FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Haden, Moody, Graham

1 » Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins realizes it is his time to shine in the Florida Gators secondary, and the Pahokee, FL, native took steps over the summer (including dropping 10 pounds and increasing his speed) to ensure that he is capable of playing the way coaches want him to. “I have to go out now and put everything on the table,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying to be the best corner.” Even his game play has changed. “Being physical at the line of scrimmage is a big part of my game now,” he added. “That, and coming up and tackling better.” Jenkins is also helping mold whomever it is that starts across from him this year in place of Cleveland Browns rookie CB Joe Haden. “It’s going to be some good competition. All of those guys are working hard and going at it. I try to help them as much as possible,” he said.

2 » Speaking of Haden, his mind may have been on money while briefly holding out for a better contract, but money is on his mind any longer. In fact, Haden is taking his five-year $50 million maximum contract in stride; he sees it more as a confirmation that he is financially stable for the rest of his life rather than rich enough to throw money around. “It definitely means a lot. I just know that I’m set,” he said, according to The Canton Repository. “I don’t have to worry about money any more. I just go out here and do what I love. After football, I can do what I do, have a good time, take a vacation. I want to set up a couple foundations. I want to own gyms, barber shops, stuff like that … just set our family up for the rest of our lives.” He continued, “One thing a lot of people have been telling me … is that 80 percent of the league, after 20 years out of the league, is broke or bankrupt. So one thing I’m doing with my money is, I set it up so me and my family and my brothers and my kids — if I have children — are set financially.”

3 » Injuries and experience have helped Gators redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody mature as he gets healthy and returns to the field for his final collegiate season. Now, he is less concerned with individual success and more about making the most of his year. “It’s my fifth year and my mindset has changed a lot,” Moody said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I’m to the point where I’m just going to handle what I can handle and not think about if I’m going to be a 1,000-yard rusher or focus on some goals that are far ahead. I’m just focused on taking each day at a time and having an even-keel attitude every day and, no matter what happens, just have a smile on [my] face. […] It’s about time I learned and change my character and change the way I approach things. Now, it’s to the point where no matter what happens in life, know how to bounce back with it, have a good attitude with it and not get down on myself … and know that football is what we do. It’s not who we are.”

4 » As OGGOA cited on June 1, former Florida RB Earnest Graham will be continuing his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but this time he will do so as a fullback. The Lakeland Ledger caught up with him over the weekend, and he shared some thoughts on the change. “I’m prepared to play both,” he said. “Starting the season I’ll probably be at fullback, but you never know how things will play out. In 2008, I started out as a halfback and we had an injury at fullback, so I ended up playing fullback. […] I tried to put a little bulk on this year, be up around 230 as opposed to 220 or 225.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Former Florida safety John Curtis dead at 24

Details are scarce right now, but a source close to the team has informed OGGOA that former Florida Gators safety John Curtis, 24, passed away Wednesday. His death has been ruled a suicide by authorities.

A special teams standout, Curtis joined the Florida scout team in 2004, missed the 2005 campaign with a knee injury and finally played on the kickoff return and punt teams during the Gators’ 2006 National Championship season. He blocked a punt against South Carolina in 2007 but unfortunately tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2008, an injury that would end his football career.

UPDATE: Curtis passed away after jumping off of a fourth-floor railing above a Lincoln Square Center restaurant in Bellvue, WA, at 8 a.m. Thursday. Police attempted to talk him down at first, but Curtis could not be swayed from taking his life; the local cops continue to investigate the matter.

“It’s tragic when a young life is lost,” head coach Urban Meyer said in a statement on Friday. “I’m not sure how you describe the loss of life in words. John was a great young man who was a proud member of our Gator family. We grieve for him, his friends and his family and pray for their comfort.”

Co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater shared a similar sentiment. “What do you say? He was a real likable guy here, a lot of players really liked him a lot,” Heater said. “He had, unfortunately, a lot of knee injuries here. He probably could have had a chance to play some football here, more than he did. He played but I’m sure not as much as he would like to. It’s sad and unfortunate. He was a good guy, well-liked team member. Players really liked him. He was a friendly guy with the team, and just dealing with the frustrations of the injuries, which were always hard for him to deal with and accept those things, just the disappointments of all of that. But he was a respected member of our team, that’s for sure.”

One of the first to respond to the news, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden took to Twitter Thursday. “You never know how much you truly love someone until they are gone. R.I.P. John Curtis #24! You will be missed,” Haden wrote. “Everyone please don’t be afraid to say you love someone! Life is too short! Losing someone special to you makes you realize what’s important in life.”

