Gators at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine – Day 2

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will be covering the 10 former Florida Gators players who have been officially invited to participate in the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) in Indianapolis, IN, at Lucas Oil Stadium each day.

Day two of the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine was lackluster overall, as it featured only two Florida Gators – center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Aaron Hernandez – getting measured, completing exams, meeting with the media, undergoing psychological tests and continuing their team interviews. Both players had arrived Wednesday for registration, pre-exams, x-rays, orientation and the first round of interviews.

Pouncey and Hernandez, who will remain on the same schedule throughout the week, have a meeting with the NFLPA on Friday along with additional psychological tests and interviews. Saturday, they will complete the combine workout (timing, stations, skill drills).

Center Maurkice Pouncey (Group 02, OL33)
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 304 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 1/2 in.
Hand Size: 10 in.

Pre-Combine Overview: Able to play both center and guard, Pouncey is one of the most versatile players at the combine. Expected to be the top center picked in the 2010 NFL Draft, he is big enough to take on nose tackles yet quick enough to face 4-3 defensive tackles, too.
Strengths: Size, quickness, versatility, awareness, balance, leverage
Weaknesses: Durability due to torn labrum surgery, finishing blocks

Tight end Aaron Hernandez (Group 03, TE13)
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 245 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 1/4 in.
Hand Size: 9 3/4 in.

Pre-Combine Overview: Considered undersized for his position, Hernandez is projected as a combo TE/H-back. He is athletic enough to catch passes and turn them into big gains but may experience problems against more physical defenders or while run-blocking.
Strengths: Athleticism, speed, hands, leaping ability
Weaknesses: Size, strength

Touching down in Indianapolis, IN, Thursday were quarterback Tim Tebow (Group 05, QB19) and wide receivers Riley Cooper (Group 04, WO12) and Brandon James (Group 04, WO19). Linebacker Brandon Spikes (Group 09, LB30), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (Group 07, DL13) and DE Jermaine Cunningham (Group 07, DL09) will check in at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, while cornerback Joe Haden (Group 10, DB20) and safety Major Wright (Group 11, DB58) will begin the process Sunday.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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Former pro scout on Gators in 2010 NFL Draft

With the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine coming up on Feb. 24 and the NFL Draft just over two months away, OGGOA sat down with former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah of Move The Sticks to pick his brain about departed Florida Gators players participating in the combine and eligible to be selected from April 22-24. Jeremiah was completely candid in our discussion, pointing out qualities he liked in each player while explaining why certain Gators might fall further than some may expect. In addition to his Web site, Jeremiah also offers comprehensive NFL scouting coverage on Twitter (@MoveTheSticks) as well as with his brand new podcast (also available on iTunes).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Obviously scouting is about hitting and not missing on prospects. What qualities separate a successful NFL scout from the rest of the pack?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Successful NFL scouts know what they are looking for. If you go into a school knowing what makes a good player and what fits your team, you are way ahead of the curve.

AS: Is there one player in particular who you were dead-right on over your six years in the league? Perhaps one you overrated going into the draft?
DJ: Several of both instances. I really felt that Reggie Bush would become the biggest playmaker in the NFL. He has been very good but not up to the level I thought he would be performing. I felt very strongly about Roddy White and DeMarcus Ware, even though they came out of lesser known programs. Both should have been top five picks.

AS: Let’s get this out of the way: I know you were able to get a good look at Tim Tebow both through your extensive tape watching as well as in-person at the Senior Bowl. Assuming for a second he is able to correct his release, what else do you believe will eventually hold him back from being a successful starting quarterback in the NFL?
DJ: He needs to improve his downfield accuracy. He is much better on lob throws (fades, corner routes, deep posts) than he is on drive throws. That is my second biggest concern after improving his release.

Read more of his thoughts on Tebow and the rest of the Gators after the break!
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Ten Gators invited to 2010 NFL Scouting Combine

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive has learned that 10 former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) in Indianapolis, IN, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 24 to March 2, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staff look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2010 NFL Draft commences on April 22.

