TWO BITS: Pouncey’s science, Noah’s dirty?

1 » Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey, likely to be a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday evening, recently took part in a segment for ESPN‘s Sports Science feature. You can view it below:

2 » Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger accused Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah of being a dirty player on Tuesday, saying he took cheap shots at some of his teammates during a recent game. “The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly,” Granter told ESPNChicago.com. “And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.” Asked his thoughts on the subject, Noah dismissed Granger’s claims and said he did nothing of the sort. “I played dirty? OK. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man,” he said. “It’s the name of the game. I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. They play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s OK.”

Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who mentored Noah during back-to-back NCAA National Championship runs, said nothing could be further from the truth than Granger’s claims. “I don’t know Danny Granger at all, but I do know Joakim, and I do not agree with that one bit,” Donovan said during an interview with ESPN 1000 “Jo to me is the guy that I’ve got a tremendous amount of love and affection for. He’s one of those guys, that I think if you’re the opposing team, you don’t like him. […] I think the last thing I would say about him is that he is a dirty player, that’s the farthest thing from the truth, but again, I don’t know Danny Granger. I don’t know what the intent was of that, but I’ll tell you this, when you go against Joakim, you better bring it, because he is coming every single possession for every offensive, defensive rebound and run the floor. He’s going to do what he’s gotta do to out there to try and help his team win, and that could be misconstrued by Granger saying he’s dirty, but Joakim Noah is not a guy that I ever felt coaching or being around him that he was a dirty player.”

Florida basketball will start 2011-12 season by playing in the Global Sports Shootout

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will be participating in the five-team Global Sports Shootout tournament to begin the 2011-12 season along with Ohio State, North Florida, Jackson State and Wright State.

The event, which is a collection of games played at different arenas, will have Florida playing on the road against Ohio State, in a neutral site game against Wright State (Tampa, FL) and at home against North Florida and Jackson State.

UF and WSU will square-off on Nov. 21 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The dates and times for the remainder of the games are still being determined.

Wright State University is the only school to officially announce the event at this time.

John Elway on Tim Tebow: “I’m his biggest fan”

John Elway has had plenty to say since taking over as executive vice president of the Denver Broncos in the offseason. One player who he has been asked about – and commented on – more than any other is second-year quarterback Tim Tebow. After giving mixed signals about Tebow’s future for months, Elway on Wednesday gave ESPN’s Ed Werder what appears to be a thumbs up regarding Tebow’s long-term potential.

“Let’s put it this way, I’m his biggest fan,” Elway said. “He’s one of those guys who – if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be – then we’re in pretty darn good shape. He’s a great ambassador for us as a team. He realizes, and I’ve told him: the bottom line is, ‘You can do all those things and make all those plays that a lot of guys can’t do, and that’s something you have that they don’t – but you have to realize for us to be champions, you have to be able to win it from the pocket and make all those throws from the pocket.”

A new coaching staff appeared to put Tebow’s future with Denver somewhat in jeopardy. Head coach John Fox called veteran Kyle Orton his team’s starting quarterback if the season had already started, and Elway maintained for months that it was possible the Broncos could pick another quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft.

However, he told Werder that Tebow is indeed his guy going forward, although there is a chance Denver could take a signal caller in the later rounds of the draft.

“There’s holes in every young guy coming out,” he said. “There’s not an Andrew Luck, a [Matthew] Stafford, a [Sam] Bradford [in 2011]. Those guys are all very good quarterbacks in my mind, but there are holes in every one of them – as there were in Tebow. I think where we are as an organization, we’re going to go with Tim.”

After conversing with the executive, Werder surmised that though “there will be competition for the starting job, Elway seemed to hint that Tebow is Denver’s likely starter this year – unless the lockout eliminates virtually all of the of the preseason in which case veteran Kyle Orton’s experience might provide him an advantage.”

