FOUR BITS: Muschamp, Dillman, Donovan, Tebow

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp is set to make 10 appearances at local Gator Clubs (nine in the state of Florida and one in Atlanta, GA) as part of the team’s six-week 2012 Gator Gathering schedule. The events are open to the general public; however, tickets are sold for each speaking engagement with proceeds benefiting the individual Gator Clubs and the university. You can check out the entire schedule here.

2 » The Gators opened up the Griffin-Oakley Strength & Conditioning Complex to the media on Thursday making new director of strength and conditioning Jeff Dillman as well as a few Florida players available for interviews and to talk about how training is going heading into the 2012 season. UF released a video recap of the event, which you can view below, through their GatorVision.tv service.

ESPN explained his philosophy further:

Dillman described Olympic-style lifting as weighted plyometrics — essentially exercises with fast, powerful movements while lifting weights. It’s designed to provide a total-body workout and a cardiovascular workout in a short period of time. It includes numerous variations based on three main lifts: the power clean, the snatch and the split jerk.

Because Olympic weightlifting movements are done quickly with heavier weight, and require significant coordination and muscle control, they can help athletes with such quick movements as sprinting, jumping or firing off the line of scrimmage. They also develop a strong core, better conditioning, and better balance.

3 » Head basketball coach Billy Donovan told the school’s website on Wednesday that sophomore forward Will Yeguete was “pretty crushed” when learning about his broken foot and how he will miss the remainder of the season. Donovan also said that the Gators have an opportunity to prove how good of a team they are and that “everybody has a chance to step up” and fill in for Yeguete. “I think with a great belief and a great commitment and an incredible focus, with guys wanting to step up, a lot of those special things can happen in the midst of people not thinking they can happen,” he said. “Now, I’m not saying they’re going to happen. I’m saying we need to try to make them happen.”

4 » At the 2012 NFL Combine on Thursday, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox said that he was not worried that the comments about starting quarterback Tim Tebow from backup Brady Quinn would be an issue heading into the season. “Knowing their relationship, knowing both Brady and Tim very well myself, you know, sometimes things get lost in translation,” he said, according to NFL.com. “I know their relationship is very close, they have a lot of respect for each other. They’re very good teammates to each other, so, that’s kind of what I know.” Fox made it sound like he wanted Quinn to return to the team in 2012, but the player is not under contract with the club and is a free agent this offseason.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Bates, Wilkerson, WBK

1 » It is no secret that the Denver Broncos’ quarterback situation received plenty of coverage in 2011. With veteran Kyle Orton, former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn all vying for the starting job, things were undoubtedly uncomfortable in Mile High. In the latest issue of GQ, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports submitted “An Oral History of Tebow Time” as told by analysts, coaches and players. Quinn was one of a number of players asked to talk about Tebow; he complied and did not hold back when it came to his true opinions. He began by noting that he was the true “second-string guy” on the roster but said Tebow got the nod over him to replace Orton for one reason in particular. “I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just ’cause they were chanting his name,” he said. “There was a big calling for him. No, I didn’t have any billboards. That would have been nice.”

Asked to explain how Tebow and Denver beat Kansas City with him only completing two passes, Quinn gave his explanation, seemingly blaming the opposing defense instead of crediting his team: “The entire game, the defensive line is chasing the quarterback around, and that wears down the pass rush. Meanwhile, the defensive backs are chasing receivers, but you only throw eight passes, so they start to feel lazy. It only takes that one play, that one big pass, for a touchdown.” Quinn later notes the obvious, that the Broncos “had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply” when it came to beating Chicago in Week 14. Just moments later though, he opines about Tebow as a person and offers a not-so-glowing opinion. “If you look at it as a whole, there’s a lot of things that just don’t seem very humble to me,” he said. “When I get that opportunity, I’ll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?”

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Quinn has since released the following statement:

The comments attributed to me in a recent magazine article are in NO WAY reflective of my opinion of Tim and the Broncos. Tim deserves a lot of credit for our success and I’m happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate. That interview was conducted three months ago, and the resulting story was a completely inaccurate portrayal of my comments. I have addressed my disappointment with the writer and have reached out to Tim to clear this up. I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our team’s or Tim’s success this season.