The 10 former Gators student-athletes participating in the combine include:

Quarterback Tim Tebow – Group: 05; Camp: QB19
Wide receiver Riley Cooper – Group: 04; Camp: WO12
Wide receiver Brandon James – Group: 04; Camp: WO19
Linebacker Brandon Spikes = Group: 09; Camp: LB30
Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham – Group: 07; Camp: DL09

Cornerback Joe Haden – Group: 10; Camp: DB20
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap – Group: 07; Camp: DL13
Safety Major Wright – Group 11; Camp DB58
Tight end Aaron Hernandez – Group: 03; Camp: TE13
Center Maurkice Pouncey – Group: 02; Camp: OL33

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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FOUR BITS: NFL Combine, Strong poaches recruit

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Ryan Stamper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have received invites to the 2010 NFL Combine. Juniors who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft have yet to receive invitations, but fans can expect DE Carlos Dunlap, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Major Wright to participate in the event from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Indianapolis, IN.

2 » Three-star athlete Marcus Smith (Columbus, GA) had an outstanding scholarship offer from Florida and was prepared to take it…that is until Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong came calling. “If Louisville would have never been in the mix, I would have probably went to Florida,” Smith told the Courier-Journal. “But I’m glad Louisville came into the mix. I like coach Strong a lot, and I really wanted to play for coach Strong. Louisville is a great program. He wants me to play quarterback, he established that during our talk this morning. To tell you the truth, I just want to play, so I am good wherever he wants me.” Upon taking his position with the Cardinals, Strong said he would not poach recruits the Gators were interested in unless they initiated contact.

3 » The Gators hosted their biggest remaining recruiting weekend the past few days and a number of both committed and undecided prospects came away impressed. Four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who at one point was wavering after head coach Urban Meyer announced his leave of absence, solidified his recruitment after getting extensive time with new running backs coach Stan Drayton. Brown also told Adam Gorney of Rivals that Meyer may return as soon as March. “He looked pretty fine to me,” Brown said. “He looked healthy. I know he wants to coach, so I know he’s going to be there. He’s going to take a couple weeks off in February, but he’ll be back.” Fellow four-star recruits offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, FL) and wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) raved to numerous sources about their respective experiences.

4 » Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers with just two seconds remaining in the game, the Florida women’s basketball team gained a bit of revenge by taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 55-52 on the road on Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard Trumae Lucas scored seven points off of the bench in the waning minutes while senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while also grabbing seven boards.

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FOUR BITS: McCray, NFL Playoffs, Lee, Hernandez

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, now with the New Orleans Saints, laid out Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner during the second round of the NFL Playoffs on Saturday. OGGOA has the video.

2 » Plenty of former Gators will be in action Sunday as the second round of the NFL Playoffs continue. Linebacker Brandon Siler and defensive tackle Ian Scott will be lining up for the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets‘ cornerback Lito Sheppard will be trying to shut down the Chargers’ deep threats and wide receiver Percy Harvin will see action in the early game as one of Brett Favre‘s top targets on the Minnesota Vikings against the Dallas Cowboys.

3 » Barely missing a triple-double for the New York Knicks Saturday was former Florida forward/center David Lee. Finishing with 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, Lee has been tearing it up in New York over the last two seasons. Lee is averaging career-highs in minutes (36.9), points (19.3), assists (3.3) and steals (1.1) this season while also grabbing 11.2 rebounds per game; he has all the makings of an NBA All-Star.

4 » The decision that former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez made to declare for the 2010 NFL Draft may turn out to be a wise one. But one choice Hernandez made that is already paying dividends was that of attending Florida instead of the University of Connecticut. “I feel like it was the best decision I made,” Hernandez told the Hartford Courant. “It made me grow up a little bit, get away from family and friends. The coaches were great coaches and they were great people, and I just don’t think anything could have gone better.” When did Hernandez decide to leave school? “I kind of planned toward the middle of the season, because I felt like I wanted to move on and enter a new part of my life,” he said. “Really, as the season went on, I just wanted [it] more and more.”

