Eagles sign WR Riley Cooper to four-year deal

The Philadelphia Eagles and former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper agreed to terms Tuesday on a four-year rookie contract. Selected in the 159th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Cooper is the third of nine University of Florida players selected in April to officially sign his NFL deal. His contract is worth $1.962 million, and Cooper will receive a $171,500 signing bonus.

“The guy’s a ball player. I’m not surprised he came up and had a great mini camp,” former Gators tight end and Eagles teammate Cornelius Ingram told OGGOA about watching Cooper workout last month. “I’m pretty excited for what he has going on, too.”

Cooper will try to earn a spot as one of the team’s reserve receivers during training camp; he will likely fill Philadelphia’s No. 4 receiver slot or end up playing special teams if he is beat out by another player. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant have all locked down starting jobs this season.

Safety Major Wright, drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round, and tight end Aaron Hernandez, picked up by the New England Patriots in the fourth round, have each already agreed to terms with their respective clubs.

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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San Diego cuts former Florida DT Ian Scott

The San Diego Chargers released former Florida Gators defensive tackle Ian Scott on Monday. Scott, who started seven games in 12 appearances for the Chargers last season, was expected to remain the team’s starter going into 2010.

San Diego selected Cam Thomas of North Carolina in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and appear to believe he will be able to take Scott’s place on the defensive line right away.

Scott, 28, will likely be picked up by another team soon. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2003 draft and has also played for Philadelphia and Carolina.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

OGGOA RELATED: Saints unexpectedly release DE Bobby McCray

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FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

Arguing whether or not Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL has seemingly become a national pastime with fans, league executives, former players, current players and analysts all having an opinion on his future without even seeing the former Florida Gators star step into a professional huddle.

Supporters and doubters alike realize that Tebow has some work to do in order to be a polished NFL quarterback. Nevertheless, what some term as “flaws,” others believe are characteristics that make Tebow unique and will allow him to succeed at the next level – perhaps even beyond his most ardent fans’ expectations.

ESPN spoke with a few former NFL signal callers known for their mobility – most prominently Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh – and asked them to evaluate Tebow’s ability to succeed in the pros.

Tarkenton: “I know that Tim Tebow is not the prototypical quarterback. I wasn’t either. Neither was Roger Staubach, even Bob Griese wasn’t. I had my own style of play and did OK. The only thing that will hurt him is coaches. Most coaches don’t understand quarterbacks. Don’t try to coach him into what he’s going to be. That would be a disaster. […] Peyton Manning can’t do what Tim Tebow does, and vice versa. […] The quarterback position is about playmaking, it’s about leadership. It’s a complex position you can’t test for.”

Read what else was said about Tebow and his future…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

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Wright first of Florida’s 2010 draftees to sign deal

Chicago Bears safety Major Wright became the first Florida Gators player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft to be signed by his team after agreeing to a four-year contract on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“With this being my dream, signing a contract is a blessing for me,” Wright told the team’s website. “It shows that hard work pays off. I’m very excited and my family is very excited.”

Though terms of the deal were not available at press time, Wright’s signing is significant for the Bears because the team is now the first in league history to have all of its draft picks under contract before the end of May – an achievement the front office takes prides in. It is the fifth-straight year the team has been the first in the NFL to sign all of its draftees.

UPDATE: Wright’s contract is believed to have a maximum value of $3.368 million, $845,000 in guaranteed payments and a fourth-year escalator clause, according to information obtained by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

Chicago and Wright’s agent, Mitch Frankel, had to overcome a “one-timer” contract clause that was a necessity because of the team’s underfunded rookie salary pool.

Essentially, Wright will earn less of a signing bonus and instead be provided an additional non-guaranteed incentive in the final year of his rookie contract (2013) as long as he actually steps on the field as a safety (rather than just a special teams player) at some point during his first three seasons. One-timers are generally used for the contracts of second-round picks, but the Bears found a need to use it for Wright – the team’s top selection (No. 75 overall) in April.

He is expected to immediately compete for Chicago’s starting free safety job, and the coaching staff is hopefully he will win the job during training camp.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Wright’s one-timer, tennis, Fontana

1 » Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright remains unsigned with the Chicago Bears, but that is not too uncommon considering training camp is still a ways away. However, what is interesting is that, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears will be including a “one-timer” (something generally used for second-round picks) in Wright’s contract. Essentially, Wright will earn an additional guaranteed incentive in the final year of his rookie contract (2013) as long as he actually steps on the field as a safety (rather than just a special teams player) at some point during his first three seasons.

