FOUR BITS: Harvin, Haden, Halapio, Hines

1 » Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he will have surgery on his torn hip labrum and be out of action for the foreseeable future. Harvin, who got injured in the offseason and will go under the knife on Thursday, inked a six-year, $67 million contract with the Seahawks, which traded multiple picks including a first rounder to the Minnesota Vikings for his rights. “When everything is goin good sometimes life throw u a curve ball…sorry to [have] to report that my injury will require surgery…” he tweeted. “Nobody was more anxious and excited about [the] season [than I]…but I will be back strong as ever..i appreciate all the love and prayers.”

Team doctors initially believed that Harvin would be able to rehabilitate the injury without surgery, but a second opinion on Tuesday led him to decide that surgery was the best option. He is expected to miss 3-4 months of action and has an outside chance at returning for the final four weeks of the regular season. Seattle’s options include putting Harvin on the physical unable to perform list or placing him on the injured list and marking him as “designated to return.”

If Harvin goes on the PUP list to start the regular season, he would automatically miss the first six games. The recently revised rule would require him to be activated by the start of Week 15, or Harvin would automatically be ineligible for the remainder of the season. Placing him on the IR with the aforementioned designation would allow Harvin to return to practice in Week 7 or start playing in Week 9 but not penalize the team if he remained out of action longer. It may give the Seahawks greater roster flexibility, but the designation can only be used for one player per year, so Seattle may choose to hold onto the option for someone else at a later date.

2 » Entering his fourth NFL season, the time is now for Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden to truly break out and become a superstar in the league. According to 850 WKNR ESPN Radio in Cleveland, OH, he may be on the cusp of doing just that.

So far in camp, he has consistently dominated one-on-one drills against wide receivers, which is almost impossible to do, deflected about a dozen passes, has an interception, and has made five or six “superstar” type plays.

Haden is blossoming right in front of our eyes and it is exciting to see.

Haden only played 11 games last season, missing four (and losing $1.856 million) due to a suspension he received after testing positive for Adderall. Married in the offseason, Haden believes he is now more mature and sees 2013 as a fresh start. “[The suspension] was a humbling thing. It was one of the lowest points,” he said. “Last year was last year. What happened is in the past. […] I feel like I honestly owe the team, I owe myself, I owe the fans, I owe the Browns just everything I’ve got this year to keep going and just be elite and hold things down.”

3 » Florida Gators redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio is drawing rave reviews as a 2014 NFL Draft prospect, which is not surprising because sources close to the league that OnlyGators.com spoke to revealed that Halapio would have been a second-day pick had he come out last season. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who was watching Florida-LSU film from 2012, tweeted early Tuesday morning that Halapio “has crazy upper strength.” He continued. “I counted 13 knockdowns against LSU and several were pure flat-backs. Nasty dude.” Later Tuesday, Jeremiah named Halapio among his top five most physical players in college football.

Halapio is a nasty football player, and I mean that as a sincere complement. He has outstanding upper and lower strength and he is a violent finisher. In the run game, he locks on with his powerful hands and uses his leg-drive to wash defenders down the line of scrimmage before depositing them on the ground. In the pass game, he loves to utilize the snatch move. He sets wide, grabs the defender’s chest and pulls them face first into the ground. He has the ideal temperament for an interior offensive lineman.

4 » Wide receiver Omarius Hines, an undrafted free agent signed by the Baltimore Ravens after the draft but cut from the team last Monday, has been signed by the Green Bay Packers, which have a penchant for getting great production out of undervalued pass catchers. The Packers are lacking depth at receiver, and he is expected to have a great opportunity to prove his worth throughout the preseason.

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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!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

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Giants S Will Hill suspended for substance abuse

New York Giants safety Will Hill has been suspended for the second time in his short NFL career as the league announced on Saturday that he will sit out four games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

He was previously suspended four games on Oct. 8, 2012 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hill was undrafted in 2011 due to a combination of immaturity and his use of illegal drugs, namely marijuana, after deciding to leave Florida Gators following his junior season. He reportedly came a long way to fix that negative reputation over the year he missed and was signed by the Giants in the 2012 offseason after impressing the team with his character off the field and ability on it.

He claimed his former suspension was for using Adderall, a drug prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“I accept full responsibility for this situation and it won’t happen again,” he said in an official statement at the time. “The Giants have given me a great opportunity when nobody else would, and I don’t take that for granted. I feel badly this has happened.”

Hill played 12 games during his first season in the league, registering 38 tackles (29 solo, two for lost yardage), with two forced fumbles and two pass defenses.

