SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

1 » On June 24, three-star linebacker recruit Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) committed to the Florida Gators; unfortunately for him, the team did not recognize his verbal promise and did not count him as a member of its 2011 recruiting class. Friday, Cassell reiterated again to the Orlando Sentinel that he is committed to the Gators, stating that coaches simply wanted to see him perform in person before bringing him on board. However, there remain conflicting reports that Cassell is still not a part of the recruiting class – yet. So while his intentions are known, Florida’s are not. In all likelihood, the coaching staff is waiting to make sure they have a spot for him after higher ranked players decide where they will be attending school next year.

UPDATE: Cassell, for the third time now, claims that the coaches have accepted his commitment. He told the Sentinel that a phone call set for Sunday night may help clarify why there have been so many mixed messages.

2 » Legendary Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been supportive of former Florida QB Tim Tebow ever since his team selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. At a golf tournament on Thursday, Elway opened up more about Tebow. “The thing about Tebow is they’re focusing too much on his release,” Elway said. “As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. […] He’s not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it’s long and quick, that’s OK.”

Four more BITS on Tim Tebow, Channing Crowder, Joe Haden, Jabar Gaffney…and an extra BIT on recruit Curt Maggitt…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

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TWO BITS: Haden slipping? Amateurs qualify.

1 » NFL.com senior analyst Michael Lombardi reports that former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns has “not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner” in the NFL, according to a number of coaches he spoke with. “Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanting to pick Kyle Wilson, and some favoring Haden are true,” Lombardi concludes. Haden is being counted on by the Browns, who picked him early in the first round, to contribute right away as a rookie.

Speaking of Haden, there is an interesting piece about A.J. Machado, a South Florida jeweler who makes custom pieces for athletes, in the Sun-Sentinel that mentions the player sporting one of his pieces. “I want to see what they’re wearing, and if we did it how my watch worn by Joe Haden looks on TV,” Machado told the paper. “And if they’re not wearing me, why not? Hey, I’m not jealous, I got 14 first-rounders this year.”

2 » Florida sophomore golfers Isabelle Lendl and Mia Piccio qualified for the 2010 United States Women’s Amateur Championship on Monday after each finished in a top-five spot in their respective qualification matches. Lendl finished her sectional in second place at two-over par, while Piccio came in fourth in her event at one-over par. The championship will take place at the Charlotte Country Club in Charlotte, NC, from August 9-15. The last time a Gators golfer won the event was in 1984.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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TWO BITS: Haden ready to sign, Nelson helps

1 » Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants to get paid, but he refuses to hold out through the start of training camp. According to Haden and his agent, Malik Shareef, the former Florida Gators star will be practicing with Cleveland right way. “We’ve been in contact with the Browns and expect to begin negotiating next week,” Shareef told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Our main objective is to get Joe in camp on time so he can perform to the best of his abilities. A holdout would not be in anyone’s best interests.” Picked No. 7 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden points out that he could not agree now even if he wanted to. “I can’t sign yet,” he said via Twitter. “[Cleveland] hasn’t even sent an offer. It goes in order of [where you are picked].”

Other former Gators still awaiting NFL contracts include: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and New England Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes.

2 » One former Florida player who is already under contract is Buffalo Bills WR David Nelson, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. Nelson, who is making strides with Buffalo and may impact the team as soon as the 2010 season, participated in a Christmas in July celebration at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Wednesday. “I have a favorite ornament that my grandma made me,” Nelson said. “She made one for all her grandkids. It’s a small figurine of me when I was about 6 years old. The figurine was how she viewed us. Mine has me with curly hair and holding a football. Making ornaments today with all the kids at the hospital was so much fun and really reminded me of my grandma making her ornaments by hand.”

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FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

1 » On Oct. 29, 2010, one day before the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs square-off in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, four former student-athletes will be inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Representing the Gators are linebackers Wilber Marshall and Scot Brantley, while LB Knox Culpepper and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski will be honored as former Bulldogs.