2 » Competing in the 2010 NCAA Championship Round of 16 on Thursday against the Ole Miss Rebels (17-6), No. 3 Gators women’s tennis (27-2) captured a 4-1 victory and advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 5 doubles pairing of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will took an 8-6 victory while No. 8 Will and No. 9 Lauren Embree (also a freshman) each won their singles contests. Florida will square-off against No. 11-seed Miami (FL) in the next round on Saturday at 1 p.m.

3 » No. 4/5 Gators baseball is competing for the Southeastern Conference regular season crown this weekend, but for freshman shortstop Nick Fontana, it is also a great opportunity to pay tribute to his grandfather, Lew Burdette. Inscribing “FROG” and “No. 33” on the infield dirt before the game begins, Fontana is sure to keep Burdette’s memory alive. “He was my inspiration,” Fontana told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “I feel like he’s with me every day on that field.”

4 » It is a busy week for Florida’s athletic department as the No. 4/6 men’s golf team is also currently competing nationally, playing in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Central Regional on Thursday. In second place after posting a team score of 279 (-1), the Gators are only behind the leader, Stanford, by two strokes. The event continues Friday.

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Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright is on the cusp of beginning his rookie campaign with the Chicago Bears. Selected by Chicago in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Wright has been preparing each day since being picked to take the field for training camp and show both his coaches and Bears fans that he is capable of making an impact right away. OGGOA caught up with Wright before a scheduled appearance he had signing autographs in West Palm Beach, FL. He spoke with us about a variety of topics including his time at Florida, the future of the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish right away as a professional in the NFL.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What kind of advice would you give to a high school recruit about to make a college decision, perhaps one considering Florida?
MAJOR WRIGHT: “At Florida, you know, they recruit the best athletes. So, if they recruit you, you’re obviously one of the best athletes out there. Stay focused, maintain what you are doing and always work hard and things are going to happen for you. Especially at the University of Florida – the best talent, the best coaching, the best facilities. That’s where kids want to be at these days.”

AS: How hard was it for you to make the adjustment from high school to college?
MW: “It was pretty hard. Being that you’re coming from high school to college. With me, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas – a well-known program that has great coaching. With my coaching and the speed of the game, it’s a lot different from high school to college. It’s a hard [transition], but I made it and went on with it.”

AS: Ahmad Black and Will Hill are still left, trying to hold down the back end of the secondary. How do you think they are going to play next year?
MW: “They’re going to be great. Me playing with them, those are definitely some focused guys. They know what they’re doing. Ahmad Black and Will Hill [are] definitely [going to] be like one of the two best tandems in college football.”

Read the rest of our interview with Major Wright…after the break!
Continue Reading » Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

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FOUR BITS: Softball advances, Seattle liked Tebow, ex-CB Rickerson arrested – again, 2011

1 » No. 5/5 Florida Gators softball (43-7, 20-7 SEC) defeated the Auburn Tigers (31-5, 11-18 SEC) 9-1 in the first round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday. Junior Stephanie Brombacher (29-5) took home the win, allowing two hits in five innings while striking out six. Junior shortstop Megan Bush and freshman Kelsey Horton each hit home runs in the game, and the Gators put together an eight-run fifth inning to put the game away. No. 2-seed Florida advanced with the win and will face No. 3-seed LSU on Friday at 3 p.m. in tournament semifinal action.

2 » Speaking with podcaster Matt Minkus, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said that had former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow been available in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, his team likely would have had a high level of interest in selecting him. “Yeah, we definitely would have considered Tim,” Schneider said Wednesday. “I think he’s the type of player that – the quarterback position begin the most important position on the field – he’s the type of player that just has a natural way about him with his leadership skills and his charisma. I think that we definitely would have considered him. People have made a big deal about his release, and he really has improved that over the last month of two. He was making a lot of progress, so sure, he definitely would have been a guy we would have considered.”

3 » Former Florida cornerback Jacques Rickerson, who was kicked off the team in November 2008 after an arrest for domestic battery, was arrested yet again Thursday afternoon and charged with cyberstalking and domestic battery by strangulation., according to The Gainesville Sun. Rickerson, a former four-star recruit, is currently being held in Alachua County jail on $45,000 bond.

4 » Taking a (really) early look ahead at the 2011 NFL Draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper went ahead and ranked his top five players available by position. Only two Gators made the list – senior center Mike Pouncey and junior safety Will Hill. Pouncey is ranked as the No. 3 center available even though he has yet to play the position for Florida; Hill is listed as the No. 2 safety and is expected to have an “official coming-out party” next year.

Extra Bit » OGGOA sponsor Palm Beach Autographs will be holding a signing on Saturday, May 15 with two more former Gators. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Chicago Bears safety Major Wright will be on hand signing autographs, taking pictures and talking to fans throughout the event. For more information, click their banner on the right or visit http://www.palmbeachautographs.com

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