TWO BITS: Starks out for season, Harvin better

1 » Two Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen were injured Monday night – former Florida Gators left tackle Max Starks and center Maurkice Pouncey. Though Pouncey was able to return from his right lower leg injury, Starks was not as lucky. The seven-year NFL veteran was placed on injured reserve by Pittsburgh on Wednesday with a neck injury. Starks damaged a disc in his upper vertebrae and will undergo surgery on it shortly. He is expected to be ready to begin the 2011 season (if there is one) and will continue playing on the four-year, $26.3 million contract ($10 million guaranteed) he signed with the Steelers in the summer of 2009.

2 » Playing hobbled on an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of his team’s practices last week, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was still able to turn in an electric performance on Sunday including a career-high 126 receiving yards. On Monday, head coach Brad Childress – with whom Harvin got into a heated argument with Friday over whether or not the player would get an MRI done on his ankle – said Harvin’s ankle was “still sore” but that he should progress better over the week and be healthier before the team’s game Sunday.

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FOUR BITS: Wright, Harvin, Demps, volleyball

1 » When former Florida Gators safety Major Wright landed with the Chicago Bears, early expectations were that he would be starting for them right away. However, as training camp went on, Wright broke his left index finger (missing almost the entire preseason) and pulled his groin (losing another week of practice). Finally healthy again, Wright was in the rotation last Sunday but went down with his third injury this year – a hamstring strain. Apparently Wright got hurt on special teams while trying to catch fellow rookie Dez Bryant’s 62-yard punt return for the Dallas Cowboys. Early reports have Wright missing at least three weeks, meaning he will have to start all over again during week six of the NFL season.

2 » In other injury news, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was expected to be featured Sunday as his Minnesota Vikings took on the Miami Dolphins. Instead Harvin reinjured his hip while throwing a block and was forced to sit out much of the game. Though head coach Brad Childress has noted that he is not concerned with Harvin’s hip, he did miss practice Monday and Tuesday because of it. When Wednesday rolled around, Harvin stepped on the field for a short time but had to leave as he suffered another bout of migraines. His status for Sunday is questionable.

3 » Florida junior running back Jeff Demps has been added to the 2010 Paul Hornung Award watch list, a first-year honor being given to the most versatile player in college football. In three games this season, Demps has achieved 369 yards of offense and two touchdowns as well as a total of 590 all-purpose yards. Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey is also on the watch list.

4 » On the road Wednesday, No. 3 Gators volleyball (9-1) took down the rival No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (9-2) 3-0 (25-23, 31-29, 25-21) in Tallahassee, FL, at Tully Gymnasium. With the win, Florida is now 33-16 all-time against Florida State (26-2 under head coach Mary Wise). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy once again led the way with her 19th career triple-double (11 kills, 20 assists, 11 digs for 12.5 points), while junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed 11 digs and nine kills. The Gators will next see action at home on Sunday against Ole Miss.

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

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Percy Harvin rushed to hospital after collapsing

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was rushed to the hospital during training camp on Thursday after vomiting and then collapsing while observing practice from the sidelines. The 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was noticeably trembling and fading in and out of consciousness as he was tended to on the field.

Harvin reportedly had one of his migraine headache episodes triggered by looking into the sky while fielding punts during a special teams drill earlier in practice. He went inside the facility to meet with Dr. Sheldon Burns who cleared him, allowing his return to the field. Once coming back, Harvin spoke with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman for some time before bending over and then collapsing.

Meeting with the media after practice, head coach Brad Childress said Harvin was “trembling” as he lay on the field being tended to first by team staff and then the emergency medical technicians.

The Associated Press reports that “the ambulance did not leave right away after Harvin was loaded, and it left without sirens sounding or lights flashing.”

UPDATE: Childress: “Percy appreciates everyone’s concern. He is alert and resting comfortably, but will remain in the hospital overnight.”

Players react:

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reports:

OGGOA will update this breaking story continuously as more information is made available. We wish Harvin our best and a speedy recovery.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

1 » After two years of sitting and waiting while his back healed and pain subsided – “I’ve had a million procedures done, but we’ve got it taken care of…” – Florida Gators redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown is ready to claim the spot across the field from junior CB Janoris Jenkins. And while he is feeling better than ever, Brown still remains cautious. “I’d be lying if I said mentally I’m just ready,” Brown told the Miami Herald. “There are certain things I second-guess, like should I really just … throw myself in there? In the back of my head I’m just thinking, ‘Man, this might be my back again.’ […] I’ve been away from the game for so long, I just want to play and help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing. The opportunity to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Five more BITS on Percy Harvin, Lito Sheppard, Gators soccer, baseball commitments and Ean McQuay…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

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FOUR BITS: Position battles, Harvin, T2, Green

1 » When OGGOA published our Florida Gators 2010 Fall Practice Preview, two of the position battles we discussed were for middle linebacker and starting cornerback. The Gainesville Sun has published some choice quotes from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin about these competitions which support our thoughts that MLB is between sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins while the race to start opposite junior Janoris Jenkins is being led by redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown.