2 » A quick blurb from friend of OGGOA, former Florida football player and host of “The Morning Drive” on ESPN Radio in Ocala/Gainesville, FL, Brady Ackerman via his Twitter account Monday evening: “I am hearing that [head coach] Urban [Meyer] has made [the] team accountable for everyone this offseason. In an effort to develop leadership – a mistake hurts everyone. Meyer is trying to develop leaders and accountability with his team this summer. That will be put to test with the arrest of Hammond. The rule is if one guys messes up – everyone pays. Hammond, who is now suspended, is causing the team a little ‘extra’ running this week. I think the message will get home with the team this week and expect the rest of the summer to be quiet from ‘nonsense.’”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Baseball tops UNF, Wilbekin signs

1 » Tuesday evening was all about freshman first baseman Austin Maddox. Going 4-4 with five RBI and a two-run home run, Maddox powered No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (38-12) to a 9-3 win over the North Florida Ospreys (29-23) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Maddox’ 17th blast of the season set a new Florida freshman single-season record while also giving him the team lead in homers. Making his first start since having facial surgery, sophomore starter Tommy Toledo (3-1) collected the win in only two innings of work. Tuesday’s victory marked the Gators’ 12th in their last 13 games and fifth in a row. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference standings with South Carolina, Florida travels to Columbia, SC, on Thursday for a three-game series to determine the regular season champion. The Gators must win two of three games as they would otherwise lose the tiebreaker due to their greater number of canceled SEC games due to inclimate weather.

Four more BITS on Wilbekin, Tebow, Haden and Donovan…after the break!
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Browns’ Ryan unhappy with Haden selection?

There was chatter while the Cleveland Browns were on the clock with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft that the front office was heavily debating whether to select former Florida Gators star Joe Haden or Boise State’s Kyle Wilson as (hopefully) the team’s shutdown cornerback of the future.

Recent comments from New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan – the brother of Brown’s defensive coordinator Rob Ryan – indicate that the latter was heavily campaigning for Wilson (who the Jets ended up picking 22 spots later).

“There is somebody that I really know well for a long time that basically said that [Wilson] was their guy and they picked a lot earlier than us,” the Jets coach said at a press conference on Saturday. “You can probably figure it out. That’s who he wanted and then after practice, I’m like ‘Yep. I guarantee you were right because this guy is the real deal.’”

Rex Ryan has already tabbed Wilson as the team’s starting nickelback, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Haden hopes to earn one of the Browns’ two starting jobs.

“I’m just trying to work hard and let [secondary] coach [Jerome] Harrison see my potential,” Haden told the media over the weekend. “I’m just trying to get on the field. Hopefully right now I’m just showing my work ethic and how I love the game to try to get me out there. I’m not thinking I’m a starter. I’m thinking they’re going to put me where they need me to help out with the Browns. Starting definitely would be a good thing. If that’s what they want, then that’s what I’ll do.”

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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Browns nab Gators CB Joe Haden with No. 7 overall pick in first round of 2010 NFL Draft

Round 1 – No. 7
Joe Haden, CB
Cleveland Browns


Height: 5’11″ – Weight: 193 lbs.
Age: 20 – Class: Junior

Months of speculation came to an end Thursday night when the Cleveland Browns selected former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden with the No. 7 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. In attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, Haden’s eyes swelled up when he received the phone call from Cleveland before he took the stage with gusto to take a picture with league commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Browns had been drooling over Haden since at least March 1, with general manager Tom Heckert making his intentions known rather publicly. “I think Haden is a heck of a football player,” Heckert said. “He’s probably one of the top corners, if not the top corner in the draft. He’s played at a big-time program, and they won a ton of games. He’s going to go early.”

Considering Haden has only been playing cornerback for three years (he set Maryland state high school records as a quarterback), his emergence as a shut-down corner in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference became the stuff of legends around the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, which he completed with less than stellar reviews after posting slow 40-yard dash times.

Haden corrected his speed at Florida’s Pro Day, impressing those in attendance including almost the entire Cleveland front office. Team president Mike Holmgren and head coach Eric Mangini met with Haden shortly after his Pro Day for a private workout and invited him to visit the team facility on April 6.

