Live alligator in tow, four-star OT George Brown commits to Florida Gators

If you’re already going to make a statement and commit to the Florida Gators out of the state of Ohio, doing so with a live alligator by your side is absolutely a good idea.

That is exactly what four-star offensive tackle George Brown, Jr. (Cincinnati, OH) did on Friday when he became the ninth member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class by committing to the program during a ceremony at his high school.

Brown (6-foot-6, 264 pounds) is listed as the 13th-best player at his position by Rivals, which also ranks him as the No. 118 overall player in the nation.

Taking a trip to Gainesville, Florida, on Tuesday, he saw campus for the third time and had yet another opportunity to meet with head coach Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Mike Summers. Brown got his questions answered and felt prepared to make the call he has been waiting for his entire life.

Brown ultimately chose Florida over Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, but it was the Wildcats that many believed to be his leader throughout the process.

The Gators are looking to load up on pledges this weekend after losing two commitments last week. Brown, though not an attendee this year at Florida’s annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, may well get the ball rolling for UF.

Brown is the second prospect from the state of Ohio to commit to Florida in July, following in the footsteps of four-star linebacker Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH), who made his decision on July 11.

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Previewing Florida’s 2014 Friday Night Lights


Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often host top-tier prospects over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough while coaching up the recruits.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 25, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL) –
One of the top offensive tackles in the nation, Ivey is down to Florida and Auburn. His trip to Friday Night Lights should help him feel more comfortable with the Gators, but he will not make a decision until he sees how UF plays in 2014 and determines whether the coaching staff recruiting him will be around next year. A big Florida fan, the Gators are ultimately the team to beat for his services but can just as easily beat themselves and send him across the conference to play for the Tigers.

ATH Ray-Ray McCloud (Tampa, FL) –
McCloud has set his commitment announcement for Monday at 6:30 p.m., and his decision to spend the weekend before that choice is made in Gainesville speaks volumes. Florida is the favorite to pick up one of the most talented athletes in the country but is in competition primarily with UCLA and Clemson. He plays running back, wide receiver and cornerback and will likely do so for the Gators, but as is the case with Ivey, will be keeping an eye on how the team performs in 2014 even if he does choose UF.

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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators football opens in 2014 reclamation project season with a pair of non-conference home games as has been tradition for the program in the recent past.

Florida kicks things off against the Idaho Vandals under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in a contest that will air live on ESPNU.

There is perhaps no better opponent for the Gators to face coming off the program’s worst season since 1979. The Vandals went 1-11 in head coach Paul Petrino’s inaugural campaign with their sole win coming on homecoming, 26-24 over Temple.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Paul Petrino (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 1-11 (N/A)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt (2014)
Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1 Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 115th (18.2 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 123rd-last (46.8 ppg)

Continue Reading » Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

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Florida Gators open eight 2014 fall practices

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that eight of the team’s fall practice dates will be open to the public ahead of the 2014 season.

With anticipation of the offense developing under newly-hired coordinator Kurt Roper and an overall bounce back to form after a disastrous 4-8 season in 2013, Gators fans living in or planning to travel to Gainesville, Florida, will be able to see much of the preparation with their own eyes.

Muschamp mentioned at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days that the team will report to Gainesville on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4.

Football practices on the following six dates will be held at Donald R. Dizney Stadium and completely open to the public: Thursday, Aug. 7; Friday, Aug. 8; Sunday, Aug. 11; Tuesday, Aug. 12, Wednesday, Aug. 13; Thursday, Aug. 14.

Florida will also hold a practice open only to season ticket holders on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the lacrosse stadium.

The Gators’ last open practice will be held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16. It precedes Fan Day for the football and volleyball teams, which will kick off at 3 p.m. across the street at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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Renderings released of Stephen C. O’Connell Center redesign not from winning firm

Updated on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Architectural firm NBBJ on Tuesday shared with Sports Illustrated three renderings of its upcoming $45 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Unfortunately, according to the Florida Gators, NBBJ did not win the contract for the redesign of the O’Dome and the renderings showcased nationally on SI.com are not what the venue will look like after construction is completed in December 2015.

The University Athletic Association then announced that Davis Architects and CPPI Construction Management, working in conjunction with TLC Engineering, just began design meetings with the school on Tuesday.

Though Davis Architects’ portfolio is not as modern as NBBJ’s work, the firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, has more experience designing collegiate athletic facilities, mostly within its home state.

The company built UAB’s Blazer Stadium (Birmingham), Auburn’s Auburn Arena (Auburn) and Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum (Tuscaloosa), and also performed two end zone expansions on Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa).

