Florida Gators in the NFL: Percy Harvin, Marquand Manuel, Dan Quinn win Super Bowl XLVIII

The 2013-14 NFL season concluded on Sunday as six people with ties to the Florida Gators were on teams competing for the league’s championship in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle defeated Denver 43-8 to pick up a decisive and dominant Super Bowl victory.

Below are full game statistics for the three former Gators that competed in the Super Bowl along with a variety of notes about former Florida players in the Big Game.

ACTIVE (3)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Seattle Seahawks: One reception for five yards; two carries for 45 yards; 87-yard kickoff return for touchdown [137 all-purpose yards]
» “It’s just a big horse off my back,” Harvin said after the game, according to Sports Illustrated. “I finally was able to give my team something for four quarters. That meant a lot to me. Being injured all season took a toll on me. Being able to finish and being able to give my teammates something back — because I leaned on those guys so much this year to keep me up in spirits and just keep me going — it meant the world to me.”


WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Played as a reserve
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Denver Broncos: Four tackles

INACTIVE / INJURED (1)
LB LERENTEE McCRAY, Denver Broncos*: Injured – ankle (injured reserve)

COACHES (2)
Defensive coordinator DAN QUINN, Seattle Seahawks
» Quinn found Peyton Manning’s tell, and Seattle’s defense exploited it.
» Missing out on numerous head coaching opportunities, Quinn explained to ESPN why he did not meet with teams during the playoffs and the run up to the Super Bowl. “To me, it was important [to remain focused],” he said. “The relationship I have with these players, to understand we’re all in it together – I couldn’t be more proud to be part of that group.”
Defensive assistant MARQUAND MANUEL, Seattle Seahawks

SUPER BOWL XLVIII NOTES
» Harvin joins Dallas Baker, Jeff Mitchell, Justin Trattou and Deonte Thompson as the only five players in Gators history to win an SEC Championship, national title and Super Bowl ring in their respective careers.
» It is the 12th consecutive year that a former Florida player has been on a roster of a Super Bowl team and the fifth time in the last six that one has won a Super Bowl ring.
» It is the ninth time in the last 15 years that the Gators had a player on both teams.
» Overall, Florida has 24 total Super Bowl rings won by 17 different players over 18 separate Super Bowls.

Players with their name in orange won Super Bowl XLVIII.
* Rookie

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FOUR Super Bowl BITS: Harvin, Caldwell, Mincey

1 » For Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, Super Bowl XLVIII will be just the third game he has played in all season long. Though he has totaled just 19 snaps, four receptions and 38 yards (along with one carry for nine yards), Harvin is seen by many as a potential X-factor for Seattle in its duel with the Denver Broncos. Tom Pelissero of USA Today opined Saturday that Harvin will wind up being the game’s Most Valuable Player, and history can certainly back up that proclamation. During the 2007 BCS Championship, Harvin scored a touchdown and totaled 82 yards on 11 touches. He also happened to be the Florida Gators’ leading pass catcher that day both in receptions (nine) and yards (60). Two years later, Harvin likely would have been the 2009 BCS Championship’s Most Outstanding Player had it not been for quarterback Tim Tebow’s performance. In that game, Harvin returned from an ankle injury to amass 170 total yards and a touchdown. He once again had team-highs of nine receptions and 121 receiving yards in the contest. Harvin is listed at 18-to-1 to win Super Bowl MVP honors with an over/under of 51.5 receiving yards and 1.6-to-1 odds of scoring a touchdown. Would you really bet against him?

2 » Denver Broncos WR Andre Caldwell signed up to catch passes from QB Peyton Manning but did not get much of an opportunity to do that last season. He was moved from No. 3 receiver to the bench and barely got on the field. Even in 2013, Caldwell only caught five passes through the first 14 weeks of the season before exploding on Dec. 12 with six receptions for 59 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to San Diego. He has seen more snaps with each passing game and now has the opportunity to play for a championship. “We have so much talent in the receiving corps, I’m the forgotten man,” Caldwell told CBSSports.com during Super Bowl Media Day on Thursday. “It’s humbling, but it makes me work a little harder. People forget about me on Media Day and during the game, but it just makes me work hard. But I prepare like I’m a starter anyway. I know when my opportunities come, I have to make them so people don’t forget about me.” He added: “This is something I couldn’t have imagined. I was fighting for my career and now I’m in the Super Bowl. And I’m actually playing.”

