TWO BITS: Brissett the baller, Robinson’s journey

1 » A four-star quarterback coming out of high school who received a full ride to play on the gridiron for the Florida Gators, Jacoby Brissett has stated on more than one occasion that he also hopes to play basketball at the collegiate level. Why? Because of a promise he made his mother when he was younger. “My mom told me to keep my options open,” Brissett told The Washington Post. “I can’t go back on what she said. […] I came to Dwyer to play basketball and I made a promise to my [football] coach that whichever sport I got my first scholarship offer from, I would stick to.” The Post reports that Brissett was initially offered a football scholarship from Boston College as a freshman in high school. He also confirmed what Florida’s coaches have said, that playing basketball is a decision he is free to make for himself.

2 » Continuing his series of feature stories about the newest members of the Gators coaching staff, University of Flordia senior writer Scott Carter sat down with defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson for a one-on-one interview. Robinson told Carter that he would have committed to and played for Florida (if they had offered him a scholarship) and has a great appreciation for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and its intimidating atmosphere for opponents. “I’ve been on the wrong side of this stadium before. It’s a pretty hostile environment, a tough place to play,” Robinson says he tells prospective players. “It’s one of the best stadiums I’ve ever been in. It’s just nice to be on this side.” He also discussed how head coach Will Muschamp has helped him navigate his young coaching career including giving him an ultimatium early on. “It’s a tremendous honor to be a part of his first staff,” Robinson said. “It means a lot to me and my family to work with a guy who we share the same beliefs. He taught me everything I know pretty much about this coaching profession.”

Below is a portion of Carter’s interview with Robinson. To read the rest, just click here.

Q: Since he has been such a huge influence, what is the most prominent lesson you have taken from Coach Muschamp?
A: The biggest lesson I take from Coach Muschamp is to work at a level that your opponent is unable and unwilling to match. That’s what we talk about all the time. We want to outwork guys in recruiting, we want to outwork guys in preparation, we want to outwork guys in teaching technique. We work, work, work.

Q: You played defensive back and now you coach them. What makes an ideal defensive back?
A: The No. 1 criteria and pedigree for a successful defensive back is confidence. Often times, especially for a corner, you are going to be out on an island. There are 90,000 people in the stands – and assuming everyone has two eyeballs – that’s 180,000 eyeballs watching you, so when the ball goes up, all the attention is on you. You are on the grand stage. When you think of it like that, you’ve got to have guts. If you have the fundamentals and the mentality, you can be successful.

OGGOA standing strong; The Silver Lining debuts

As some of you may have heard – but most of you probably have not – I have accepted a columnist position with Rivals/Yahoo! affiliate InsideTheGators.com. Starting April 1, I will contribute three-to-five columns each week about a wide variety of topics and subjects as one of the website’s few full-time staff members.

Being hired as a columnist for a major publication is something that I desired since I first created ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive on Oct. 1, 2009. The editor there reached out to me a year ago, but a combination of issues prevented him from bringing me on earlier.

The BEST news for all for you, the OGGOA readers, is that absolutely nothing will change in regards to this website. OGGOA will continue to be independently owned and operated. As we have for the last 18 months, OGGOA will exist as its own entity and continue to publish the same quality and amount of material on a day-to-day basis.

Because ITG is a subscription-based website, only a small portion of the columns I write (like this one) there will be available to read for free. That being said, I have every intention of attempting to work out some discount or added benefit should you choose to spend your hard-earned money to read the rest of my work. Hold tight and stay tuned for that possibility as I explore it in the near future.

Above all else, I cannot express enough my gratitude for the support and dedication that you have shown to both myself and OGGOA since our inception. We surpassed three million pageviews in March 2011, now have more than 9,200 Twitter followers (@OnlyGators), have sent more than 27,000 tweets through that account and have seen more than 12,000 user comments on this site.

In addition to your endless passion for the Florida Gators, your enthusiasm for what we are doing here keeps us going day-in and day-out. Please continue “Liking” and sharing our posts (options below each article), commenting on those you find interesting and letting us know what features and coverage we can add in order to help you enjoy your OGGOA experience even more.