He will be eligible to participate in all of New York’s training camp activities and preseason games but will not be able to begin in-season practices until he is reinstated to the active roster on Monday, Sept. 30.

Should he still be with the team at that time, Hill will have been suspended for eight of his first 20 NFL games.

He is entering the second season of a three-year, $1.44 million contract.

Hill’s former teamamtes with the Gators – Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and New England Patriots linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham – have each been suspended once since 2010 for using performance-enhancing drugs.

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FOUR BITS: Hernandez, Nelson, Young, Yeguete

1 » New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who underwent minor shoulder surgery back in April, was originally supposed to miss a few weeks of action before rumors popped up that he could start the season on the physically unable to perform list. Instead, according to reporters in attendance, Hernandez was already back on the field catching passes (non-contact) during organized team activities this week. In other words, he should be healthy enough to be fully cleared for practice during training camp over the summer. With teammate Rob Gronkowski looking like he will not be able to start the season on time, Hernandez has the opportunity to once again be a big-time playmaker for New England’s offense.

2 » Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson is also working his way back from an injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that kept him out the entire 2012 campaign. Nelson, signed by Cleveland in early April, will be competing for a roster spot during training camp and told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he will be good to go by the time it opens on July 26.

3 » Florida Gators senior basketball players center Patric Young and forward Will Yeguete often participate in charitable work both on behalf of the school and on their own. The duo, which are close friends off the court, recently befriended a three-year-old named Kaedyn Ballew who was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 10 months old. This story from the Florida Times-Union takes a look at the friendship forged between Ballew, Young and Yeguete and how it has extended well past the players’ initial visit. “Some [people] are impressed by our size,” Yeguete told the paper. “Kaedyn is not. He thinks that he’s stronger than us. He’s really confident. That’s pretty cool.” Ballew, who has been given a 50 percent chance at a full recovery, hopes to watch the Gators play in person next season while eating “nachos with lots of cheese.”

4 » OGGOA mistakenly overlooked the start of the 2013 MLB, forgetting to put together a short preview of former Florida baseball players on big league rosters. Therefore, here is a listing of the five Gators playing in MLB on Opening Day and how they have fared just over two months into the season.

Right-handed pitcher Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles): GP (27), W/L (3-0), SV (1), ERA (1.78), WHIP (1.11), K/9 (1.04)
Catcher David Ross (Boston Red Sox): GP (18), AVG (.189), OBP (.283), SLG (.453), OPS (.736) – Hit .125 in May.
Left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde (Los Angeles Angels): GP (3), W/L (0-0), ERA (11.57), WHIP (2.14), K/9 (0.95) – Sent down to the minors.
Second baseman Mark Ellis (Los Angeles Dodgers): GP (35), AVG (.270), OBP (.319), SLG (.352), OPS (.671)
Left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez (Los Angeles Dodgers): GP (27), W/L (1-2), ERA (2.75), WHIP (0.71), K/9 (1.04)

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12 Gator Bites for Friday, May 31

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.

» Despite signing a National Letter of Intent in February and expecting to be a member of the Class of 2013, three-star defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Scooba, MS) will not be joining the Florida Gators this season. Reed was hoping to obtain his associate degree from East Mississippi Community College in one year but fell about 25 credits short. Instead, he will continue playing for EMCC in 2013 with hopes of completing his coursework and departing before the spring semester starts…though he may no longer be heading to Florida. According to The Gainesville Sun, Reed has decided to reopen his recruitment but does have the Gators at the top. “Florida is my favorite school,” he said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to close any doors just in case something crazy happens. I’d like to go on [official] visits. Who doesn’t want to take free trips?”

» South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was honored Thursday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the state of Florida’s Great Floridian Award, presented to him by Governor Rick Scott. Also in attendance were Gators head coach Will Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received the honor just one month ago. Check out the local news report by GTN’s Julie Quittner.

» Former Gators cheerleader Caroline Davidson, who concluded her run with the spirit program in 2010, had successful brain surgery to completely remove a tumor on Thursday. Her mother, Kimberly Davidson, posted on Facebook that Caroline was in ICU recovering after the surgery but all signs were positive.

Check out nine more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Friday, May 31

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SIX BITS: Ogbueze, Donovan, Elam, Beal, Banks

1 » While sophomore guard/forward DeVon Walker changed his mind about his decision to transfer and returned to the Florida Gators basketball program, sophomore point guard Braxton Ogbueze remained steadfast in his desire to leave and officially transferred this week. Ogbeuze, who committed to Florida out of Charlotte, NC, decided to return to his local community and play for the Charlotte 49ers. He will sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2014-15.

