Robinson spurns Florida, flips back to Clemson

Less than one week after four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) decommitted from the Clemson Tigers and pledged to join the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, the top-tier pass catcher had a change of heart and decided to rescind his promise to Florida and recommit to play for Clemson next season.

According to Rivals affiliate TigerIllustrated.com, which first reported his flip, the Gators have lost arguably their most important commitment since head coach Will Muschamp took over the program as Robinson was a top-tier talent at a major position of need. UF’s leading returning receiver, redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar, reeled in just 31 receptions for 306 yards and four touchdowns during the 2012 season.

Robinson was the third pass catcher listed at 6’2” or taller and the fifth overall wide receiver to make a pledge for Florida this cycle. He is a Rivals100 and ESPN 300 talent who is respectively listed as the No. 48 and No. 157 overall prospect in the nation.

A big target with plenty of strength and more than enough speed, Robinson would have been the highest-rated receiver to sign with the Gators since Andre Debose (No. 21) in 2009. His flip to Florida was believed to be fueled, in part, by UF’s hiring of Joker Phillips as receivers coach.

Robinson had been long considering a switch to the Gators and chose to do so following a meeting with Muschamp, Phillips and running backs coach Brian White last Wednesday. He met with members of the Tigers’ coaching staff late in the week and chose to make a change even after visiting Florida over the weekend.

The Gators do still have four remaining receivers committed for the 2013 cycle in four-stars Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) and three-stars Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA) and Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL).

Florida now has 25 total pledges including 24 that count as members of the 2013 recruiting class. The Gators will likely look to add a fifth receiver to their class.

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Donovan confident in Gators’ rebuilt staff

It has been a long offseason for Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan. In addition to serving as a court coach for USA Basketball, traveling across the country recruiting some of the nation’s best high school players and preparing for the 2011-12 season, Donovan had to hire four new staff members including three assistant coaches.

“The only guy that liked me half way decent was our trainer [Dave Werner]. That’s because I take him fishing a lot,” Donovan joked during Florida basketball’s media day on Wednesday.

“In hiring, there [were] a couple things that were concerns for me. One, I felt like I needed some familiarity. People around me that knew me, knew Florida, knew the way we were going to do things here. It can be very time consuming when you have to train three new people. When I say ‘train,’ I’m not talking about coaching train them, but terminology on the court, how you go about recruiting, dealing with players, individual workouts, breaking down tape, scouting reports. All those things are things that need to be taught because it’s their first time doing it this way, not the first time in their career.

“The other thing too is, I talk a lot about our team chemistry, how we play together, chemistry on the court, chemistry off the court. I think it’s really hard to sit there and talk to your team [about that] when your coaching staff doesn’t have chemistry. Players see that stuff. I wanted to try to hire a staff where we all were going to try to make each other better, there were going to be great relationships, great respect and great passion.”

Donovan first reached out to an old friend and a familiar face for fans of Gators basketball. John Pelphrey, fresh off being fired by the Arkansas Razorbacks following five years as the team’s head coach, decided to return to Gainesville, FL where he was an assistant under Donovan from 1996-2002.

“From a familiarity standpoint, bringing John Pelrphey back first was very helpful to me because he had been with me for quite some time,” Donovan explained. “He knew me, knew Florida. I knew he could help the other guys.”

Next up was hiring another experienced assistant. Though there was no direct connection to Donovan, former St. John’s Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts became a top candidate. Like Donovan, Roberts is a native New Yorker, and the two had crossed paths as players and on the recruiting circuit. Roberts had been out of work for a year after being released by St. John’s in 2010.

“Getting the chance to hire Norm was a real big steal for us. Norm’s a high-character, a really good basketball coach,” Donovan said. “He obviously has head coaching experience under his belt at the highest level. He’s been a great guy. I’ve known Norm since we both got out of high school in New York at the same time, played against each other a little bit. Never had a close relationship but we knew each other.”

Rounding out the staff is former University of Florida director of basketball operations Matt McCall. Also serving as a team manager, head manager and graduate assistant during the seven years he worked under Donovan (2004-08), McCall left the program to become an assistant coach with the Florida Atlantic Owls under head coach Mike Jarvis. He is now back in a coaching role and with a lot more responsibilities.

