Final game a sweet send-off for Florida Gators RB Kelvin Taylor, DT Jonathan Bullard

Junior running back Kelvin Taylor always wanted to play for the Florida Gators. Senior defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard wasn’t ready to leave Gainesville, Florida, after coming of age as a junior in 2014. Now both are set to leave the program following the 2016 Citrus Bowl on Friday, but neither is doing so with anything less than total praise from their coaches.

“This is a great person, Kelvin. And he’s a great Gator. And he’s a guy that’s going to be remembered for all the things that he’s given,” said head coach Jim McElwain of his near-1,000-yard rusher. “He plays hard. He’s at practice. He does things right in the classroom. He’s always early to stuff. He’s what you want in a player…. Moving forward, he’s going to make a really good pro. But more than that, he’ll continually come back and give back to the Gators.”

Taylor said that while the game will be said, he’s “going to enjoy” himself in the Citrus Bowl, where he is “looking forward to going out and finishing with a bang,” just like his father, Fred Taylor, did back in the day.

“It’s very cool [to be playing my last game]. Very thankful I’ve had great coaches, great teammates. It’s going to be a great experience,” he continued. “I leaned on my father a whole lot. … It was a family decision. We’re comfortable with it. I feel like it’s going to be the best decision for me, my family and for my future. I’m excited.”

Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins interrupted the start of his bowl press conference to brag about Bullard, who he described as the “poster child” for a player who faces a difficult decision of whether to leave early for the NFL or return for his senior season.

“The things that he did in the offseason, the things that he did throughout the year to make himself one of the best players in college football — tackles for loss, sacks, just the impact that he had on every game — you don’t see guys do that a lot,” Collins explained. “And I just think it’s a credit to him and his character, his work ethic and, you know, I think what he has done has made our defense what it has been this year.”

Bullard referred to staying in Gainesville for a fourth year as “the best decision I made in my life, noting that it was a family decision for him to return to school. “I’m playing the best ball I’ve played since I’ve been here,” he said. “They’ve put me in good positions to make plays and be the guy to step up when needed to. It’s going to be real special to run out with the team one more time.”

It should not be lost how passionate both players feel about the Gators and their fans. Taylor said there’s “nothing like Gator Nation,” he loves the fans and is excited to see how Florida packs the Citrus Bowl.

Bullard shared a similar sentiment. “I love Florida. It was a school that I’ve always been interested in ever since I was younger and thought I was going to play basketball instead of football,” he explained. “Just the support we get running out. And I know it’s going to be like a home game for us [Friday].”

While losing Taylor, who carried the Gators’ offense with 13 touchdowns this season, and a defensive standout like Bullard is going to be extremely difficult for Florida, McElwain is ultimately not concerned because he expects both players – who truly bought into the new team dynamic – to be around the program for a long time to come.

“It’s never saying goodbye because they’re Gators forever,” he said. “And what they’ve done to set this team apart, what they’ve done to create a legacy moving forward is something that all Gator fans and the University of Florida is grateful for.”

Photo Credit: Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

Florida Gators offense bothered by (but understanding of) disrespect entering Citrus Bowl

There was little offense coming from the Florida Gators‘ side of the field over their final few games of the season, due in large part to the play of sophomore quarterback Treon Harris, an injured offensive line and a lot of youth and inexperience on that side of the ball.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Trip Thurman, set to play in his final game in the 2016 Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines on Friday, is accepting of the criticism that Florida’s offense has received but equally disturbed by the lack of respect being paid to the Gators ahead of this contest.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators offense bothered by (but understanding of) disrespect entering Citrus Bowl

Jim McElwain discusses Florida Gators being a work in progress, Will Grier’s transfer decision

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain is rarely specific when he speaks with the media. While he may offer some praise here and there, criticisms are generally kept under wraps and those attempting to discern what he means are often forced to read between the lines of what he actually says.

So on Tuesday, when McElwain spoke ahead of the 2016 Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines, there was plenty to ask the coach but only so many answers that came back. However, if one looks closely enough, McElwain’s opinions are not that tough to discern.