Combining Elway’s new-found belief in Tebow with the player’s work ethic and attitude going into the season could result in a powerful mixture that the Broncos’ opponents may have to look out for in 2011 and beyond.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

OGGOA’s comprehensive 2011 NFL Draft Preview

Legalities surrounding the lockout may still be looming, but the 2011 NFL Draft will begin without a hitch Thursday night (ESPN, NFL Network) and run through April 30 as more than a dozen former Florida Gators hope to see their childhood dreams come true.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting Florida’s players may not be as excited about the event this time around considering there will be a significant drop-off from the nation-leading nine players that were selected in 2010 (including a school-record three in the first round and six in the first two rounds).

Few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts and commentators do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen.

» Center/guard Mike Pouncey will be the only first-round pick, selected before his brother was and headed to one of five teams.

Unless a team decides that they desperately need a center and plans to trade into the top half of the first round in order to jump a handful of other teams, Pouncey will likely be headed to either the Miami Dolphins (15) or New York Giants (19) at their respective draft slots or to one of three teams that would have to trade down/up for him: Dallas Cowboys (9), Chicago Bears (29) or Pittsburgh Steelers (31). The top-rated interior lineman in the draft, Pouncey continues to garner high praise and has plenty of teams around the league looking in his direction.

» Florida will not have another player selected until at least the third round.

There was talk for a while that tackle Marcus Gilbert may be moving into the category of a late second-round selection but that has died down recently. However, he is the only player on the team who has actually climbed up draft boards since the season ended. His size is undeniable and scouts were impressed with his agility and strength. Gilbert projects as either a right tackle or guard in the NFL with many scouts believing he might perform better in the latter position. He will likely be selected sometime in the third round and may very well be one of only two Gators picked in the first two days of the draft.

» The future of Florida’s secondary standouts is not very “safe.”

Like linebacker Brandon Spikes in 2010, strong safety Ahmad Black has seen his stock slide going into the draft due to concerns about his speed. Unlike Spikes last year, Black also has scouts worried about his lack of prototypical NFL size and how his immense talent will be able to translate to the big stage. As Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow knows, all it takes is one team to believe in you. And whether former head coach Urban Meyer is in Bill Belichick’s ear once again (the New England Patriots drafted three Gators in 2010) or a team simply realizes that Black has a high football IQ and can significantly impact a game if given an opportunity, he will likely have someone take a chance on him in the third or fourth round.

Though free safety Will Hill has the prototypical size and speed that Black lacks, those around the league have realized he is missing perhaps even more important things like football IQ and character. His athleticism is undeniable, but there are too many question marks about him (including, simply, his talent level) for a team to take a risk on him early. Hill will be picked on the third day – if he is at all.

» Punter Chas Henry will be drafted later than he should be.

When it comes to specialists, just being picked in the NFL Draft is usually an honor. Sometimes one has so much upside that they are selected extremely early (see kicker Sebastian Janikowski [No. 17 overall, 2000] and P Ray Guy [No. 23 overall, 1973]), but most of the time they are just lucky to be chosen in a middle round. Though Henry was the best collegiate punter in 2010 (and arguably 2009, too), his draft position will be based strictly on team need. His ability to serve as a viable back-up kicker should provide him a bit of additional value but chances are he is picked late on the third day.

» The vast majority of Gators will be undrafted free agents.

Due to red flags ranging from injuries to lack of production, the rest of Florida’s draft-eligible players may not know where they are headed for days, weeks or months depending how NFL teams decide to handle undrafted free agent signings in the face of the (recently lifted) lockout.

Offensive lineman Carl Johnson and Maurice Hurt; running back Emmanuel Moody; wide receivers Carl Moore and Justin Williams; defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens; defensive tackles Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh and Brandon Antwine; linebackers A.J. Jones, Brandon Hicks and Lorenzo Edwards; and long snapper John Fairbanks could all be picked up after the draft concludes. There is the chance that a select few (Johnson, Hurt, Moody, Moore, Trattou) could be selected in the sixth or seventh round due to potential long-term upside.

