TWO BITS: Tebow=Elway? Young=Horford/Noah?

1 » Columnist Woody Paige of The Denver Post has taken to calling former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow the Denver Broncos’ next John Elway. You know, the nine-time Pro Bowler who happens to be the best quarterback in the franchise’s history. Colleague Dave Krieger takes issue with Paige’s praise asking, “Seriously, can we just stop? […] Tebow is no Elway. And we will do him and everybody else a favor if we kick the habit of pretending he is.” Read the rest of what Krieger had to say in the Post. For a little more on Tebow’s progress, you can check out this video update from NFL Network.

2 » The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway put together a nice piece on incoming four-star 2010 power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL). Sure to be a defensive-minded presence for the Gators next season, Young knows what it takes to make an impact. “You can always be selfish on defense,” Young said. “No one is going to complain if you are getting too many rebounds and keep running the floor and that’s primarily what I do. So I’m just going to come out there and play a big role and do whatever I can to help the team.” Even head coach Billy Donovan has taken to comparing him to two former Florida stars – the Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford and Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah. “[Young] is a very physical, high-energy, likes-contact guy,” Donovan said. Check out the Sun’s article for more from Young and Donovan.

Tebow participates in first OTA, reporters flock

With his first NFL minicamp in the rear view mirror, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow returned to Denver, CO, Monday for his first set of organized team activities (OTA) with the Denver Broncos at their Dove Valley facility.

There were “42 local and national media” at the Broncos’ first open OTA with a lot of attention paid to the four quarterbacks, according to Denver’s vice president of public relations Jim Saccomano. “Crazy interest in our OTAs which start today,” he wrote via his Twitter account. “Greatest interest I have seen since John Elway was a rookie.”

While some local columnists like The Denver Post’s Woody Paige continue to wax poetic about Tebow’s potential, others like ESPN’s resident gasbag Rick Reilly prefer to bash Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels for his decision to draft him.

Attention, hype and potential resent from teammates have never bothered Tebow, and he proved just that during a short media availability after his workout.

“That’s not something I can control much,” Tebow said. “I think something my [teammates] will know is how hard I’ll work, and my character and what I’m all about. So I don’t think that will bother them too much, to be honest. […] I’m just coming out here and playing football just like every other rookie. I’m just enjoying it and working hard.”

Tebow was listed as the fourth quarterback on the team’s depth chart behind starter Kyle Orton and back-ups Brady Quinn and Tom Brandstater. He threw less than a dozen total passes Monday and even took some time to toss the ball back-and-forth with former Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno.

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

TWO BITS: Profiling Wilbekin, Vargas’ transfer

1 » Three-star point guard commitment Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL), who is leaving The Rock School a year early as a junior to join the Florida Gators‘ 2010 recruiting class, remains a mystery to many fans who are curious as to what he can bring to the program right away. Reggie Rankin, who covers basketball recruiting for ESPN caught a glimpse of Wilbekin at the second session of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) and came away impressed. “[Wilbekin] has added about 25 pounds and his confidence and swagger on the court is tremendous,” Rankin wrote. “He may not be a star for the Gators, but he will provide them with a lead guard that possess a high basketball IQ, can run the team, get others involved and makes open shots. He also is an excellent defender that is alert in the passing lanes. He will provide Billy Donovan with a steady hand at the point position. […] It is great to see a kid have these options not only because he is a good kid and player, but most importantly a good student.”

Wilbekin’s school also went ahead and published a video with his coaches profiling his game and some of his accomplishments. (h/t Orlando Sentinel)

2 » Speaking of Florida basketball and its recruiting, former four-star 2008 commitment center Eloy Vargas has transferred for the second time in as many eligible seasons. This time, Vargas is leaving Miami Dade College for none other than head coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Vargas averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds last season and hopes to make a quick transition back to the Southeastern Conference.

Vikings’ Percy Harvin is “tremendously honored”

Coming off of a fantastic first season in which he captured the 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, former Florida Gators now Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin hopes to build on his team’s fortunes and lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl, something they were unable to attain last season. OGGOA had an opportunity to speak with Harvin over the weekend. We picked his brain about a number of subjects before he fulfilled his responsibilities for Palm Beach Autographs [site sponsor] including his rookie season, the speed of the NFL, his chronic migraine problems and how he is already being remembered in Florida football history.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With how you played last year, winning Rookie of the Year and compiling some fantastic statistics in the receiving and return games, do you feel like you proved a lot of people wrong who were criticizing you going into the 2009 NFL Draft?
PERCY HARVIN: “I didn’t go into it trying to prove anybody wrong. I knew the capabilities I had. So I just went out there and wanted to contribute to my team. First of all, in the special teams area. As Brett [Favre] got there, [he] taught me the game a little faster than I probably would have learned it with the other quarterbacks. He speeded up my process a whole lot. A lot of that just goes to him, learning from Sidney [Rice], Bernard Berrian and the other receivers.”

Read the rest of our interview with Percy Harvin…after the break!
Continue Reading » Vikings’ Percy Harvin is “tremendously honored”

FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

1 » With two games in hand, No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (37-12, 20-7 SEC) swept their series against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 9-3 win Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman starting pitcher Brian Johnson (5-2) tossed 5.2 strong innings, striking out three while only giving up one earned run. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-3) and junior designated hitter Bryson Smith (2-3) each tallied two RBI, while freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4) and junior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3) both crossed home plate twice. Florida has now won eight consecutive contests over Georgia; the three-day total attendance of 14,619 set an all-time weekend series Gators record. UF will face North Florida on Tuesday before traveling to Columbia, SC, for a season-defining three-game series against the No. 8/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (41-11, 20-7 SEC). The Gators and Gamecocks are tied atop the Southeastern Conference regular season standings.