With a new season and era ahead for Florida football and plenty of interesting things going on all summer long, this is as exciting of a time as ever here at OGGOA. Stay tuned for more and always remember… ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive!

Adam Silverstein
Owner, editor

3/31: Brantley, Rainey discuss offense, leadership

With the Florida Gators 2011 spring practice now in full swing, the school made a number of the team’s players available to the media to conclude the third week of action on Thursday. There was a noticeable excitement in the air about the possibilities in Florida’s new offense under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, as evidenced by some of the notable news and quotes provided during the press sessions.

BRANTLEY FINDING HIS GROOVE

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, as expected, is much more comfortable under Weis’s pro-style offense. His confidence was noticeable during his press availability on Thursday, when he was eager to answer questions and discuss his comfort level with the brand new coordinator. “He’s a great guy. I respect Coach Weis a bunch,” Brantley said. “I really appreciate him and what he’s doing for us right now. He’s a great guy, great coach. I’ll listen to everything he says […] He knows how to develop quarterbacks.”

Brantley also spoke about the competition for the starting quarterback job and if it is weird for him to be starting from scratch with both redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and true freshman Jeff Driskel. “[By] helping each other out, you learn even more,” he said. “If someone needs help, teaching them also helps you out, helps them out. We’re working as team; we’re a team. We’re fighting for a position, but we’re all buddies.”

Now that he is getting the playbook down, Brantley is anxious to compete in more scrimmages like the one held last Saturday and the upcoming 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on April 9. “The scrimmage aspect, that’s more game-like reps. Everything moves a little bit faster and that definitely helps you out,” he said. “With learning this new offense, the only way you get better is with more reps.”

RAINEY SEEKING REDEMPTION

Going into the 2010 season looking to make an impact, now-redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey took a while to reach his goal. Switched to wide receiver due to the need for someone to fill the “Percy Position” in the spread offense, Rainey never seemed completely comfortable early on. Then all hell broke loose and he was indefinitely suspended from the team until the Georgia game, when he came back primarily as a rusher and hit the ground hard for 89 yards and a touchdown.

With former head coach Urban Meyer out the door, Rainey has been moved back to a rushing role and is beaming about the opportunity he has in front of him for 2011. “I love it. I’m comfortable in the system. All the other years, it’s just been quarterback runs and stuff like that,” he said Thursday. “[I like lining up in the backfield] way better. When you see high school [games of] me, it’s just like that. […] I’m glad I’m just a running back.” He also explained why the new role makes him more dangerous. “When I get the ball [now], I can just read the whole field,” he said. “That gives me a chance to read the field, do whatever I want. [It’s] more freedom.”

Rainey added that Brantley is “made for this offense” and is noticeably “more comfortable,” feeling good and “doing everything right” behind center. Overall, he thinks fans will be very pleased with what the offense has in store for next season. “[It will have] a lot of excitement, a lot of big plays [and] a lot more people involved. Just a lot of fun. Fans are going to be happy again,” he said.

He also spoke briefly about turning his life around after last season’s off -the-field incident. “I grew up a lot, did a lot of thinking. I just look past it to look at the future,” he said. “I’m more focused, doing everything right, looking forward to being a leader.”

QUOTES

Brantley on how the wide receivers have played: “They’ve all done a great job. The young guys are stepping up. Quinton Dunbar and Omarius [Hines] and Deonte [Thompson] – they’ve always been the great players they are. Quinton Dunbar and [Stephen] Alli – they’ve been doing a great job this spring.”

Brantley on how Dunbar is doing: “He’s just making plays. Whenever his number’s called, he’s able to step in there and do his job.”

Brantley on the first scrimmage: “It felt pretty good. It wasn’t perfect. It’s tough to be perfect, especially learning a new offense, but it was really good. Everyone went out there and was very competitive. Everyone’s ready to get going.”

Brantley on if the offense is overly complicated: “No. Not once you get it down. Not once you get into it and get into the playbook and study it. It gets easier and easier every day.”

Rainey on Weis being at Florida: “He loves it. The first thing he said when he got here was that this was the most athletes he’s ever been around. So we felt good about that one.”

