FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has done an admirable job during his first two NBA Summer League games with the Memphis Grizzlies in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando Sentinel caught up with him on Sunday, and Wilbekin explained that he is doing well but having some difficulty adjusting to the limited minutes. The Grizzlies’ summer league coach, Shawn Respert, told the paper that he is pleased with what he’s seen from Wilbekin. “You can’t teach an overall IQ,” he said. “The guy plays with a pace that I think is healthy for a successful basketball team. He doesn’t force things. He knows when to push the gas pedal and when to push the brake. I think it’s just an innate ability that some players naturally have: to know how to play. With Scottie, I’m really proud of the fact of how he’s handled himself. He’s going to be very, very successful. He’s going to be a guy that, if you look in our league six or seven years down the road, he’s going to be an important part of a team that’s winning.”

Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.
Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Vernon Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan last week participated in the Southeastern Conference’s summer teleconference and spoke briefly about a couple of issues somewhat concerning the Gators. Below are some of Donovan’s thoughts from the media availability:

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

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SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

1 » Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed revealed in a feature written by The Washington Post’s Kent Babb that he nearly quit football – and the Florida Gators – during spring practice ahead of the 2012 season. Having seen little opportunity to be successful on the field and dealing with lingering shoulder and knee injuries, Reed had enough. “I thought my body was going to stay hurting like that,” he explained, “and it wasn’t going to get better and I had no future. And I felt like I was putting all this hard work in and nothing was coming from it.” Reed had decided to find a full-time job and support his family but eventually changed his mind, returned to school and wound up playing well enough to get selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

2 » Former Gators and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder appeared on CNN‘s Piers Morgan Live on Monday to discuss the situation in Miami surrounding left guard Richie Incognito supposedly bullying right tackle Jonathan Martin. It is only a portion of Crowder’s segment, which will hopefully be posted in full later in the day.

3 » The Houston Rockets dropped their first game of the 2013-14 season on Monday, but starting forward Chandler Parsons played well in the contest by picking up 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go along with four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block. Two of his 14 points came on this massive dunk.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

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Reggie Nelson, Rex Grossman re-sign with teams

A pair of former Florida Gators football players followed in the footsteps of Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey and re-signed over the weekend with the teams they played for in 2011.

Safety Reggie Nelson turned down overtures from the New York Jets to return to the Cincinnati Bengals on a four-year contract worth $18 million including $6.5 million in the first season, and quarterback Rex Grossman agreed to rejoin the Washington Redskins for one year with the knowledge that he will not be the team’s starter.

Nelson had a career year for Cincinnati in 2011, registering 85 combined tackles, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 12 pass defenses and a pair of sacks. It was the best he had played since his rookie year in Jacksonville, and the team obviously expected his resurgence to continue in 2012 and beyond.

Grossman started off hot for Washington but reverted to his mean as the season went on. He completed a career-high 57.9 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and went 5-8 as the Redskins’ starter. With Washington trading a boatload of draft picks for the opportunity to select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft, Grossman will be relegated to backup duty in 2012.

Though three Gators are now off the market, 11 other notable former Florida players are currently listed as free agents including: wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Cincinnati), linebacker Channing Crowder (DNP/retirement), LB Andra Davis (Buffalo), running back Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay), defensive end Derrick Harvey (Denver), DE Jarvis Moss (Oakland), LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta), cornerback Lito Sheppard (Oakland), offensive tackle Max Starks, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas (Denver) and DT Gerard Warren (New England).

Photo Credits: Rich Lipski/Associated Press, Cincinnati Enquirer

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp speaks, NFL free agency

1 » Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp sat down with Sporting News recently for a question-and-answer session about his first season in Gainesville, FL. Below are a few choice selections from the piece, which can be read in full here.

SN: On a scale of 1-10, what’s your excitement level going into spring practice?
MUSCHAMP: An 11. I’m more excited now than the day I was hired. We’re not building a team, we’re building a program. We recruited well last year, and we’re recruiting well again this year. We’re building our roster back as far as the line of scrimmage. This is a line of scrimmage league. If you don’t have quality depth, you’re going to struggle

SN: You were at 66 scholarship players at one point last fall. How could a program like Florida get to the point where it is nearly 20 scholarships from the NCAA minimum?
MUSCHAMP: We were short on numbers to begin with, and there have been 12 guys who left the program since we took over. We signed 19 players (in 2011), and instead of going out and signing guys just to sign the maximum, we banked them and said we’ll take it in the shorts this year. In the SEC, recruiting is different than anywhere else in the country. If you’re not on for one year, you’ve got no chance.

SN: Your best day at Florida in the last 14 months?
MUSCHAMP: Signing Day this year—Signing Day and the bowl game. They’re together. You springboard into offseason with some momentum, and then we had a great year recruiting.

