Former Gators walk-on defender Lamar Abel dies

Former Florida Gators walk-on defensive lineman Lamar Abel (1989-2010) has passed away. He was 21-years-old.

Though details surrounding his death are yet not available, University of Florida spokesman Steve Orlando told the media he was volunteering with his fraternity at a roadside cleanup event in Gainesville, FL, when he became sick. He was taken to Shands Hospital at the project’s conclusion, but the doctors could not save him. The Miami Herald reports that he died of cardiac arrest.

Abel joined the Gators as a walk-on before the 2007 season and dressed for five games that year. He did not see game action until 2008 against The Citadel, but he did wear his No. 62 on the field four other times that season (Hawaii, Miami, Arkansas, Oklahoma [BCS National Championship]).

Head coach Urban Meyer awarded him the Scout Team Player of the Week award before the South Carolina game that year.

Abel did not return to the team for the 2009 season.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news,” offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said in a statement. “Lamar was a proud member of our program and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

He was a junior majoring in finance at UF.

“He was a kid with a great attitude,” Ely High School head coach Greg McGirt told the Miami Herald. “He always hustled. Was very respectful to the coaches, never talked back. Just a great teammate. He always did the right thing.”

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Abel family. We will update this story as more information is made available.

Gators softball advances with wins vs. UCF, FIU

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (46-8) has advanced to its fourth straight 2010 NCAA Super Regional appearance with three straight victories over the weekend as the home team in the Gainesville Regional. After defeating Bethune-Cookman (32-23) 6-0 on Friday, Florida shutout the Central Florida Knights (36-15) 6-0 on Saturday and topped the Florida International Panthers (38-21) 13-3 in the clincher on Sunday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Junior Stephanie Brombacher (32-6) notched her second and third wins of the tournament on Saturday and Sunday, pitching complete games in all three weekend contests. She helped the Gators finish 10-1 against in-state rivals on the season.

Saturday, junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-4) led the way with three RBI and a home run – her second in as many games, 13th of the season and 98th for the team this year. Sophomore OF Michelle Moultrie (3-4, two runs) and junior second baseman Aja Paculba (2-3, two RBI, one run) provided solid offensive contributions.

A different set of Florida players led the way Sunday with freshman OF Brittany Schutte (1-2) hitting her first career grand slam while totaling five RBI, two runs and two walks. Junior first baseman Megan Bush (3-4) smacked three RBI and came home for two runs, while Bruder (2-3) added another nice performance with three runs scored.

The Gators will face the winner of the No. 13 Arizona State-Long Island game in Super Regional action (likely to be held in Gainesville, FL) May 28-30. The NCAA has announced that all games will be aired live by ESPN.

SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

1 » Advancing to the 2010 NCAA Tournament semifinals for the 20th time in the last 24 years, the No. 3 Florida Gators women’s tennis team (28-2) swept the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (20-6) 4-0 on Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 5 doubles pair of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will defeated the No. 6 Miami pairing 7-6 DNF; both No. 65 Boonstra and No. 8 Will also won their singles matches. No. 9 freshman Lauren Embree was impressive in her victory over No. 7 Laura Vallverdu, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. Florida will face no. 2 North Carolina (30-4) on Monday at 1 p.m. for a chance to advance to the championship game.

2 » As if the media’s obsession with Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow had not previously reached a peak – it has now. ESPN.com has just unveiled a “Tim Tebow Tracker” for its unique Tebow Watch page. It is not yet filled with much content (mostly things you have read elsewhere – cough, cough), but as the offseason progresses it should get filled up quite nicely. You can check it out by clicking here.

Four more BITS on the SEC commissioner’s contract, a honor for Emmitt Smith, golf advancing and baseball losing its regular season finale…after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

Cody Larson contrite, apologetic after sentencing

Incoming Florida Gators 2010 three-star power forward commitment Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) spoke about his recent legal ordeal with The Argus Leader on Saturday, one day before receiving his high school diploma and one day after being sentenced to 120 days suspended jail time and two years probation in a Minnehaha County court. He will also volunteer three days a week until he leaves for Gainesville, FL.

Larson who, according to court documents, was found with Hydrocodone (pain killer) in his home during an investigation into extensive prescription drug abuse at Roosevelt High School, was charged with a misdemeanor for being in a room where it was known that drugs were stored and utilized. He accepted a plea deal Friday, avoiding a trial and potentially the maximum allowable punishment of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Should he stay out of trouble for two years, he will never have to enter a jail cell – and Florida head coach Billy Donovan believes that he will successfully avoid just that.

“Cody and his family were very upfront about the situation,” Donovan told the Leader on a separate occasion. “When we first got in touch with him after he got his release from Iowa, we didn’t know any of this. He brought it to our attention and made it clear that he was ready to learn from it and move on. This is a young man who made a mistake that he’s paying for. I think he’s embarrassed, and I think there was naiveness on his part about what he was getting into.”

Nevertheless, Larson’s qualifying for admission to the University of Florida was far from a decision that Donovan could make on his own.

“Anytime something like this happens, where an athlete is brought up on charges, it’s not just my decision,” Donovan said. “It goes through the athletic department and our compliance person, and it’s a matter of getting more information. Our school felt like the situation was not as severe as some people thought it was going to be. Based on the information we had, we decided that we would definitely recruit Cody and offer him a scholarship.”

Below are portions of a lengthy and informative interview Lasron did with the Leader. He speaks about why he took and shared the pills, why he decided to join the Gators and how he has changed as a person…after the break.

