12 Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 21

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» The three Florida Gators participating in the 2014 Senior Bowl arrived over the weekend and got measured on Monday. Guard Jon Halapio checked in at 6’3-1/2” and 320 pounds, wide receiver Solomon Patton was the smallest player measured at 5’8-1/2” and 179 pounds, and cornerback Jaylen Watkins was listed at 5’11-3/8” and 194 pounds. Watkins will be updating OnlyGators.com on his status this Wednesday as he and his teammates prepare for the game on Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network.

» Patton, a native of Mobile, AL, was not initially invited to the all-star game played in his hometown but rather received the opportunity to participate in the Senior Bowl last Tuesday after winning an MVP award at the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl. He is not the only one excited. “It’s going to be great,” his father Solomon Patton, Sr., told AL.com. “It’s something we’ve dreamed about since he started playing football. It’s always been a dream of ours and his for him to make it back here [to play].” Patton also spoke about proving to scouts and team executives that he can play despite his relatively diminutive stature. “I might be small, but I can make big-time plays regardless of my size,” he said. “I’m just going to go in relaxed and od what I’ve been doing all year.”

» Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on Monday said wide receiver Percy Harvin should be cleared to return to practice by Wednesday and ultimately compete in Super Bowl XLVIII. Harvin was held out of Sunday’s NFC Championship game due to lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered two weekends ago. He has only played 39 total snaps in two games this season.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!

Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 21

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Pouncey named to second-straight Pro Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the third Florida Gators player in as many seasons to be named to the primary NFL Pro Bowl roster.

He was selected as a starter for the AFC this year after being picked as the backup for Nick Mangold of the New York Jets last season.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Pouncey earned Pro Bowl nominations 2009 and 2010, respectively. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist, while Pouncey did not play due to being on a Super Bowl team.

Pouncey is the 20th former Florida player to be picked for the Pro Bowl; his nomination in 2010 made him the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin). Former Gators have made a total of 57 appearances in the game and have participated in 35 of 42 total Pro Bowls.

The Denver Post reports that former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is a second alternate for the AFC. Should two of New England’s Tom Brady, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and San Diego’s Philip Rivers not participate in the game, Tebow would get the nod and take the trip to Honolulu, HI.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is the primary alternate behind New England teammate Rob Gronkowski and San Diego’s Antonio Gates.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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FOUR BITS: Noah, chomp, strength, baseball

1 » Participating in a preseason game for the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night, former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah gave Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough a bit of a reality check as he stuffed his shot right at the basket. Check out the video below:

2 » Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno alongside play-by-play man Al Michaels last Thursday, former Florida wide receiver and current NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth discussed getting into broadcasting and the play of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The entire show is viewable below; however, if you are just interested in watching Collinsworth do the Gator Chomp upon entering the studio, skip to 18:55 (thanks to OGGOA reader Eli M. for the heads-up).

3 » As the Gators look for a replacement for strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, one name that a source close to the program told OGGOA is in contention for the position is former director of strength and conditioning at Appalachian State Jeff Dillman. An assistant strength coach at LSU when now-Florida head coach Will Muschamp was an assistant under Nick Saban, Dillman played football at Elon and Appalachian State, was also an assistant strength coach at Louisiana-Monroe and is now the head of physical conditioning for the IMG Performance Institute. OGGOA reached out to Dillman, but our message has not been returned as of press time.

4 » With football season coming to an end and basketball in full swing, baseball is next on the docket among the major Gators sports programs. Florida got an early start to what is expected to be another stellar season by earning a No. 1 preseason ranking in Collegiate Baseball’s “Fabulous 40” poll. The Gators, which were swept in the 2011 College World Series Championship Series by South Carolina, will begin the season ranked one spot ahead of the Gamecocks, CB ranks the No. 2 team into the country. Florida is stocked full of talent on the mound, in the batter’s box and on the field and will likely be the national pick to win the 2012 title.

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OGGOA Week In Review: Nov. 27 – Dec. 4

Considering so much has gone on over the past week in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its second edition. (Yes, it covers an eight-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts that have been written this week just in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

OGGOA COLUMNS
» An in-depth look at former Florida head coach Urban Meyer going to the Ohio State Buckeyes was published in the latest edition of The Silver Lining. The 3,500-word piece looks at Meyer’s decision from every possible angle (some tidbits you will not find elsewhere are included) and provides you with all the information you need in order to draw your own conclusion.

» OGGOA had the unique opportunity to review “The Play That Changed College Football,” the latest edition of the ESPN documentary series SEC Storied.

» Following Florida basketball’s loss to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange, former Gators forward Adam Allen posted the latest edition of Allen’s Alley, explaining in what areas Florida has room for improvement.

EXTRA
While Al Michaels and Bob Costas are discussing the Denver Broncos improving to 6-1 this season with quarterback Tim Tebow starting, former Gators wide receiver now NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth does the Gator Chomp. (Thanks to OGGOA follower Chaz.)

