8/8: Pease on Gators’ QB battle, team’s progress

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease had plenty to say after the first few days of fall practice and did exactly that on Wednesday afternoon. Pease discussed the quarterback situation, specific players and some of his general philosophies.

TWO MEN ENTER, NO ONE LEAVES?

Asked how difficult it would be to tell either of his sophomore quarterbacks that they will not be starting for the Gators, Pease admitted that it would not be an easy thing to do but noted that he has plenty of experience and perspective handling such situations.

“It’s hard because kids take things so negatively that it’s like you’re saying they’re not good enough. That’s not the case. I really believe we got two or three kids here that we can win football games with,” he said. “You hopefully develop more depth and you can believe in all your quarterbacks. Some of it is experience with a freshman kid coming in.

“It’s hard. I’ve been in that role. I’ve been told that situation and that’s probably how I took it not understanding that my day will come. For whatever reason, whoever it is, the other guy has got to always be ready. He’s going to be the most popular guy in town anyway. You never know when your opportunity is.”

One thing Pease is not worried about is whether Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel would transfer out of Florida if they do not win the job on day one.

“I don’t handle that,” he said. “If that’s what they want to do, they do it. I’ll tell you this: These kids are competitive. They’ve worked hard. They want to go out and play. They’re about this team; they’re about this university. I sense none of that.

“If they find out that’s the situation that doesn’t work for them, then I’m for them because they’re good kids and I’ll do anything to help them as well as Coach [Will] Muschamp would.”

That is assuming, of course, that one of them does win the job and the Gators do not use two quarterbacks in 2012, something that Pease did not discount whatsoever.

“If their role is good enough to fit into what we can do and [we can] use them in multiple situations [then we will],” he said. “Whatever they can do to help the team and make more weapons on the field or make more situations that defenses have to defend.”

Read the rest of what Pease had to say about the offense on Wednesday…
Continue Reading » 8/8: Pease on Gators’ QB battle, team’s progress

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8/3: Muschamp on Hill, Hamdan, leadership

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday following the first day of fall practice for the Florida Gators. Muschamp spoke about a number of hot topics concerning the coaching staff and personnell heading into the season.

HILL’S RESIGNATION WAS “VERY SURPRISING”

Though Muschamp did not want to go into too much detail about the departure of wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill, he did say that he informed the team of his resignation on Thursday night and was ultimately surprised by the decision.

“Obviously disappointed in the situation,” Muschamp said. “I really don’t have anything more to say. It’s a personal situation with Aubrey. It has nothing to do with the University of Florida, and we wish him well and he’ll always be a Gator.”

He also complimented Hill and said that he does not hold his decision against him.

“Aubrey’s a good man, a good football coach, a good guy and a great Gator. He felt like this was something he needed to do and that’s what we did,” Muschamp said.

FILLING IN FOR HILL ON THE FIELD, IN THE OFFICE

Hill’s departure leaves what many would believe are two glaring holes in the Florida coaching staff considering the fact that he held two positions. Muschamp was quick to point out, however, that “recruiting coordinator” is not one that needs to be filled because, at the end of the day, it all falls on his own shoulders.

“You’re looking at him. Every day,” Muschamp quipped when asked who would replace Hill as recruiting coordinator. “That title don’t mean a whole lot to me. I’m the recruiting coordinator. I handle all the recruiting; I’ve recruited every player we have.”

He did, however, expand on who would be coaching the receivers and said that duty would indeed fall on the shoulders of graduate assistant and former Boise State quarterback Bush Hamdan.

“He’s a guy that is a really good young football coach,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very mature guy, an outstanding football coach. As we move forward, I will make a decision in December about that position.”

Muschamp appeared solid in this decision, noting that he has “all the confidence in the world [Hamdan] will do an outstanding job for Florida.” He also said that offensive coordinator Brent Pease would be helping him out just like he would any other coach.

“When you’re the coordinator, you wear a lot of hats. So it’s not like all of a sudden it’s a new responsibility being thrown on top of you. He was very comfortable with what we were doing anyways,” he said of Pease.

“I feel very comfortable about that situation. I’m not at all worried. I never blinked. We were going to be fine; I knew what we were going to have to do.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On how he felt after practice: “A lot of really good retention on both sides of the ball; very pleased with both of the retention. Obviously they’ve worked hard this summer knowing their assignments and the things that they do. […] The younger guys went tonight…that was good, good effort. It was interesting. We lined up in some defenses I didn’t know we had. No, they did a good job. They did. It was good effort and energy and excitement, anxiety and all the stuff that you couple into a young guy going out.”