“I don’t think it’s any different than when I was hired by Coach [Rick] Pitino at 24 years old at Kentucky. I started off as an administrative assistant and worked my way up and within 2-3 years was on the road recruiting at 25-26 years old. Matt’s been with me for a long period of time. He’s been involved. He was like an administrative assistant here,” Donovan said of hiring such a young assistant.

“He learned an awful lot at FAU. He had a lot to do with the players that were brought in there along with their staff. They won the league this past year. It’s one of those things when you know somebody as a person, someone that you’ve worked with and someone you’ve been around, it makes it a little bit easier. I don’t think there’s any question that he will do a terrific job for us and is more than ready to handle [it] because he knows exactly what’s going on.

“The one thing that’s great about him is he’s got great energy in recruiting. He’s very passionate about it and he’s very good. On the floor, he knows our system. He knows our style of play. He knows practice. He knows all those things. That will be OK for him.”

Donovan is not only thrilled about the character and talent of his new assistants but also how well they are already meshing both on- and off-the-court.

“It’s great to see those guys work together because you have Norm and John who have obviously recruited at a high level for a long time, and you have Matt who has been here and around and has watched us at Florida try to recruit like that,” he said. “Now you’ve got Matt’s energy and enthusiasm recruiting with the experience of Norm and John. The staff, the way it’s mixing and matching, is very good.

“It really exceeded my expectations of what these guys have done to this point in time. Having to get right into recruiting and develop relationships, having to know the players and find out our system and style.”

The hiring process was not over for Donovan after Pelphrey, Roberts and McCall were in the fold. Strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring also decided to leave the program to become the director of athletic performance with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Donovan replaced him by hiring Preston Greene, who had spent his last three years as the assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Clemson Tigers.

“Hiring those three guys was really great. And then hiring Preston Greene our strength coach, I think we added another really good guy,” Donovan said. “I would say that, right now, our ability to work together, recruit together, coach together, I feel like we’re all on the same page and it has been good.”

If Florida’s chemistry on the court can be built the way its coaches have formed relationships off the court, the Gators have a lot to look forward to this season.

Photo Credits: Unknown, Chris Trotman

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Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we try to catch them with Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Remember back in April when Florida Gators forwards junior Erik Murphy and redshirt freshman Cody Larson were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a car? Since then the felony chargers were reduced to misdemeanors for both parties and Murphy accepted a plea deal that netted him fines, community service and a few other minor penalties. Larson’s situation, on the other hand, is not even close to resolved. The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway reports that he will have a Oct. 31 sentencing date to determine what legal action will be taken against him. He had previously entered a not guilty plea but could change it on the day of sentencing. As individual Florida basketball drills begin this week and practice starts on Oct. 15, according to Brockway, Larson’s status remains up in the air. The duo is currently indefinitely suspended from the team, though the expectation is that Murphy will be reinstated now that his legal situation is settled.

» Gators baseball received a commitment Wednesday evening as outfielder Max White chose to continue his career in Gainesville, FL. Also a left-handed pitcher, White is recovering from shoulder surgery and chose Florida over LSU, Central Florida, N.C. State, Maryland and North Florida, according to the Sun. “I have always wanted to play for Florida,” he told the paper. “To be in the situation where all of my hard work could possibly lead me to play for them — that is a great feeling. I just want to keep at it and I especially do not want them UF to see me slack off.”

» Florida head football coach Will Muschamp is known for his fiery demeanor on the sidelines. This fan video shot from the season opener against Florida Atlantic shows a mini-tantrum he threw during the game.

Read the rest of the Gator Bites (and watch four videos) after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

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Gators tennis in the 2011 NCAA Tournament: Women advance to Elite Eight, men eliminated

The Florida Gators tennis program faced split results at the Taube Tennis Center Stanford, CA. The No. 2 women’s team advanced to the Elite Eight round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, while the No. 8 men were eliminated during Sweet 16 competition.

