10 Gator Bites for Friday, April 18

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (20-2) opens up competition in the semifinals of the 2014 NCAA Championships on Friday as it looks to defend the program’s first-ever NCAA National Championship by advancing to the Super Six for the eighth time in the last nine years. UF will compete against Alabama, Nebraska, Penn State, UCLA and Utah on Friday at 8 p.m. in Birmingham, AL with the top three finishers moving on to compete Saturday at 7 p.m. A live video stream of Friday’s event is available by clicking here. ESPN3.com will air Saturday’s Super Six and Sunday’s individual event competitions.

» Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley drew some positive reviews out of his Pro Day workout on Thursday even despite the fact that he was only competing at about 80-85 percent as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. According to Sports Illustrated contributor Tony Pauline, Easley is “drawing heavy interest” from Chicago, New England, San Francisco and Seattle with the aforementioned teams believing he will go in the second round of May’s 2014 NFL Draft.

Continue Reading » 10 Gator Bites for Friday, April 18

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Florida Gators compete in Pro Bowl, Senior Bowl

Four former Florida Gators participated in all-star games over the weekend with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey headlining as participants in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on Sunday evening.

The 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl, both played in the game for the first time in their respective careers.

Haden was the sixth player drafted and played for Team (Jerry) Rice. He intercepted quarterback Cam Newton and also registered one solo tackle and one pass defense.

Pouncey was the first center selected but did not start for Team (Deion) Sanders. He did see plenty of action throughout the game, however.

On Saturday, guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Land-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.

Halapio started at right guard for the South, but Patton saw limited action in the contest. He was targeted only once in the game but did not catch a pass. Patton did his most work as a returner, bringing back a kickoff for 27 yards and a punt for 15 yards.

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins, OnlyGators.com’s 2014 Path to the Draft blogger, suffered an Achilles injury Wednesday and was unable to compete on Saturday. He is expected to be able to participate in all upcoming pre-draft events.

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

1 » Joining a bevy of national analysts to come to the defenses of Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who has missed nine games this spring without receiving clearance or any information as to when a decision ill be reached on his eligibility by the NCAA, is ESPN‘s Jay Bilas. On Wednesday, Bilas sent the following tweet: “Dear NCAA: Chris Walker and Florida have waited long enough. The DMV now believes you are slow and inefficient.” He expanded on that thought Thursday in a conversation with Florida Today. “One, I don’t think it’s any of the NCAA’s business,” Bilas said. “But even if it is, it’s taken way too long. At some point you have to say, ‘You know what? We don’t have it. And until we do, the kid can play.’ They’ve got a clock ticking and the NCAA kind of tends to look at from their own perspective in that, we don’t want somebody else to run out the clock while we investigate. … At some point you’ve got to say, you know what the delay is unreasonable. It’s hurt the kid, it’s hurt the school and it’s just wrong.”

2 » Due to the Seattle Seahawks remaining in contention throughout the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs and ultimately earning a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been unavailable for head coaching job interviews despite the fact that three teams – Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland – reportedly had him as a frontrunner for their vacancies. Quinn told the media Thursday that he is not frustrated about the situation because it ultimately means his team has the chance to play for a title. “None. No, certainly not,” he said. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of this and moving forward here keeping the focus on our team, which it is.” Quinn had never even held a coordinator job until Gators head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011. After just four seasons (assuming he remains in his current position with Seattle in 2014), his dream of leading a team could finally come true next offseason.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Joe Haden, Mike Pouncey picked for Pro Bowl

A pair of former Florida Gators were elected Friday to the NFL Pro Bowl for the first time in their respective careers as fourth-year Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and third-year Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey were both chosen to participate in this season’s all-star game.

Haden, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is in the midst of the best campaign of his young career. Already considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, he has shut down talented opposing receivers while registering 43 solo tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) through 15 games.

Pouncey, the No. 15 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is finally being recognized for his on-field talent despite getting overlooked and snubbed in 2012 when he actually outperformed his brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (who was elected to his third-straight Pro Bowl last season).

Though he missed two games this season due to an illness, Mike Pouncey has once again proven to be one of the most versatile centers in the NFL.

