Eight Florida Gators invited to 2014 NFL Combine

Updated on Friday at 9:00 p.m.

The official list of invitees was released by National Football Scouting on Friday, and eight former Florida Gators have officially been invited to participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

The eight former Gators student-athletes invited to the NFL Combine include:

Tight end Lawrence (Trey) Burton – Group: 3 | Camp: TE03
Offensive lineman Jonathan (Jon) Halapio – Group: 1 | Camp: OL12
Offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison – Group: 1 | Camp: OL13
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley** – Group: 7 | Camp: DL09
Linebacker Ronald Powell* – Group: 9 | Camp: LB23
Defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB44
Defensive back Marcus Roberson* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB48
Defensive back Jaylen Watkins – Group: 11 | Camp: DB58

* Junior
** Easley (torn ACL) will not participate in the NFL Combine.

Notable names apparently left off the invite list include: wide receiver Solomon Patton, DT Damien Jacobs, LB Darrin Kitchens and OL Kyle Koehne.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
Continue Reading » Eight Florida Gators invited to 2014 NFL Combine

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His third entry comes live from Mobile, AL as Watkins is currently practicing ahead of and set to compete in the 2014 Senior Bowl on Saturday.

Since the last time I checked in here, I spent a few days getting extra treatment rather than training as hard for the combine as I had been previously. It was time to get prepared for the Senior Bowl, which I ended up leaving for on Saturday.

Saturday and Sunday we just came in, did our check in, took the Wonderlic and other tests and got weighed. It was really weird to get measured in front of so many other people. We walked up to the stairs and were suddenly in front of 300 people wearing just our compression shorts. [Laughing] If you know what those are, you will be laughing at that, too.

I took about six or seven different tests and definitely felt good going through each of them. There is not really any way to prepare for them because they’re not standardized tests like in school. The tests work you through concepts and get an idea how you learn and process information.

When we finally got on the field to practice, I had to get adjusted the first day in a helmet and pads. Some guys were only a few weeks out from playing, but I obviously had a longer time off. My first practice went really well, but my first time through warm-ups felt kind of weird. I was anxious, which is something I have not felt in a long time, but once practice got going and I went through the individual period, everything was great.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

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Jaylen Watkins to chronicle Path to the Draft as part of expanded coverage on OnlyGators.com

With a number of former Florida Gators football players in the process of training and preparing for the 2014 NFL Combine and upcoming 2014 NFL Draft in May, OnlyGators.com is pleased to announce an significant expansion to its annual comprehensive coverage leading up to and during the event.

Continuing the tradition of OnlyGators.com‘s Path to the Draft blog in 2014 will be four-year defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who has agreed to join the website and chronicle his process from now through the big day. Watkins will check in regularly to discuss the quest to raise his stock and continue his football-playing career on the professional level.

Readers will be able to tag along as Watkins participates in the 2014 Senior Bowl, trains for the combine, meets with teams interested in selecting him and is eventually drafted at some point during the three-day event from May 8-10.

A versatile member of Florida’s secondary, Watkins played cornerback during his first three seasons with the team but added assignments at safety to his plate during his senior year. He started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

Watkins registered three interceptions and broke up eight passes as a cornerback in 2011. This past season, he picked up seven pass defenses (second-most on the team) and was third on the Gators with 52 total tackles (two for lost yardage).

The fourth Florida student-athlete to participate as the featured player in OnlyGators.com’s Path to the Draft series – following Chandler Parsons, Josh Evans and Erik Murphy – Watkins will have company on the website over the next few months.

OnlyGators.com will also be presenting a four-part series on defensive tackle Dominique Easley, chronicling his rehabilitation from the serious knee injury he suffered on Sept. 24 up until the day he is drafted, and has plans in the works to check in with a number of other former Gators including wide receiver Solomon Patton.

Watkins will be the eighth former Florida player to guest blog for OnlyGators.com. Former offensive lineman Shannon Snell, forward Adam Allen and catcher Teddy Foster are currently on staff writing about football, basketball and baseball, respectively. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel was the website’s first contributor in 2010.

You can also follow Jaylen Watkins on Twitter by clicking here.

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SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

1 » OnlyGators.com learned Wednesday night that Florida Gators seniors cornerback Jaylen Watkins and wide receiver Solomon Patton have both signed with agent Tom Santanello of Boca Raton, FL. Santanello, who inked defensive tackle Dominique Easley in November, also represents two other former Florida players – safety Josh Evans and tight end Jordan Reed. Watkins and Patton will join Easley as he trains in Boca Raton over the next few months as all three players look to get in the best possible shape before their workouts.