The Florida women (28-1) lasted through a nail-biter against the No. 15 Clemson Tigers (20-11), defeating them 4-1 with a number of singles matches close until the end.

The Gators started the afternoon by winning the doubles point. The No. 45 pairing of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen earned an 8-3 victory to start Florida off, and the No. 2 duo of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone took down the No. 6 team of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong 8-6 to clinch the point.

Singles action was even tighter. Clemson took the first point as Oyen was beaten 6-3, 6-3, but UF closed the match out with three-straight victories. No. 17 Embree defeated No. 48 Wong (4-6, 6-1, 6-4), and No. 42 junior Joanna Mather fought back to beat No. 114 Nelly Ciolkowski (0-6, 6-4, 6-3). With the match in her hands, No. 54 Cercone won the hardest fought match, capturing a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory to clinch the win.

The Gators have now won 18-straight matches and are set to face Miami (FL) in Elite Eight action on Sunday, May 22 at 3 p.m.

The Florida men (20-9) were not as fortunate on Thursday, falling 4-2 to the Kentucky Wildcats in the round of 16. Kentucky captured the doubles point to start the match and was led by the No. 19 duo of Brad Cox and Eric Quigley, which defeated UF’s No. 17 pairing of senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. 8-5.

The Wildcats also took the first singles point as No. 90 Alberto Gonzalez beat No. 118 sophomore Bob van Overbeek 6-1, 6-2, but the Gators responded with No. 7 Lacroix topping No. 6 Quigley 6-2, 6-4. No. 40 Bangoura, Jr. took down Cox 6-4, 62 to tie the match 2-2, but Kentucky won the final two match-ups to prevail.

Though the men’s team is no longer in competition, Lacroix and Bangoura will compete in the 2011 NCAA Individual Championships with singles action beginning Wed., May 25 and doubles action starting Thurs., May 26.

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SIX BITS: awards, softball, lax, swimming, tennis

1 » There are plenty of spring sports underway right now, and the Florida Gators have gotten off to a fast start earning weekly conference honors. For the second-straight week, senior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (softball) won the SEC Pitcher of the Week award; she tossed three shutouts in the last seven days and has a 0.00 ERA with 35 strikeouts through her first 31 innings of the season. Joining her is sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (baseball), who picked up the SEC Player of the Week award after going 9-for-12 and scoring five runs in his team’s season-opening series. Also making an impact was sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen (lacrosse), who brought home the first ALC Offensive Player of the Week award in school history. She has scored 14 goals in only three games and tied a school record with six on Sunday alone.

2 » Undefeated going into the weekend, No. 5 Florida softball (9-0) completed a shutout sweep of the No. 22 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-4) from Saturday to Sunday. UF took down UNC 3-0 and 9-0 in two games Saturday and concluded their first three-game homestand of the season with a 10-0 win on Sunday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Brombacher (6-0) tossed seven scoreless innings on Saturday and five more on Sunday, only giving up a total of nine hits and two walks over the contests. Freshman P Hannah Rogers (3-0) spelled her in between, allowing only two hits in her five shutout innings.

The Gators hit four home runs on Saturday alone; senior first baseman Megan Bush (4-7, HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB) and junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (5-7, HR, 2 RBI) connected in the first game, while senior second baseman Aja Paculba (3-8, 3 RBI) and sophomore right fielder Kelsey Horton (1-5, 3 RBI) teed-off in the second contest. Florida’s scoring Sunday came from all over the place with senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-8, 2 RBI, 4 R) leading the way with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored.

3 » Cullen’s six amazing goals on Sunday helped No. 17 Gators lacrosse (2-1) top the No. 20 Denver Pioneers (0-2) 15-7 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Assisting her was sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns who scored three goals and notched a career-high four assists on her way to seven points and a hat trick.

Read the rest of this SIX BITS post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, softball, lax, swimming, tennis

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FOUR BITS: Weekend filled with wins for Gators

1 » The Florida Gators’ No. 18 pairing of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Sofie Oyen captured the 2010 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship in women’s doubles over the weekend, defeating the Clemson Tigers’ No. 5 duo of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Complex in Flushing, NY, on Sunday. Will and Oyen got revenge over Bek and Wong, the only team to defeat them this season in their 11-1 campaign. Bek and Wong were victorious in Will and Oyen’s opening match of the season; since the loss they have won 11-straight contests.

