SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

1 » Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach, star of the U.S. Women’s National Team, married her long-time girlfriend and current teammate with the Western New York Flash, Sarah Huffman, over the weekend in Hawaii. “Sarah and I wanted to thank everyone for all the love and support,” Wambach said in a tweet sent Wednesday. “We couldn’t be happier. What an amazing week it’s been. #honeymoon”

2 » Former Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy, currently under contract with the New York Giants, surprised the Lakewood High School football team by donating $5,000 in mid-September to upgrade the players’ helmets. “We knew that he was going to do something, but we didn’t know it was going to be this year,” Necole Tunsil, the associate athletic director at Murphy’s alma mater, told the Tampa Bay Times. The NFL was kind enough to match Murphy’s donation, giving the school even more money to upgrade the team’s football equipment.

3 » Gators freshman forward Savannah Jordan has put together a sensational season already for Florida, scoring 12 goals in her first 13 games, a mark that surpasses even Wambach’s total goals through the same number of contests during her freshman season. Jordan has played so well, in fact, that the USWNT has added her to its under-18 roster for a training camp that takes place from Oct. 13-19 in Lakeland Ranch, FL. She is the only collegiate player invited to participate on the team. Should Jordan take advantage of the opportunity, she would likely miss UF’s game on Oct. 18 at home against Kentucky. The contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but the USWNT has a scrimmage set for 2 p.m. that day against the under-17 team.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

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Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

The 2013 offseason started out relatively calm and normal for the Florida Gators football program with some players deciding to leave school early to play professionally and others choosing to try their luck at another university. Suddenly, starting on Jan. 10, a string of arrests, poor decisions, injuries and negative headlines began taking over the spring and summer for the Gators. Below is a timeline* of one of the most bizarre and controversial offseasons in Florida football history.

* While all of the news below was sour for Florida or its players in one way or another, obviously some of the occurrences (arrests, suspensions) are significantly more egregious than others (players transferring, coaches leaving). The standout, headline-making stories that either painted the program in a negative light or were exceptionally newsworthy during the summer are highlighted in red.

Luckily for Gators fans, with fall practice officially opening on Friday and the 2013 college season exactly one month away, the offseason is now over.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

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Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young resigns

After serving two years as assistant defensive line coach for the Florida Gators, former 14-year NFL veteran Bryant Young has decided to resign from his post with the team.

Florida announced Young’s resignation on Wednesday afternoon, noting that he is stepping away from the program “for non-football reasons.”

“After heavy consideration and giving over two decades to the game of football, I have made a personal decision to resign from my position at the University of Florida in order to pursue more time with my family,” Young said in a school release.

“I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity I have had to positively influence the hardworking student-athletes and young men whom I will surely miss,” he continued.

“However, I have come to the realization that it is time to invest more in my family during this fleeting season in life. I have truly loved my time being a Gator, enjoyed a great working relationship with Coach [Will] Muschamp and will also miss the dedicated staff at this University. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and support I have received from Coach Muschamp, Jeremy Foley and the entire athletic department.”

Young was a member of Muschamp’s original coaching staff and served as a defensive line coach (specializing on defensive tackles) alongside then-defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn left to become defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks after the 2012 season and now Young has decided to move on as well.

“We are very thankful for Coach Young’s contributions to the program and I respect his decision. This is strictly a personal decision and has nothing to do with NCAA compliance, but just an opportunity to evaluate his future path,” Muschamp said. “I always have, and will continue to be very supportive of Coach Young and his family. Our entire staff will be there for him to provide any assistance and guidance in the future. We wish he and his family nothing but the best.”

Young spent all 14 of his NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he was coached by Quinn. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, four-time NFL All-Pro, Super Bowl XXIX champion and the league’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1999.

It is unlikely that the Gators hire a replacement for Young as Muschamp brought in Brad Lawing as the team’s new assistant head coach and defensive line coach in January. However, Florida does now have a coaching spot open on the roster. Muschamp could hire someone to coordinate special teams as those duties are currently being handled by the coaching staff as a whole.

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Muschamp, Durkin discuss Florida Gators defense

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2013 spring practice on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp and new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the team’s defense.

RELATED: Spring depth chart released | Muschamp, Pease on offense

A NEW MAN IN CHARGE…

Durkin will be entering his fourth year as a member of the Gators’ coaching staff but will begin the 2013 season with a brand new task – coordinating a defense. After spending his career as a position coach and special teams coordinator, Durkin is now the man in charge of Florida’s defense and realizes he has plenty of work ahead of him.