2 » A late-second to early-third day pick, Watkins is hoping to raise his stock immensely before the 2014 NFL Draft and has accepted an invitation to the 2014 Senior Bowl in an effort to do just that. Many NFL personnel people already believe that Watkins has a superior skill set to junior CB Loucheiz Puriofy albeit a lower ceiling due to Purifoy’s ridiculous athleticism and penchant for highlight-making plays. Joining Watkins at the Senior Bowl (so far) is redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio. Easley was also invited but will be unable to do so as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

A source close to Easley tells OnlyGators.com that there are currently no plans for the player to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine or Pro Day at Florida. However, as he continues to heal and regain strength in his knee, anything is certainly possible. Easley does plan to at least hold a private workout prior to the draft.

Check out four more BITS on Gators in the NFL…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

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Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Combine

Through the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy, the team’s leading three-point shooter last season (.453), will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry here on OGGOA.

Between workouts in Las Vegas, NV on Thursday, Murphy got in touch with OGGOA to discuss his experience and performance at the 2013 NBA Combine and what he has been doing to get ready for the draft over the last week.

The week leading into the combine, we kept doing what we were doing at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. We practiced drills that we knew they would test us on at the combine and just tried to make those become second nature. I flew up there Tuesday night and by the time we got to the JW Marriott, I just relaxed and went to sleep.

Wednesday was the first day of the combine, when everybody started to arrive. I got up early in the morning and basically did all kinds of media stuff. By the time I got done with the 10-15 interviews, it was the middle of the afternoon. Some guys had team interviews afterward but that was not on my schedule for the day. I hung out, saw a bunch of guys I met and knew from over the years (Peyton Siva, Deshaun Thomas, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Gorgui Dieng, etc.), and then went to the gym to get some shots up and get a workout in before Thursday. It is kind of a long, boring day overall.

On Thursday we woke up around 6:30 a.m. and went downstairs to a ballroom. The first thing we did was take a urine test and then we had our blood drawn – a lot of blood. Then they took all of our measurements, a process that took about a half hour. We did a quick workout and then had breakfast before actually beginning the major workout part of the combine. There were a lot of drills, some of them specific by position – ball-handling, quick shots, one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, transition drills, catch-and-shoot, finishing at the rim. The workout probably lasted 60-75 minutes, and it was definitely a tough because you’re out there with a bunch of talented players.

Continue Reading » Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Combine

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Thompson, Murphy, moose

1 » Here is Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dancing outdoors at a house party.

2 » The Baltimore Ravens are searching for a new No. 2 receiver, and it appears as if former Florida Gators pass catcher Denote Thompson “has the inside track” on the job, according to The Baltimore Sun. “[Thompson] could sneak in there, he looks different, is fast and catches everything,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I’ve always said, the best player will play.” Thompson thinks his athleticism and speed mean the “sky is the limit” for what he can accomplish with the Ravens. He also discussed why he struggled with the Gators and how things have changed for him. “We had a new offensive coordinator and new coaches at Florida my last year and the whole offense didn’t play well,” he said. “We were just trying to find a rhythm. But here, I think I have adjusted and I can play outside or in the slot, it doesn’t matter. A year ago, I didn’t know what to expect, but now I know what it is going to take. One of the hardest things was learning defenses, the audibles and the different coverages.”

3 » Gators forward Erik Murphy participated in the 2013 NBA Combine late last week. He measured 6’8.75” without shoes, 6’9.5” with shoes and had a 6’10.5” wingspan and 9’0” reach. Murphy also checked in at 239.8 lbs. with eight percent body fat, 8.75” hands and 9.75” hand width. Here are his on the court results: three-quarter time (3.57 seconds), lane agility time (12.19 s), modified time (2.96 s), standing leap (24.5”), maximum leap (29.5”). Murphy will check in with OGGOA later this week with his second “Path to the Draft” blog post to recap the combine, but the Orlando Sentinel reports that he had a one-hour workout with the Orlando Magic last Thursday.