FOOTBALL
» Meyer agreed to coach the Buckeyes beginning in 2012. His signing was officially announced prior to OSU introducing him at an on-campus press conference. In between, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley wished Meyer the best of luck with his new employer.

» Two Gators – redshirt freshmen safety Joshua Shaw and defensive end Lynden Traildecided to transfer on Tuesday. Shaw and Trail each chose to transfer for different reasons, and OGGOA also spoke with Trail for an exclusive interview about his decision and promise to remain a Florida fan.

» Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was announced as the cover athlete for the premiere edition of NFL Magazine, set to go on sale Dec. 13 for $4.99.

» OGGOA confirmed that strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti would join Meyer and has already left the program for the Buckeyes.

» Florida announced that it accepted an invitation to the 2012 Gator Bowl.

» While on the media teleconference to officially accept the bowl bid, Gators head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Marotti’s departure, said sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will undergo surgery on his ACL Wednesday and discussed a number of other topics relating to the bowl game.

» Florida four-star running back recruit Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) decommitted from the Gators after a significant miscommunication with the coaching staff and completely eliminated UF from his list.

BASKETBALL
» One of the greatest television commercials to feature a college coach was published on OGGOA for your enjoyment. Florida head coach Billy Donovan does a press conference praising the variety of offerings from Florida Gulf Seafood.

» Donovan earned his 400th career win as UF routed the Stetson Hatters 96-70 Monday evening. Freshman guard Bradley Beal led the way with career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also discussed what winning his 400th college basketball game meant on a number of levels.

» It was determined that junior forward Erik Murphy did not tear his meniscus but rather had a deep bone bruise and may be able to return for the Arizona game on Wednesday.

» Despite it being a close game throughout, the Gators fell to the Orange 72-68 on the road in Syracuse, NY. Junior G Kenny Boynton started slow but finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

» Following Florida’s loss to Syracuse, Donovan pointed to turnovers, poor rebounding and players missing in action as the reasons why UF struggled. Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario was benched during the contest because Donovan was not pleased with where his head was at heading into and during the game.

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FOUR BITS: Boynton, Hill, Collinsworth, Crowder

1 » Florida Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton has always viewed himself as a scorer, someone who was able to do everything in the high school and has liked to put the ball in from long range in college. The truth, at least as head coach Billy Donovan sees it, is that Boynton’s best characteristic right now is his defense. Boynton was a lock-down defender in 2011, forcing some of the best college basketball players in the country to struggle against Florida in big games. Going forward, his defense (especially if his offense does not improve) could be what gets him onto a NBA bench.

“He has the ability to be the best defensive player in our league, no question,” Donovan said Wednesday at the 2011 SEC Spring Meetings. “And I’m not saying his role’s going to change just to be a defender, but when you talk about him really leading us in scoring and then the fact that he’s got to guard John Jenkins twice a year, he’s guarding Jimmer Fredette, he’s guarding [Scottie] Hopson from Tennessee, he’s guarding Brandon Knight. […] If there’s one thing about Kenny that I think he’s right now is I think he’s an NBA defender. He can really guard anybody on the perimeter. I think the next step for him is decision making, assist-to-turnover ratio, being a better finisher in the lane, those kinds of things. But I think he’s working to get better.”

2 » Former Gators safety Will Hill, who declared for the 2011 NFL Draft as a junior and was not selected during the seven-round event in April, was arrested Thursday by Alachua County Police and booked at 2 p.m. on an out-of-county warrant stemming from having been cited for driving with a suspended license in Lake County. Hill had his bond set at $2,000 for the misdemeanor charge.

3 » Former Florida wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, who played in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and is currently a color commentator for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, has been looking for something to keep him busy while the league’s lockout remains in effect. With that in mind, Collinsworth has decided to coach the wide receivers at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, KY, where his son Jac is currently playing. Highlands has won four consecutive titles (including a 50-0 victory last year) and went 14-1 in 2010. “I just got the playbook and I feel like a first year rookie all over again,” he said on his FootballProsLive.com blog. “The plays are scrambled eggs in my brain, and I feel a little anxious. But, I love coaching. I coached many of these kids in the junior football league, and they always kept me entertained.”

4 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder spoke with the media recently and provided his thoughts on a number of topics concerning the current NFL lockout. Crowder, who in our opinion provides the best sound bites and quotes in sports, even comments on Raw Lewis’s opinion that crime would increase nationally if football isn’t played. You can check out Crowder’s comments in this piece from the Sun-Sentinel.

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FOUR BITS: Demps wins, Young staying, Ball

1 » Florida Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps captured the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championship in the 60-meter dash on Saturday, beating his seven other competitors with a time of 6.53 seconds. Demps, who won the same title in 2010, is the first back-to-back winner of the 60-meter dash since 2004-05.

