15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

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SIX BITS: USA, Tebow, Spikes, Pouncey, Sturgis

1 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons are two of 27 players that have accepted invitations to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV. Though Parsons does not have much experience competing internationally, Beal was involved with USA Basketball as a high schooler and has represented his country before. Both men will have the opportunity to impress head coach Mike Krzyzewski during the mini-camp in hopes of earning placement on the 2013-16 U.S. Men’s National Team that will participate in international competitions, qualifiers and eventually the 2016 Rio Olympics. Eight of the players that participated in USA Basketball’s mini-camp in 2009 went on to make the 2009-12 team and eventually win gold in the 2012 London Olympics.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow is not the only member of the New England Patriots making waves in minicamp. Linebacker Brandon Spikes, who missed all of the team’s organized team activities while training on his own in Florida, arrived on Monday and began working with his New England teammates on Tuesday. “Honestly, I just felt like I was trying to put myself in the best position to compete for a spot on the team and also help this team win a championship,” Spikes told the Boston Globe. “I mean, you guys know me. I frequently do things a little bit different from everybody else. I don’t think they’re bad, or a shocker. Honestly, if everybody in the world was a conformist, it would be a boring place.” Spikes offered a “no comment” when asked about being in the last year of his rookie contract and also addressed the team bringing in Tebow.

“I was happy for him [when I heard he’d been signed],” Spikes said. “He got to get his job back and come out here and compete. So that’s good to see him smile, you know that big smile I’m used to seeing for the last few years down in Florida. … He’s a hard worker, a competitor, and he loves the game and you need guys like that.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: USA, Tebow, Spikes, Pouncey, Sturgis

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Tim Tebow’s whirlwind Tuesday in New England

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow officially became a member of the New England Patriots on Tuesday as he donned practice attire and participated in the first day of mandatory minicamp at the team’s facility.

From head coach Bill Belichick’s first press conference since the Tebow signing to the player’s minimal participation in practice on Tuesday, a bevy of news, notes, quotes and opinions have surfaced. Check out everything that happened on Tuesday.

The Paper / The Photo: (Left) Tebow was prominently featured on the back cover of Tuesday’s edition of the Boston Herald. (Right) Photographer Matt Stone captures Tebow identifying an open receiver during Tuesday’s practice.

The Contract: Tebow signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. OGGOA has learned that his deal is for $1.36 million with base salaries of $630,000 in 2013 and $730,000 in 2014. There are no guarantees or signing bonuses as part of Tebow’s contract, but Schefter also noted that there are playing time incentives available for 2014. Tebow’s deal makes him easy to cut, especially in the preseason before the rosters get cut to the final number of 53 players before Week 1.

Update – June 12: Tebow can also receive $25,000 as an offseason workout bonus in 2014. He has playing time incentives that could kick in during his second season with the team. Tebow would earn $500,000 if he is on field for 60 percent of his team’s snaps, $1 million for 70 percent, $1.5 million for 80 percent or $2 million for 80 percent and reaching the playoffs (or winning 10 games). The absolute maximum value of his contract is $3.385 million. ESPN first reported these additional details.

Continue Reading » Tim Tebow’s whirlwind Tuesday in New England

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Belichick peppered with Tebow questions

In his first press conference since signing former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow to a two-year contract, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was hit with 25 questions about the signal caller. He did his best to mitigate the hoopla, never providing an answer longer than three sentences.

Below is a transcription of the back-and-forth between Belichick and the media on Tuesday with all 25 of his responses when asked about the Tebow signing.

Reporter: What can you tell us about your decision to sign Tim Tebow? I was wondering what is it about his personality or his attitude that makes you believe you can make…
Belichick: “Anything we do we feel is in the best interest of the team. Tim is a talented player that’s smart and works hard, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Reporter: Coach, I cover politics for a TV station in New Hampshire, but I’m here today… How much of a consideration was the attention that I’m sure you knew was going to come when signing Tim Tebow before making that decision?
Belichick: “None. I try to do what’s best for the team.”