» Muschamp said that defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers both practiced with the younger players in the evening session not because they needed work on learning the system but because he wanted to make sure each got as many reps as possible.

» On if he saw increased toughness from his team on Friday: “You play in pads and we’re out there in helmets. Everybody looks tough and everybody’s got courage in helmets. Some of the courage doesn’t show up as much when you get into full gear, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

» On if players are able to determine leaders before coaches do: “At the end of the day, the players before the coaches normally know who the leaders are. I see them on the field, I see them in the locker room, I see them in the weight room. I have a pretty good idea of the personality they have and the type of person they are. But unless I’ve been around them for 2-3-4 years, sometimes you may miss on some guys. But they’re with them in the social settings and they understand the guys that are real and the guys that aren’t real at the end of the day. There’s no question that our players probably identify better early on who the true leaders are and who the real guys are and who the guys are that want to talk about it. You know, you got to walk the walk as well.”

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Florida Gators, WR coach Aubrey Hill part ways

Florida Gators wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill has resigned from his position with the team, the school announced on Friday.

Hill, who has been twice named by Yahoo! Sports in connection with major recruiting violations in his former position with the Miami Hurricanes (Aug. 16, 2011 | July 20, 2012), resigned for “personal reasons” according to head coach Will Muschamp.

“I have too much love and respect for this program to become a distraction as I deal with some personal issues,” Hill said in statement released by the school. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Coach Muschamp, a tremendous staff and great group of players. The future is very bright here and the University of Florida will always have a special place in my heart. Go Gators.”

Muschamp said in a release that he appreciated Hill’s decision to move on.

“Aubrey informed me he was resigning for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the University of Florida,” he said. “Aubrey didn’t want to be a distraction to our team and our football program and he thought it was best for him to move on. I appreciate Aubrey’s efforts and wish him the best moving forward. He will always remain a Gator.”

A Miami, FL native, Hill is a Gators alum who played for head coach Steve Spurrier from 1991-94 when Florida won their first three SEC titles. He served as a graduate assistant under Spurrier from 1996-98 and coached wide receivers at four stops over 12 years before being hired by Florida. He also served as the Hurricanes recruiting coordinator only for the 2010 season, his last year with the team.

Filling in for Hill at least temporarily will be offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who also coaches the Gators’ quarterbacks, and offensive graduate assistant Bush Hamdan. Pease previously coached wide receivers at Boise State from 2006-10, and Hamdan was a backup quarterback in his offensive system.

Muschamp will likely hire a new coach after the season.

Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is an early candidate to take over Hill’s recruiting coordinator duties; Florida already has 21 players verbally committed for the 2013 cycle as of press time and has an early jump on its 2014 class.

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Hill again named in Yahoo! report on potential recruiting violations occurring at Miami

For the second time in as many years, a report released Friday by Yahoo! Sports concerning potential recruiting violations occurring within the Miami Hurricanes football program includes the name of current Florida Gators wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill.

Writes Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson:

Less than one week after the University of Miami hired Al Golden as coach, members of Golden’s coaching staff began using Sean “Pee Wee” Allen – a then-equipment manager and onetime right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro – to circumvent NCAA rules in the recruiting of multiple Miami-area players.

He adds that Golden “had direct knowledge of Allen’s improper involvement with Miami recruits” and that “Allen has become a focal point into the [NCAA’s] probe into Miami athletics” with a focus on how he provided “impermissible benefits to Hurricanes players, as well as his contract with Miami recruits.”

One of those so-called “recruiting infractions” took place with the assistance of Hill, according to Robinson’s report.

On Dec. 17, 2010, five days after Golden was hired as Miami’s coach, Allen testified that he was summoned to the restaurant Dan Marino’s in South Miami to pick up Miami Northwestern High school quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. […] Allen testified that Bridgewater, Golden and other Miami coaches were at the restaurant during an unofficial visit and that a member of the coaching staff asked Allen to pick Bridgewater up. […] Allen’s phone records show eight calls exchanged with Bridgewater that afternoon and early evening, as well as four calls exchanged with Hill. The former Miami staffer told Yahoo! Sports that Hill, a then-Miami assistant, was present at the restaurant and arranged for Allen to pick Bridgewater up and transport him home – a violation of NCAA rules.

Hill was one of seven coaches specifically named in Robinson’s 2011 report on the Miami football program being infiltrated by booster Nevin Shapiro. He was accused of ushering recruits (including eventual Gators commitments wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive lineman Matt Patchan) to “Shapiro’s home or luxury suite so the booster could make recruiting pitches to them.”

