1 » No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (32-11, 16-6 SEC) handled the Alabama Crimson Tide (28-18, 9-13 SEC) on Friday on the road at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, coming away with a 9-3 victory on the heels of freshman starter Hudson Randall’s seven shutout innings. Randall (6-3), cleared way for the Gators’ bats to get to work, and the lineup responded with every single player getting a hit. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) led the way with three RBI; freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-5) attempted to match him with two RBI and two runs of his own. Florida faces Alabama the next two days before returning to Gainesville, FL, for a five-game home stand.
2 » A day before Mother’s Day, it is good to hear a nice mother-son story prominently featuring a former Florida football player. For new Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, his mother Andrea Eluett has stood as a major part of his life, which is the reason why he gave her his 2009 BCS National Championship ring last year as a present. “She’s been a big inspiration in my life,” Wright said. “Growing up, we didn’t have it all. Everything wasn’t going right for us. But she’d always be there for us no matter what it took. Her [returning to school for a pharmacy degree] showed our family that we could go to college and be productive and get great jobs. It let us know that we could do all things and not to let anything hold us back.” Read the rest: ChicagoBears.com
UPDATE » Four former Gators started competing in The PLAYERS Championship on Thursday, but only one remains after two rounds of action. Camilo Villegas (143), Brian Gay (144) and Mark Calcavecchia (147) all missed the cut while Chris Couch will continue competing with a two-day 142 (-3).
1 » Florida Gators lacrosse’s freshman attacker Ashley Bruns was named the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Bruns, one of the top recruits in the country, led Florida’s inaugural lacrosse team in goals (44) and assists (30) while taking home numerous honors over the course of the season. She also earned a spot on the All-ALC Second Team along with teammates freshman midfielders Brittany Dashiell and Jamie Reeg.
2 » Former Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap is already finding a level of comfort with the Cincinnati Bengals. He knows exactly what the team expects of him and hopes to exceed their projections. “They drafted me to be a pass rusher. That’s definitely something I want to be the best at on the team, so I can be that guy,” said Dunlap according to CNATI.com. “I’m just working on that and working on becoming an NFL player. […] It’s a passing league. If you can be a dominant pass rusher, you can be one of the dominant players in the league.”
3 » By all appearances, former Florida kick returner Brandon James had a rough year in 2010, culminating with a season-ending injury that kept him out of the postseason. Unable to compete at most pre-draft workouts, James was counting on his college production and workout at the Gators’ second Pro Day to fuel interest. The Indianapolis Colts recognized his talent, signing him to an undrafted free agent contract after the 2010 NFL Draft completed. Now, James believes he can greatly impact the former Super Bowl champions (at least) on special teams. “That’s an area I can help in,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “If not making big plays, then putting [the offense] in good field position. If you put the offense at the 40- or 50-yard line, the chances [of scoring] are a lot greater than if it starts at the 18 or 20. That’s what I feel like I’m here for.” In order to remain “here,” James will have to beat out Indiana’s Ray Fisher, a seventh-round pick who is also attempting to make the team as the primary returner.
4 » Though he spent a good amount of time at Florida as a strong safety, Major Wright is already competing for the starting free safety job with the Chicago Bears, according to the Daily Herald. Wright, the Bears’ third-round selection, is ready and raring to go. “I was like, ‘Wow my dream’s come true,’” he said. “I dreamed about this when I was younger and it’s here. Now I just have to go out and hustle and just stay focused.”
The Chicago Bears waited patiently for almost two full days before making their first selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, using the No. 75 overall pick in the third round to select former Florida Gators safety Major Wright.
He was the first Florida player at his position to be drafted since Reggie Nelson (No. 21, Jacksonville Jaguars – 2007) and goes to a team which hopes he can step in and play right away.
“You hate to talk about rookies being one of the starters right away,” Chicago head coach Lovie Smith said when discussing Wright, “but […] he’s our first pick. We’re expecting big things from him.”
Wright was explosive for the Gators in 2008 but experienced reduced playing time in 2009 when the team decided to utilize three safeties. His decision to declare for the draft was seen as a mistake by many in Gator Nation, but his stock rose with each passing event as he was impressive at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and Florida’s Pro Day.
He is the first Gators player to be selected by the Bears since the team took three former University of Florida student-athletes in 2003: quarterback Rex Grossman (first round), defensive tackle Ian Scott and safety Todd Johnson (both fourth round).
For the first time since 1989, three former University of Florida student-athletes were picked in the first round of a NFL Draft. Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow completed the trifecta for the 2010 NFL Draft, being chosen by the Denver Broncos with the No. 25 overall selection.
Tebow becomes the fourth Florida quarterback drafted in the first round and the first since Rex Grossman was picked by the Chicago Bears in 2003. Denver made four trades in the draft before eventually winding up with the opportunity to select the Heisman Trophy winning signal caller.
Months of debate about whether or not he was worthy of a first round selection were only fueled Thursday by the Broncos’ decision. Now the story changes to whether or not Tebow will be able to live up to the slot in which he was picked.
Things got rolling between the two parties early in the process but intensified this Monday when general manager Brian Xanders and head coach Josh McDaniels visited Tebow for a private meeting in Gainesville, FL.