2 » Former Florida linebacker James Bates, a defensive captain with the Gators who has recently been working in college sports broadcasting, was recently the victim of a faulty piece of furniture. On hand to cover a college basketball game between Xavier and Dayton for CBS Sports Network, Bates’ stool collapsed live on the air. He was sent falling to the floor but kept a good disposition afterward, as you can see in the video below.

3 » The National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Friday that voting is underway for a new class to be selected out of a pool of “69 worthy candidates.” One of those candidates is none other than former Florida All-American hitter and pitcher Brad Wilkerson, a member of the 1996 and 1998 College World Series teams who was also a three-time All-SEC selection and the 1998 Collegiate Player of the Year, was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9, 2010. He played for four MLB teams and won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and still holds career records with the Gators for batting average, RBI, slugging percentage and walks.

4 » On Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Florida women’s basketball (17-10, 7-7 SEC) earned their biggest victory of the season with a 61-57 win over the No. 16/18 Georgia Bulldogs (20-7, 9-5 SEC). Junior forward Jennifer George (15 points, six rebounds) and senior guard Lanita Bartley (11 points, four boards) led the way for the Gators, which rebounded nicely after nearly defeating No. 24 Vanderbilt just a few days earlier UF will play their regular-season finale on Thursday against Mississippi State.

EXTRA BIT » Though Florida failed to prevail at the 2012 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Knoxville, TN over the weekend, the Gators did sweep one important category as sophomores Elizabeth Beisel and Marcin Cieslak were named the 2012 SEC Female and Male Swimmer of the Year, respectively. Florida won eight individual SEC titles at the event with Beisel and Marcin each taking home three. The women’s team finished second overall behind Auburn, while the men came in third behind Georgia and Tennessee.

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The Silver Lining: Media shares the blame but tornado of Tim Tebow began in-house

Take every story written about every backup quarterback in the history of the NFL, combine them, and you probably would not reach the level of attention Denver Broncos second-year reserve Tim Tebow has received this offseason.

While a lot of the diatribes and “insider” stories about him are driven by one thing in particular – page views – it is important to realize that the media cannot be solely held responsible for this barnstorm of criticism and relative subjectivity about one of the most polarizing players in the league. His team has to take some blame, too.

Read the rest of this column…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: Media shares the blame but tornado of Tim Tebow began in-house

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, Fredette, Larson

1 » With Kyle Orton as a veteran “starter,” and Tim Tebow as a second-year up-and-comer and Brady Quinn as an emergency safety valve, the Denver Broncos will not be drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…or will they? Denver has been taking a very close look at a number of athletic rookie QBs including Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick…even though they already have one in Tebow on their roster. Asked why they are paying so much attention to the position, Broncos president John Elway said the following to the Denver Post: “We’re always looking for that guy. We may already have the guy who can pull the trigger and win us a championship someday. We may have him. We don’t know. We believe in Tim, but he’s not there yet.” Elway and Denver are also taking a look at defensive tackle, a position they will likely end up drafting – or so Tebow should hope.

2 » Speaking with Chris Dortch for an article posted on NBA.com, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons praised the game of former Boston Celtics star F Larry Bird, someone who the writer brought up in conversation because of the way he impacted games as a facilitator. “Oh, I’m a big Larry Bird fan,” Parsons said of the player’s NBA spread. “I always thought Larry Bird played basketball the way it ought to be played.” Dortch put Parsons up against his “Bill Russell Test” to determine if he has the chance to be successful playing at the next level. He also spoke with NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake about Parsons. “One of his advantage is that he has a number of skills he does well,” Blake said. “He shoots the ball. He’s got size. He passes very well. He’s a rebounder. And he’s a hard worker and has a professional approach.”