For LIVE COVERAGE of the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to join us back here at OGGOA beginning Thursday at 8 p.m. and running through the conclusion of the event on Saturday.

Jenkins: “I was dismissed” from the Gators

When Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Tuesday that the team decided to part ways with senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins after his second marijuana possession arrest in less than 90 days, it was widely believed that Jenkins had a choice to remain on the team if he followed certain conditions but declined and instead decided to peruse a future elsewhere.

Jenkins spoke with the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday and denied that he had any opportunity to stay at Florida for his final season.

“The only thing [Muschamp] said was I was dismissed as soon as I walked in the room,” he told the Sentinel’s Rachel George. “He washed his hands of me. […] They know he didn’t give me no option to make. […] There was nothing else I could have done or said.”

Jenkins also told the Sentinel that he has yet to make his mind up about his future. His options include playing for a junior college or Division II football program, redshirting for a year and trying to get a scholarship at a Division I school in 2012 or entering the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft in July (should one occur).

Muschamp gathers Gators in Fort Lauderdale

Flying into Fort Lauderdale, FL for a Gator Gathering with the Broward Gator Club on Tuesday evening, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp appeared anything but tired after a long day’s work. He gave a confident and passionate speech to nearly a thousand orange-and-blue-clad fans in attendance before energetically answering questions until it was time to depart. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy and interesting topics that Muschamp covered during the event:

Continue Reading » Muschamp gathers Gators in Fort Lauderdale

TWO BITS: Pounceys together? Jenkins to NFL?

1 » Though Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey continues to believe he will be selected higher in the 2011 NFL Draft than his brother was one year earlier, another opportunity (once believed to be likely before being dismissed as the opposite) has arisen. According to the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, the Pittsburgh Steelers (who drafted Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey just last season) “will exhaust all realistic possible scenarios to trade up” for Pouncey. “Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has given an edict to his personnel department to explore all realistic trade options for Pouncey,” La Canfora writes, so the team is “prepared to acquire him should he ‘start to slip.’” Pittsburgh (with the No. 31 overall pick) would probably have to give up a good amount to trade up to where Pouncey will likely be drafted (No. 15-19).

2 » Dismissed from the Florida football team on Tuesday, Gators senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins has already begun pursuing another opportunity, according to Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline. Rather than redshirt the 2011 season to potentially play for another top school next year or transfer to a junior college or lower division program this season, Jenkins is currently “looking for an agent” for the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft set for July. Players normally enter the Supplemental Draft due to athletic, disciplinary or eligibility reasons. Pauline writes that “calls have already been made[to agents] on [his] behalf.” Though Jenkins now has character concerns, he will undoubtedly find a NFL home before all is said and done.

Muschamp dismisses Gators CB Jenkins

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has decided to dismiss senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins from the team following a third arrest in less than 23 months.

“After meeting with Janoris Jenkins today, we both felt it was in his best interest to move ahead to the next stage of his career,” Muschamp said in an official statement released by the school on Tuesday. “We appreciate Janoris’ contributions to the University of Florida during his time here and wish him the best of luck.”

Jenkins is facing legal issues stemming from a second arrest for possession of marijuana in less than 90 days. He was first cited on Jan. 23 when an officer spotted him rolling a joint in a nightclub bathroom. After appearing in court, he was ordered to pay $316 in court fees and had adjudication withheld. Jenkins was caught smoking a marijuana “cigar” in his car in a parking lot on Saturday morning. He was issued a notice to appear in court on May 12 for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

He originally decided to return for his senior season and forgo a likely first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. Jenkins’s future plans are currently unknown.

Slated to start for the Gators in the fall, his dismissal leaves another open spot on a young Florida defense. Redshirt junior Jeremy Brown and sophomore Cody Riggs will likely be the Gators’ starting cornerbacks when the season begins on Sept. 3.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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