» Durkin on becoming the defensive coordinator: “I’m very excited, excited because of the guys I get to work with both players and coaches. I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited about it. It’s a new challenge. I’ve been doing special teams for a while, so any time you do something for that long, you kind of get in your routine and get to the normalcies of it and all that. It’s exciting for me to have a new challenge and some different things to work on and do.”

» Durkin on his defensive philosophy: “The number one thing that it comes down to is, and I think you’ve seen the identity of our defense, what we as a staff want to build here. We want to be tough, blue-collar team. We want to play with unbelievable effort and enthusiasm in what we’re doing. That’s the way I coach. That’s my personality. That’s what I hope I’ve carried over to our special teams while I’m here and it will be the same thing with our defense. We got a great system in place. We’re not changing terminology and all that. Coach Muschamp, it’s his system and he’s a great defensive mind. It’s been great for all of us to learn that system. To me, that is what this game is all about, being a blue-collar team, both mentally and physically tough, playing with great enthusiasm and great attitude. “

Continue Reading » Muschamp, Durkin discuss Florida Gators defense

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Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview: Defense

Spring practice for the Florida Gators football program begins on Wednesday, March 13 and lasts for 15 practices concluding with the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game on Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. Below is the second half of OGGOA‘s new two-part series that takes a look at the team on a position-by-position basis.

PART ONE: Offense

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Returning starters (0/2): None
Fresh faces: Junior Darious Cummings, redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams

The Gators have plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball and it will be up to new defensive line coach Brad Lawing and assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young to figure out how to plug up the middle. With Sharrif Floyd set to become a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and Omar Hunter finally graduating after five years at the school, Florida will be looking to replace both of its starters. Senior Damien Jacobs, a junior college transfer who played in 12 games during his first season with the Gators, likely has the edge for one of the jobs but will still go up against Cummings (a 2013 JUCO transfer from the same school as Jacobs), Williams and redshirt junior Leon Orr, all of whom will compete for the two positions.

DEFENSIVE ENDS
Returning starters (1/2): Senior Dominique Easley
Fresh faces: Redshirt freshman Bryan Cox, Jr., redshirt freshman Alex McCalister, freshman Joey Ivie

Easley started all 12 regular season games at defensive tackle in 2011 and will be used inside some in 2013 despite starting 11 games at defensive end last season. His flexibility leaves the door open for a number of other players to make an impact. Sophomore Jonathan Bullard earned a pair of starts in 2012 and got rave reviews from the coaching staff; he is next in line to start and/or see major field time as a pure defensive end. McCalister, who won three Scout Team Player of the Week awards and was named Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Member at the team banquet in Dec. 2012, was praised by head coach Will Muschamp at the end of the season.

Florida’s defense also features a Buck, which can line up with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end or upright as a linebacker. (For the purpose of this feature, Buck has been included in this position group.) Redshirt junior Ronald Powell was praised as much as any member of the team in the 2012 offseason but wound up missing the entire campaign with consecutive ACL tears. Lerentee McCray started in his place but graduated after his redshirt senior season. Though Powell will not participate in spring practice, he will retake his role as starter in the summer assuming he is medically cleared. He will be joined by sophomore Dante Fowler, Jr. – Powell’s heir apparent – and McCalister.

Continue Reading » Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview: Defense

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TWO BITS: Muschamp – Gator Clubs, Floyd – NFL

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp is set to make 10 appearances at local Gator Clubs (eight in the state of Florida and one in Atlanta, GA) as part of the team’s four-week 2013 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. Below is the full schedule but you can check out Florida’s official release about the speaking engagements here.

April 2 – Gainesville Quarterback Club
May 1 – Titletown Gator Club (Gainesville, FL)
May 2 – Tampa/Pinellas County Gator Clubs
May 7 – Polk County Gator Club (Lakeland)
May 8 – Central Florida Gator Club (Orlando)
May 14 – Gator Club of Jacksonville
May 15 – Atlanta Gator Club
May 20 – Jacksonville Quarterback Club
May 23 – Fighting Gator Touchdown Club (Gainesville)
TBD – Daytona Quarterback Club

The Florida head coach normally speaks at 10 Gator Clubs and a couple other events. This year, four assistants will each be taking care of one Gator Club speaking engagement including three on the same day.

May 7 – defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin – Southwest Florida Gator Club (Fort Myers)
May 7 – defensive line coach Bryant Young – Panhandle Gator Club (Panama City)
May 7 – wide receivers coach Joker Phillips – Palm Beach County Gator Club
May 14 – offensive line coach Tim Davis – Space Coast Gator Club (Brevard County)

2 » Now having completed his four days at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has put himself in position to be a top-five overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unanimously considered the best three-technique tackle in the field, Floyd interviewed with a number of teams at the event and will now visit with teams privately as they determine whether or not to select him. On the second day of his combine trip, Floyd met with the media and provided plenty of honest answers about his childhood and life as a football player up to this point.