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SIX BITS: Tough loss, Stamper, Wuerffel, 2011

1 » One year ago, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team upset the then-No. 12/17 Tennessee Lady Vols 66-57 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Looking to repeat history, a much younger Florida team (9-8, 2-2 SEC) had the game tied at 64 against a significantly more experienced No. 4 Tennessee squad (15-1, 3-0 SEC) until Lady Vols guard Angie Bjorklund hit a reverse lay-up with 2.3 seconds left in the second half to pull ahead and ultimately win 66-64. Four Gators scored in double figures, and Florida led for much of the second half but could not hold on.

2 » In a news item that OGGOA broke Thursday via twitter, former Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper was invited to be a participant in the 2010 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Stamper is currently slated to play in the game but may have to pull out if the ankle injury he suffered in the 2010 Sugar Bowl flares up. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. In other Stamper news, he has decided to sign with agent Garriet Blair of GMB Sports and Entertainment. Quarterback Tim Tebow has declined an invitation to the East-West Shrine and will instead participate in the 2010 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

All-Americans, Wuerffel, 2011 recruits and Gators in the pros after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tough loss, Stamper, Wuerffel, 2011

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Three’s a charm: Wright to enter NFL Draft, too

After conflicting reports surfaced early Monday about his status for next season, Florida Gators junior safety Major Wright told Joe Schad of ESPN that he has decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the 2010 NFL Draft. “I’m going to the NFL,” Wright said in a text message to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald.

“I enjoyed my time in Gainesville, they were some of the best years of my life,” Wright said in a University of Florida release. “Beyond winning championships, I will take with me some great memories of personal friendships from my teammates and lessons learned from the coaching staff. I will always be a Gator and look forward to watching them play from the sidelines in the future.”

Wright is the third Florida junior to declare Monday, joining defensive end Carlos Dunlap and center Maurkice Pouncey whose announcements were made earlier in the day. Five juniors in total are making themselves eligible for the draft – cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Aaron Hernandez are the other two.

“Major will be missed in our secondary and by his teammates,” said head coach Urban Meyer. “He was a physical player who had a presence on the football field and was someone our players looked up to and gravitated to. They enjoyed being around him both on and off the field. We wish him the best of luck.”

Fellow junior S Ahmad Black, Wright’s 2008 running mate and one of three starters at the position in 2009, has “decided to stay in school and get his stock up in next year’s NFL Draft,” his father Bruce Black told the The Miami Herald Saturday night. Black will likely start at safety along with sophomore Will Hill.

The Gators’ 2010 starting secondary will likely consist of Black and Hill along with sophomore CB Janoris Jenkins and redshirt freshman CB Adrian Bushell on either side. That is, of course, unless one of Florida’s four incoming freshman at the position do not usurp one of their roles.

Take a moment and enjoy the best play of Wright’s Gators career:

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Carlos Dunlap also declares for 2010 NFL Draft

Following the trend set by juniors cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Carlos Dunlap has decided to forgo his senior season with the Florida Gators and make himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft. Dunalp, who was at one point projected as a top-five pick, saw his stock fall after a shocking DUI arrest the Monday before the 2009 SEC Championship.

“This took a lot of thought and prayer between me and my family, and we decided that this was the best direction for me to take,” Dunlap said. “I’ve loved having the chance to play at Florida for Coach [Urban] Meyer, and playing for Coach Charlie Strong. I wouldn’t be the person or the player I am today without them and the other coaches who have helped me along the way.”

Already close to graduating, Dunlap received a promising grade from the league’s Draft Advisory Board – two factors that likely led to his decision. “The feedback that he’s gotten is that he will go late in the first round or early in the second round,” Dunlap’s father told Rivals last Tuesday. “Staying to get a degree isn’t going to be an issue because he’s on track to graduate in December. He’s close enough to getting his degree that he can do it anytime. So does he want to come back to finish up his education and maybe be the top overall draft choice next year or does he want to come out right now and start working on his NFL career?”

Obviously Dunlap, the defensive MVP of the 2009 BCS Championship and an almost unanimous All-SEC team selection, chose the latter. He closed his Florida career by earning two of the Gators’ three sacks in the Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats and finished with a team-high nine this season.

“Carlos has all of the physical tools to be successful at the next level,” Florida head coach Urban Meyer said. “I believe if he continues to grow and mature he will have a very long career in the NFL. He provided matchup problems for opposing teams and was a big part of our success during the last several years. We wish him the best of luck.”

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