matches; van Overbeek, No. 44 Bangoura and No. 93 Slilam also captured singles victories. No. 8 Lacroix came out of the tournament with Most Valuable Player honors and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Slilam.
The No. 2 and one-seed women’s team (25-1) won its 17th SEC Tournament title in the 24-years it has existed, defeating the No. 14 and two-seed Tennessee Volunteers (17-4) 4-0 at Barksdale Stadium in Knoxville, TN.
Sophomore Allie Will, junior Joanna Mather, freshmen Alex Cercone and freshman Olivia Janowicz collected victories to fuel the Gators’ shutout. The duos of No. 9 Will/Cercone and Mather/Janowicz won their matches; No. 6 Will, No. 50 Janowicz and No. 51 Cercone were also victorious in singles competition.
Will was named the MVP and, along with Janowicz, picked for the All-Tournament Team.
The victories Sunday mark the 11th and 12th conference titles won by the University of Florida in 2010-11. It is the third time in school history that both programs won the SEC Tournament in the same season (2000, 2005).
For the third time in 23 months, Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been arrested. It is his second arrest for possession of marijuana in just under 90 days.
According to a release from the Gainesville Police Department obtained by the Florida Times-Union, Jenkins was caught smoking a marijuana “cigar” in his car in a parking lot at 12:35 a.m. Saturday. He was issued a notice to appear in court on May 12 for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
Jenkins was similarly cited on Jan. 23 when an officer spotted him rolling a joint in a nightclub bathroom. After appearing in court on Mar. 18, he was ordered to pay $316 in court fees and had adjudication withheld.
He was previously arrested in May 2009 on misdemeanor charges of affray and resisting arrest without violence. Jenkins said at the time that he was acting in self-defense and was only trying to protect himself during a group altercation in which someone he did not know attempted to steal his necklace.
The State Attorney’s Office dropped the affray charge because there were not enough facts for it to have been applicable. They instead offered him a deferred prosecution agreement, which he agreed to sign. The terms of the agreement included Jenkins staying out of trouble for six months, paying $50 in court fees and either donating $150 to a charity or performing 15 hours of community service. His record has since been cleared of the charge because he fulfilled the demands of the agreement.
Jenkins recently decided to return to Florida for his senior season rather than declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. He would have likely been a first-round selection.
The University of Florida has not yet commented on Jenkins’s arrest.
In an interview with 790 The Zone in Atlanta, GA, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow discussed a variety of topics including how he manages his many responsibilities, his thoughts about his statue outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and how he is finding a silver lining in the current NFL lockout situation.
Tebow also dove into more detail on his decision to attend Florida instead of Alabama, where then-head coach Mike Shula had almost solidified his commitment. In addition to all of the other factors, Tebow explained how former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer ended up getting him to change his mind.
“It was very close. I mean, down to the very last second I had no idea where I was going to go and it was between two great schools. My whole high school career, I thought I was going to Alabama because Urban wasn’t at Florida at that time, and they had Coach Shula — I loved him, I respected him as family, I loved the passion Alabama fans had for the game. That was something, you watch me play, I love it, I’m passionate about it, and seeing those fans, I loved it, I was in to it. And they had great players and I had become friends with a lot of their players, so most of my high school career I honestly thought I was going to Alabama.
“Then this guy named Urban Meyer got the job at Florida, and he worked harder than any coach at single handedly trying to recruit for a year and a half. And at the end I bought into it, I believed him. You could see something about this guy in his eyes – that fire, that passion – that he’s something special, that he’s going to do something special. And I believed I could lead his team to do something extremely special. And I believed that. At the end of the day, that’s why I went to Florida. It wasn’t because it was close to home, it wasn’t because of the spread offense, it was because I believed in the man Urban Meyer.”
You can read the entire interview here, courtesy of the good folks at SportsRadioInterviews.com or listen to it by playing the file below.
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