Three more BITS on women’s and men’s tennis advancing in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and softball’s honors and hosting duties…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

No. 3 Florida Gators men’s track & field captures 2010 SEC Outdoor Championship

No. 3 Florida Gators men’s track & field won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship on Sunday, the team’s first since 1987, by scoring 124 total team points at Tom Black Track in Knoxville, TN. The victory marks men’s track & field’s second major title this year – the team won the 2010 NCAA Indoor National Championship (the first in program history) back on March 14.

Florida’s four individual event titles propelled them to the SEC Championship victory. Sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps captured the 100-meter dash, sophomore Gray Horn defended his 2009 SEC Championship in the decathalon, sophomore Christian Taylor took home the triple jump and the four-man team of Taylor, senior R.J. Anderson, senior Calvin Smith and freshman Tony McQuay won the 4×400-meter relay.

Demps became the Gators’ first SEC Champion in the men’s 100-meter dash since 2000, while Taylor carried the same honor in men’s triple jump for the first time since 1976. Horn’s decathalon score of 7,652 was a career-high and second-best in school history. He is the ninth person in conference history to win the title back-to-back and first since 1974. Horn is also the only Florida track & field athlete to win an SEC decathalon title.

Florida’s No. 10 women’s team, which finished second in their respective event to the No. 2 LSU Tigers (which won their third SEC Championship in the last four years), posted a total team score of 107.5 points. Like the men, the women raked in the individual titles and captured five all-together.

Senior distance runner Charlotte Browning defended her 2009 SEC Championship in the 1,500-meter run, senior Mariam Kevkhishvili won the shot put, senior Evelin Dekkers took home the javelin event and senior Shara Proctor was victorious in both the long jump and triple jump.

Browning’s 1,500-meter run time of 4:13.96 was her career-best and the second-fastest time in school history. Even more impressive were the victories by Kevkhishvili in the shot put and Proctor in the triple jump – each woman won the SEC title for her third time in her respective event.

The Gators will now close the season beginning May 27-29 with the NCAA East Preliminary Round, which can earn them a berth in the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

LB Brendan Beal confirms transfer out of Florida

OGGOA EXCLUSIVE: Florida LB Brendan Beal also likely to transfer

On Wednesday, OGGOA exclusively reported that redshirt sophomore linebacker Brendan Beal would be transferring out of the Florida Gators program after two injury plagued seasons. Beal himself confirmed this story during a conversation with late Sunday evening.

“I was told tonight by [offensive coordinator] Steve Addazio that I will be given my official release from the University of Florida sometime tomorrow,” Beal told the website. “I spent two years at Florida under several different coaches in which I had the opportunity to learn a lot about football and had some good experiences there. I appreciate the time the coaches gave me during my tenure with the Gators and wish them the best of luck with their program.”

A source close to the team told OGGOA last week that Beal, a Parade All-American and former four-star recruit who sat out the last two seasons with a torn ACL, was “not 100 percent but more like 99 percent” out the door.

His decision ultimately came after he lost out on the opportunity to earn a starting job during spring practice and realized he would likely be the fifth linebacker on the Gators’ depth chart behind senior Brandon Hicks, redshirt senior A.J. Jones, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins.

Beal becomes the third former top-rated recruit to leave Florida this offseason, following redshirt sophomore cornerback Adrian Bushell (transfer) and defensive tackle Gary Brown (dismissal). The Gators have decided not to restrict any of the schools that Beal can transfer to and are already allowing universities to contact him.

Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright is on the cusp of beginning his rookie campaign with the Chicago Bears. Selected by Chicago in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Wright has been preparing each day since being picked to take the field for training camp and show both his coaches and Bears fans that he is capable of making an impact right away. OGGOA caught up with Wright before a scheduled appearance he had signing autographs in West Palm Beach, FL. He spoke with us about a variety of topics including his time at Florida, the future of the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish right away as a professional in the NFL.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What kind of advice would you give to a high school recruit about to make a college decision, perhaps one considering Florida?
MAJOR WRIGHT: “At Florida, you know, they recruit the best athletes. So, if they recruit you, you’re obviously one of the best athletes out there. Stay focused, maintain what you are doing and always work hard and things are going to happen for you. Especially at the University of Florida – the best talent, the best coaching, the best facilities. That’s where kids want to be at these days.”

AS: How hard was it for you to make the adjustment from high school to college?
MW: “It was pretty hard. Being that you’re coming from high school to college. With me, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas – a well-known program that has great coaching. With my coaching and the speed of the game, it’s a lot different from high school to college. It’s a hard [transition], but I made it and went on with it.”

AS: Ahmad Black and Will Hill are still left, trying to hold down the back end of the secondary. How do you think they are going to play next year?
MW: “They’re going to be great. Me playing with them, those are definitely some focused guys. They know what they’re doing. Ahmad Black and Will Hill [are] definitely [going to] be like one of the two best tandems in college football.”

Read the rest of our interview with Major Wright…after the break!
Continue Reading » Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

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