FOUR BITS: Harris, Brown, Tebow, Bostic, Noah

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp told the media on Monday that four-star safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL) and JUCO transfer offensive tackle Trenton Brown (Milledgeville, GA) have both enrolled in Summer A classes and therefore officially joined the football program. Both players were originally planning to enroll early in January but were not able to amass the necessary credits in time. Harris, the No. 67 overall 2013 prospect according to Rivals and the son of former Florida S Mike Harris (1994-97), will compete for playing time right away as the Gators look to replace two starters in the defensive backfield. Brown will have some work to do to prove he is deserving of immediate playing time but is expected to play as a reserve this season.

2 » If he wants to, quarterback Tim Tebow will be able to play football in 2013. Whether that is in the NFL is another topic altogether. Tebow, who has already received offers from the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes (to compete for a back-up job) and the AFL’s Orlando Predators (to compete for a starting job), has also been reached out to by the AFL’s Philadelphia Soul. Team co-owner Ron Jaworski, a former NFL quarterback who now works primarily as an NFL analyst for ESPN, told the Philadelphia Daily News that he has offered Tebow a roster spot. “I still haven’t heard back from him and I’m not going to push it,” he said. “If he decides he wants to play Arena Football, we’ll make a spot for him.” Jaworski added that the role would not be as a starting quarterback; rather, he and the Soul’s coach sent Tebow a list of plays he would run for the team should he accept the contract offer.

Check out two more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harris, Brown, Tebow, Bostic, Noah

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Bears sign Gators LB Jon Bostic for four years

Updated: May 10 at 11:00 p.m.

Former Florida Gators linebacker Jon Bostic has signed a four-year, $3.941 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

The rookie’s agreement was officially announced by the team on Thursday, making Bostic the first of Florida’s eight draftees to come to terms with the team that selected him in April’s draft.

Bostic was chosen by the Bears with the No. 50 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He was the third overall Gators player selected during the event and the first to have his name called (coincidentally by former Florida and Chicago running back Neal Anderson) on the second day of the three-day draft.

Bostic is the first Gators linebacker selected since Brandon Spikes (No. 62, 2010) and the 24th UF player drafted by the Bears in the history of the event.

He is the first Florida player to be picked by Chicago since safety Major Wright (No. 75, 2010), who is entering his fourth year with the franchise.

Bostic’s four-year rookie deal includes a $1.246 million signing bonus and $405,000 in first-year salary. He will earn $584,127 in 2014, $663,254 in 2015 and $842,381 in 2016 and will also be eligible for $100,000 workout bonuses in both 2015 and 2016.

Expected to compete immediately for the starting middle linebacker job, Bostic will be counted on to have a major impact on the Bears’ defense in 2013 even if he does not win the position. Chicago believes he can line up and start at all three linebacker spots.

“It’s really starting to sink in now,” Bostic told the team’s website. “It’s hard to believe that it’s all here. It’s something you dream about all your life as a kid and then all of a sudden you open your eyes this morning and it’s right in front of you.”

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Bears pick Gators LB Jon Bostic No. 50 overall in second round of 2013 NFL Draft

Round 2 – No. 50 (overall)
Jon Bostic, LB
Chicago Bears


Height: 6’1″ – Weight: 245 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

When former Florida Gators running back Neal Anderson walked on the stage at Radio City Music Hall on Friday, he not only had the opportunity to announce the Chicago Bears’ next draft selection but also the next to come out of his alma mater as the team chose linebacker Jon Bostic with the No. 50 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

A three-year starter at Florida and the straw that stirred the drink for the Gators’ top 10-ranked defense, Bostic was highly-coveted by NFL front offices for his instinctiveness, tackling ability and high football IQ. He even erased concerns about his speed by running a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. Quality recommendations from head coach Will Muschamp and his former defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong, also raised Bostic’s stock through the draft process.

“I’m very proud of Jon, he really worked hard for this moment,” Muschamp said. “Last offseason, we sat down with Jon and told him the things he needed to work on and he really attacked those things. His hard work has paid off now and we wish him the best.”