2 » Having a more difficult time over the weekend was No. 1/1 Florida volleyball (22-1, 15-0 SEC), which remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play after squeaking out a five-set victory (25-23, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11) on the road against the Auburn Tigers (17-11, 8-8 SEC) at the Student Activities Center in Auburn, AL. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers sparked the Gators offense with a double-double on a season-high 15 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy contributed another double-double (her 10th in a row) with 11 kills and 25 assists; junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel added nine kills and 10 digs, and senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe accounted for season-highs in kills (12) and blocks (9).

3 » Gators sophomore tennis player Bob van Overbeek won the Texas Invitational singles title on Sunday, defeating Oklahoma’s Peerakit Siributwong in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) in Austin, TX.

4 » On this day 80 years ago, Florida Field opened to the public with Florida taking on on Alabama. Though it would be re-named Ben Hill Griffin Stadium just under 59 years later, the traditions all began on this day. Here are just a few other things that happened in 1930: the Great Depression, Mickey Mouse was invented, Scotch Tape was created, Mahatma Gandhi protested the British monopoly on salt, Constantinople became Istanbul, Twinkies were invented, the first night game in baseball history was played, and George Washington was added to Mount Rushmore.

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FOUR BITS: Harbison, Dr. Indelicato, McCray

1 » Clemson Tigers co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison has removed his name from consideration for the Florida Gators defensive coordinator position according to a report by FootballRumorMill.com. The Post and Courier reports that Harbison told his head coach Dabo Sweeney on Thursday that he is staying put. Habison may very well have declared he is no longer a candidate or (more likely) the Florida coaching staff decided he was not a good fit and he is simply trying to save face. It is believed that Arizona Cardinals DB coach Teryl Austin is the Gators’ top candidate to replace George Edwards.

2 » University of Florida orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Indelicato, the team physician for the football and men’s basketball teams, will be honored on Feb. 20 as a “Champion With Heart” at the Gainesville Heart Ball. Though he has four championship rings with the Gators, Indelicato calls the award “the greatest honor of my life.” Read the rest of his story at The Gainesville Sun.

3 » One of the best long distance runners in Florida state history, Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, FL) has committed to run at UF in the fall. The 2009 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year, 2009 Footlocker Cross Country All-American and three-time individual state champion signed his letter of intent on Tuesday. “I really felt comfortable being with the team,” Mizereck told the Tallahassee Democrat. “They were like automatic best friends. I felt the atmosphere with the University of Florida was phenomenal.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, now a Super Bowl XLIV champion with the New Orleans Saints, was interviewed by Jim Rome on his national radio show Wednesday. The audio is available below.

Bobby McCray on Jim Rome – 02/10/10

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Will Florida go back to the NFL for Teryl Austin?

The Florida Gators originally took a month to replace former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong with former Miami Dolphins inside linebackers coach George Edwards. Now forced to replace Edwards after he defected for the same position with the Buffalo Bills, head coach Urban Meyer (on a leave of absence) and interim head coach Steve Addazio are faced with another staff position to fill.

OGGOA broke down some of the leading candidates to fill the defensive coordinator role on Friday and even updated the story Tuesday after learning that Clemson Tigers co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Charlie Harbison was being interviewed for the job. Just a day later, the National Football Post has forced us to add another name to the Gators’ list: Arizona Cardinals defensive backs coach Teryl Austin, who is expected to interview for the position on Wednesday.

UPDATE: The Orlando Sentinel‘s Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday evening that Austin and members of the Gators staff did indeed meet on Wednesday with the team coming away impressed. Fowler says “there seems to be a strong possibility” that Austin will join Florida as its next defensive coordinator.

The Gators will likely name a new defensive boss before the end of the week. For more about Austin, be sure to visit and read through the link below.

UPDATED: Replacing Edwards as defensive coordinator

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