LB Peterson: “I’m still in shock and even in awe.”

Back in Gainesville, FL over the weekend to be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class as a Gator Great, former Florida Gators linebacker Mike Peterson is enjoying his offseason while he waits for the NFL lockout situation to be settled so he can play football (hopefully) with the Atlanta Falcons next season.

Working out in Jacksonville, FL, Peterson sat down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview Tuesday afternoon. A first-team All-American in 1998 and second-team All-Pro selection in 2005 who won a pair of Southeastern Conference Championships (1995-96) and a National Championship (1996) with Florida, he discussed at length his decision to play for the Gators, college career, NFL career, hall of fame induction, recent meeting with the team and foundation he began to help underprivileged families in both Gainesville and Atlanta, GA.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You were born and grew up in Alachua and Gainesville. How long after Florida offered you a scholarship did it take for you to give them your commitment?
MIKE PETERSON: “Not too long. The thing about it is: I never knew that I would go to Florida. I guess being from that area, you always say you’re going to leave home and go somewhere else. At the time, Coach Ron Zook was the linebacker coach and also the recruiting coordinator, so he convinced me to come on a visit. Once I came on a visit, man, it made no sense for me to go anywhere else. I had everything right there in my backyard. Shortly after they offered me the scholarship, I gave them my commitment.”

AS: Was your goal growing up to play for the Gators? Was there ever a time where you thought that might not happen or you might go somewhere else?
MP: “I was high on Michigan. Growing up, I said I wanted to get away. I went to high school there, elementary school, knew everything there, knew everybody there. I just considered I was going somewhere else. I visited Michigan – I was high on Michigan and Clemson – those were probably my top two. I was a quarterback coming out [of high school] and those were the two Division I schools that were going to give me a shot at quarterback. Once I visited Florida, man, it was hands-down where I needed to be.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Mike Peterson…after the break!
Continue Reading » LB Peterson: “I’m still in shock and even in awe.”

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Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Seven letterwinners, including Gator Greats Mike Peterson (football) and Bob Emrick (men’s basketball), will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class on Friday. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. will hand out these prestigious honors to the group of Florida Gators at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 8, 2011, in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class includes Gator Greats Dawn Buth (women’s tennis), Judd Davis (football), Michelle Freeman (women’s track & field), Mimosa McNerney (women’s swimming), Distinguished Letterwinner Keith Tribble (football), and Honorary Letterwinner Dr. Richard Shaara (team physician).

More about each inductee and their career accomplishments after the break.
Continue Reading » Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

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FOUR BITS: Temple, Gorman, Hounshell, Mularkey

1 » New Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio has made his first hire, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Addazio has tabbed Florida Gators offensive assistant Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. Frye played under Addazio at Indiana and joined Florida’s staff in 2009.

2 » Four-star safety recruit Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) plans to announce his commitment on Wednesday at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game and is expected to choose between the Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida – which desperately needs safety help in the 2011 class – is considered by recruiting analysts to be the favorite to land Gorman. He is ranked as the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) by ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) by Rivals. OGGOA will update you on Gorman’s decision tomorrow.

Current UF commits also participating include five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

3 » One Florida commitment who will not be enrolling early next week as originally planned is three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH). Hounshell, who remains committed to the Gators, said he will not be graduating early from high school and will instead take his time making his final decision. “I just don’t want to rush the most important decision of my life,” he told the Lake County News-Herald. “I was supposed to be moving down Wednesday, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school.” The only other school Hounshell is considering as of press time is Notre Dame.

4 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, currently the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be interviewing for the head coaching jobs with both the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. Mularkey has served as a position coach and coordinator most of his post-playing career but was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004-05.

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 1 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 1 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the first week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Six tackles (four solo), interception
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots 14 rushes for 71 yards (avg: 5.1, long: 24), two receptions for six yards (targets: 2, long: 7)

LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Eight tackles (two solo)
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Three receptions for 22 yards (targets: 6, long: 9)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Two solo tackles
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Two solo tackles, pass defended
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown (targets: 7, long: 15)
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: Two rushes for two yards
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two solo tackles
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two solo tackles, pass def., QB hit
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Pass defended
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: One reception for 12 yards, one rush for two yards, two kickoff returns for 41 yards (avg.: 20.5, long: 22)
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings Three solo tackles, three passes defended
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: One reception for 45 yards
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Three tackles (one solo), pass defended, QB hit
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Tackle
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Four rec. for 28 yards (targets: 7, long: 16)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Six carries for 10 yards (avg.: 1.7, long: 6), one reception for eight yards

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), LT Max Starks (Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) — DE Jarvis Moss (Broncos), S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions), LB Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots), DT Gerard Warren (Patriots), RB DeShawn Wynn (Saints), WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins), LB Brandon Siler (San Diego Chargers)

INACTIVES
WR Andre Caldwell (Bengals), DE Carlos Dunlap (Bengals), LB Channing Crowder (Miami Dolphins)

NOTES
- D. Nelson, Haden, Tebow, Hernandez and Spikes all recorded their first NFL statistics.
- Starks suffered a high ankle sprain during the Steelers game and will miss a month.