Reporter: How do you deal with a player coming in with all this fanfare and celebrity? Do you have to sit them down to talk to them about what they’re doing, especially when they get all this fuss?
Belichick: “In all honesty, we’ve been in front of bigger crowds than this before. We’ll just keep doing what our job is. We’ll try to get better as a football team individually and collectively, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Continue Reading » Belichick peppered with Tebow questions

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The Silver Lining: Opportunity now realized, it’s time for Tim Tebow to save his career

Just over one month ago, hours after quarterback Tim Tebow was waived by the New York Jets, I penned a column detailing how he could turn a career-low moment into a career-saving situation. Now that the opportunity I believed Tebow would be afforded has indeed been realized, the onus is on the Heisman Trophy winner to ensure he takes advantage of his new circumstances.

Rather than sitting out the 2013 season – or worse yet, relenting and deciding to play in the CFL or AFL – Tebow will be signed at some point on Monday or Tuesday by the New England Patriots, which plan to develop him as a backup quarterback.

In a span of 42 days, Tebow went from being a cast-off from one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional teams to an accepted member of one of the league’s beacons, one who will undoubtedly be comfortable in a locker room that already contains familiar faces like Jermaine Cunningham, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes.

The first time you see the person you love, happen upon the puppy you decide to bring home or drive the car you always dreamed of owning off the lot, there is usually an overwhelming feeling of comfort and happiness that envelops you.

That is what this union has to feel like for Tebow.

Tebow and the Patriots always made sense, now more than ever.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: Opportunity now realized, it’s time for Tim Tebow to save his career

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Patriots set to sign Gators QB Tim Tebow

Just over one month after being waived by the New York Jets, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has found a home with the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents and personality. According to multiple media reports, Tebow will sign with the New England Patriots on Monday and be in uniform for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

The Patriots are acquiring Tebow as a quarterback, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, and have already waived third-stringer Mike Kafka in order to bring the former Heisman Trophy winner into the fold. New England had previously looked to trade back-up signal caller Ryan Mallett, who just happens to wear Tebow’s No. 15, earlier in the offseason.

Joining the Patriots, Tebow reunites with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

“The thing that really makes this unique and gives it real potential is the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels,” Werder reported Monday on SportsCenter. “He believes he has the ability to teach mechanics to quarterbacks. He was undergoing that process with Tebow on a daily basis in Denver his rookie year.”

Ironically, a Yahoo! Sports report from May noted that New England head coach Bill Belichick “hated” Tebow as a football player. Four days ago, Belichick emphatically refuted that report to ESPNBoston.com.

“Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported,” he said.

In fact, Werder explained on SportsCenter that this move had been discussed by the two parties and under consideration for a long time.

“One of the things the Patriots wanted to see before they agreed to do this deal with Tebow was they wanted to see him maintain a low-key presence throughout the offseason. And to the extend he could control that, he certainly delivered on it.”

Tebow barely contributed to the Jets in 2012, seeing the field in just 12 games and rarely playing on offense. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards and took 32 carries for 102 yards, never once finding the end zone.

OGGOA RELATED: The Silver Lining – Tim Tebow’s release is an opportunity

One year earlier, as a mid-season replacement at quarterback for the Broncos, Tebow set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14.

Tebow also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. He went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns and carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score in that game.

Tebow joins former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham with the Patriots. All four were key players in Florida winning the 2008 national title.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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FOUR BITS: Patriots, WWE, Fallon, Tebow

1 » New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose team now has six former Florida Gators on its roster after signing running back Jeff Demps last week, explained Thursday why he has picked up so many players from the team over the years.

Via the Boston Herald.

“First of all, obviously, Florida has a lot of good football players. It’s a great football state. The University of Florida has great athletes and great players at their school, as do a lot of the other Florida schools. I had a good relationship with Coach [Urban] Meyer, as I do with Coach [Will] Muschamp, so maybe we had a little more insight or opportunity to evaluate or whatever. And we felt like those particular players that we drafted there fit our system and what we were doing. Now, not everybody worked out. Some worked out better than others. But that particular class — the [Jermaine] Cunningham, [Brandon] Spikes, [Tim] Tebow, [Aaron] Hernandez, [Percy] Harvin the year before that, [David] Nelson, the receiver [Riley] Cooper — those guys in those couple years there. For whatever reason, [Meyer] asked me to speak at a clinic. Charlie [Weis] was there last year.

