Seven Gators agree to undrafted free agent deals

Updated on Thursday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Former Florida Gators cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, wide receiver Solomon Patton, “tight end” Trey Burton, center Jonotthan Harrison, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens each agreed to undrafted free agent deals with teams shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Purifoy and Roberson, who were both expected to be selected in the draft, wound up agreeing to deals with teams just 250 miles away from each other on Monday. Purifoy (#7) inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced, while Roberson (#47) reached an agreement with the St. Louis Rams.

Purifoy joins running back Chris Rainey, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (a 2013 undrafted free agent) and Harrison (#72), who was picked up after the draft, on the Colts.

Roberson links up fellow former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the Rams after inking a three-year, $1.55 million deal including a $15,000 signing bonus.

Patton (#86) was snagged as a priority free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will join wide receiver Louis Murphy and running back Jeff Demps. He signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract with a $9,000 signing bonus.

Burton (#47) was quick to come to an agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles and will be teammates with WR Riley Cooper and CB Jaylen Watkins, the team’s selection with the first pick of the fourth round, No. 101 overall.

He also signed a three-year, $1.54 million deal, receiving a $7,500 signing bonus as part of $20,000 in total guaranteed money from the Eagles.

The Buffalo Bills did not have a single Florida player on their team entering the 2014 offseason but will enter minicamp with three, signing veteran LB Brandon Spikes and adding both Jacobs and Kitchens as undrafted free agents.

Gators offensive lineman Kyle Koehne was not picked up by a team but did receive a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

Watkins’s 10th entry on his long journey covers his recent travels, brother Sammy Watkins and final preparations as the process nears an end.

I’m back in Gainesville after a busy couple of weeks and finally have some time to catch everyone up on my Path to the Draft.

The past two weeks have been much of the same – working out, training and rehabilitating my Achilles, which is almost back at 100 percent. I’m very close.

I was actually planning on heading home Monday, but I had to stay in Gainesville this week because one more team wants to work me out and interview me before the draft.

So instead of going home, I’ve been hanging out with some of my teammates here and will leave on Saturday. First, I’ll stop in Orlando to see my dad, brother and sisters, and then I’ll head home to Cape Coral from there.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

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SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

1 » In addition to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey (who is expected to be released from his contract) and Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (a restricted free agent), six other former Florida Gators currently under contract with NFL teams will be unrestricted free agents the day after the Super Bowl. Those players include Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy, Kansas City Chiefs LB Brandon Siler, Oakland Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle, Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks and Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

On rosters for Super Bowl XLVII are San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald and Baltimore Ravens WR Deonte Thompson. The end result and may very well come down to which quarterback stands out and makes as few mistakes as possible.

2 » Speaking of Rainey, the former Gators running back had his recent simple battery charge reduced to disorderly conduct by Alachua County Judge Walter Green after the State Attorney’s Office decided it did not have enough evidence to pursue the more serious offense. The judge withheld adjudication and fined Rainey $200 to go along with court costs of $300 for the offense, effectively ending the legal issue, according to Florida Today. The alleged victim in the case denied that Rainey hit her the day after his arrest and contradicting statements from witnesses made the state’s case inconclusive. The Steelers announced the day of Rainey’s arrest that they had decided to waive him; however, NFL transactions made during the postseason cannot be completed until after the Super Bowl. With the charges being significantly reduced, Pittsburgh could theoretically have a change of heart or consider bringing Rainey back on a cheaper free agent contract.

Check out four more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

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17 Gator Bites for Monday, January 14

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Florida Gators junior forward Will Yeguete as seen Gator Chomping his way into your living room after his team took down LSU 74-52 on the road on Saturday. Animated GIF created for OnlyGators.com by photekxl.

» In addition to being the first center in NFL history to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey learned Saturday that he has also been voted a 2012 NFL All-Pro by the Associated Press for the third-straight year. Pouncey was also named to USA Football’s All-Fundamental Team this season.

» Fresh off winning the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year award for the first time in her illustrious career, former Florida striker Abby Wambach received some more great news when she was allocated to her hometown team – the Western New York Flash – on Friday by the brand new eight-team National Women’s Soccer League. Wambach, a native of Rochester, NY, was like all players able to submit a list of requested destinations for the league’s initial allocation and of course put the Flash, which are set to play home games in Rochester, at the very top. Though not every player in the league received their top choice – including other U.S. Women’s National Team stars – most were happy with their destinations. None more so than Wambach.

