TWO BITS: Teryl Austin hired? Joe Haden’s chain

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin may have a new job…thanks in part to a fellow former Florida defensive coordinator having moved on. With Greg Mattison leaving the Baltimore Ravens to take the same job with the Michigan Wolverines, Baltimore decided to promote secondary coach Chuck Pagano to his old position. That left an opening on the team for Austin, who according to the National Football Post, has already interviewed to be the Ravens’ secondary coach and is “considered the leading candidate to land the job.” Before joining the Gators, Austin was the secondary coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 2003-06 and Arizona Cardinals from 2007-09; he participated in one Super Bowl with each team.

2 » Last April, OGGOA posted this picture of Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden showing off a unique “Gator Boy” chain at the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut. The Fab Empire found this picture of Haden sporting the ice while out on the town last week, so we figured it was worth sharing here once again.

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FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Hill, Trattou, All-Rookie

1 » A reliable source told OGGOA on Thursday that Florida Gators junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who announced on Monday that he would remain enrolled at the University of Florida for his senior season, is having second thoughts about his decision not to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. Prior to his announcement Monday, Jenkins was told that, due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder, he would most likely be selected in the second round of the draft. After doing some additional research into the matter throughout the week, Jenkins was given a first-round grade by a handful of NFL front office executives he contacted, according to our source. The deadline to declare for the draft is late Friday afternoon, leaving Jenkins with less than 24 hours (as of press time) to make a final decision he is comfortable with.

2 » As first reported by OGGOA on Jan. 5, Florida junior safety Will Hill was never confused about his decision – he will declare for the draft and officially submit his paperwork to UF on Friday. Speaking with the Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Hill explained that he made his decision mostly due to financial and family issues and hopes he will be selected in the first two days of the draft. “It took a while to come to that conclusion, but the thing that made me come out and try to go pro is I have a family,” Hill told the Post’s Jason Lieser. “It’s a priority of mine to help my family. I have [three] little ones to look after. I feel like this was the best decision for me and them.”

He also admitted that he did not perform up to his capabilities this past season with the Gators. “I had an up and down season. I was hurt, which people fail to realize. I had a bad shoulder and groin that was keeping me from competing,” he said. “I wish my junior year went better. Everybody wants to have that elite season. I learned a lot from it. I learned don’t take things for granted, every play counts. I know I missed tackles here and there due to injuries, but I put everything on the line.” The Post also reports that Hill has signed with Metro Sports Agency, is 30 credits away from graduating and is currently working out 48 hours per week at the TEST Football Academy.

3 » Florida senior defensive end Justin Trattou has decided to play in the 2011 East-West Shrine Game set to be played on Jan. 22 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. A captain for the Gators in 2010, Trattou finished the season with 57 tackles including 35 solo and a team-high 12 for a loss of yards. He is the fifth Florida senior to agree to play in a pre-draft game. Senior S Ahmad Black, senior center/guard Mike Pouncey, senior punter/kicker Chas Henry and redshirt senior offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert will all participate in the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Jan. 29 in Mobile, AL.

4 » Three former Gators – Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunalp – were named to the Sporting News 2010 NFL All-Rookie Team earlier in the week. Haden finished the season with 64 tackles, six interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack, while Dunlap contributed 24 tackles, 9.5 sacks (a Cincinnati rookie record) and recovered a fumble. Pouncey started every game at center for Pittsburgh.

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FOUR BITS: Temple, Gorman, Hounshell, Mularkey

1 » New Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio has made his first hire, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Addazio has tabbed Florida Gators offensive assistant Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. Frye played under Addazio at Indiana and joined Florida’s staff in 2009.

2 » Four-star safety recruit Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) plans to announce his commitment on Wednesday at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game and is expected to choose between the Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida – which desperately needs safety help in the 2011 class – is considered by recruiting analysts to be the favorite to land Gorman. He is ranked as the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) by ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) by Rivals. OGGOA will update you on Gorman’s decision tomorrow.

Current UF commits also participating include five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

3 » One Florida commitment who will not be enrolling early next week as originally planned is three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH). Hounshell, who remains committed to the Gators, said he will not be graduating early from high school and will instead take his time making his final decision. “I just don’t want to rush the most important decision of my life,” he told the Lake County News-Herald. “I was supposed to be moving down Wednesday, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school.” The only other school Hounshell is considering as of press time is Notre Dame.

