Spikes, Cunningham, James, DBs at Pro Day

Former Florida Gators defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, kick returner Brandon James and defensive backs Wondy Pierre-Louis and Markihe Anderson all participated in the team’s second Pro Day on Wednesday as linebacker Brandon Spikes looked on and showed his support. The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu caught up with each player after their workout was completed though, as per usual, Spikes declined an interview request. Check out some notes and quotes (after the jump):
Continue Reading » Spikes, Cunningham, James, DBs at Pro Day

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Kelly impressed with, would recommend Tebow

Speaking for the first time directly after dining with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in upstate New York, former Buffalo Bills QB and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly spoke glowingly about the experience, saying he would feel comfortable recommending the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion to those on the team’s staff.

“Just because I’m a former quarterback, people think I can just tell from being around a guy [if he has what it takes],” Kelly told NFL.com‘s Vic Carucci. “But I need to watch him go through a drill and make all the throws. I need to really study him before I could say whether he should be a first-round pick. Now, a second-rounder, I’d be OK with that, but I don’t have enough information on [Tebow] to say they should use the No. 9 pick on him. Maybe they could also trade down, if someone wants that No. 9 pick, and get him with a lower pick in the first round.”

Kelly, the team’s “official ambassador,” said Tebow came off as a “yes-sir-no-sir kind of guy” who “looks like he can take a hit.” What is interesting is Kelly’s proclamation that he would be more comfortable with the team taking Tebow later in the draft as opposed to No. 9 overall, simply because of his constant praise of the signal caller.

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TWO BITS: Bills sign Jackson, Mesler to speak

1 » The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday that the team has signed former Florida Gators wide receiver Chad Jackson. A free agent after being cut by the Denver Broncos on Sept. 7, 2009, Jackson’s NFL career has been marred with injuries.

“The Bills had been looking at me for a while and I had the opportunity to come up and get a workout in and they obviously liked what they saw,” Jackson said. “I’ve heard a lot about coach Gailey and the things he can do on the offensive side of the ball. I’m looking forward to working with him. He’s the type of guy that if you can make plays he’s going to get you the ball. I’ve got a good opportunity ahead of me signing with this organization, but I have to prove myself to the coaches and coach Gailey. Once I do that I think everything will work out real well. I’ve got a lot of speed to me and a lot of size to me and I can make plays in the open field. I can make a lot of things happen.”

After forgoing his final year of eligibility with Florida and entering the 2006 NFL Draft, Jackson was though to be a potential first round pick. However, he fell to the second round, causing the New England Patriots to trade up 16 slots (from No. 52 to No. 36) in order to select him. He missed the 2006 preseason with a hamstring injury, hurt his groin during the season and finished his rookie year with 13 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots placed him on the physically unable to perform list before the 2007 season, only activating him for four games. He was cut in 2008 and signed with the Broncos on Oct. 27, 2008, once again only playing in four games.

2 » Former Gators decathlete and U.S. Olympic gold medalist bobsledder Steve Mesler has accepted an invitation to speak on campus at the University of Florida on Thurs., April 1 at 10 a.m. Mesler will speak at the College of Health and Human Performance about his experiences at the Olympics. Admission is free, and Mesler will stay afterward for photographs with fans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Tim Tebow eats well, dines with Bill Belichick

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been the recipient of some nice meals recently. Just two days after sitting down with former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, Tebow ate at a high-end restaurant in Boston, MA, with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and personnel director Nick Caserio, according to the Boston Herald.

Tebow, who told OGGOA Saturday that he is in the middle of private interviews and workouts but still has a few more to take care of before the 2010 NFL Draft begins on April 22, is shooting up draft boards after initial projections had him as a second-round pick.

He is working out for the Patriots Tuesday.

Bob Tebow, Tim’s father, made headlines recently by stating that his son would not fall past No. 15 overall in next month’s draft. While some remain skeptical that this proclamation will come to fruition, Tebow is getting a good deal of first-round attention.

Tebow has now spent two days with New England and was praised by Belichick just last week during the league meetings in Orlando, FL.

”He’s had a great career. There are a lot of positives. I’m sure he’s going to help a team,” Belichick said. “I think he performed very well in the offense he was in. I think he was outstanding. He’s already spent, I think, six weeks, or whatever it’s been, working on some other things and I think you can see the results of that working. He’s worked hard and made some changes, you can see those changes. I think he’ll continue to work.”

ESPN‘s Adam Schefter has reported that Tebow’s next two trips will be to the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns (not necessarily in that order). The Seattle Seahawks are also interested in bringing him in.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Bills, Jim Kelly spend private time with Tim Tebow

As former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow told OGGOA Saturday, he has a handful of private interviews and workouts left on the docket before the 2010 NFL Draft begins on April 22. Following his autograph signing in South Florida, Tebow took off to upstate New York to meet with the Buffalo Bills.

The story coming out of Tebow’s trip is an apparent dinner meeting with former Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, who has been an ardent supporter of the Heisman Trophy winner for about a year now.

Kelly’s wife Jill told the world about the meeting via her Twitter page, saying “JK is on his way home from having dinner with Tim Tebow. I can’t wait to get the full scoop! Can’t wait for draft day!” She also expressed that she was told not provide any additional details about the meeting.

It is a fair assumption that Tebow would not have been in Buffalo if not for the Bills requesting his presence (seeing as general manager Buddy Nix “really likes” him, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King), but it is unknown whether his dinner with Kelly was set-up by the team (with perhaps some of the front office or coaching staff present) or a more private and personal meeting.