» According to multiple reports, Gators freshman defensive back Willie Bailey has chosen Louisville as his transfer destination. Bailey chose to leave the program in early December in a decision that was a long time coming as he was not likely to see the field much for the duration of his career.

Check out 13 more Gator Bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 17 Gator Bites for Monday, January 14

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TWO BITS: Peterson re-signed, Cunningham

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Mike Peterson re-signed with the Atlanta Falcons, continuing his now-14-year NFL career with the team he has played for since 2009. Close with Atlanta head coach Mike Smith, Peterson was brought over to the Falcons when Smith was hired away from the Jacksonville Jaguars (where Peterson played from 2003-08). After amassing 109 tackles (82 solo) with three turnovers and a sack as a starter in 2009, Peterson’s production has trailed off over the last two seasons as he has moved into a reserve role. He had just 24 tackles (18 solo) in 2011. He was re-signed for depth and flexibility purposes as he can play either inside or outside and is also a strong veteran presence in the locker room.

2 » New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham had a disappointing season in 2011, spending most weekends on the inactive list and officially being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury on Dec. 10. When he did see the field, he mostly played on special teams after registering 35 tackles and a sack in 15 games as a rookie. Head coach Bill Belichick said he was pleased with how hard Cunningham had worked and noted that he had been having a “great offseason” on June 12, but a projection by ESPN Boston just 12 days later said the player only had a 35 percent chance of making the 53-man roster. That has apparently not stopped Cunningham from working his butt off in the gym and taking some fans along for the ride, as noted by Reddit user “dafrizz888,” who recently posted his account of Cunningham selflessly taking him through a tough ab workout a few days ago.

I called over to him and told him thanks again and that I wasn’t expecting to get to work out with an NFL player when I walked into the gym. He responded “hey, we’re all just doing our thing in there man.”

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Carthon named Rams’ pro director of personnel

Former Florida Gators running back Ran Carthon has been named the new director of pro director of personnel for the St. Louis Rams, the organization has announced.

Carthon, who led Florida in rushing with 595 yards and six touchdowns in 2003, finished his career with the Gators having played in 48 games (11 starts). He accounted for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scored 12 total touchdowns.

Since ending his NFL playing career following three years (2004-06) with Indianapolis Colts, Carthon has been working as a scout with the Atlanta Falcons (2008-11).

For him, the opportunity in Atlanta was a lifelong ambition come true.

“Scouting is something I’ve always been interested in,” he told OGGOA in March. “I used to sit home and record every draft from 1995 to 2003. I would sit by the TV and have my legal pad and kind of do my own little mocks with the magazines and all that.

“When I was in school, whatever team my dad [Maurice Carthon] was with and whatever coach came down, I would always get with them to watch film when they watched our guys for Pro Day. I would be on the field timing 40s myself, timing drills and doing all those things. It was something I always wanted to do.”

Scouting always came naturally to Carthon, who returned to Florida in 2008 to get his degree. After graduating he sent letters to every NFL team looking for an opportunity but got his big break when former Gators head coach Urban Meyer allowed him to participate in Pro Day and bump into some coaches and scouts.

“I wasn’t there working out, but I came and I met some of the scouts and got some cards and kind of kept in touch with guys throughout that process. I was able to get an interview with the Falcons and was able to land the job,” he said.

Carthon has been a popular figure in Atlanta’s front office and even created a Fatherhood Ticket Program that earned him recognition from the White House for responding to a call from President Barack Obama to help strengthen the bonds of fathers and families.

He now has a new challenge in St. Louis and should do quite well if he continues to possess the same passion and fortitude he has throughout his career.

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Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.

He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).

He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.

Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.

Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized?
RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”

AS: Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)?
RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”

AS: Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers?
RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”

Read the rest of our interview with Ran Carthon…after the break!
Continue Reading » Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

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SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

1 » According to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed for but turned down the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn, who has been at Florida for just one season, was a NFL assistant with four different teams from 2001-10.

2 » The 2011-12 season may now be in the books but that does not mean Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s name is out of the news. Tebow, who sat down for a 30-minute interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm last week, will be featured on ESPN2 in “SportsCenter Special: Face to Face with Tim Tebow” on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 10:30 p.m. Tebow’s recent ESPN rounds included an interview with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, which you can view below.

Four more BITS on Crowder, Demps, the Oh Fours and Wambach after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

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