4 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, currently the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be interviewing for the head coaching jobs with both the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. Mularkey has served as a position coach and coordinator most of his post-playing career but was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004-05.

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Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2010 (check out our post tomorrow), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players signing huge contracts to current team members being a part of some of the biggest news stories in sports this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

10 » FIVE BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2010 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon and suddenly in all but one case. Lamar Abel (21), a walk-on defensive lineman, suffered cardiac arrest while volunteering at a roadside cleanup event with his fraternity in Gainesville, FL. Former safety John Curtis (24) committed suicide in Bellvue, WA. Hall of fame safety Jarvis Williams (45) passed away after an acute asthma attack. Former Gators basketball player and friend to the program Augie Greiner (76) died in his home. And long-time donor and Bull Gator George Steinbrenner (80), most famously known as the owner of the New York Yankees, passed away in a Tampa, FL, hospital. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

9 » ERIN ANDREWS GETS JUSTICE, STARS ON TV, RE-SIGNS WITH ESPN

Former Florida dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews had a much better go of it in 2010. Though her stalker plead guilty to his charges in court in December 2009, she spent a good portion of 2010 making sure he was brought to justice (27-month prison term) while also spreading word across the country that violence against women from sexual predators cannot and should not be tolerated. Simultaneously, Andrews participated in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and even dropped a few Gator Chomps along the way. She ended up finishing third in the competition but parlayed her talent on the sidelines into an enhanced gig with the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Andrews signed a new two-year deal with ESPN, which included a role hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU, appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and more of a presence on the family of networks. She also spoke with OGGOA on two occasions, first in a wide-ranging interview that received significant publicity and later to share her thoughts on the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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TWO BITS: Noah worries Bulls, Lee scares self

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who is currently playing through a right hand injury, is expected to continue starting until the team returns home on Thursday. However, team officials are concerned, according to ESPNChicago.com, that Noah may have suffered ligament damage in his right thumb. Should that be revealed as the reason for pain later this week, Noah will miss at least two months of playing time. Noah first hurt the thumb on Nov. 27 and has been playing through pain. He is averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds so far this year.

2 » As OGGOA recently reported, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee experienced a career-saving moment recently when he finally fought off an infection that had grown in his left elbow after New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler’s tooth punctured his skin. FanHouse takes a deeper (no pun intended) look into the situation as Lee finally looks to take the court again after missing an extended period of time. “It’s the toughest league in the world, and I’m basically out there playing with one arm,” Lee said. “It’s very, very tough. Any time I make contact with anybody on that side of my body, there’s pain that’s tough to describe. I’ve played through just about every injury possible, and this is the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Extra BIT » None of the Florida Gators first-year NFL players will likely win the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Nevertheless, both Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey are among the league’s top 10 rookies, according to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. and ESPN. Check out what Williamson had to say about Haden’s play. Hint: he says that, before long, Haden will be “an upper-echelon coverage man in any style defense.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Haden brothers continuing careers at Toledo

Former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden‘s two brothers – Jordan and Josh – have decided to play football next year for the Toledo Rockets rather than in Gainesville, FL as initially planned.

Safety Jordan Haden was a member of Florida’s heralded 2010 recruiting class but decided to transfer in August after finding that the Gators were not a good fit for him.

Running back Josh Haden, who transferred out of Boston College last year, was expected to become the next member of his family to wear the orange and blue with a plan to join the team in January.

Toledo head coach Tim Beckman was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Bowing Green under former Gators head coach Urban Meyer from 2001-02. The school is also just over 100 miles away from where Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden plays professionally.

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FOUR BITS: Driskel, Haden, Hernandez, Pouncey

1 » Florida Gators five/four-star 2011 quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) was named 2010-11 Gatorade Florida Football Player of the Year on Thursday by Gatorade and ESPN RISE. According to Gatorade, “The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Driskel as Florida’s best high school football player.” He is now a finalist for the National Football Player of the Year award, which will be announced in late December. At 6’4” and 230 lbs., Driskel went 138-for-235 for 1,783 yards and 16 touchdowns (with three interceptions) as a senior. He also rushed for 1,296 yards and 20 touchdowns on 151 carries and scored two more touchdowns on pass receptions. Florida freshman safety Matt Elam took home the same award in 2009-10.