Kelly even called him “a class act and a great guy,” according to his wife’s posting.

Bob Tebow, Tim’s father, made headlines recently by stating that his son would not fall past No. 15 overall in next month’s draft. While some are skeptical that this proclamation will come to fruition (noting that all of the teams picking 10-15 do not need a signal caller), the Bills do have a dire need for one and pick No. 9 overall in the first round.

Whether or not they are interested in taking a “gamble” on Tebow early in the first round or are hoping he might be available in the second remains to be seen. What is becoming obvious is that Tebow has a lot of momentum going into the draft and could very well be selected earlier than most “experts” project.

Tebow has already met with a handful of teams (including the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots) and has another handful of in-town and out-of-town appointments set up over the next few weeks.

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Meyer returns feeling good, ready to coach again

Lost among the hysteria of the Florida Gators‘ Pro Day and an appearance by the basketball team as a No. 10-seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars was the beginning of spring practice for the football team – something that (perhaps most importantly) also saw the official return of head coach Urban Meyer from his leave of absence.

Meyer, who told reporters that he actually returned in an official capacity a few weeks ago after taking some personal time to get healthy and rested, spoke confidently about his health. “I’m not going to get into all that, but I feel fine. I feel good,” he said after the three-hour practice. He also declined denied to speak about a number of tests he underwent in February.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s story on Meyer’s return to the Gators after the break!
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Pats, Browns, ‘Skins taking closer look at Tebow

Having now competed in the 2010 Senior Bowl, 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and his school’s Pro Day, the only things left on former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s plate before the 2010 NFL Draft are workouts and interviews with individual teams.

As of March 8, only the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks had arranged individual workouts with Tebow. However, the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins can now be added to that list, according to SportingNews.

The Browns, which had their president, general manager and head coach in Gainesville for Florida’s Pro Day, are expected to draft Gators cornerback Joe Haden with their No. 7 overall selection on April 22. The team is also in need of a quarterback of the future with 35-year-old Jake Delhomme as their only legitimate starting option and possesses an early second-round pick.

One of the first teams to work out Florida players after their Pro Day every year, the Patriots – especially head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft – hold Gators head coach Urban Meyer and his players in high regard. In fact, the team also took a close look at tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes on Thursday. (Spikes has reportedly also met with the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin.) Tebow would fit well in New England as a back-up who could sit comfortably behind Tom Brady for a few years.

The Redskins, which recently signed former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman to a free agent contract, are still looking for a starter with incumbent Jason Cambell seemingly always on the hot seat. Head coach Mike Shanahan is a former Gators offensive coordinator, and his son Kyle holds that same position under his father.

Photo Credit: Jimmy DeFlippo/Sports Illustrated

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Tim Tebow back in spotlight at Florida’s Pro Day

March 17 is a big day in Florida Gators athletics for three reasons: the basketball team is preparing for first-round action in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars, the football team begins spring practice for the 2010 season and more than 15 former Gators football players who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft will work out and perform in front of representatives of each NFL team during Pro Scout Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes, cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Aaron Hernandez are scheduled to be on hand for evaluation purposes, but quarterback Tim Tebow will be under more scrutiny than any of his former teammates. (Of course, Haden’s 40-yard dash times will be under close watch.)

As two of his National Championship titles and his Heisman Trophy sign hang on the stadium’s walls, Tebow will be on Florida Field proving to NFL coaches, scouts and personnel that his tweaked mechanics, throwing motion and release are improved enough where he can be considered for selection with a first- or second-round pick. Millions of dollars are on the line for Tebow, who was initially given a third-round grade.

Tebow’s stock has steadily improved over the last few weeks after an impressive showing at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine coupled with a dedication to “fixing” his release. He is now projected to go in the second round, though there are inklings that a few teams may be interested in trading up into the bottom of the first to pick perhaps the most accomplished quarterback in college football history.

Will it be the Buffalo Bills? New head coach Chan Gailey, a former Florida quarterback, loves developing young signal-callers. Could the Jacksonville Jaguars realize Tebow’s value, trading up to select the hometown star who can be the new face of a franchise that is in dire need of a face-lift? Perhaps an established powerhouse like the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts or Minnesota Vikings pulls the trigger for Tebow as a future starter?

Humans are emotional by nature, and emotions can be swayed by, literally, a flick of the wrist. Forget a score of 22 on the Wonderlic or his other “flaws,” Tebow has an opportunity to quiet his doubters and enliven his believers with his workout Wednesday – perhaps the most important of his career.

He has said on multiple occasions that he will do anything he is asked to do in order to prove to NFL teams that he can play quarterback, so expect coaches to throw some routes at him other than what is scripted by Tebow and his receivers.

Whether he impresses or fails to do so, Tebow’s next step will be private workouts with any interested teams. A few are already scheduled, but one can be sure that his appointment book will get quite full if teams become enamored with what Tebow has been able to do mechanics-wise in such a short period of time.

The Swamp will be open for Pro Day beginning at 8:30 a.m., though the on-field portion of the event will not start until 10 a.m. Fans will be allowed to enter via Gate 2.

As first reported by OGGOA, restrooms and concession stands will be open. Video cameras, food/drink containers, bottles, cans and a variety of other items are prohibited.

Photo Credits: Jimmy DeFlippo/Sports Illustrated, David Bergman/Sports Illustrated

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