Evaluating Florida Gators ahead of 2014 NFL Draft

Despite being incredibly busy during the week of the 2014 NFL Draft, longtime analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net sat down with OnlyGators.com on Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging look at the Florida Gators who could be selected Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York.

Pauline evaluated all 11 Florida players available in the draft and even provided projections for each prospect including those who may neither be selected May 8-10 nor signed after the festivities are over.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Projection: Round 2
Analysis: “Easley, if he didn’t have the knee injury, he probably slides into round one. He’s a quick, explosive three-technique lineman who brings some inside pass rush. That’s becoming more and more valuable these days. The way it is, even with the knee injury, I think he’s going to slide into that second day of the draft and has a definite shot of going in the second round.”

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Jonotthan Harrison tells tale of “crumbling” Florida Gators locker room during 2013 season

UPDATED STORY (8:00 p.m.): Jonotthan Harrison clarifies comments, defends Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp

Story below updated on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

According to former Florida Gators center Jonotthan Harrison, a fifth-year senior in 2013 who was starting in the middle of the offensive line for his third-straight year, Florida’s continuously declining play and subsequent 4-8 record had as much to do with the team’s off-field issues as it did on-field performance.

Discussing the situation with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Harrison provided insight into locker room incidents, pre-game distractions and significant infighting that derailed the Gators as they dealt with mounting injuries, a growing number of losses and increasing fan unrest.

Dunne begins by relating Harrison’s view of an incident that occurred following Florida’s embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern in its second-to-last game of the season.

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Former Florida Gators participate in 2014 Pro Day

Thirteen former Florida Gators football players participated in Pro Day in Gainesville, FL on Monday though the event was not able to be held in front of the public at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as originally scheduled.

Due to heavy rain, Florida was forced to cancel the on-field workout and move things indoors. Players ran 40-yard dashes and participated in other drills on a rubber track inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center – many took their shoes off and ran barefoot – before returning to the practice field for some positional drills.

“That was a first,” said UF head coach Will Muschamp of seeing the players run barefoot. “Proud of those guys working hard, a great day for them. The culmination of a lot of work. Have a great opportunity to play in the National Football League. …

“You play football in the rain. Our guys, it’s amazing how many scouts [came out]. Last year, we had a cold day. This, year we had some rain. The scouts walk up and the coaches walk up, Mike Zimmer walks up and says, ‘Hey, I appreciate you guys working.’ That means a lot. Believe me, these guys are professionals; they understand the conditions and the things the guys go through. None of our guys bellyache; they go work, and I’m proud of them for their effort.”

Representatives from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance with 59 scouts reportedly in Gainesville on Monday. Unlike last season, when general managers and coaches did not attend because the Gators held Pro Day on the same day as the start of 2013 NFL free agency, a number found their way to The Swamp with Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan standing out as notable faces.

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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!
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TWO BITS: Gators team awards, game-winners

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2013 award winners along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Michael McNeely
* Second-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jaylen Watkins, Mark Herndon and Darrin Kitchens
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Solomon Patton
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Solomon Patton, Damien Jacobs, Jon Halapio, Neiron Ball and Ronald Powell
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Powell each won the award.
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Antonio Riles, Tim Clark, Caleb Brantley | Defensive: Case Harrison, Adam Lane, Cameron Dillard | Special Teams: Chris Thompson, Ryan Parrish

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Michael Taylor
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Harrison won the award for offense.
Most Valuable Player Offense: Solomon Patton | Defense: Dante Fowler, Jr. Special Teams: Jarrad Davis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Halapio and Dominique Easley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Solomon Patton
* Third-straight year that a senior offensive player won the award.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jeremy Brown, Kyle Koehne and Darrin Kitchens
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio was named a team captain.

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Senior Day – Gameday: Florida Gators vs. No. 2 Florida State Seminoles

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 66°F (feels like 66°F), partly cloudy, winds NE at 14 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 2 FSU SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Record: 4-7 Record: 11-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +29 | O/U 52.5
and you can also bet on Super Bowl game in Feb 2014.

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you missed via the links below!