3 » Though BYU Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette had his way with Florida in 2010 – especially in the two overtime periods – he is well-aware that the Gators are a much improved team this time around. “They’re just better because they’re more experienced and have played together for two years,” he told the Associated Press. “They won two games in the NCAA Tournament together as a team and they’re used to winning.” He also discussed how Florida might guard him. “I think they’re just going to be really tenacious…run at my ball screens hard, maybe double them and try to get the bal out of my hands,” Fredette said.

4 » Freshman F Cody Larson will be redshirting this season and has spent every game from the bench watching his teammates achieve great success. Donovan praised Larson’s contributions during a media availability at the beginning of March, but assistant Larry Shyatt expanded on those comments to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “He’s been terrific,” Shyatt said. “He’s helped our frontline get better this year. Great work ethic, improved offensively, inside and out. We’re excited he’s going to be eligible next season.” Though Larson himself says sitting is “tough,” he understands the reasoning. “I’m looking at it like I’m not going to play if I don’t get better,” he said. “I just need to keep improving.”

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FOUR BITS: Rainey, soccer, volleyball, Tebow

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was named to the first annual Paul Hornung Award preseason watch list on Tuesday. To be given to the nation’s most versatile collegiate football player, it will be presented by the Louisville Sports Commission sometime during the 2010-11 bowl season. Seven other Southeastern Conference players – Brandon Boykin (Georgia), Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina), Demond Washington (Auburn), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Derrick Locke (Kentucky), Leon Berry (Mississippi State) and Warren Norman (Vanderbilt) – were also on the initial list.

2 » No. 11 Gators soccer, which begins the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season on Friday at home against Miami, was picked by SEC coaches to defend its conference championship in 2010. The conference also announced that two Florida volleyball players were named to the 2010 Preseason All-SEC Team with juniors outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and setter/right-side Kelly Murphy earning the honors.

3 » Interesting note coming from the Palm Beach Post this morning as four-star defensive end recruit Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, FL) claims the Gators stopped pursuing him after he skipped Friday Night Lights. “I went to Florida State when [Florida] had Friday Night Lights and Urban Meyer and everyone and the whole coaching staff took offense,” Newberry told reporter Jeff Greer. “I couldn’t really do anything because I had an injury at the time so I just ended up only going to Florida State. They took it the wrong way. I’m still interested, but they just stopped talking to me.” As the Post’s Jason Lieser points out, UF is unable to respond to these accusations because NCAA regulations do not allow them to discuss recruits.

4 » ESPN’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson makes a case that many Denver Broncos fans have been arguing – it has come time to make rookie quarterback Tim Tebow the team’s top reserve while demoting Brady Quinn to the No. 3 QB role. He puts it bluntly, “Let’s face it: Tebow is the future in Denver. Quinn is not. Move the kid up.” And more specifically, “It’s time for Tebow to play more in the preseason and that can be done if he is made the No. 2 quarterback. Denver is going to use Tebow in special packages during the regular season anyway, so he might as well get backup repetitions now.”

Also from ESPN, James Walker notes the five things “we learned” about Tebow last week: (1) Tebow’s mechanics must improve, (2) The arm strength is there, (3) Tebow isn’t used to the speed and feel of the NFL yet, (4) Tebow is resilient, and (5) The No. 2 quarterback job could be Tebow’s for the taking. Read his thoughts in detail.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Broncos plan to make Tebow an active rookie

Now that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has apparently received his initiation into the Denver Broncos organization and is steadily gaining the trust, acceptance and respect of his veteran teammates, attention turns to what he will – and will not – be permitted to do on the field in 2010.

ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen visited Broncos training camp recently and had the opportunity to speak with Tebow and some of his teammates about his NFL progression:

Tackling the issue of the “Tebow factor,” ESPN’s Bill Williamson discussed Wednesday how he is being folded into Denver’s offense this season:

The question is how his work in camp will affect the team on the field. The former Florida star quarterback has operated in short-yardage situations and he will likely be used in the Wildcat formation and in the red zone. That likely means Denver will keep quarterbacks Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tebow on the 45-man roster on game days. In June, [head coach Josh] McDaniels said he was leaning away from that.