4 » Greg Luca of The Alligator penned this piece back in April on Ron “Moose” Davis, the fan who can always be found behind the basket at Florida basketball games wearing a moose hat and waving a neon Speedo in hopes of distracting opposing foul shooters. Plenty has been written about Davis over the years, but this piece provides great background and a thorough look at one of the Gators’ biggest fans.

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Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Las Vegas

Through the 2013 NBA Draft, which is set for June 27, former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy, the team’s leading three-point shooter last season (.453), will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry here on OGGOA.

Between workouts in Las Vegas, NV on Thursday, which he is taking part in as preparation for next week’s 2013 NBA Combine, Murphy got in touch with OGGOA to discuss what he has been doing to get ready for the draft over the last month.

After the tournament, I took a little bit of time off, about a week and a half to just hang out, relax and unwind. I did not even meet with any agents during that time. Eventually I met with a couple people – B.J. Armstrong and Art Tellem (Wasserman Media Group), for example – with my dad, who came down, Coach [Billy] Donovan and others were there to help me. I was talking with Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports and Entertainment) because he’s [the agent for Chandler Parsons, Bradley Beal and David Lee], but I just decided that Andy Miller (ASM Sports) was the best choice for me.

I just felt really comfortable with him. Going through the process of being with the agents, getting to know them a little more, it’s a partnership hopefully for a long time, so you want to be comfortable with the person. They’re all great and do what they do well; it was just a comfort level and getting along with him really well that made the decision pretty easy at the end.

Part of my conversation with Andy was laying out a plan for the entire process. Most of the guys Andy signs, as long as they find it agreeable, he sends them out to Las Vegas to train at Impact Basketball. I’ve actually been out here before when I was young, training for a couple weeks during the summer, but Impact is a different spot, of course. He basically set me up out here with Impact and [founder/president] Joe Abunassar.

I’ve just been out here for the last three weeks, except when I went back to school for graduation, working out every day, lifting, getting in really good shape and getting a good feel for what I’ll be doing during the combine. It’s a good idea to get comfortable with the process, get acclimated before the combine.

Continue Reading » Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Las Vegas

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FOUR NFL BITS: Tebow, Murphy, Reed, Evans

1 » Contrary to comments from the front office and coaching staff of the New York Jets indicating that quarterback Tim Tebow is currently in the team’s plans to be part of the competition at his position for 2013, ESPNNewYork.com reported Tuesday that “nothing has changed with regard to Tebow’s status on the team.” A league source tells Dan Graziano that “the Jets are holding out hope they can trade him and are in no rush to do so. They could stretch the process out to the draft, but failing a trade, the Jets will release him, the source said.”

2 » Wide receiver Louis Murphy is the only former Florida Gators free agent to sign with a team thus far in the 2013 offseason as the New York Giants decided to bring him on board with a one-year contract last week. Speaking with the SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, general manager Jerry Reese raved about what Murphy brings to the table. “I think he’s going to add another dimension to our offense,” Reese said. “We have a scout named Jeremiah Davis and he talks about guys being a ‘knife.’ This guy is a ‘knife.’ This guy can take the top off your defense. He gives us a different dimension in our offense […] a deep threat that we haven’t had. We haven’t had a guy who can run like this guy.” Murphy should enter the season as the Giants’ fourth or fifth receiver but may still see a good amount of time on the field next year.

3 » Greg Cosell, the senior producer for NFL Films, recently praised what he has seen from Gators tight end Jordan Reed. Cosell wrote on Twitter that he loved what he saw from Reed on tape and believes he has the chance to be the next successful ‘Joker’ tight end in the league, comparing him (as many other have done already) to New England Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez.

4 » Florida safety Josh Evans has private workouts scheduled with the Jets and Patriots, OGGOA learned on Wednesday. Evans, who turned heads with his performances at the 2013 NFL Combine and Pro Day, is beginning to draw some significant buzz in league circles. According to the National Football Post:

While Evans has been viewed as the “other safety” at Florida throughout the 2012 season and not regarded as a top prospect, sources at the Florida Pro Day told us that Evans had a strong all-around workout. Although not an explosive athlete, Evans was smooth throughout the positional drills staying over his feet and changing directions easily. One NFL person in attendance told us that it was clear to him that Evans is the more flexible and fluid athlete of the two safeties, Matt Elam being the other, and that he felt Evans was also better in coverage in games. Although his workout was impressive and we think he warrants being selected above Elam, the sources we spoke with said that while they agreed with our evaluation of Evans as a better prospect that Elam will still likely be selected first.

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