2 » Before enrolling at the University of Florida, freshman center Patric Young said he had his sights set on earning his degree in addition to improving as a basketball player. He even went as far to say that he could possibly stay all four years. In fact, even though the Gators star youngster is getting plenty of national recognition as a potential first-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Young maintains that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season. “I love being in school right now,” said Young after Friday’s 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals game against Tennessee, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I like getting my education. I’m learning more from Coach [Billy Donovan] and he’s got a lot to offer me. He’s going to help develop me so when I go to the NBA, I’ll already be ready and teams won’t have to worry about developing me anymore.” He also said Saturday that he will “definitely” be back for his sophomore season, quelling any doubters.

3 » Florida sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball suffered a scary episode in February, being rushed to the hospital after a blood vessel in his brain burst. After surgery and plenty of rest, Ball was released after six days in the hospital. The Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser spoke Ball’s brother-in-law and find out more about his current condition. “He’s good. He’s fine. You wouldn’t even know he had any trouble,” said Dary Myricks of Ball’s health. He also revealed Ball’s issue was an arteriovenous malformation that will need at least one more surgery to prevent further issues. “He can’t do anything…until they’ve dealt with this,” Myricks said. The Mayo Clinic defines an AVM as:

An abnormal connection between arteries and veins. An AVM is typically congenital, meaning it dates to birth. An AVM can develop anywhere in your body but occurs most often in the brain or spine. A brain AVM, which appears as a tangle of abnormal arteries and veins, can occur in any part of your brain. The cause isn’t clear.

4 » Former Gators wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was one of 83 people rescued from a Kentucky waterfront restaurant that broke from its moorings on Friday and was floating downstream. It took hours for rescue crews to clear the restaurant of patrons and staff, a mission they accomplished with a single-file line and the passing of lifejackets back-and-forth. Check out the Associated Press’ story on the event here.

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Pouncey adds Pro Bowl to stellar rookie season

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the second Florida Gators rookie in as many seasons to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl.

He was selected as the back-up for the AFC to Nick Mangold of the New York Jets, who was tabbed for the third-straight season.

Pouncey follows in the footsteps of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who earned a Pro Bowl nomination last season as a rookie out of Florida. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist.

Barring injury, Pouncey will have started every game this season for Pittsburgh at center. He is a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, an award that will likely go to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and was also won by Harvin last season.

Pouncey is the 20th former Gators player to be picked for the Pro Bowl and only the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin).

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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FOUR BITS: Peterson, Orton vs. Tebow, FSU wins

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Mike Peterson – now a veteran with the Atlanta Falcons, has taken on the roll of mentor with the team’s first-round choice in the 2010 NFL Draft, Sean Weatherspoon. Now 34, Peterson had a solid 2009-10 season (140 tackles) and hopes to continue to help both on the field and in the locker room. “I understand the business,” he said. “I want to help the team out. That’s what I’m all about. I didn’t come here to try and play 2,000 plays. I came here to try to win the Super Bowl. Whatever my role will be, I’m ready for it.”

2 » The Denver Post is apparently the “Kyle Orton needs to get out of here on way or another” angle now that former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has joined the Denver Broncos. Columnist Woody Paige insists the team needs to pull the trigger on a trade involving Orton because he is “not a short-term fix or a long-range fit for the Broncos,” noting that he is “an average quarterback who couldn’t start for 21 other teams in the league.” Better to see what they have in former Notre Dame star Brady Quinn and first-round pick Tebow, Page believes. Paper-mate mark Kiszla takes a similar angle on the topic, noting that Orton needs to get himself out of Denver as fast as possible. “[He] would have rocks for brains to start another game as quarterback of the Broncos,” Kiszla wrote. “He would be playing the fool for Denver coach Josh McDaniels. If Orton owns a penny’s worth of common sense, he has already quietly, politely and firmly asked for a trade to grant his freedom.”

3 » EA SportsNCAA Football 11, which will feature Tebow as its cover athlete, is undergoing more changes than just deciding to use one former player on its cover instead of many. According to Jon Robinson of ESPN, the gaming company has decided to further embed ESPN branding into the game, letting each contest play like it is a live network broadcast. Read more about some of the game’s brand new features.

4 » Speaking of ESPN, the worldwide leader has decided to create a bracket system in order to devise which college program has been the best pipeline for the NFL over the last 30 years. Not surprisingly, No. 13-seed Florida lost its opening-round match-up. Unfortunately for some fans, it was to the No. 4-seed Florida State Seminoles. Though writer Matt Williamson noted that the recent influx of Gators gives the team a chance to claim the title in the future, the past’s top five notable players (Derrick Brooks, Deion Sanders, Walter Jones, Rohn Stark, LeRoy Butler VS. Emmitt Smith, Lomas Brown, Cris Collinsworth, Wilber Marshall, Neal Anderson) allows FSU to earn the edge. Check out the entire head-to-head match-up at the link above including summaries by Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach.

Photo Credit: Jon Robinson/ESPN

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