Rainey on working with track star and senior RB Jeff Demps: “We meet up sometimes, talk about motions. It’s basically easy – most of the plays are the same thing but different formations.”

Rainey on carrying the load during spring practice: “It’s hard, but I’m an athlete. I’m in shape. So I’m good.”

Rainey on what has changed: “New team. New me. New system.”

Rainey on losing Meyer, with whom he was close: “Anything can happen any given day, so you just got to be prepared and just ready for it.”

Rainey on Weis’s humor: “He’s a big joker, but he can be very serious, too. What he says goes.”

Shyatt agrees to become Wyoming head coach

Returning to a team he led for one season over a decade ago, Florida Gators assistant basketball coach Larry Shyatt has agreed to become the new head coach of the Wyoming Cowboys. Florida head coach Billy Donovan‘s longest tenured assistant, Shyatt met with Wyoming officials in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday and hammered out a deal Thursday to pull him away from the university after a successful seven-year run.

“I’ve spent seven great years at the University of Florida helping to build a championship-caliber program, and this is one of the only places I would have considered leaving for,” Shyatt said in a Wyoming press release. “I’m excited about the commitment of the administration, and the passionate fan base I remember at Wyoming, and I can’t wait to meet, work with and develop a great relationship with the current team.”

Serving as an assistant across the country for 24 seasons, Shyatt accepted the head coaching gig with Wyoming in 1997 but only stuck around for a year. Clemson, where he was an assistant from 1994-97, nabbed him with a more lucrative contract and the allure of a higher-echelon program in a top-tier conference.

The Cowboys sued Shyatt for breaching his five-year contract, but the parties settled out of court when he agreed to pay back $286,000. Compiling a 70-84 record as a head coach, Shyatt was fired in 2003 and picked up by Donovan in 2004.

After Shyatt joined the team as an assistant, the Gators captured three Southeastern Conference Tournament Championships (2005-07) and back-to-back NCAA National Championships (2006-07). His praiseworthy recruiting efforts and outstanding defensive coaching made him a prominent reason for the team’s overall success.

“For me personally there’s both an excitement and sadness,” Donovan said in a statement. “Larry is one of my closest friends and his impact here at Florida over the last seven years has been immeasurable.”

Taking the job with the Cowboys, Shyatt will have the opportunity to work with his son, North Florida assistant coach Jeremy Shyatt, if he chooses to bring him along for the ride. Another coach Shyatt could add is UCLA’s Scott Duncan, who worked under him as an assistant previously at both Wyoming and Clemson.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Shyatt has signed a five-year contract worth upwards of $700,000 per season plus incentives.

Check out this collection of articles from the Star-Tribune over a decade ago about Shyatt during his first stint with the Cowboys.

In related news… Florida assistant Richard Pitino, thought to be a front-runner for the Florida Gulf Coast head coaching job, was passed over when the university instead decided to hire Florida State assistant Andy Enfield on Wednesday. Pitino is still being considered for other head coaching gigs across the country.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Gators to begin MLB season; softball’s draftees

With Opening Day for MLB beginning at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday, the Florida Gators boast six former players on rosters across the league.

2B Mark Ellis – Oakland Athletics
A nine-year veteran, Ellis is Oakland’s opening day starter at second base. He will bat in the lower half of the order seeing as he finished the 2010 season batting .291 with five home runs and 49 RBI in 436 at bats.

1B Matt LaPorta – Cleveland Indians
Praised by the coaching staff for his defensive prowess in the infield, LaPorta is still trying to improve his hitting at the professional level. An offensive force coming out of UF, he only batted .221 with 12 home runs, 41 RBI and 46 walks in 376 plate appearances in 2010 but will start for Cleveland this season.

RHP Darren O’Day – Texas Rangers
A force for Texas during the playoffs, O’Day struggled with his command this spring. He made a team-high 72 relief appearances last season and will likely be the primary reliever in 2011. O’Day finished 2010 with a 6-2 record and 2.03 ERA in 62.0 innings.

RHP Bryan Augenstein – St. Louis Cardinals
Augenstein pitched in seven games (two starts) for Arizona in 2009. He will likely be St. Louis’ long reliever out of the bullpen in 2011.