Floyd was asked if he believes his game resembles another NFL player’s and revealed that he did not watch professional football growing up but could definitely single out one player. “I haven’t really watched the league in a long time,” he said, “I first started watching it in 2007, but I did get to know Ndamukong Suh in 2010, so we have a good relationship, and I’ve watched him play a couple times.”

He also explained why he has not watched a lot of NFL games. “It wasn’t that there was no interest, I just didn’t know nothing about it, so there was no reason to watch it,” he said. “Even when I started playing there was no interest in watching it because I liked to play it instead of sitting down and being still and watching a game while all my friends were jumping around and getting excited for no reason. It just wasn’t a preference of mine, but now it is so I watch it and play it now.” What was he watching instead? The Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, he said.

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Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff completed its 28-member 2013 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

Opening statement:

“I’m really proud of our staff. Today is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two-and-a-half, three years put together on a young man and you come down to signing day and you sit at the fax machine and hope that thing comes through. I hope it’s signed right and it’s dated and all that kind of good stuff. Recruiting is all about building relationships. We’ll know about this class in two or three years. It’s a developmental game. …

“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you’ve got to a have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position, which also to me was very appealing. At some positions we signed five wide receivers [for example]. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete. Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers and they’re not real sure about coming in and competing for the Gators. We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play for the University of Florida.

“This class is very balanced. It’s a high-character class with toughness, all the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed and then all of the off-the-field things we’re looking for. It’s a very committed class. A lot of these guys are guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits; there was not a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want; you want guys that are like that. …

“The coaching process is really about four things – evaluation, recruiting, developing and coaching. I think in our two years, you’ve seen on the recruiting trail – from an evaluation standpoint and a recruiting standpoint – that we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level. I’m very proud of the staff and the job that they’ve [done] and all of our support staff on campus. … There’s a true commitment level at this place for excellence, and I appreciate their support.”

» On commitments being the best recruiters: “They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day, and they want to play with other good players.”

» On if he looks at player star ratings from recruiting services: “Absolutely no consideration at all. We commit most of our guys before they ever come out, so maybe they look at our ratings.”

Read much more from Muschamp and the Florida coaching staff…after the break!
Continue Reading » Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

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FOUR BITS: Uniforms, Elam, Young, Hargreaves

1 » Likely spurred by a picture posted by a 2013 commitment that spread around the internet and OGGOA‘s sourced report on Tuesday, the Florida Gators confirmed Wednesday that the team will indeed be wearing slightly different uniforms for the 2013 season. As described by the school’s website, Florida will be wearing a new style of Nike jerseys that are made of a more breathable fabric, only being used by select schools and “could also be used in the NFL one day.” The Gators will debut them in the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut on April 6. Florida also confirmed, as OGGOA reported Tuesday, that “the fonts for the numbers have changed to reflect the font used in UF’s official athletics brand identity” and that the sides of the jerseys are now mesh to increase “breathability to help reduce heat.” The main part of the jersey number (white) is thicker with the colored lining around it slightly smaller.

2 » Gators safety Matt Elam and kicker Caleb Sturgis will both be competing in the 2013 Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge. The event, which is being held for the 15th year in a row, features five separate skills competitions and a total of 20 participants (four in each individual event). Elam will compete in the Skechers GoRun Hands Competition against Texas S Kenny Vaccario, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and USC WR Robert Woods. Sturgis will look to outlast FSU’s Dustin Hopkins, Nebraska’s Brent Maher and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer in the Speed Kick. The All-Star Football Challenge was held on Tuesday but will not be aired until Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. Encore showings will air on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. (ESPN2), Feb. 17 at noon (ESPN2) and April 14 at 4 p.m. (ESPN).

3 » So much for Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young possibly joining defensive coordinator Dan Quinn with the Seattle Seahawks. Shortly after the defensive line coach position became available in Seattle, Quinn and head coach Pete Carroll filled it with New Orleans assistant DL coach Travis Jones on Tuesday. As it turns out, Jones was on the same Miami coaching staff with Quinn and Gators head coach Will Muschamp. Also like Muschamp, he is a Georgia graduate.

4 » With National Signing Day just over a week away, Gators five-star defensive back commit Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL) sat down with the Tampa Bay Times and detailed his entire recruitment, noting how certain teams pitched him and why it was difficult to ultimately make his decision with so many options in front of him. Hargreaves talks about everything from the intimidation of Alabama’s Nick Saban to why he was turned off to the idea of attending Ohio State.

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