Davis Architects completed the $4.5 million renovation of the O’Dome’s gymnastics studio in December 2012, expanding the area to 18,000 square feet (adding 6,600 square feet) while upgrading offices, training rooms, equipment and electronics.

CPPI designed and constructed the $52 million expansion of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, adding 3,000 seats to a new club level in 2012. It is also responsible or the construction for the stadium’s west concourse renovations, sky box additions and Heisman Trophy statue installation.

Furthermore, CPPI built the Heavener Football Complex, Ring Tennis Complex, basketball practice facility, entire lacrosse facility and indoor tennis facility; it also and made additions or renovations to the baseball locker room, Lemerand Center, softball complex, golf club house and swimming & diving facility.

Construction on the multipurpose venue is not scheduled to begin until March 2015.

When the concept for the project was first announced in 2012, the renderings below were released by the University of Florida to The Gainesville Sun:


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FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, pep rally, Florida-Miami

1 » The 2014 NBA Draft is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. with three former Florida Gators hoping to be selected among the event’s 60 picks. The first and possibly only player who will be drafted during Thursday night’s proceedings is center Patric Young, who has a late-first, early-second round evaluation. Young has mostly been projected as an early second-round pick but made it up to No. 30 (last pick of the first round) in a mock draft by ESPN‘s Chad Ford earlier this week. However, on Thursday, Ford moved Young all the way down to No. 42, predicting that he gets snagged by the Houston Rockets. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin nor forward Casey Prather will likely be selected, though a team could take a flier on Wilbekin late in the process.

“I think Wilbekin is one of those guys that can make a team. I don’t think he’s a guy that will necessarily be drafted,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas in a conference call this week. “I think Wilbekin is probably a better pro prospect than Aaron Craft, but just because you’re a good college player, it’s a tough transition at that position to get to the NBA. He’s not as quick or explosive or quite as good of a shooter as some of the other guys who are out there – or as big.”

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

1 » New York Giants safety Will Hill on Friday was officially suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2014 season, marking the third-straight year that he will open an NFL campaign unable to play due to league punishment. Hill was first suspended four games before the 2012 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs – he claims he tested positive for Adderall – and also missed the first four games of 2013 when he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended under the league’s substance-abuse policy. Undrafted after three seasons with the Florida Gators, the former five-star prospect did not play at all in 2011 and only got a chance with the Giants after supposedly staying clean of drugs and focusing on his familial duties during his year off. New York has “put a lot of time and energy into trying to keep Will Hill clean,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday. This suspension will likely end his career with the Giants.and could result in another missed season until if or when another team gives him a chance.

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2014 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Review

The 2014 Orange & Blue Debut is in the books with the Florida Gators coming away from their spring game without a winner as the first-team Blue and second-team Orange left the field tied at 23-23 at the end of the fourth quarter.

Florida’s offense certainly looked much improved, though there were questions about the Gators defense – specifically the line – especially by the time the scrimmage concluded.

OnlyGators.com offered free live coverage of the event as well as head coach Will Muschamp post-spring game press conference and now wraps it all up with evaluations, notes and quotes in the Orange & Blue Debut Review.

OFFENSE

» The running backs showed off with redshirt senior Mack Brown (Blue) toting the rock eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Brown pulled off a tremendous 19-yard rush by stopping short on an off-tackle run, reversing field and carrying the ball down to the one-yard line before rumbling into the end zone on the next play.

» Sophomore Kelvin Taylor (Blue) only got five total touches in the scrimmage (one reception for no gain) but looked impressive while on the field. Faced with three defenders on his way to the goal line, Taylor juked inside to avoid all three and took the ball down to the two-yard line on an 11-yard gain. He found pay dirt on the next play for the first touchdown of the game.

» Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (Blue) completed 10-of-17 passes for 125 yards and 31-yard touchdown on a drag route to sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Blue) in the first half. Robinson took Driskel’s pass across the middle and charged upfield for the score. Driskel went 0-for-3 on his first series but calmed down, made some nice passes and moved his unit nicely in both the run and pass game. Driskel finished 19-of-33 for 171 yards.

Muschamp said he was “real pleased” with how Driskel played, especially considering he had not played football all offseason until these 15 spring practices. “Probably one of the better throws he had today was a throwaway, a scramble pass in a one-minute situation before half that he threw out of bounds. Decision making and all those things will continue to improve as he processes information within what we’re trying to do. I think he’s in the shotgun and that’s what he was recruited here to do.”

» Robinson finished with five receptions for 53 yards on the afternoon and also had a fourth down conversion when he caught a pass on a curl route and took it for a first down. “I think we’re as deep as we’ve been at wideout with some guys that can make plays on the ball,” Muschamp said. “Demarcus Robinson is a home run threat on every play,” Driskel added.

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