Florida schedules Georgia Southern in 2013

The game times for the 2010 schedule have yet to be finalized, but the Florida Gators have already scheduled one additional out-of-conference opponent for the 2013 football season as the Georgia Southern Eagles will be traveling to Gainesville, FL, for a late-season game on Nov. 23.

The Eagles are supplementing their conference lineup with big-name opponents for the football team in an attempt to raise the prestige of the university while simultaneously earn some extra money for the athletic department. Georgia Southern has also scheduled future contests against Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech and will be paid more than $450,000 by Florida, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The deal between the two schools likely came about due to a familiarity between the respective athletic directors. Jeremy Foley of the Gators and Sam Baker of the Eagles were classmates at Ohio University, both earning master’s degrees in sports administration in 1976.

Florida and Georgia Southern have squared off twice previously with the Gators winning both games – a 38-14 victory in 1986 and a 62-14 thrashing on the way to their 1996 National Championship.

UF has received some criticism over the last few years for scheduling “easy” out-of-conference opponents outside of their Southeastern Conference slate and annual game against Florida State. Teams the Gators have played in the second-to-last regular season game since 2006 include Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic, The Citadel, Florida International and Appalachian State (2010).

TWO BITS: Softball wins, m-tennis falls in NCAAs

1 » Though they had to suffer through a two-hour rain delay, Gainesville Regional hosts No. 4 Florida Gators softball (44-8) defeated the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (32-23) 6-0 in the first game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament on Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (30-6) rang up 11 opposing hitters over seven innings to earn her 30th win in a complete game effort. In support, junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3) tallied three RBI and junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-3) nailed her 12th home run of the season (and the team’s 97th) in the second inning. The Gators will face Central Florida (which defeated Florida International 7-1 on Friday) in the first game of the day on Saturday.

2 » On the opposite end of the spectrum is No. 6 Florida men’s tennis (21-5), which ended their season Friday with a 4-2 upset loss to the No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs (20-8) in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 8 doubles pair of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix, which led the Gators all season, fell 8-3; each player also lost their singles matches. In fact, none of Florida’s ranked players or pairs were victorious Friday. Benneteau and Lacroix will continue competing in NCAA individual tournaments where they will participate without being tied to a team result.

No. 4/5 Florida baseball clinches 2010 SEC title with 5-2 victory over No. 6/7 South Carolina

Junior second baseman Josh Adams knocked in two RBI in the top of the seventh inning to propel No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (40-12, 22-7 SEC) to a series-clinching and 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship-winning 5-2 victory over the No. 6/7 South Carolina Gamecocks (42-13, 20-9 SEC) on Friday evening in Columbia, SC.

Stepping up to the plate at Carolina Stadium in the seventh with two outs and both sophomore outfielder Daniel Pigott and junior designated hitter Bryson Smith on base, Adams (3-4) dropped a double into right-centerfield to break the tie and put the Gators up two runs. He would once again be the hero two innings later, recording his third RBI of the night on a single to score sophomore catcher Ben McMahan.

“Finally! It’s just one of those situations where I had to come through,” Adams explained after the game when discussing his tiebreaking hit. “It was my time, and I knew that. He made a good pitch, and I fortunately got the barrel on it.”

Adams, sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (2-3) and freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (1-3) combined for all five of the team’s RBI and six of Florida’s eight hits, providing support to freshman starter Hudson Randall, who struggled through 5.1 innings. Relievers freshman Steven Rodriguez (1-0) and sophomore Greg Larson combined for two scoreless innings, serving as a bridge to junior closer Kevin Chapman who tossed the final 1.2 innings for his 10th save of the season.

“[Randall] battled. He’s a tough, tough kid,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said recalling the freshman’s gumption and effort. This was not one of his best starts statistically, but you’re going to have games like that and you’re going to have to make some adjustments as you go. You’re going to have to battle.”

The Gators went into the weekend series at the Gamecocks needing to win two of three games to earn their 11th conference baseball championship and first since 2005. Florida did just that by winning the two opening contests, standing victorious in 22 SEC games and setting a University of Florida single-season record in the process. They also picked up a league-high 20th division championship.

“All the credit goes to the players and the assistant coaches,” O’Sullivan said. “The players are the ones making the plays. They have to go on the road and make pitches and play the game. I’m awful proud of them to come into a place like South Carolina and play with a top five-or-six club. [We are] a younger team – inexperienced. To do what they’ve done…I’m awful proud of them.”

After recording the last out, as is customary, the Gators jumped into a dogpile in the infield. Larson came out of it smiling with a bloody nose as his coach simultaneously celebrated on the field with a brand new evaluation of his team.

“They’re battle-tested now,” he exclaimed.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

TWO BITS: Pouncey listed, counterfeit jerseys

1 » Senior center Mike Pouncey will be filling in for his brother next season in the middle of the Florida Gators offensive line – a position he has yet to play on the college level. Nevertheless, he has already been named to the 2010 Rimington Trophy spring watch list. The trophy, which is awarded to the best center in college football, was won by now Pittsburgh Steelers center/guard Maurkice Pouncey last season, providing a rare opportunity for brothers to win it in back-to-back years.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s No. 15 jersey is so popular that it has already set numerous NFL sales records. It is in such high demand, in fact, that Chinese counterfeiters rolled out some fake ones almost immediately. According to the Tampa Tribune, “U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Tampa seized $8,175 in counterfeit sports jerseys” last week. Though there were others included in the package, “several” were “good quality” counterfeits of Tebow’s jersey.

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