But it is clear that Tebow is being groomed to be active as a rookie. Unless Tebow completely leapfrogs Quinn in training camp and in the preseason, Denver could be using three quarterbacks on game days, which will take away from another position.

Another option for the Broncos, which Williamson failed to mention, is that McDaniels could simply assign Tebow the No. 2 quarterback role and make Quinn the emergency signal caller on game days. Should Orton be injured during the game and McDaniels choose to replace him with his true No. 2 in Quinn, Tebow simply would not be able to re-enter the game. The Miami Dolphins used a similar tactic last season with Chad Henne as the starter, Pat White as the game day No. 2 and Tyler Thigpen as the emergency quarterback.

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FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey has been underwhelming since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having only compiled 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the league, he is taking the coaching staff’s belief in him to heart by shedding some weight and becoming a more athletic player. “I thought bigger was better,” Harvey told the Florida Times-Union. “Speed is better. You’ve got to be rushing all day, and you can’t be 280 [pounds] rushing in this heat. […] It’s all on me. I’ve got to perform.” General manager Gene Smith agrees. “I think a couple of things are evident out there,” he said. “He’s probably in the best shape of his life, and he’s lighter this year, so I think you’re seeing some quickness off the snap. And he has better bend coming off the corner. He has shown better flexibility, better quickness and has been better at getting to the quarterback than in any OTAs since he’s been here.

Three more BITS on Thaddeus Bullard’s debut on WWE NXT, 2010 baseball signees picked in the MLB Draft and Tim Tebow…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

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Tebow feeling growing pains at Broncos’ practice

As former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow progresses through his rookie practices and training camp, Denver Broncos’ beat writers and other media members following the young signal caller will be quick to evaluate his each and every move. This is what occurred Friday as Tebow struggled with some passes during practice but simultaneously showed flashes of brilliance.

Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette filed this play-by-play, singling out some of the more prominent mistakes Tebow made during seven-on-seven drills Friday:

Early in practice he missed receiver Alric Arnett, then a couple plays later threw way behind tight end Riar Geer. He had a pass tipped at the line that was intended to tight end Richard Quinn. A few plays later he missed badly to Quinn on a pass that hit the ground before it got to him. Tebow himself singled out another bad pass – a crossing route to open receiver Patrick Honeycutt that was behind Honeycutt and too low, and hit the ground.

Tebow continued to be a bit wild, missing some receivers by throwing behind or low or leading them too far. He did have some very nice throws, mostly on out routes – one of the toughest passes a quarterback can make. He had a fantastic throw to Arnett in the corner of the end zone that had great velocity. He called out a blitz at the line on one play, then calmly hit Arnett on a crossing route, showing he is starting to understand the offense a little.

Tebow recognized his struggles – as he usually does – and took them in stride. Extra scrutiny was on him Friday as only he and Brady Quinn (starter Kyle Orton was given the day off) were on the field throwing the ball.

“I was probably a little bit more happy with some of the reads,” Tebow told reporters. “I still got to get more consistent with some of them. Your accuracy comes when you know where to go and when to go to. […] Sometimes you’re still thinking, overthinking things sometimes instead of reacting and playing. I think that’s a big thing as a rookie. You’re trying to do everything right and thinking about everything. Am I doing this right? What’s he doing? How am I going to do this? Sometimes it’s just reacting and playing and playing and knowing your assignment.”

Regardless of Tebow’s early issues, head coach Josh McDaniels takes them in stride, remaining confident in his abilities and even going as far as to release the team’s previous third-string QB, Tom Brandstater, from his contract Friday.

“No issues, none at all in terms of [Tebow’s] arm strength, velocity, anything like that,” McDaniels said. “Time is progressing well in terms of understanding what the offense is asking him to do. No issues in terms of calling the plays in the huddle or communicating with his teammates and what he wants from them.

“Right now, until you understand exactly what’s going on every play, until you have your head and eyes in the right place in every snap as a quarterback playing in our system – or any other system at this level – it’s hard to consistently look the right way. There’s certainly a bunch of good plays, and there’s some other ones where we have to work hard to get him right. That’s what we’re doing, that’s what he’s doing.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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