Bostic started all 26 games at middle linebacker for Florida over the last two seasons, registering a total of 162 tackles (a team-high 94 in 2011) with 16.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.

“Very pleased that we were able to get Jon Bostic,” Chicago general manager Phil Emery said. “The reason we like Jon? He’s a three-position player, three-position linebacker. I felt it was very important, that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round, that we get somebody who could immediately fill in in all three spots. … Obviously he will be given an opportunity to earn a starting job. We see him as a future starter. Again, a very dynamic player, another player that was very high in our athletic ratings and was also a very productive player.”

Emery also discussed why Bostic was the right fit for the Bears. “One, his intelligence; he’s a guy that can line up others. We brought him in for a visit and we felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line everybody else up on the field,” he explained. “Two, he’s fast; he’s one of the fastest linebackers in the class. Three was his positional flexibility and four was his special teams. He fit the bill.”

He continued: “I can’t undersell the type of young man this is. He’s very easy to be around. He’s another guy that will bring others in. He’s very invested in football, and he’s a very good person.”

On Friday, Bostic became the first Florida linebacker selected since Brandon Spikes (No. 62, 2010) and the 24th player selected by Chicago in the history of the draft. He will be counted on to replace future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher in the middle of the Bears’ defense and joins safety Major Wright (No. 75, 2010) on the team.

“I know they have a great tradition of linebackers,” Bostic said. “Obviously, to play at this level, it’s going to take a lot of work. I haven’’t played at this level before, so I know it is going to take a lot of work, a lot of studying to catch up to the speed of the game.”

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SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

1 » In addition to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey (who is expected to be released from his contract) and Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (a restricted free agent), six other former Florida Gators currently under contract with NFL teams will be unrestricted free agents the day after the Super Bowl. Those players include Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy, Kansas City Chiefs LB Brandon Siler, Oakland Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle, Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks and Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

On rosters for Super Bowl XLVII are San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald and Baltimore Ravens WR Deonte Thompson. The end result and may very well come down to which quarterback stands out and makes as few mistakes as possible.

2 » Speaking of Rainey, the former Gators running back had his recent simple battery charge reduced to disorderly conduct by Alachua County Judge Walter Green after the State Attorney’s Office decided it did not have enough evidence to pursue the more serious offense. The judge withheld adjudication and fined Rainey $200 to go along with court costs of $300 for the offense, effectively ending the legal issue, according to Florida Today. The alleged victim in the case denied that Rainey hit her the day after his arrest and contradicting statements from witnesses made the state’s case inconclusive. The Steelers announced the day of Rainey’s arrest that they had decided to waive him; however, NFL transactions made during the postseason cannot be completed until after the Super Bowl. With the charges being significantly reduced, Pittsburgh could theoretically have a change of heart or consider bringing Rainey back on a cheaper free agent contract.

Check out four more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

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TWO BITS: Coaching hires = spots for Tebow?

1 » On Monday, OGGOA opined via Twitter that the Chicago Bears potentially hiring Montreal Alouettes (CFL) head coach Marc Trestman could open up another potential destination for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow (as a reserve). Two days later, in the wee hours of the morning, Trestman’s hiring was announced. So what exactly is the connection between these two? Not only did Trestman work as Tebow’s quarterback coach and consultant in his training before joining the NFL as a rookie, the coach adamantly defended the player on numerous occasions and propped up his ability to transform into a solid signal caller at the next level.

“I believe, in the right environment, Tim Tebow will figure this out,” he told The Morning Journal in April 2010. “He doesn’t have explosive arm strength, but he has more than adequate arm strength to throw the ball in the NFL and make all the throws. I saw him do something totally different in seven or eight days. I can only imagine what he’s going to do in one year or two years, because he’s going to outwork everybody else and find a way to figure it out.”

He continued, “If you’re a coach and you love coaching quarterbacks, you’d love the opportunity to develop Tim Tebow. That’s going to be the question. Guys are going to be asking themselves, ‘Wouldn’t I love to go to work every day and coach this kid? Is there enough there I can work with to make this happen in our system?’ When I go into that room with him he’s going to demand of me all the help I could give him, and he’s going to want me to demand of him everything he can give us. It’s a beautiful thing, because it all begins in the quarterback room.”