He will join former Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive linemen Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas who are already on Denver’s roster. The team, which happens to use orange and blue as its two primary colors, recently made the No. 15 jersey available after trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins for two second round picks.
Should Tebow get a chance to play in week one of the 2010 NFL season, he will take the field at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHAT TEBOW SAID Press Conference Transcript
“A lot of people said it was going to be a hard process or a long process and that it was going to be very frustrating for me but I loved it and I enjoyed the working process. All the critics and negativity only pushed me that much more and made me work that much harder and made me better. I think that was a positive thing for me, to be honest with you. I believed in myself and the people that were around me and supporting me. I thank my quarterback coaches for the work that they put in and trying to constantly get better. Not only get better but show that I was coachable, to be humble and learn to do what someone says and I think that is something that I tried to show and I think I showed that to Coach McDaniels and the staff there.”
WHAT THEY SAID Press Conference Transcript Press Conference Video Head coach Josh McDaniels: “The player obviously has all the traits that you’re looking for in terms of toughness and competitiveness. He’s intelligent and he’s won a lot of games. He’s a leader, he works hard and he’s got all the intangibles that you look for in a player at that position. He’s produced a lot of numbers and statistically – I’m not even going to talk about that because he’s one of the best in a long, long time. We need that player in that position to be a good player, a real good player. If we can make him a special player, that’s what we’re looking for. Now we have a deep group of quarterbacks and we expect the competition to be incredible. It hasn’t changed anything in terms of our depth chart right now. We’re looking for that position to be the best player on our team if we can make it that way. Competition is only going to make each one of those players better and that’s what we expect him to come in and provide us with.”
Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m sure Tim and his family are glad the process is over. The Denver Broncos are getting a winner. Tim will show on the field what he is capable of doing and more than anything Tim has a competitive fire that will constantly push him to get better and do whatever he can to help his team win.”
Free agent defensive end Alex Brown, who was looking for a new home after being cut outright by the Chicago Bears late last week, has signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter.
Brown visited with the Saints Tuesday and had a meeting scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday. Obviously the defending Super Bowl champions chose not to let him leave town, making him the team’s newest run-stopping starting left defensive end at $5.5 million over two years.
“My goal is to be the starting left end,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune. “My goal is to be the best defensive end in the league, regardless of which side I am playing. I won’t have to bulk up. I think I can play at 255 [pounds]. I think it’s more attitude than anything.”
Turning 31 in June, Brown had 47 tackles and six sacks last season for the Bears. Chicago cut him in order to get younger at the position and avoid paying him the $5 million he was due.
“I expected to make more visits, we had more lined up,” he said. “The house that we live in here [in Chicago], we walked into it and I told my wife, ‘I love this house. We don’t need to see anymore. This is the one I like.’ Taking that approach, I went to New Orleans and I liked it. Boom! If everything else is right, that’s where I wanted to go. My agent and [general manager] Mr. [Mickey] Loomis came to an agreement and here we go, we’re going to try to win it again.”
Brown is one of a few NFL players who celebrate with the Gator Chomp (see above).
1 » Looking for a new home after being cut outright by the Chicago Bears, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is making the rounds. Visiting Tuesday with the New Orleans Saints, Brown has also scheduled a meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. With the Saints, Brown would likely receive a starting job should he be amenable to their contract offer.
University of Florida men’s basketball head coach Billy Donovan will be honored with the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching Award” on April [9,] 2010. This award recognizes successful coaches who exemplify Wooden’s high standards of integrity on the court. Winners are selected based on character, success, student-athlete graduation rate and coaching philosophy. Donovan will be one of only four active coaches who have both guided teams to multiple NCAA National Championship titles (20006, 2007) and received this honor. The others are the Duke Blue Devils’ Mike Krzyzweski (4), North Carolina Tar Heels’ Roy Williams (2) and Connecticut Huskies’ Jim Calhoun (2). Donovan is 333-139 (.706) in 14 seasons as coach of the Gators with 12 consecutive 20-win seasons, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and three SEC Championships.
1 » When the Chicago Bears signed defensive end Julius Peppers, former Florida Gators DE Alex Brown welcomed him to the team. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are showing Brown the door precisely due to their acquisition of Peppers. Head coach Lovie Smith, at the NFL owners meeting this week, informed reporters that Israel Idonije would be moving to DE, basically forcing Brown out of the way. The team is now trying to actively trade the nine-year veteran and 2009 captain but could release him if a deal is not struck.
2 » Currently tied for ninth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, former Gators golfer Chris DiMarco is playing better than he has in quite some time. Attempting to regain full exempt status on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2008, DiMarco is steadily progressing. “”I really feel like I’ve gotten back to the old swing, the old consistency” he told The Florida Times-Union after Thursday’s round. “It’s been baby steps. The confidence is back and the rhythm is back.”
3 » Sophomore cornerback Josh Evans appears to be out for the remainder of spring practice, according to The Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman. There are no reports of the injury being serious of regular season-threatening, but obviously Florida would like him back as soon as possible. OGGOA is still waiting to hear word on what happened to redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence.
4 » Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel speaks with ESPN‘s Brian Kenny:
With the shock of the resignation of Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer still ringing through the ears of Gator Nation, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: “Who will replace him?” OGGOA has complied a list of the most likely and most rumored candidates that could replace Meyer: