CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too

Just hours after gaining a commitment from a four-star offensive lineman, the Florida Gators were informed by cornerback Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL) that he too will be playing football in Gainesville, FL, next season.

Purifoy, who also had offers from Alabama and Auburn (among others), blew the coaching staff away with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the Gators’ camp in June. After returning home, he immediately received an offer from head coach Urban Meyer.

A Florida fan his entire life, Purifoy told Rivals, who first reported his commitment, that Meyer’s offer was a “dream come true.” he also said he “considered committing [on the spot in March] but didn’t.”

“I was talking to my mom and my sisters and some other people that have an influence around me and they like (Florida),” Purifoy told The Gainesville Sun. “My mom loves it, and they want me to get a good education and they think I can get it there. It’s also where I can play and get a better chance to get to the next level so I can take care of my family — mom and my sister.”

OGGOA RELATED: DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators
OGGOA RELATED: Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

Gators center Kenny Kadji granted a transfer

Florida Gators sophomore center Kenny Kadji has requested and received a transfer from the University of Florida and will be released from his scholarship.

“After re-evaluating his situation, Kenny and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about his future,” head coach Billy Donovan said in a statement. “Kenny has made a decision that it’s in his best interest to start new somewhere else. He’s still recovering from back surgery and working hard to get himself healthy. I wish him the best in his future.”

Kadji, who was given a medical redshirt from the NCAA after only logging 45 total minutes of game time in 2009-10 before ending his season due to a nagging back injury, will have redshirt sophomore status next season if he chooses to remain in college but will also have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

He had back surgery in February to repair a bulging disk, a procedure similar to what former Florida forward Adrian Moss had done in 2005. Reports were that Kadji had healed nicely from the surgery; he was expected to back-up redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin next season, a job that will probably now be filled by four-star incoming freshman forward Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL).

In March, the Orlando Sentinel caught up with Kadji’s AAU coach Matt Ramker, who said that he was “happy at UF” and was “looking forward to next season.”

Now, he has changed his tune.

“I want to thank my coaches and teammates for my two years at the University of Florida,” Kadji said. “While I’m sad that my time here at Florida is ending, UF will always be special to me. I have goals that I hope to reach and only a short window of my life to make those things happen.”

Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

Four-star offensive lineman Trip Thurman (Dover, DE) committed to the Florida Gators on Friday, as first reported by Scout.com.

In Gainesville, FL, to participate in the Gators’ annual Friday Night Lights camp, Thurman informed the coaching staff of his decision, something believed to be in the process of happening for quite some time.

Rivals has him ranked as the top player in the state of Delaware and 11th best offensive lineman, while ESPNU only gives him three stars.

OGGOA RELATED: DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators
OGGOA RELATED: CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too

QB commit Jeff Driskel shines at Elite 11 camp

What a week it has been for Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Named Most Valuable Player of the Elite 11 QB Camp, Driskel dominated the proceedings from start-to-finish, showing off a strong arm, impressive accuracy, enviable mechanics and college-level decision-making.

Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s recruiting director, said that Driskel resembles Washington QB Jake Locker. ESPN’s Corey Long added, “Driskel is a massive young man at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, his release is on point and his passes have tremendous heat on them.”

He even drew comparisons to some NFL legends – including Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning – as he shredded the competition over the course of four days.

“You always have to try to be at your best and you have to want to be the best and I came out here to play football,” Driskel told Rivals. “I wasn’t here to go to Disneyland even though that ended up being fun. You have to have that focused attitude and I had it throughout the week.”

If you think Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow and Gators incoming starter redshirt junior John Brantley were highly praised coming out of high school, Driskel’s hype is already reaching that level. He makes all of the required throws and showed during 7-on-7 drills that he can read the field with the best of them.

Even though Driskel is a pro-style quarterback, he is deceptively athletic and runs a 4.52 40-yard-dash. He won’t carry the ball much, but the threat of his speed in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense should keep defenses honest if he is able to prove that he can use it.

Driskel is considered the top-rated QB of the 2011 recruiting class by both ESPNU and Rivals. Nationally, he is ranked No. 13 overall by the former and No. 31 by the latter.

Photo Credit: ESPN

Saints bring DE Bobby McCray back for 2010

Former Florida Gators defensive end Bobby McCray was released by the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints exactly one month ago. After agreeing to a reduced contract on Thursday, he will return to Who Dat Nation with a one-year, $1.5 million deal including an additional $1 million in achievable incentives.

McCray, who was the Saints’ third end but started a quarter of his games during his two-year run with New Orleans, made a number of impact plays as a starter during their playoff run last season.

The Saints acquired fellow former Gators defensive end Alex Brown via free agency in the offseason and expect him to start on the left side. McCray, who worked with the first team defense during mini camp, will still see plenty of playing time next season.

He was due a $1.25 million roster bonus and was probably released by New Orleans in order to avoid that payment. The team did not attempt to renegotiate as McCray’s 2010-11 base salary was set at $2 million. Should he hit all of incentives, the Saints will only save $0.75 million with his new contract.