2 » Also bringing home an award Thursday is Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden, who was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. Haden has grabbed an interception in three-straight games for Cleveland and is set to start the second game of his career Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He also recorded 16 total tackles and seven pass breakups last month.

3 » Sports Illustrated published a feature story on New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez over a week ago – something we apparently skipped over. The story covers Hernandez’s love and distaste for the Patriots as a youngster, how he felt about Randy Moss being traded and how happy he is to play so close to where he grew up. “I felt like it was time to take that step and move on,” Hernandez told SI.com about his decision to leave after his junior year. “So far it’s work out pretty well.”

4 » Another good read is a feature Yahoo! Sports’ Les Carpenter on Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey. Sure to be up for NFL Rookie of the Year honors this season, Pouncey has been “forced to forge [his] own identity” away from his brother this year and has impressed everyone he comes in contact with both on the field and in the locker room. Carpenter explores the Pounceys’ decision to split, how each have handled the separation this year and why their story is such a unique one.

Photo Credit: John H. Reid III/Cleveland Browns

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SIX BITS: Harvin, Haden, Miller, Wilbur, Kentucky

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was added to the Minnesota Vikings injury report on Thursday with what is being called a hamstring injury. Minnesota did not decide to release how severe the injury is but the Vikings certainly need Harvin on the field Sunday night for their divisional rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers. Harvin has been a big scoring threat for Minnesota recently, returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown last week and hauling in two receiving touchdowns the previous week.

2 » Grabbing his first career interception last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants more playing time, and he just might get it, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “I thought he had his best week of practice since he’s been with us,” head coach Eric Mangini said of how Haden prepared last week. “I think that he’s starting to understand what it means to be a pro. He’s starting to understand what it takes to prepare each week, and there’s no doubt in my mind that that week of preparation, the way that he was last week, led to his best performance since he’s been here. If he keeps developing, he’ll keep pushing for playing time. That’s what you want. That’s what I want. That’s what he wants, and I don’t mean I’m looking to replace anybody. I’m looking for him to get better to push those guys to replace them because that competition makes everybody better.”

3 » Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, who is currently participating in his first preseason with the team after being signed over the summer, injured and possibly broke the thumb on his shooting hand Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. Teammate and fellow former Florida player power forward Udonis Haslem told the Associated Press that doctors believe the injury is “not season ending.”

4 » Former Gators punter Eric Wilbur has been shining this season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, and his ability to kick “high and deep angled” punts has provided his team with “a stunning field-position advantage,” according to the Hamilton Spectator. “We’re asking him to place the ball in a certain spot, so there were a couple which could have been better but overall it was excellent,” said special teams coach Dave Easley. “He gets tremendous height on the ball because he’s got a very, very strong leg.” Wilbur may be asked to kickoff as well next year for Hamilton though his eyes are still set on a bigger stage. “My ultimate goal is to be in the NFL,” Wilbur told the paper. “But I love it up here. I love the atmosphere, I love the games. If I have to stay up here, I’ll be happy.”

5 » Upsetting South Carolina last week at home, Kentucky’s fans were rightfully excited. After the final whistle blew, plenty of blue-and-white faithful stormed the field to celebrate – something that is seen all over the country after a home team upsets a top-ranked opponent. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Southeastern Conference, such celebrations are not allowed under league rules. That is why, on Thursday, Kentucky was fined $25,000 for a sportsmanship policy violation by the SEC. The policy that was violated states that “access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.”

6 » Join former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and Desire Street Ministries for a 90’s Gators Reunion Celebration from Nov. 12-13 in Gainesville, FL. Wuerffel and other Gator greats like WR Chris Doering, QB Doug Johnson, QB Shane Matthews, WR Travis McGriff, offensive tackle Jason Odom, safety Lawrence Wright and others will be in attendance to celebrate a great decade of Florida football while raising money for DSM. For more information on the event and how you can participate, please click here to read the invitation.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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