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: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is active on an NFL regular season roster for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to bring him aboard on Monday, the cut-off date established by the league for Demps’s roster exemption. Demps was traded by the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay in April but did not put on a helmet until after the preseason concluded as he spent the entire summer and offseason running track. Now officially a member of the Bucs, Demps will likely handle kick return duties and play sparingly on offense. He has not played a snap of meaningful football since Jan. 2, 2012.

2 » Out of work since being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason following an arrest (on a charge that was later dropped), RB Chris Rainey has received a couple of workout opportunities over the last few months. His latest was with the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Rainey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash during the workout, but “the Chiefs have decided that they currently don’t have a spot for him.”

“Ran a 4.29 in the 40 and kill the workout too. Waitin on the Kansas City chiefs to get back at me or Watever team now. God is Good!!!” Rainey tweeted on Monday.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS (two videos)…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

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Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

The 2013 offseason started out relatively calm and normal for the Florida Gators football program with some players deciding to leave school early to play professionally and others choosing to try their luck at another university. Suddenly, starting on Jan. 10, a string of arrests, poor decisions, injuries and negative headlines began taking over the spring and summer for the Gators. Below is a timeline* of one of the most bizarre and controversial offseasons in Florida football history.

* While all of the news below was sour for Florida or its players in one way or another, obviously some of the occurrences (arrests, suspensions) are significantly more egregious than others (players transferring, coaches leaving). The standout, headline-making stories that either painted the program in a negative light or were exceptionally newsworthy during the summer are highlighted in red.

Luckily for Gators fans, with fall practice officially opening on Friday and the 2013 college season exactly one month away, the offseason is now over.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

The 2013 NFL season is just one week away from beginning with preseason action kicking off on Sunday, Aug. 4.

More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.

Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the first full week of training camp from July 21-27.

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: His first full practice with his new team generated its fair share of excitement with some fans in attendance occasionally chanting his name. Though he is listed as the third-string quarterback – and therefore worked behind center in 11-on-11 drills during practice – Tebow also participated in drills where he caught the ball and attempted to break a tackle. In other words, New England may have more planned for him than head coach Bill Belichick wanted to admit initially. “I just do what I’m told and work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job I can with whatever I’m asked to do,” he said.

Comcast SportsNet‘s Patriots beat writer Tom E. Curran described Tebow’s practice as, in one word, “horrendous.”

After practice, Tebow was swarmed by the media and questioned about former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez. “It’s just heartbreaking and sad, and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved,” he said. “I understand why you [the media] have to ask all the questions; that’s part of doing your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction, and we’ve been told not to talk about it.”

Tebow was happy to defend former Gators head coach Urban Meyer, however. “I feel like Coach Meyer is a great man, one of the best I’ve had the privilege of being around,” he said. “He is someone that not only tries to win football games, he’s someone that tries to invest in young men’s lives and help young men grow. He cares very deeply about that. That’s one of the reasons I’m so close to him and why I’m proud of him.”

Read updates on more than a dozen other former Gators…after the break!

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FOUR BITS: Dunker (again), Harvin, Rainey, Tebow

1 » Less than two months after being arrested for third-degree felony grand theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, Florida Gators redshirt freshman guard Jessamen Dunker was cited by the Gainesville Police Department on March 6 for speeding and once again driving with a suspended license. His total fees for the two offenses are $277, according to Alachua County Court records. Dunker’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, claimed in court back in January that Dunker paid $600 for the scooter he is accused of stealing. The player was released while the State Attorney’s Office determines whether or not it will file formal charges against him. Head coach Will Muschamp suspended Dunker from all team activities on Jan. 18 and reiterated Tuesday that he remains indefinitely suspended. The most recent citation received by Dunker is his third brush with the law since arriving in Gainesville, FL. On Nov. 14, 2012, he was cited for driving without a seat belt and reportedly directed multiple expletives at the officer that pulled him over. Dunker’s latest written arrest was first reported by The Miami Herald‘s Matt Watts.

2 » Signing a brand new six-year, $67 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday (which included a $12 million signing bonus and $25.5 million guaranteed), wide receiver Percy Harvin has been all smiles as he gets acquainted with his new team. Another bit of good news that Harvin announced on Tuesday was that he is migraine-free for the first time in his life and that the ailment has not returned after the Mayo Clinc diagnosed him with sleep apnea. “I haven’t had a migraine in two years now,” he said at his official press conference on Tuesday. “Been fully healthy from that aspect so everything’s been good. I’m gonna knock on wood that nothing resurfaces, but it’s all been great.”

3 » Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey, who was released from the team in January after he was arrested for simple battery (a charge that was later thrown out), was at Florida’s Pro Day on Tuesday as he is in Gainesville for the offseason living with his girlfriend while his agent tries to get him back in the league. Reports out of Pro Day were that Rainey and the Pittsburgh contingent – which included general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin – did not speak or come near each other during the event. The media caught up with Rainey after the workouts were over. “I’m just being patient man, that’s all,” he said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “I’m just wanting my agent to give me that phone call. [...] I guess they probably wanted to teach everybody else a lesson or something [by cutting me].”

4 » The New York Jets were supposed to have cut quarterback Tim Tebow by the time NFL free agency opened on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Except now more than 24 hours has passed and Tebow remains on the team’s roster. Stemming from comments made by the team’s new general manager that indicated Tebow may very well remain on the team and compete for the quarterback job this season comes a story from the New York Daily News that quotes new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (father of Gators redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg) saying he has already spoken with Tebow and believes he can contribute to the offense – if he remains on the team, of course. “We had a long discussion,” Mornhinweg said. “He’s got my thoughts on the situation and he has some thoughts as well. If he’s on this football team, which he is right now, then I would do it a certain way and try to utilize all of our players that can help us win a football game.”

“First of all, he would be taking reps at quarterback and then some of his other skills could certainly help a football team,”he continued. “What he did in Denver, that was something else. So, the man can play football. So, how do you utilize him would certainly be the key. So, he’s on our football team right now. It’s my duty and responsibility to have some thoughts on how he could help us win the next football game. So I have put an awful lot of thought into that. He certainly has some skill to do that. I will say. He’s got some quarterback skills. As a quarterback, the gut instincts are real important and he certainly has that…. Just talking in general [about] quarterbacks, the decision making is key as well as the accuracy and timing. He certainly has some of that. That’ll be interesting to see exactly where he’s at.”

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14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.

» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.

» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.

Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

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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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Victim, witness claim Rainey innocent of battery

Video courtesy of Alachua County Court via The Gainesville Sun.

Former Florida Gators and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with simple battery (dating violence). However, the alleged victim in the incident said Friday that Rainey did not commit the crime and that all charges in the case should be dropped.

According to Rainey’s attorney Huntley Johnson, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun’s Jon Silman, the victim sent an e-mail to the judge on the case as a plea for Rainey to have his charges thrown out.

“In no way did I feel physically threatened at any time,” she wrote. “Over the course of our relationship together, I have never been verbally or physically threatened by Chris Rainey. What happened [Thursday] is a misunderstanding and should not affect his future in any way.”

Rainey stands accused of slapping his girlfriend after an argument broke out over a cell phone. A witness told Gainesville police that Rainey pulled her out of a car and slapped her before he chased after her and both parties fell to the ground.

Johnson related to the court that the victim “was adamant there was no crime committed” and said the police report indicated there were no marks on her person, which would likely occur after an open slap to the face.

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