C David Ross – Atlanta Braves
A nine-year veteran like Ellis, Ross will be the back-up behind home plate for star catcher Brian McCann. He played in 59 games for Atlanta in 2010, batting .289 with a pair of homers, 28 RBI and 20 walks in 121 at bats.

OF Ryan Raburn – Detroit Tigers
Played at UF as a freshman before transferring.
In his seventh professional season, Raburn will be Detroit’s opening day starter in left field. With the Tigers supporting a large number of outfielders on their roster, Rayburn may not start every day but will be given as many at bats as possible. He ended the 2010 season batting .280 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 371 plate appearances.

Three of Florida’s senior softball players were drafted in the 2011 National Pro Fastpitch Draft on March 18. Left fielder Kelsey Bruder and first baseman Megan Bush were picked in the second round, while second baseman Aja Paculba was selected in the fifth. Bruder (No. 5 overall) will play for the USSSA Pride in Orlando, FL where former Gators outfielder Francesca Enea was picked last year and won a title in 2010. Bush (No. 6 overall) is joining the Akron Racers in Akron, OH, and Paculba was picked by the NPF Diamonds of Hermitage, TN. Florida head softball coach Tim Walton also leads the Pride and won the league’s title in his first season.

TWO BITS: Sturgis improving, Verducci excited

1 » The Florida Gators may have won another game or two in 2010 if junior kicker Caleb Sturgis had not injured his back and missed the majority of the season. Fighting back from two injuries – a stress fracture and herniated disk – Sturgis is feeling better and beginning to get back into a groove. “I’m getting close [to 100 percent],” he said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I haven’t done kickoffs or anything like that yet. But I’m feeling real good. Field goals…I’m 100 percent on those.” Sturgis also discussed being forced to sit out most of 2010. “That was obviously really rough,” he said. “I never really in my life had an injury before that kept me out. It was something new for me, especially being a kicker and not really expecting it would happen to me. That was definitely rough.”

2 » Opening up about his family, life and decision to join the Florida coaching staff, offensive line coach Frank Verducci explained to University of Florida senior writer Scott Cater that head coach Will Muschamp asked him to join the team before it was known that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis – who he worked with at Notre Dame in 2009 – was on board. “The interesting thing is that I didn’t know Charlie was involved at that point,’’ Verducci said. “So I couldn’t figure out how [Muschamp] came up with me. I could tell he saw the game the same way I did. His standards for what he expected out of a football team were very compatible with mine.” He discussed a number of other topics in the feature story, which you can read by clicking here.

Q: Who is a favorite player you have coached?
A: Emmitt Smith, a former Gator. He was a consummate pro. He was the most prepared guy that I had ever seen. Every day he was completely prepared for whatever we were doing. He made you a better coach because you had to have the answers. He was going to ask you the most detailed questions of any guy I have every coached. He made me a better coach, but he did it in a way that you just enjoyed being around him.

DE Williams is eighth 2012 commit for Gators

Defensive end recruit Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) committed to the Florida Gators on Wednesday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I felt like it was time,” he told Rivals. “I wanted to get my commitment in before any other defensive ends of my caliber dropped in and took that spot.”

Williams, at 6’4” 255 lbs., can play either defensive end or defensive tackle, though he and his father maintain that he is being recruited the play the former position.

Visiting Florida during Junior Day in February, Williams was thrilled at what the school and city had to offer. With so many options to choose from, it was believed that he would not make a verbal commitment until later in the process, but the Gators’ coaching staff may have swayed him with their extensive experience.

He chose Florida over offers from Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee, among other schools. Though Williams had not previously named a leader, it was thought that UGA – the in-state school – had the best chance to gain his services.

Tebow stays cool with first Jockey TV commercial

With Jockey set for a large advertising campaign centered around the staycool brand and spokesperson Tim Tebow, the company released a first look of the commercial that will hit your airwaves soon. Sorry ladies, the Denver Broncos second-year player and Florida Gators Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback is not in his skivvies…

Jockey claims its staycool collection will help you feel up to 3° cooler due to the breathable feel and classic fit of the t-shirts and briefs.

 Page 489 of 740  « First  ... « 487  488  489  490  491 » ...  Last »