“So I just had a little more opportunity to interact with those players in that school, and they were available at the particular times that we were drafting and so forth. Some of it was coincidence. Some of it was maybe a little more homework in a player like Aaron Hernandez, that talent-wise obviously should have been drafted a little higher than what he was, but we were comfortable with Aaron and taking him the time we did. That’s worked out pretty well for us, so sometimes that little bit extra getting to know the player, the person and so forth can come into play. You never know in the draft process. You just never know how it’s going to go.

“Certainly, coincidence is a part of it. Demps, we didn’t really — the guy was running track, so the way it turned out this year, a lot of that was coincidence. It wasn’t that big of a plan, but we’re happy we have the opportunity to work with Jeff and see how it goes.”

2 » On the latest edition of the WWE’s YouTube program Outside the Ring, former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard (known by his wrestling name of Titus O’Neil, one half of The Prime Time Players) takes tag team partner Darren Young on a tour of UF. The duo check out some major sites on campus, visit the athletic facilities, meet with Muschamp and Billy Donovan and do some Gator Chomps along the way.

3 » Model-turned-television host Tyra Banks was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday and participated in a skit called Brainstorm in which one person (Banks) gives an answer and another (Fallon) provides the humorous question afterward. The first two answer-question segments on the skit had to do with former Gators, namely Tebow and Olympian Ryan Lochte.

4 » Speaking of Tebow, he was a guest on the WFAN radio show co-hosted by former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason on Thursday but did not get the verbal beat down in person that Esiason has previously provided him with over the airwaves. Esiason previously said that, if he were a member of the Jets front office, he would cut Tebow because he does not benefit the team in any way. On Thursday, however, he was mostly complimentary of Tebow while lobbing him some softball questions that the player, of course, knocked out of the park.

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TWO BITS: SEC Tourney, Kiper’s thoughts, NCAA

1 » The four-seed Florida Gators (22-9, 10-6 SEC) learned Thursday that they will take on the five-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (21-10, 10-7 SEC) in the second round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The game, which will air live nationally on SEC Network, is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Alabama beat South Carolina 63-57 on Thursday, giving head coach Anthony Grant his second opportunity to defeat his former boss – Florida head coach Billy Donovan – this season. Donovan is 3-0 against Grant since the latter coach took over the Crimson Tide program. More information on this game will be available in Friday’s Gameday Preview here on OGGOA.

2 » Speaking with ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. on Thursday, OGGOA was told by the NFL Draft analyst that he believes Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey raised his stock at the 2012 NFL Combine. Previously projected to be selected in the third or fourth round, Rainey may go a full round higher now, according to Kiper. “Rainey is an all-purpose guy. He’s got the big-play potential; you can utilize him in a lot of different ways,” he said. “I think he could be in that second- or third-round discussion because of the weapon he could be.” Kiper also discussed with OGGOA the future of former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was dismissed from the team over the summer and spent the 2012 season with North Alabama.

Jenkins was previously considered a somewhat unanimous mid-first-round pick, but Kiper has now dropped him to the bottom of the round and thinks he could slide into the second round if some other players make up even further ground on him. “In terms of Jenkins, you knew the off-the-field concerns were going to be there. He was going to have to answer a lot of question at the Combine,” he said. “When you put it all together, playing the one year at North Alabama, he did play at Florida and played very effectively with the Gators. There are other corners that may have jumped a little bit ahead. I still have him in the first round – barely – to New England [at No. 31 overall]. [Bill] Belichick likes Florida players; he lived in Florida the majority of his career. They need a cornerback with his skill level. Right now Stephon Gilmore [South Carolina] may have passed him by a little bit and he’s getting some competition now from Dwight Bentley from Louisiana-Lafayette, Trumaine Johnson from Montana. There are some other cornerbacks even putting pressure to be the late first-round pick. There’s some that think he’s a two. I’d put him in the late first to New England. He’s not up where he was at one point in the mid-first round area, which is where I had him a month or so ago.”

Extra BIT » Bracketologists are currently projecting that Florida will play their round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Nashville, TN. You can already order tickets for the three sessions at the Bridgestone Arena from PrimeSport, the NCAA’s official ticket exchange for the event. Don’t miss your chance to see all the excitement in person as PrimeSport is able to bring you face-to-face with all of the action on the court in Nashville. Tickets are available for around $63 per session and are available by clicking here.

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