Florida Gators open four fall practices to fans

Updated on Aug. 5 at 1:45 p.m.

Florida Gators football fans anxious for the 2013 season to begin will be able to get a sneak peak at the program early in the fall as the team officially announced Friday that four practices will be open in the middle of August including one at The Swamp.

Thursday, August 15 – 2:45 p.m. – Donald R. Dizney Stadium (lacrosse field)
Saturday, August 17 – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Monday, August 19 – 7:45 a.m. – Sanders Football Practice Facility
Tuesday, August 20 – 9:35 a.m. – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Concession stands will be open on Aug. 17 and fans can begin entering the stadium from Gates 1, 4, 6, 15 and 18 as early as 8:30 a.m.

The second practice will be open on Verizon Fan Day, which takes place afterward from 3-6 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Members of the football and volleyball teams will be available to sign autographs for fans on posters passed out at the event.

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Previewing Florida’s 2013 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 26, 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.

DB Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, CA) –
A two-way player and consensus five-star prospect, Jackson is an incredible talent that can play wide receiver or cornerback on the collegiate level. A high school track star, he desires to play two sports in college and is a big fan of Florida track & field coach Mike Holloway; the interest is more than mutual. Jackson will be visiting the Gators for the first time on Friday but is expected to return in the fall for an official visit. He is ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect in the country by Rivals.

WR Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, FL) –
One of Florida’s top pass catching targets, Rudolph once listed the Gators as his leader but is now wide open with Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon (among others) all pushing hard for the Rivals250 prospect. Rudolph is ranked 153rd overall by Rivals and is said to have a great relationship with Florida WR coach Joker Phillips, his primary recruiter.

DB Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) –
Ranked 150th in the nation by Rivals, Wilson wants to play college football in his home state, and it is widely believed that the Gators are in the lead for his services. He is close with Florida four-star RB pledge Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) and four-star WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL), who is also believed to be a UF lean. Wilson and Lane both plan to make their commitments official in August, but the former could wind up popping for the Gators this weekend. Lane will not be in attendance at FNL.

Read up on seven more players attending Friday Night Lights…after the break!
Continue Reading » Previewing Florida’s 2013 Friday Night Lights

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Florida removes Hernandez All-American brick

The Florida Gators on Thursday decided to publicly erase former tight end Aaron Hernandez from their past when they removed his All-American brick from the front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and later announced other reminders of Hernandez have already been taken down throughout the team’s facilities.

Hernandez, currently jailed in Massachusetts and awaiting trial on six charges including first-degree murder for the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press in 2009 after leading the Gators with 68 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns that season.

He also won the John Mackey Award, handed out to the nation’s best tight end, for his efforts during that campaign.

Florida’s University Athletic Association released the following statement on Thursday:

We didn’t feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez. We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South Endzone team area, locker room, football offices, Heavener Complex Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility.

We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this (brick removal) was a more complex process to complete with our vendors.

The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July.

What do you think? Did the school act too soon or was the brick removal appropriate?

Below are pictures of the Hernandez brick being removed and replaced courtesy of University of Florida professor Ted Spiker (first), Gainesville Television Network‘s Julie Quittner (second, third):

Continue Reading » Florida removes Hernandez All-American brick

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DT Anthony Moten leaves Florida’s 2014 class

For the fourth time this recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators have lost a four-star pledge as defensive tackle Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, FL) decided Saturday to decommit from the program, according to multiple reports.

Moten, ranked as the No. 166 player in his class, told The Gainesville Sun’s Zach Abolverdi that he is no longer considering Florida and is instead focused on Florida State, Miami and South Carolina. He originally committed to the Gators on April 2 but never even visited Gainesville, FL.

He is the second prospect at his position (Travonte Valentine), third player from the state of Florida (Valentine, wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson) and third Rivals250 talent (Bronson, linebacker Christian Miller) to change course after initially committing to play for UF in 2014.

Moten cited Florida’s depth at defensive tackle as the main reason for his decision. “Not trying to go to college and get [lost] in the system,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

He was also reportedly displeased that the Gators signed a second defensive tackle, four-star Khairi Clark (Hollywood, FL). Clark is ranked 139th overall in the 2014 class.

Florida now has 10 prospects committed for next season including five in the Rivals250. The Gators are expecting to bolster those numbers next weekend after Friday Night Lights, the team’s annual summer recruiting event at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which is being held on July 26 this year.

Check out UF’s updated 2014 recruiting class by clicking here.

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FOUR BITS: Young, Speights, Cummings, Beemer

1 » Gainesville Television Network‘s Julie Quittner sat down with Florida Gators center Patric Young for an extensive interview that aired in two parts on Thursday and Friday. In the conversation, Young discusses why he stayed for his senior season (“It really wasn’t a tough decision for me. I felt like I had so much more to learn from Coach [Billy] Donovan.), how he is working to improve his free throw shooting, what the team’s expectations are for the 2013-14 season and his thoughts on the suspension of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. He also does an impersonation of Donovan.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Young, Speights, Cummings, Beemer

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Florida quarterback, Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel named to College Football Hall of Fame

Former Florida Gators quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013 on Dec. 10 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, NY.