Whether or not Trestman will consider bringing Tebow in as a second- or third-string developmental quarterback during his first year as a NFL head coach remains to be seen. Tebow has become toxic to some in league circles because of the pressure his fan base levies against a team and how the New York Jets handled him this season. But a strong coach who is willing to say up front that Tebow is being added as a developmental player could succeed with him long-term.

2 » “Read option” is the phrase of the year in the NFL and with so many teams having success with mobile quarterbacks that use their legs nearly as often as their arms, Tebow may very well find a home somewhere as a backup in one of those situations. Another potential landing spot that will be using some form of the spread offense in 2013 is the Philadelphia Eagles, which just hired Oregon head coach Chip Kelly on Wednesday. The team already has Michael Vick under contract through 2015 and will likely be drafting a young, mobile signal caller to back him up but might still have a spot for a player like Tebow on the roster. Just weeks after it looked like Tebow may no longer have a home in the NFL, some interesting opportunities have most certainly opened up. Whether any of them have legitimate interest in the former Heisman Trophy winner is another story altogether.

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FOUR BITS: Brown, Dunlap, Hernandez, Caldwell

1 » Out of the NFL last season, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown decided to call it quits and will make it official on Thursday when he signs a one-day contract with the Chicago Bears and retires from the league. Brown, who will sign his final contract on the day of Chicago’s first preseason game, was the No. 104 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Bears and became a start defender for the team. He registered 411 tackles, 45.5 sacks, five interceptions, 43 pass defenses and 17 forced fumbles over his nine-year career, the first eight of which he spent in Chicago. “This is pretty special,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune of the Bears offering him a one-day contract to retire. “It shows a level of respect. I appreciate the club and I think they appreciate what I was able to do while I was here, representing the team and their brand as far as the Chicago Bears. I did it and I did it proudly. I tried to play football the right way. I hope people always felt I played my butt off and played the game the right way and kept my nose clean off the field.”

2 » Another former Gators defensive end, Carlos Dunlap, has been coming on strong in his third training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals. Dunlap is looking to have a breakout year in his third NFL season and is putting all he can into camp this time around. “As a pass rusher you want to be at the top. I haven’t done that yet,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Whoever is at the top is not always the same, but I want to be up there with the best of them and crack that 10 [sacks] number. I was coming off the bench before and now I’m going to be a starter. That should help me get in a rhythm during the game.” Dunlap is being tasked with remaining healthy and being an every-down player; he has been showing the coaching staff that he can be exactly what they need going forward. “So far he’s been very good and done everything right,” defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. “Last year it took him about four days before he got started going down. Right now he’s still going in the right direction, so that’s a good sign.”

3 » The New England Patriots may have just re-signed tight end Rob Gronkowski to a huge contract but it is TE Aaron Hernandez whose role the team is desperately trying to expand. According to ESPNBoston.com, Hernandez has been “on fire” and “explosive” to start training camp. Not only is he hauling in plenty of passes, Hernandez has been used as a punt returner by the Patriots and is also staying late after practice to take hand-offs from quarterback Tom Brady. Hernandez is even receiving love from often frosty head coach Bill Belichick, who kissed him on the elbow (picture) last Friday. “I had a little bruise on my elbow and I was whining about it, and he was just showing me the love of a father figure and gave me a kiss on the elbow,” he told the Boston Globe. The love Hernandez truly wants to see is in the form of millions of dollars handed to him as a contract extension, though that may not be coming for quite some time.