Continue Reading » Jim McElwain discusses Florida Gators being a work in progress, Will Grier’s transfer decision

Fastbreak: Florida Gators’ one-man show edged by late Florida State jumper

If you removed freshman guard KeVaughn Allen from the Florida Gators‘ lineup on Tuesday night against the Florida State Seminoles, it would have gotten pretty ugly inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Instead, the Seminoles edged the Gators on a late jumper, throwing water on a fiery performance by Allen that kept the hosts in a game they otherwise would’ve been blown out of by halftime.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s devastating loss with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Moments after Florida redshirt senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith finished a clutch layup to give his team the lead with just over 23 seconds to play, Florida State G Dwayne Bacon found himself open in the lane with an opportunity to hit a jumper. He did just that, nailing the shot with 4.7 seconds to play to push the visitors ahead 73-71. Bacon, who finished 5-of-8 from beyond the arc with a team-high 24 points, led the Noles to a second-straight late-game victory over the Gators … after Jacob Kurtz’s tip-in helped FSU pull out a win last season.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida Gators’ one-man show edged by late Florida State jumper

Gameday – Florida Gators vs. Florida State: What to know, how to watch live, game picks

Florida Gators basketball has struggled against the three ranked teams it faced this season but will face its final tough test of the opening nonconference slate when it takes on the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Here’s a look ahead at the game: what to know and how to watch Florida-FSU.

Viewing information

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Dick Vitale)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com
Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app (iPhone) / (Android)
SiriusXM: 81 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Continue Reading » Gameday – Florida Gators vs. Florida State: What to know, how to watch live, game picks

Florida RB Jordan Scarlett (marijuana possession) among three newly suspended for Citrus Bowl

Freshman running back Jordan Scarlett has been suspended by the Florida Gators for the 2016 Citrus Bowl following an arrest, head coach Jim McElwain confirmed this week.

According to Alachua County Court records obtained by OnlyGators.com, Scarlett was cited for first-degree misdemeanor possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) and drug paraphernalia. He was served with a notice to appear in court on Dec. 23 and has an arraignment set for Jan. 1, 2016.

Continue Reading » Florida RB Jordan Scarlett (marijuana possession) among three newly suspended for Citrus Bowl

Early bowl practices give Florida Gators a glimpse into future; QB Luke Del Rio included?

The 2015 season began with promises of the Florida Gators being fixed … eventually. It was 2016 when Florida was supposed to be whole again with quarterback Will Grier entering his third year, then-new head coach Jim McElwain in his second and the coach’s first full recruiting class set to join the program.

My how things can change over four months.

Grier’s emergence came to fruition … only for the player to get suspended for a full year by the NCAA and then decide to transfer from the program. McElwain had the Gators’ offense humming under Grier as Florida rolled to a 9-1 start … only to be manhandled in back-to-back games as the offense appeared as inept as it was under Will Muschamp.

Still, the Gators exceeded expectations in 2015, which means they will only be greater for Florida and its now-veteran coach in 2016. And before UF even settled in to practice for Michigan ahead of the 2016 Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, the team was focused on what it will look like next season.

Continue Reading » Early bowl practices give Florida Gators a glimpse into future; QB Luke Del Rio included?

Zach Hodskins’s first points highlight Florida basketball’s rout of Jacksonville

Games like Tuesday night’s have come and gone for Florida Gators basketball over the years: blowouts over less-talented, in-state opponents in which Florida’s coach is less thrilled with his team’s effort than the score suggests.

Tuesday’s 89-65 victory over the Jacksonville Dolphins was different. There were four Gators in double figures despite the team once again struggling mightily from beyond the arc (.286) and at the charity stripe (.655), but it was the final basket scored by UF (which put it up 27 points for a period of 20 seconds) that was the most special.

Continue Reading » Zach Hodskins’s first points highlight Florida basketball’s rout of Jacksonville

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