Wuerffel, who was first up for induction in 2012 but not chosen on his first ballot, is the seventh Florida player and 10th representative of the Gators (three coaches) to earn induction into the prestigious group. He joins defensive end Dale Van Sickel (1975), QB Steve Spurrier (1986), DE Jack Youngblood (1992), running back Emmitt Smith (2006), linebacker Wilber Marshall (2008) and wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (2011) as players in the career-defining club. Coaches Charlie Bachman (1978), Ray Graves (1990) and Doug Dickey (2003) are also members.

“This is a great honor and I’m very thankful to the Foundation for giving me this award,” said Wuerffel. “But I want to also thank my teammates and Gator fans at the University of Florida who were a big part of the great years I had there.”

Continue Reading » Florida quarterback, Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel named to College Football Hall of Fame

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2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Review

With the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut now officially in the books, OGGOA is here to take a look at what happened Saturday afternoon on Florida Field inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the Florida Gators spring game practice and how head coach Will Muschamp felt about the team and his players after the conclusion of the day’s events.

OFFENSE: STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
* Separate story on passing game (quarterbacks, wide receivers) to be posted Sunday.

Running Backs
A starter emerges: Sophomore Matt Jones did not see a lot of action on Saturday by design. Why? Because Jones has played so well throughout the spring that he has all but officially been named Florida’s starter in the backfield. “Matt has really had an outstanding spring. We have a good comfort level where he is as a player,” Muschamp said. “He’s a physical runner. He understands our protections. He’s got great hands in the throwing game. There’s no question he’s an all-around back. He can do everything for us and he’s shown it to us for 14-straight practices.”

Four-deep with a freshman shining: Behind Jones there are three other players competing for carriers – redshirt junior Mack Brown, freshman Kelvin Taylor and sophomore walk-on Mark Herndon. On Saturday, Brown barely got any carries with the vast majority of snaps going to the latter two players. Unlike Jones, it did not look like the coaching staff was resting Brown. Taylor looked dynamic and Herndon made it quite clear why the coaches have praised him throughout the spring with multiple nice runs including a touchdown scamper from inside the 10-yard line. Though Taylor started slow, he showed nice patience running between the tackles, looked decent in pass protection and showed shiftiness breaking a tackle and moving the ball to the outside. Late in the scrimmage, he had a 15-yard run off-tackle and later scored a red zone touchdown from eight yards out when he stuck the ball over the goal line.

Asked about Taylor after the game, Muschamp gushed about how impressive he has been just 15 practices into his Gators career. “Kelvin’s got a really strong lower body. He runs through contact extremely well. He’s got natural instincts in the run game. You get the turns and reps and [need to learn] the protections and all the things that you got to be able to do for us at running back, but [I’m] extremely pleased with his progress,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very talented runner. Some positions are easier than others to contribute as a freshman. That’s a natural instinct position. You get the guy the ball and let his natural instincts take over and run for daylight. And he can do that. It’s the other things we got to brush up on.”

Continue Reading » 2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Review

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2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore, Brady Ackerman)
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally) | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Reference: Roster | Schedule

EVENT INFORMATION

Schedule:
9:00 a.m. – Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10:00 a.m. – Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. – Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. – Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. – Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00 p.m. – Orange & Blue Debut

Parking: Stephen C. O’Connell Center parking garage (first-come, first serve), Gale Lemerand Drive commuter lot (with shuttle)

Tickets: Free for alumni, students and the general public.

EVENT FORMAT

Instead of a full scrimmage, Saturday’s event will be an open practice that also includes limited scrimmage snaps. Florida will mix in approximately 40 scrimmage snaps with football drills. The format adjustment was made because the Gators currently only have six healthy offensive linemen and head coach Will Muschamp feels that it would be right to ask them to participate in 60-100 snaps over the course of a single afternoon. “It’s not fair to go into a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60-70 snaps in a row,” he explained. “That’s not healthy. That’s not good, it’s not good for our team.”

Muschamp also detailed what will occur during the practice/scrimmage (in order): (1) Field goal/point after touchdown drills, (2) punting and individual drills, (3) one-on-one work with the secondary and receivers going head-to-head while the quarterbacks throw the ball, (4) one-on-one work with block reaction for the offensive line, (5) linebackers and running backs picking up blitz protection and coverage responsibilities, (6) two series of scrimmage with the ball on the 35-yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (7) red zone one-on-one, (8) offensive and defensive line two-on-ones, (9) two series of scrimmage with the ball at the 35 yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (10) two full cover punts and a punt/punt block drill, (11), two series of scrimmage from midfield, (12) two full cover kickoffs and a kickoff/kickoff return drill, (13) two series of scrimmage from midfield, (14) red zone 7-on-7s with the ball at the 18-yard line, (15) additional drills including pass rushing, (16) backed up punt drill, (17) one-minute scrimmage drill.

“It’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players. … You get better when you’re going good-on-good,” Muschamp said. “This is good work. It’s good special teams work. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for us as far as our football team is concerned. It’s good-on-good and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

MORE: Injury report, offensive and defensive notes, list of commitments and recruits in attendance…all available after the break!
Continue Reading » 2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

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