On middle linebacker: “Who starts is still to be determined. […] Jelani, you look at his speed, his absolutely flat out speed. He sees the ball and he goes and gets it. Jon brings some speed, but he’s also a thumper. He gives you that big body who can sit down on some guards and fullbacks and get that [inside] stuff. […] Each type can get the job done the way we want it. It’s just a matter of how it shakes out at the end.”

On cornerback: “Right now, it’s full speed ahead for Jeremy. We’re real pleased with where he is. […] Jeremy Brown and Moses Jenkins are involved in that position, in addition to any of our freshmen.”

Three more BITS on Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow and William Green…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Position battles, Harvin, T2, Green

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TWO BITS: Tebow’s visits, Finley’s facemask

1 » As OGGOA reported last week, Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress (and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman), were in Gainesville, FL, over the weekend to, among other things, work out Florida Gators eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft. The main attraction, of course, was quarterback Tim Tebow; both Childress and Spielman came away impressed. Tebow continues to go on visits, with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reporting that he is headed to the Denver Broncos next.

2 » See that picture above? That is what used to be the facemask on the helmet of sophomore linebacker Dee Finley. What happened to it? Freshman tight end Gerald Christian smashed it in during practice Friday. Finley, who reportedly suffered a concussion from the hit, has the honor of having his facemask immortalized by the Gators. (Photo courtsey of Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post.)

VIDEO – Click on the second video down: “Circle Drill 3/31”

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 04/09

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at the team’s practice from Fri., April 9.

» Redshirt sophomore defensive end Earl Okine came down with a fever and was allowed to miss practice; he also will not play in the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut.

» Redshirt sophomore cornerback Adrian Bushell, once again, was not at practice. Things are not looking good for his future on the team. By my count he has made two practices all spring. No way he plays Saturday.

Practice happenings:
» Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose had the most highlight-filled day, making plenty of catches, running crisp routes and drawing a gasp from the crowd on one particular play. Debose made an amazing catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley. He leapt in the air over junior safety Will Hill, caught the ball, fell down horizontally while getting hit and held onto the ball. Unfortunately, he was out of bounds. Maybe he will play Saturday…

» Both redshirt senior WR Carl Moore and redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks came out to the practice field without helmets. Probably just for precautionary reasons.

» With the final scrimmage of spring on Saturday, Friday’s practice was mostly just a walk-through to get the players loose and ready.

Other notes:
» In attendance: Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, WR Percy Harvin, QB Chris Leak, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, five-star defensive end Ronald Powell. Childress has meetings scheduled with a number of Gators players eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft.

» Over 200 high school coaches were in attendance as part of Florida’s annual coaches clinic. Childress will be the featured speaker at the ceremony Friday evening. The coaches were allowed to walk around the field during practice and speak with the Gators’ staff. Representatives from the NCAA were in attendance just to make sure nothing fishy went on (standard operating procedure).

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Childress skips Clausen to meet with Gators

In an offseason where individual Pro Day workouts have been the talk of the 2010 NFL Draft, the last major one is set to take place Friday when Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen (and his teammates including wide receiver Golden Tate) work out for representatives from every NFL team in South Bend, IN.

However, one head coach who consciously decided to skip the event altogether is Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, he will be in Gainesville, FL, as the featured speaker at a Florida football coaches clinic Friday; he will also stick around to workout draft-eligible players on a one-and-one basis.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Childress is set to meet with quarterback Tim Tebow, center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Brandon Spikes, wide receiver Riley Cooper, safety Major Wright and defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham during his time in Gainesville.

Childress has already gone on record in regards to his respect and admiration for Tebow. He has also had both WR Percy Harvin (whom he drafted with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft) and head coach Urban Meyer in his ear about the former Heisman Trophy winner. No wonder Childress has been seriously considering drafting Tebow.

With Brett Favre‘s NFL career in limbo (he’s coming back) and Harvin already on his roster, Childress and the Vikings may very well believe that Tebow is their quarterback of the future and worthy of their No. 30 overall first-round pick. (Especially if Pouncey is selected before they are on the clock.)

Minnesota’s vice president of player personnel, Rick Spielman, was in attendance at the Gators’ Pro Day in March, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will represent the team Friday at Notre Dame.

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

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