Continue Reading » Joe Haden, Mike Pouncey picked for Pro Bowl

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FOUR BITS: NFL, Donovan, Mooney, Parsons

1 » The names of a few former Florida Gators popped up on the NFL transaction wire this week. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver David Nelson were signed by the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets, respectively, on Tuesday. Cunningham was released by the New England Patriots after never even suiting up for the team during the offseason, and Nelson was cut by the Cleveland Browns after his knee flared up during the preseason.

On the other side of the coin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived safety Ahmad Black (who started for them this season), and the St. Louis Rams cut offensive tackle Max Starks, who was signed just two weeks ago.

2 » ESPN’s Andy Kats noted on Wednesday that Gators head coach Billy Donovan has decided not to take advantage of the NCAA pushing up the start of basketball practice and will instead begin Florida workouts on Friday, Oct. 11. He opines that the move is being made to give senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin extra time to get back in the team’s good graces. Though that may have an ounce of truth to it, the actuality is Donovan would prefer to have his team practice more in a shorter period of time rather than three total hours per week over an additional month. “[He] likes to hold double sessions over weekends and you only have 30 practices over 42 days before [the] season opener,” correctly noted The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway.

3 » Grabbing a recruit three years before he graduates high school is a risky proposition, but it sounds like the Gators’ latest basketball pledge is in for the long haul. 2016 power forward John Mooney (Altamonte Springs, FL) committed to Florida on Saturday, the school he has always wanted to attend. “I don’t see this being an Austin Rivers situation at all,” Mooney’s head coach at Lake Brantley High School, Mike Cuff, told Brockway. Cuff also said Mooney averaged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman on varsity despite only taking 6-7 shots per game. Brockway also spoke with Mooney’s Nike Team Florida coach Tom Topping, who noted that the player “projects as one of the better basketball players in his class,” something that is “not just my opinion.”

4 » Grantland.com’s Juliet Litman takes a closer look at Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and his incredibly busy summer, which she concludes is an “aggressive attempt to become a famous athlete/fashion icon,” something she personally finds “strangely endearing.” OnlyGators.com will be speaking with Parsons prior to the start of the 2013-14 NBA season.

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Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

For the third time in an NFL career that has spanned as many full seasons, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been dismissed by the franchise to which he was under contract as the New England Patriots decided to release the former Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday as they were forced to cut 22 players in order to whittle their roster down to 53 players ahead of the 2013 season.

ESPN‘s Adam Schefter first reported Tebow’s release via Twitter.

It took one month after being waived by the New York Jets for Tebow to be signed by New England, the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents.

The Patriots acquired Tebow as a quarterback and waived Mike Kafka in order to bring him into the fold. In joining New England, he reunited with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

But McDaniels’s desire to give him an opportunity and owner Robert Kraft’s affection for him as a person were simply not enough to keep Tebow on the 53-man roster.

In 2011, during his second year with the Broncos, Tebow was a mid-season replacement at starting quarterback and set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14. He also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, going went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns while carrying the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score.

Continue Reading » Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

The 2013 NFL regular season is exactly one month away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5.

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 second full week of training camp from July 28 to Aug. 4.

The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys squared off during the 2013 Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game, in Canton, OH, on Sunday night.

RB MIKE GILLISLEE*, Miami Dolphins: Seven carries for 21 yards (long: 9)
LB JELANI JENKINS*, Miami Dolphins: Two tackles
C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Started Hall of Fame Game
K CALEB STURGIS*, Miami Dolphins: Did not play – groin

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: Though cameras caught Tebow hauling in passes and protecting the ball in a drill last week, he will be nothing but a quarterback for the Patriots, according to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “He’s just practicing his open-field running,” McDaniels said. “We know Tim has a skill set that some of these other guys don’t possess in terms of ability to run with it, scramble with it when he has it in his hands. … He’s put in a lot of time and effort to improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback in our offense, and I think every day is a learning tool for him.” Tebow has also received a nod from starter Tom Brady. “We have good conversations,” Brady said, according to the Associated Press. “He loves playing football and that’s usually the type of guys who do well here.”

Read updates on seven other former Gators…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

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