SN: How hard is it for you to admit you were a soft team?
MUSCHAMP: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever said. But you go back and look at it, and we didn’t consistently stop the run and we weren’t able to run the ball. You can attribute it to multiple factors. We’ve tried to address that with our strength program, recruiting and overall numbers at multiple positions.

2 » NFL free agency is set to begin Tuesday at 4 p.m., but the Cincinnati Bengals met with safety Reggie Nelson anyway on Sunday to gauge his potential interest in resigning with the team. Nelson’s career had a resurgence in 2011 under Cincinnati defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. With Miami also expected to be looking for a safety in the offseason, Nelson may have an opportunity to reunite with Coyle in South Florida. The Bengals have more cap space than any team in the league but are not necessarily to be a front-runner for a player who is considered the No. 2 free agent available at his position.

3 » Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey also had a breakout season in 2011, setting career-highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. Like Nelson, Mincey and Jacksonville have not been engaged in serious talks and he is also expected to hit the free agent market at 4 p.m. The Buffalo Bills are one team that is expected to pursue him when the floodgates open on Tuesday.

4 » There are 12 other notable former Gators players set to reach free agency: wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Cincinnati), linebacker Channing Crowder (DNP), LB Andra Davis (Buffalo), running back Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay), quarterback Rex Grossman (Washington), defensive end Derrick Harvey (Denver), DE Jarvis Moss (Oakland), LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta), cornerback Lito Sheppard (Oakland), offensive tackle Max Starks (Pittsburgh), defensive tackle Marcus Thomas (Denver) and DT Gerard Warren (New England). It will be particulary interesting to find out where four of the players wind up if they decide to continue their careers. Crowder missed the entire 2011 season by taking a mini “retirement” after the birth of his child and release by Miami; Graham tore his Achilles and missed the final eight games of the season; Harvey was inactive for 13 of Denver’s 18 games; Peterson barely played as a reserve for Atlanta; and Starks tore his ACL in a playoff loss and was set to miss up to nine months.

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Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.

He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).

He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.

Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.

Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized?
RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”

AS: Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)?
RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”

AS: Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers?
RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”

Read the rest of our interview with Ran Carthon…after the break!
Continue Reading » Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

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SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

1 » According to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed for but turned down the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn, who has been at Florida for just one season, was a NFL assistant with four different teams from 2001-10.

2 » The 2011-12 season may now be in the books but that does not mean Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s name is out of the news. Tebow, who sat down for a 30-minute interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm last week, will be featured on ESPN2 in “SportsCenter Special: Face to Face with Tim Tebow” on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 10:30 p.m. Tebow’s recent ESPN rounds included an interview with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, which you can view below.

Four more BITS on Crowder, Demps, the Oh Fours and Wambach after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

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FOUR BITS: Tebow on NBC, Murphy, Crowder

1 » Though plenty are questioning Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s ability to succeed in the NFL, there is little doubt about his ability to motivate. According to Entertainment Weekly, Tebow (along with New Orleans QB Drew Brees and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson) will make an appearance on the Oct. 4 episode of The Biggest Loser on NBC. EW reports, “Some of the athletes will be seen competing against the contestants in a throwing contest, while others help the pound shedders with their ‘Last Chance Workout’ before that week’s weigh-in.”

2 » Florida Gators senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named by ESPNW on Wednesday as one of the “five things to watch in college volleyball” this year. “[She] looks to dominate again after three straight All-American seasons and a 2010 selection as SEC Player of the Year,” says writer Mick Elliott. “She was the league’s only player last season to rank in the top 10 in kills per set, service aces per set and hitting percentage. Ranked as the nation’s top 2007 prep recruit coming out of Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy, Murphy became just the second Florida player to lead the SEC in aces per set during a single season. Ranked fourth in the SEC and 26th nationally with a .374 hitting efficiency, she also tallied seven triple-doubles last season, including three that came in three-set matches.” Murphy on Thursday was one of 30 student-athletes named as a candidate for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, an honor given to college players in each sport who demonstrate excellence in the community and classroom as well as with their character and in competition.

3 » Southeastern Conference coaches on Thursday selected the Florida women’s cross country team as the preseason favorites to win their third-straight league title. Earning six first-place votes, the Gators could take home the team’s sixth-ever SEC Championship if the coaches are correct. The men’s team was chosen as a preseason third-place finisher and did not receive a single first-place vote.

4 » He may be semi-retired, but former Florida and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder is still in demand, according to Pro Football Talk. “Per a source with knowledge of the situation, at least two teams recently expressed a desire to lure Crowder out of retirement,” Mike Florio writes. Crowder has given no indications that he plans to return to the field this year (his new wife is having a baby during the season and he wants to remain in South Florida with his family).

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