4 » One former Florida offensive star may no longer be with the Denver Broncos but that is not stopping one of the team’s newest acquisitions, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, from shining. According to the Denver Post, Caldwell is getting along famously with new QB Peyton Manning thanks to his speed and sure hands; he may even be in line for a starting job. “There’s a place for me in this offense to make big plays to help this team win,” he said. “When Denver made that move at quarterback, this spot became a No. 1 priority.” Caldwell had some great moments but was never a consistent producer with Cincinnati, something that he hopes he can become in Denver now that a lingering injury is no longer a problem. “I mean, two years went by. I kept getting treatment. It kept not getting better and finally the pain got so bad I couldn’t even really sleep through the night,” he explained. “So I finally went to see a specialist, and he checks me out and said, ‘You’ve got a sports hernia, and it needs to be taken care of.’ Right then, I just felt that relief, like a huge weight was off. I know I can be one of those impact guys and now my body’s right. I’m with this team, with this quarterback. This is big.”

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TWO Video BITS: Brown on Saints, Noah on Fela

1 » Former Florida Gators, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Brown appeared on ESPN2’s Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable on Tuesday to discuss playing for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (who he said was “wrongfully suspended”) and bounties in the NFL (among numerous other topics like the worst thing he did as a child and his first kiss). “It’s football. It’s not golf now. That’s what we have to understand: That it is football and it was built around hits and that’s what we do.”

2 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, currently on the bench while nursing a serious ankle sprain while his team competes in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, was featured in a video by OkayAfrica on Tuesday. In the clip, Noah discusses Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti, how his music has impacted his life and how he shared a bond with President Barack Obama over Fela one year ago.

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SIX BITS: NFL injuries, Tebow, Munroe, women

1 » New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’s leading receivers this year with 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two games, sprained his MCL during Sunday afternoon’s game and will be out of action at least 1-2 weeks, according to the Boston Globe. Also injured on Sunday was Chicago Bears free safety Major Wright, who was hit hard in his contest and was removed from the field with what was considered a head injury. After further evaluation, Wright was diagnosed with a “stiff neck” and not a concussion, which means he does not have to miss his team’s next game. However, Wright may not start anyway as, according to the Chicago Tribune, the team is considering moving Brandon Meriweather into the starting role.

2 » Denver Broncos second-year player Tim Tebow has yet to see the field as a quarterback in 2011 after leading his team to a 1-2 record in three starts to conclude the 2010 season. However, Tebow got into his team’s game on Sunday as a wide receiver due to injuries to some of the other players. According to NBC Sports, Tebow asked the coaching staff if he could play receiver on the scout team rather than do nothing during practice. The coaches agreed and allowed him to fill the role and he wound up playing out wide on Sunday as a result. Head coach John Fox said Monday that the Broncos only consider Tebow a quarterback and have no plans to play him at receiver going forward.

3 » Former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe, who OGGOA recently profiled as we broke the story that he would be playing for the Toronto Varsity Blues of OUA Canadian college football, was interviewed in a profile piece on The Score out of Canada. Through three games with Toronto, Munroe has 13 tackles and an interception.

4 » In unrelated Tebow news, he told the Associated Press last week that, while he appreciated the support of fans who were raising money for billboards declaring that he should start for Denver, he hoped they were “going to do the right thing” with the money and donate it to charity. Fox, asked about the billboard, said, “I’ve seen a lot of billboards and I can’t remember one that really influenced me.”

5 » No. 9 Florida soccer (8-2) ended its non-conference slate over the weekend with a pair of decisive road victories. On Friday, the Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers (7-2) behind a pair of goals by freshman midfielder Annie Speese at 43’ and 86’. Sunday’s 7-2 blowout of the Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) was a total team effort with six different players scoring. Speese added her third goal of the weekend at 20’, but freshman forward Tahnai Annis opened and closed the contest with goals at 9’ and 89’. Florida will continue its four-game road trip with a pair of games against Georgia (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) as they open Southeastern Conference play. UF will then return to Gainesville, FL for a five-game homestand.

6 » No. 6/7 Gators volleyball (8-2, 1-0 SEC) began league play on Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-18, 26-24) of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-5, 0-1 SEC) on the road in Starkville, MS. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts, posted a triple-double with 10 kills, 19 assists and 11 digs in the match. Also excelling Friday was senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel, who led the team with 14 kills on the evening. After playing their last three matches on the road, Florida will return home for a two contests next weekend against Kentucky (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) before hitting the road the following weekend.

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