McCray, who made headlines for during the season for his vicious hits on quarterbacks Kurt Warner (Arizona) and Brett Favre (Minnesota), complied 59 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three defended passes and a forced fumble in his previous two years in New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

With eight years of professional football under his belt, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is moving on from the Chicago Bears to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. In a brand new city with an upbeat and positive mindset, Brown landed in Louisiana on Wednesday to start preparing for training camp. The first thing he did after touching down? Provide OGGOA with an exclusive half-hour interview covering everything from his recruitment and time with the Gators to the Bears’ Super Bowl run and why grits are his favorite thing about the city of New Orleans, LA (so far).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in a small town, was it difficult to get noticed by the University of Florida and make an impression on head coach Steve Spurrier?
ALEX BROWN: “Yeah, it was. I just wanted to go and play football – that’s all I did. I was nervous because I didn’t know if people would see me. My dad was really good just staying on me about it. ‘If you go play, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.’ That was his big thing. All I did was go play – and they found me.”

AS: What made you decide to attend Florida rather than going to Georgia or another school? Were you always a Gators fan?
AB: “I actually was not a Florida fan at all. I really wasn’t even going to take a visit to Florida. University of Miami – that year – my last visit I was going to take was going to be to the University of Miami. And I was going to choose between Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Auburn. There was a kid that got killed at Miami – I want to say it was like on a Monday or Tuesday – and I was supposed to go on a visit that coming weekend. And my mom was like, ‘No way, you can’t go. You can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I will not take another visit.’ I talked to [Buffalo Bills linebacker] Andra Davis, who I’ve known since like fifth grade, and he had just taken his visit to Florida and that was the celebration of the National Championship – that was that week. He had a great time. So I talked to him and he said he was going to Florida. He’s like, ‘Just take your visit there, you’re not going to go to Miami, so take your visit to Florida.’ Early in the week, I called coach [Jimmy Ray] Stephens, he was the offensive line coach at the time and the guy that recruited me. He said, ‘OK.’ I was in Gainesville for a day. [Atlanta Falcons LB] Mike Peterson was my host and, by the time I left, they could have left me there. I was going for sure. As soon as I got back, I started calling all the other coaches and letting them know that this is what I want. It wasn’t too far from home but far enough away, I guess. And they were good. I played linebacker, and they had [former DE] Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and [former LB] Johnny Rutledge – and I thought I fit right in. It was a great match for me and took me all of a day-and-a-half to figure that out.

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Alex Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and seniors center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black and defensive end Justin Trattou represented the University of Florida on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press conferences at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Media Days from Hoover, AL.

HAMMOND’s SCHOLARSHIP REVOKED

Though most of the pre-event hoopla surrounded allegations that former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey accepted $100,000 from a runner for an unnamed agent, the biggest piece of news Meyer divulged was that (former?) Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. has had his football scholarship pulled after being arrested for driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol in June.

“Frankie Hammond, Jr. is off of scholarship at Florida. If he tries to come back and play, which I understand he will, he will have to pay his own way and earn a spot like every other person who would like to be a member of Florida football – on his own,” Meyer said. “There will be playing time taken away from him, and he will be on probation like other players who have made mistakes. If he does something again, it will be probable dismissal. As of now, he is not on the football team. He is working out and training away from the team, and he’s off of scholarship. And we’ll see how he shows up and if he goes. If he goes, then we’ll make the adjustment as we move on.”

Last Friday, Hammond was sentenced to a year of probation and 50 hours of community service as part of a plea deal with the prosecution of his case. He was suspended from team activities by the coaching staff and university just one day after being arrested.

REACTIONS TO POUNCEY ALLEGATIONS

Before the Gators had the chance to be asked about the rumors surrounding Pouncey, the player denied that he was paid by an agent through a two sentence statement that was released early Wednesday. “I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said. “I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”

Nevertheless, Meyer and Florida’s players were asked about the alleged incident.

“Anytime [there is] an accusation about a recruiting rule or a phone call or I simply hear it, I go right to our compliance and they go through the right channels. And then I’ll go to the source,” Meyer said. “When the [Maurkice] Pouncey anonymous note or whatever came through, it went right to our compliance, I went to Maurkice and he said it didn’t happen. I certainly didn’t investigate – we have people that do that. I have not been this concerned. I don’t like our pictures going across the ticker and everything else. If something happened, then he should be punished severely. If it didn’t happen, then that’s nonsense. I heard his denial today, and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey.”

“First, I’ll start by saying I talked to my brother and it’s not true,” his brother Mike told the press. “He pretty much cleared that up in the statement today. I feel bad about it because it ruined somebody’s name that don’t really know who me and my brother are.
Those that know who we are know we’re not those kind of people. We pride ourselves on having a great clean name. It’s just hard right now. [...] We’ve been totally cooperative with any questions that they have to ask us. We’re just ready for it to be done with. [...] My mom and my dad, they took it real personal because, you know, we come from a great family. We pride ourselves on being great people, having a family-type organization as far as our family goes. You know, they took it pretty tough.”

AND THE REST…

With the two juiciest tidbits out of the way, the rest of the media availabilities focused on the latest news surrounding agents tampering with student-athletes and, you know, the upcoming football season. Some choice quotes have been provided…after the break:
Continue Reading » 2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

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