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Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

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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.”

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LB Earl Everett: “I’m ready to get back out there”

A true freshman starter, former Florida Gators linebacker Earl Everett was unable to complete his degree in four years. He left for the NFL but was once again met with roadblocks as he suffered injuries while in training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals and later as a member of the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad. Soon after, he had a successful tryout with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL but broke two bones in his leg just days after returning from the workout, stalling his career for the short-term. On schedule to complete his degree at the University of Florida and graduate this summer, Everett is all healed up and ready to head up to Canada for a second chance on a professional football career. Before he returned to Gainesville, FL, Everett spent almost 20 minutes speaking with OGGOA about his career and life up until this point.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What are you up to now? I know you are back at UF getting your degree. How is it hanging out with the Gators and seeing head coach Urban Meyer?
EARL EVERETT: “It’s always good to go back. Coach Meyer told a lot of us seniors, he always said, ‘Once a Gator, Always a Gator.’ We will always be tied to the hip. And it’s the truth. Every time I go back and see him, he [tells me] that if I need anything – any advice, a reference for a job – you can always call the coaches and they are there for us guys. Even though you are done, you might be done playing football or done with school, they’re still there. It is a family first program – that’s what it is.”

AS: Are you saying that you feel you are done at this point after your injury during tryouts with Montreal last year?
EE: “No, I actually might have a chance to play over in Canada next year with Chris Leak. I’m kind of looking forward to that. I had a few road bumps – like you said, you know – I got injured and got released from a few teams. Then I decided the next best thing was to go back and finish my degree since I’m so close. I’m taking my last two classes now, Summer A, and I graduate in August.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Earl Everett…after the break!
Continue Reading » LB Earl Everett: “I’m ready to get back out there”

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FOUR BITS: Peterson, Orton vs. Tebow, FSU wins

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Mike Peterson – now a veteran with the Atlanta Falcons, has taken on the roll of mentor with the team’s first-round choice in the 2010 NFL Draft, Sean Weatherspoon. Now 34, Peterson had a solid 2009-10 season (140 tackles) and hopes to continue to help both on the field and in the locker room. “I understand the business,” he said. “I want to help the team out. That’s what I’m all about. I didn’t come here to try and play 2,000 plays. I came here to try to win the Super Bowl. Whatever my role will be, I’m ready for it.”

2 » The Denver Post is apparently the “Kyle Orton needs to get out of here on way or another” angle now that former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has joined the Denver Broncos. Columnist Woody Paige insists the team needs to pull the trigger on a trade involving Orton because he is “not a short-term fix or a long-range fit for the Broncos,” noting that he is “an average quarterback who couldn’t start for 21 other teams in the league.” Better to see what they have in former Notre Dame star Brady Quinn and first-round pick Tebow, Page believes. Paper-mate mark Kiszla takes a similar angle on the topic, noting that Orton needs to get himself out of Denver as fast as possible. “[He] would have rocks for brains to start another game as quarterback of the Broncos,” Kiszla wrote. “He would be playing the fool for Denver coach Josh McDaniels. If Orton owns a penny’s worth of common sense, he has already quietly, politely and firmly asked for a trade to grant his freedom.”

3 » EA SportsNCAA Football 11, which will feature Tebow as its cover athlete, is undergoing more changes than just deciding to use one former player on its cover instead of many. According to Jon Robinson of ESPN, the gaming company has decided to further embed ESPN branding into the game, letting each contest play like it is a live network broadcast. Read more about some of the game’s brand new features.

4 » Speaking of ESPN, the worldwide leader has decided to create a bracket system in order to devise which college program has been the best pipeline for the NFL over the last 30 years. Not surprisingly, No. 13-seed Florida lost its opening-round match-up. Unfortunately for some fans, it was to the No. 4-seed Florida State Seminoles. Though writer Matt Williamson noted that the recent influx of Gators gives the team a chance to claim the title in the future, the past’s top five notable players (Derrick Brooks, Deion Sanders, Walter Jones, Rohn Stark, LeRoy Butler VS. Emmitt Smith, Lomas Brown, Cris Collinsworth, Wilber Marshall, Neal Anderson) allows FSU to earn the edge. Check out the entire head-to-head match-up at the link above including summaries by Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach.

Photo Credit: Jon Robinson/ESPN

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