Hill coached the Hurricanes wide receivers from 2008-10 and added the role of recruiting coordinator in his final season. He was hired away from Miami by Florida head coach Will Muschamp just three weeks after Golden took the job in South Florida.

Neither Hill, Debose nor Patchan suffered any penalties or punishments after being named in the 2011 report. Hill, through the University of Florida, declined comment prior to the publication of both the 2011 and 2012 reports.

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Legacy Kelvin Taylor commits to Florida Gators

Eighteen years after his father first donned an orange and blue uniform and ran out onto Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) announced that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps by committing to play football for the Florida Gators in 2013.

The son of University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame running back Fred Taylor, he has been around both football and the Gators his entire life. And like his father, his immensely successful high school football career earned him a scholarship offer from Florida, which he chose over Alabama on Saturday.

Kelvin Taylor (5’10” 205 lbs.) actually began playing as an eighth grader, starting for the Glades Day High School varsity team and running for 1,692 yards and 27 touchdowns. He followed that up by amassing 2,691 yards and 47 touchdowns as a freshman, breaking former Gators running back Emmitt Smith’s career Florida high school record of 8,804 yards two years later at the end of his junior season in 2011.

With 9,698 career yards to his credit (only 8,114 of which count nationally), he has an opportunity to break the all-time record of 11,232 yards, which was set back in 1953. He has also produced 148 touchdowns in four years of playing high school football.

Taylor undoubtedly has his sights set on the NFL and can only hope to be as successful as his father, the No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns (adding 2,384 receiving yards and eight receiving scores) over 13 seasons as a professional.

His name can also be found throughout Florida’s record books as he still holds the Gators’ single-season record for yards per carry (6.0 in 1997), led the team in rushing in both 1994 and 1997, has the sixth-most attempts in school history (537) and is fourth in both career (3,075) and single-season (1,292) rushing yardage.

Even with a strong love for the Gators, Fred Taylor never pushed his son to commit to Florida and said that he just wanted him to be happy no matter which school he chose.

And just because he will be playing for the Gators, do not expect Kelvin Taylor to think the starting job or anything else for that matter will be handed to him.

Reidel Anthony, a former teammate of his father’s and the offensive coordinator at Glades Central, told ESPNU that Taylor is a hard worker who makes his own way.

“Kelvin plays hungry and there’s no sense of entitlement there,” he said. “He doesn’t expect to just walk in and dominate because he’s Fred Taylor’s son. He wants to be a player that earns what he gets.

“And he’s just a humble young man, real quiet like Fred was. He’s not going to tell you that he’s going to run for 350 yards on you, he’s just going to do it. He has the respect of his teammates, his coaches, other coaches and his opposition because of the way he plays the game.”

Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, also a former teammate of Fred Taylor’s and still a close friend of the family, was Kelvin Taylor’s primary recruiter with the Gators throughout the entire process.

With his commitment now out of the way, the younger Taylor no longer has to endure the rigors of recruiting and can instead concentrate on the things that matter the most.

“I’m gonna keep my grades up, work very hard, run track, lift weights and just focus my mind on high school football and trying to get another state title,” he said earlier in the week, according to The Gainesville Sun.

The No. 111 ranked player nationally according to Rivals and a five-star recruit listed as one of ESPNU’s top 100 prospects in 2013, Taylor gives Florida their second big-time running back commitment in the 2013 class. He joins four-star Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL) as two of the Gators’ five pledges as of press time.

He is currently attending Florida’s second Junior Day this weekend in Gainesville, FL and intends to enroll at UF in January (as does Lane).

Taylor’s commitment was first reported by Andrew Spivey of Gator Country.

RELATED: 2013 LB Powell chooses the Gators at Junior Day | WR Rodney Adams makes the call for Florida

Photo Credits: Stuart Browning, Unknown

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Four Gators coaches strap on the pads in practice

Call it a fun exercise to get the players hyped for the game or a moment to try to rekindle some glory from their playing careers but there were smiles all around during practice for the 2012 Gator Bowl when four Florida Gators coaches threw on pads and jerseys and went head-to-head on the field.

In the video below from the University of Florida’s GatorVision, wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill takes on defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson and defensive line coach Bryant Young competes with tight ends coach Derek Lewis.