2 » Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan sat down for a wide-ranging interview with former long-time NBA coach Brendan Suhr on his Coaching U LIVE podcast. The interview, which is reminiscent of a conversation with Inside the Actors Studio’s James Lipton, covers a variety of topics including why Donovan is a coach, how he describes himself as a coach, if he would play for a coach like himself and how college basketball players have changed over the years.

3 » Baltimore Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam met and spoke with Dwyer High School’s current football players recently, telling the members of his former team that using life’s difficulties to propel them on the football field can benefit their lives in the long run. “I feel like with me going [in the draft], it was a big motivation for the kids because they come from the same neighborhoods, the same program,” Elam told the Palm Beach Post. “I got the chance, and I took advantage of the chance. That makes the kids feel like they’ve got the chance. That’s what it’s all about.”

4 » It was announced on Wednesday that guard Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, will represent his team at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery set for Tuesday, May 21. Washington has won the draft lottery twice (2001, 2010) and has a 2.8 percent chance (eighth-best out of the field) of once again receiving the No. 1 overall selection.

5 » Florida’s director of on-campus recruiting, Brendan Donovan, has left the program to accept a position with the Cleveland Browns as the team’s college scouting administrator. Donovan has done a fine job with the Gators’ recruiting as of late but obviously saw an opportunity he could not pass up on the NFL level. 24/7 Sports first reported Donovan’s departure from the program.

6 » Those not tuned-in to Florida’s golf program may not know about sophomore Eric Banks and his brave return from a four-hour heart surgery that was performed to treat a congenital hole in his heart called an atrial spetal defect. Check out this feature from GatorZone.com’s Scott Carter, which goes in-depth on Banks’s heart scare and looks at how he is trying to help the Gators in the 2013 NCAA South Regional Tournament.

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SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

1 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons concluded the 2012-13 NBA regular season in style, draining an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to extend his team’s season finale into overtime. Though Houston fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 99-95, Parsons finished with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists. The Rockets will be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

2 » During a pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, New York Jets general manager John Idzik remained non-committal but nevertheless seemed to foreshadow quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the team. “I’m not saying he is, I’m not saying he isn’t,” said Idzik after being asked if Tebow would be involved in the Jets’ offseason quarterback competition. “I’m just saying let things play out.” He continued: “I guess I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. … He’s a Jet, and we’ve gone through some change here and that’s what I mean by letting things play out. We have a new coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have a new offensive system, I’m new. We have several new people within football administration. I think you just got to let these things develop and evolve.”

3 » Workouts at this point in the offseason do not include on-field drills, so Tebow has not yet had an opportunity to show these new coaches his ability. If one is to believe veteran quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, who told Newsday on Wednesday that he fixed Tebow’s flawed mechanics in just three days, the player may be able to impress if given a chance. “I would hope wherever he ends up, they give him an opportunity to play, because if they do, they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he told the paper. “I think he can still play.” Clarkson spent three days working with Tebow in Arizona during the month of February and explained that he fixed the flaw in Tebow’s throwing motion.

“The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion,” Clarkson said. “A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he’d make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up.” Clarkson went on to say that though Tebow has a high football IQ, his footwork was slowing him down. He even used Tai Chi to help Tebow “make his body work as one unit.” He added: “The things that he needs to work on are very coachable and actually very minor. … He just needs to have someone not be afraid of the phenomenon.”

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators football news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

Through the 2013 NFL Draft from April 25-27, Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s seventh entry covers his last two weeks, which included numerous workouts and meetings with NFL teams. There are only two more entries upcoming.

Last time we touched base was before I started taking private meetings with teams. The only team I had met with at that time was the New England Patriots and that happened at The Swamp. There was a meeting scheduled two weekends ago between myself and [safeties coach] Brian Flores where he was going to come down to Brooklyn, NY to meet with me but it never really materialized. We had an interview over the phone instead, and he told me that Coach [Bill] Belichick liked me and was going to watch even more film on me. They said they liked my film, liked how I played and that I was a guy they could see being a part of their organization.

That following Monday, I flew out to meet with the Cleveland Browns. It went great. I got a chance to see Joe Haden, and it is always good to see a former teammate in the NFL. He said he put in a good word for me and told the coaching staff that I was a good football player who never had off-the-field issues and could come in and contribute.

The coaching staff was really cool, very down to earth. It’s a whole new staff so they’re running a brand new scheme on both sides of the ball. I definitely felt a connection there with them as far as the defensive backs coach [Louie Cioffi], the head coach [Rob Chudzinski] and the defensive coordinator [Ray Horton], even the special teams coach [Chris Tabor]. They all showed a lot of love and interest in me, and I enjoyed myself.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

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