Jacksonville Sharks CB Dee Webb provided a similar message. “R.I.P. to my former teammate John Curtis 24,” he tweeted. “We [will] miss you homey.”

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Curtis family.

Tags: , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Williams, Haden, Gators on Patriots

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams, a nine-year NBA veteran, has agreed to sign a one-year deal to return to the Orlando Magic for the 2010-11 season. He will be the third point guard on the roster behind starter Jameer Nelson and reserve Chris Duhon. Last season, Williams only averaged 6.0 points and 3.6 assists as a backup but achieved career-highs in field goal (.444) and three-point percentage (.380).

2 » Taking a look at the Cleveland Browns in training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter does not think it is likely that former Florida cornerback and Cleveland rookie Joe Haden will start this season. “[Eric] Wright and [Sheldon] Brown are the undisputed starters for now,” Schefter writes, “but Haden will be the nickel cornerback and a player the Browns believe they will rely on for years to come.”

3 » According to the Boston Herald former Gators star Jermaine Cunningham continues to work as an outside linebacker with the New England Patriots’ first unit during training camp. ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss believes Cunningham is the fastest player during the team’s pass-rush drills, and head coach Bill Belichick is also offering some praise. “Jermaine has picked up things very well,” Belichick said. “I think each day you can definitely see him getting better, more confident, understanding things that happened the day before and being able to process that.”

4 » Reiss also said that former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez looks like New England’s “most impressive rookie to date” and “the coaching staff is high on rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes.” Hernandez has “excellent hand-eye coordination, sticky hands, and practices with great effort,” Reiss writes.

Photo Credit: David Silverman/New England Patriots

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

1 » Held out of action with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy continues to struggle to recover from a concussion he suffered during camp on Friday when he got kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah. He complained of a bad headache Sunday and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Murphy remains out of action and is now having trouble with sunlight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vittorio Tafur. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests…something that looks to be at least a few days away.

2 » After tweaking his ankle earlier in the day, former Gators WR Percy Harvin returned to Minnesota Vikings practice on Saturday without a noticeable limp. Unfortunately, Harvin missed practice Sunday and will be absent Monday as well after learning of a death in his family. OGGOA‘s thoughts go out to Harvin during this difficult time.

3 » Florida juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill were named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list on Monday – two of only 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs to be selected. Conspicuous by his absence once again is senior safety Ahmad Black. There is a long way to go and plenty of players will be added and removed to this list as the season progresses.

Three more BITS on Reggie Nelson, Brad Beal and Joe Haden…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Browns, CB Joe Haden agree to five-year deal

With all of his former teammates already signed to rookie contracts, Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden finally agreed to a five-year, $50 million max deal with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he will receive a $12 million signing bonus in 2010 and $26 million guaranteed on his deal, according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com.

“Joe is excited,” Haden’s agent, Malik Shareef, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We’d like to thank the Browns for all their hard work on this.’ The Browns would like to have him on the field for the evening session, so hopefully we’ll get it signed and get him out there by then. I know Joe is ready to go.”

Haden’s contract was signed after the Browns’ first day of training camp Saturday, making him the only former Gators player to officially holdout. All are now under contract and ready to compete in their first NFL seasons.

OGGOA will continue updating this – and all of our Florida rookie contract stories – as further salary information is released.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

Tags: , , ,

Maurkice Pouncey inks rookie deal with Steelers

One of two former Florida Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft yet to sign with their team, center/guard Maurkice Pouncey agreed to a five-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.

Pouncey, the No. 18 overall pick in the draft and 2009 Rimington Trophy winner, will earn $17.96 million over the life of his deal including $10.35 million in guaranteed money.

He is expected to start at right guard for the Steelers in 2010 before being transitioned to center in the future.

Pouncey joins fellow former Gators offensive lineman, left tackle Max Starks, on the team and helped Pittsburgh continue a streak of not having a rookie holdout since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

“Football is important to him,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Pouncey to the Associated Press. “This is a guy who’s committed to winning but doing what it takes to be a winner. He’s always been associated with winning, and we like those kind of guys and putting them into the mix.”

Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, the draft’s No. 7 overall pick, is the only remaining Florida rookie yet to sign a professional contract.

OGGOA will update this story if further contract information is revealed.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 Page 9 of 12  « First  ... « 7  8  9  10  11 » ...  Last »