If the team’s comments are any indication, Haden has a legitimate shot to start as a rookie in 2010 opposite CB Eric Wright with veteran Sheldon Brown moving to safety; should he not be ready right away, he could play in nickel and dime packages until he is able to step in to a starting role.

The fourth defensive player from the University of Florida to be drafted in the top 10, Haden is also the highest-selected Gators cornerback of all-time.

WHAT HADEN SAID
Press Conference Transcript
Press Conference Audio
“I am just trying to soak it all up. It’s crazy. Just a dream come true. I feel like this is like a blessing. I definitely had a good idea about that when I talked to [team president Mike] Holmgren. He definitely was telling me that they were really, really interested in taking me at No. 7. And once he told me that, it just made me have a sigh of relief. Then once I left my visit in Cleveland, I really didn’t have contact with anyone from Cleveland, so I didn’t know if they just stopped liking me or what happened so I just came in here didn’t know what was going on.”

WHAT THEY SAID
Press Conference Transcript
General manager Tom Hickert: “Joe was a guy we spent a lot of time with and evaluating. He’s a bigger corner that can really play the run, good cover ability. He’s a smart kid and he’s tough. He’s a guy we liked all along.”

Head coach Eric Mangini: “He did a great job the day he visited. You could feel the intensity, feel the passion, how much he cared about playing football and continue to improve. It was real. I don’t think there was anybody that met him that didn’t feel that way.”

Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m happy for Joe and his family. He is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He came to Florida as an offensive skill player who never played cornerback. He approached the coaching staff about changing positions because he wanted to get on the field. Despite not playing cornerback in high school he developed into one of the best ever to play his position at the University of Florida and is now a first-round draft pick in the NFL.”

THINGS TO READ
- Haden Browns choice at No. 7
- Heckert, Mangini intrigued by Haden
- Cleveland Browns select Florida cornerback Joe Haden in 2010 NFL Draft
- Cleveland Browns don’t get their safety, so they go with the safe pick
- Joe Haden joins Cleveland Browns with strong endorsement from teammate Tim Tebow
- Cleveland Browns find a defensive playmaker, and that decision is hard to argue
- Browns don’t buy buzz, go ahead with Haden pick

VIDEO
Haden on stage at 2010 NFL Draft with Commissioner Roger Goodell

Heckert and Mangini talk about picking Haden

Cleveland Plain-Dealer writers discuss the Browns’ selection of Haden

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

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Ex-pro scout on Gators in 2010 NFL Draft (Part II)

With just under a week to go before the 2010 NFL Draft, OGGOA sat down with former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah of Move The Sticks for a second time pick his brain about departed Florida Gators players eligible to be selected from April 22-24. Jeremiah first spoke with us before the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 24 and was completely candid in our discussion, pointing out qualities he liked in each player while explaining why certain Gators might fall further than some may expect. In addition to his website, Jeremiah also offers comprehensive NFL scouting coverage on Twitter.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. Things certainly seem to have been going fast for you over the last month or so. Tell us about what you will be doing with ESPN during the draft.
DANIEL JEREMIAH: I’m going to be in Bristol [ESPN's headquarters] for the entire draft week. I will be helping provide analysis for both First Take and ESPNews.

AS: OK…let’s get into the Gators. In our first conversation, you had cornerback Joe Haden as a top ten pick who many would consider to be top three if he was 6’1” because of his speed, toughness and instincts. He ran slow at the combine but improved at Florida’s Pro Day. Some now see the Cleveland Browns passing on him at No. 7 overall (especially if they trade up) and him falling potentially as low as No. 14 to the Seattle Seahawks. What happened?
DJ: I think this is a very good draft class. When you have so many talented players to choose from, need becomes more of a factor. I can’t see him sliding past 14.

Read more of his thoughts the rest of the Florida Gators after the break!
Continue Reading » Ex-pro scout on Gators in 2010 NFL Draft (Part II)

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