“[Lewis] threw on 82 and I threw on 97 and we had helmets and shoulder pads on,” Young told the school’s website. “Both of us realized, ‘What are we doing?’ Thank God nobody got hurt. We had some pretty tough physical practices and it was kind of way to get juiced up before we got started and even got the coaches going a little bit.”

(Interim offensive coordinator Brian White gets left hanging for a high-five for nearly six seconds starting at 1:52.)

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FOUR BITS: Finley, Marotti, Tebow, Brewer

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Dee Finley confirmed to OGGOA Thursday night that he has chosen to transfer and finish his collegiate football career with the Division II North Alabama Lions. Finley, who decided to leave Florida on Oct. 12, will return to his home state and attend a school just four hours north of his hometown. Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins transferred to play for the Lions after being dismissed before the season by head coach Will Muschamp and has done very well during his time at North Alabama this year.

2 » Two former Florida players have told OGGOA over the last couple of days that Gators strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti is indeed headed to Columbus, OH to team up once again with head coach Urban Meyer at his new post with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite reports that Meyer was also after linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin, OGGOA has learned that Durkin plans to stay put and remain with Florida for 2012. However, as the Columbus Dispatch noted on Thursday, Meyer is also interested in bringing over UF wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill. Hill joined the Gators staff under Muschamp after Meyer left.

3 » Former Florida teammates quarterback Tim Tebow and wide receiver Percy Harvin will do battle this weekend when their respective teams – the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings – do battle this week on the NFL gridiron. Harvin, who obviously has plenty of experience playing with Tebow, has been helping Minnesota game plan this week for the Heisman Trophy winner. The Vikings are using backup QB Joe Webb as a Tebow clone in practice in an effort to stop the Tebow train and (5-1 as a starter this year) and lead Minnesota to just its third victory of the season. The Vikings, however, have the ninth-ranked run defense in the league, so Tebow and broncos head coach John Fox may have to use his arm to succeed this week.

4 » After bouncing around between a number of teams of last season, former Gators forward Corey Brewer hopes to have found a more permanent home with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. While head coach Rick Carlisle told Brewer that he is pleased with his effort, rebounding and ability to attack the basket, he pointed out that Brewer must improve his jump shot going forward. “We were shooting a lot trying to get my jump shot to be consistent,” Brewer said in mid-November, according to ESPNDallas.com. “All the other things I do well, but I need to be a consistent jump-shooter, especially in our offense. The way we pass the ball you get a lot of open shots.” Brewer may not have done much to help Dallas win last season, but he hopes to be an integral part of the team winning its second title in 2011-12. “I always felt like this was a good move for my future. We have a lot of guys that are aging and I feel like I’d get a chance to come here and help,” he added. “I was happy to be on the team last year and I helped as much as I could, but I knew I wasn’t going to get much time. But now, it’s a new year.”

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FOUR BITS: Taylor, Jeroloman, Sidner, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Travis Taylor recently returned to the University of Florida to finish his degree in sports management and has simultaneously decided to work for the football program as an undergraduate student assistant. According to UF senior writer Scott Carter, Taylor contacted former teammate and now Gators WR coach Aubrey Hill about the opportunity and is excited about how he can help the team going forward. “I had not talked to Aubrey in 10 years,” Taylor said. “He was like, ‘Man, whatever I can do for you just let me know. I’ll definitely run it by Coach [Will] Muschamp.’ Everything kind of fell into place. I came over to learn about the process and got it done. They embraced me to come in and I’m having a great time.”

2 » Former Florida catcher Brian Jeroloman, who has spent approximately five years toiling in minor leagues throughout the country, was called up by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday potentially for the remainder of the season. He will officially be the seventh former Gators baseball player in the MLB this year.

3 » As noted by the Twitter account for Florida volleyball, anyone who has been watching CNN’s coverage of unrest in Libya has undoubtedly seen reports from network correspondent Sara Sidner. On-site in Tripoli as rebels attempt to usurp power from dictator Muammar Gadhafi, she was actually inside a compound still controlled Gadhafi on Tuesday. “We have had to run from Gadhafi Compound,” she tweeted at approximately 6 p.m. (ET). “Gun fire coming towards us from outside compound.” A former Gators volleyball player, Sidner is CNN’s New Delhi-based international correspondent covering India and South Asia and has been with the network since 2008. She graduated from UF in 1992 with a bachelor of science degree in telecommunications.

3 » Florida senior running back Jeff Demps learned Tuesday that his name was placed on the candidate list for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, given each year to numerous student-athletes who achieve greatness in four key areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is the only football player representing Florida to ever win the award (2009), which has only been presented since 2008.

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