Story: Changes ahead for offensive staff | Notebook: Will Muschamp talks coaching changes, fixing the Gators and more injuries | Q&A: Brent Pease asked 17 questions about job status, future at Florida | Notebook: Muschamp provides updates on injuries, thoughts about Pease | Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 35-21-2 and holds a 20-9-1 record in Gainesville.
» The Gators will finish below .500 on the season for the first time since 1979 and below .500 in SEC play for the second time since that year (2010).
» UF lost to three unranked opponents this season and is now 18-4 against such teams under Muschamp. Last week, it dropped its first game to a Division I-AA/FCS team in school history.
» The Gators lost their second-straight game under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and are now 15-2 in such circumstances. Florida also lost for the second consecutive time under Muschamp (third overall) when leading at the half and are now 18-3 in that situation. UF is 18-5 when holding opponents to 21 points or less, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards and 14-5 when scoring first in a game.

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
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Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s season finale against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles, which is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on ESPN.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the five posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links below).

Monday: Changes ahead for offensive staff | Will Muschamp talks coaching changes, fixing the Gators and more injuries
Tuesday: Brent Pease asked 17 questions about job status, future at Florida
Wednesday: Snell’s Slant: Beat Florida State? It can happen. | Muschamp provides updates on injuries, thoughts about Pease

FINAL GOODBYES FOR GATORS SENIORS

Fifteen Gators football players are guaranteed to step onto Florida Field for the last time as student-athletes on Saturday as they will have used up their eligibility as either true seniors or fifth-year seniors. Below is what many of them had to say about their careers, final home game and last time wearing a Florida uniform.

» Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins: “It’s going to be very emotional for all of us. We’ve been here four years, some five. We have some who have been here six years. It’s a new chapter for most of us to after football and actually graduating. Some of us are graduating next month. It’s going to be very exciting for both us and our families. … This is our last game we’ll ever play in The Swamp in an orange and blue jersey, so all of the seniors I know are going to go out and give everything they’ve got.”

» Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who will have his parents and fiancée there to support him after running out of the tunnel: “I just hope I don’t cry like everybody else has been saying. It’s going to be very emotional coming out the tunnel one last time. I’m very excited but sad at the same time.”

» Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, who transferred from a junior college: “It’s bittersweet. Not even just because of the simple fact that this has been a bad season. Mostly because I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life. So it’s bittersweet that way. … I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty emotional, yeah. It’s the last one. It’s probably not going to hit me until probably after a week later that it was my last one.”

» Senior do-everything Trey Burton, who will have multiple members of his family there as well as his wife and baby daughter: “A lot of mixed emotions. I’m really happy for my time here. I wouldn’t want to take anything back, all the challenges and all that type of stuff has helped me mature as a man. I’m just really happy with how things have gone. … I’m going to try not to cry. My family will be out there so I hope it won’t be too bad. I play and I have a lot of emotions for everything I do, so we’ll see. … I think it’s bittersweet for everybody. You don’t want your last game in college football to come and it’s coming.”

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Friday Final: Changes coming for Gators, Florida player updates heading into Georgia game

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s neural-site contest against the Georgia Bulldogs scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, and air live on CBS.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the six posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).

Monday: Will Muschamp previews Georgia, updates injuries, talks new starters
Tuesday: Brent Pease talks changes to the offensive line and overall scheme
Wednesday: LT D.J. Humphries out 2-4 weeks, Florida-Georgia updates
Thursday: Overcoming embarrassment, can Gators’ defense return to form?

NEW LEADER IN THE BACKFIELD

Muschamp confirmed on Thursday during his weekly radio appearance that freshman running back Kelvin Taylor will be Florida’s starter on Saturday. “He’s earned the opportunity,” he said. “He’s really done a good job in the opportunities he’s had as the season has evolved.”

MORE CHANGES AT TACKLE

Though the Gators experimented with redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia at left tackle during the off week, he will remain in his current role. Unfortunately, sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphires going down with a sprained MCL on Monday means that redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, who was actually benched as the starting right tackle in favor of junior Trenton Brown, will be back in the lineup.

“We were going to give Trenton Brown an opportunity to start at right tackle,” Muschamp explained. “Unfortunately, D.J. Humphries sprained his MCL Monday in practice and he’ll probably miss 2-3 weeks. We hope to get him back before then. But Tyler Moore will bump over to left tackle.

“Max has been playing inside and playing very well inside at left guard. We didn’t feel like it was good to move him and possibly create another void at the left guard position.”

BURNING REDSHIRTS

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Changes coming for Gators, Florida player updates heading into Georgia game

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