Continue Reading » FOUR Super Bowl BITS: Harvin, Caldwell, Mincey

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

1 » Joining a bevy of national analysts to come to the defenses of Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who has missed nine games this spring without receiving clearance or any information as to when a decision ill be reached on his eligibility by the NCAA, is ESPN‘s Jay Bilas. On Wednesday, Bilas sent the following tweet: “Dear NCAA: Chris Walker and Florida have waited long enough. The DMV now believes you are slow and inefficient.” He expanded on that thought Thursday in a conversation with Florida Today. “One, I don’t think it’s any of the NCAA’s business,” Bilas said. “But even if it is, it’s taken way too long. At some point you have to say, ‘You know what? We don’t have it. And until we do, the kid can play.’ They’ve got a clock ticking and the NCAA kind of tends to look at from their own perspective in that, we don’t want somebody else to run out the clock while we investigate. … At some point you’ve got to say, you know what the delay is unreasonable. It’s hurt the kid, it’s hurt the school and it’s just wrong.”

2 » Due to the Seattle Seahawks remaining in contention throughout the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs and ultimately earning a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been unavailable for head coaching job interviews despite the fact that three teams – Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland – reportedly had him as a frontrunner for their vacancies. Quinn told the media Thursday that he is not frustrated about the situation because it ultimately means his team has the chance to play for a title. “None. No, certainly not,” he said. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of this and moving forward here keeping the focus on our team, which it is.” Quinn had never even held a coordinator job until Gators head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011. After just four seasons (assuming he remains in his current position with Seattle in 2014), his dream of leading a team could finally come true next offseason.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

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Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs continued this week with six former Florida Gators spread out over all four of the teams that participated in NFL Championship round action.

Three former Gators were listed as active. Each of the four teams that played – and therefore both that advanced to Super Bowl XLVIII – had at least one former Florida player on its roster.

A former Gators player is guaranteed to be on the roster of a Super Bowl winner for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It will be the 12th consecutive season that a former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team and the ninth time in the last 15 seasons that a former Gators player will be on the rosters of both Super Bowl teams.

Below are game statistics for all three active Florida players that participated in the third round of the playoffs. Check out how they performed…after the break!

Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

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SIX BITS: Prather, Grier, Phillilps, Patton, Wickline

1 » The Florida Gators on Sunday announced that senior forward Casey Prather (knee) is being listed as “doubtful” for Tuesday’s home contest against the Georgia Bulldogs as he is still dealing with a bone bruise he apparently suffered last Wednesday. Prather, Florida’s leading scorer who has posted double-digit point totals in all 14 game he’s played this season, has missed three practices already.

2 » The Independent Florida Alligator’s Adam Lichtenstein, citing an anonymous tip provided to the paper, uncovered a video posted on the Vine account of Gators four-star quarterback commit Will Grier (titled “Lax es gay”) that appears to show him using the homophobic slur beginning with “F” nine times before declaring, “[Lacrosse] is gay.” The video was posted to his account 269 days ago, exactly four months after he committed to UF. (The video linked above contains offensive language not condoned by OnlyGators.com.) As Lichtenstein correctly points out, “this is unacceptable behavior from Grier” and is something that should absolutely have been addressed by Florida. Though the school had no reason to address this publicly at that time – he was not a member of the program yet – one would think that those in charge of monitoring the social media accounts of Gators recruits would have strongly suggested he remove the video. After all, it has been hiding in plain sight for nearly nine months.

3 » According to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls, Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips is one of three men being considered by head coach Charlie Strong to serve as Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator. Phillips has spent five years in an offensive coordinator role, holding that exact position at Kentucky from 2005-08 and working as “head coach of offense” at his alma mater in 2009 when he was named Rich Brooks’s successor. Prior to that, Phillips spent 13 of 14 years coaching wide receivers and was widely considered a coach who had not been given a fair opportunity to move up in the ranks. He was head coach at UK from 2010-12 before being fired and taking over as the Gators’ wide receivers coach in 2013. Phillips is entering the second year of a two-year contract and is set to earn $265,000 this season.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Prather, Grier, Phillilps, Patton, Wickline

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Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

The 2013 offseason started out relatively calm and normal for the Florida Gators football program with some players deciding to leave school early to play professionally and others choosing to try their luck at another university. Suddenly, starting on Jan. 10, a string of arrests, poor decisions, injuries and negative headlines began taking over the spring and summer for the Gators. Below is a timeline* of one of the most bizarre and controversial offseasons in Florida football history.

* While all of the news below was sour for Florida or its players in one way or another, obviously some of the occurrences (arrests, suspensions) are significantly more egregious than others (players transferring, coaches leaving). The standout, headline-making stories that either painted the program in a negative light or were exceptionally newsworthy during the summer are highlighted in red.

Luckily for Gators fans, with fall practice officially opening on Friday and the 2013 college season exactly one month away, the offseason is now over.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

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Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young resigns

After serving two years as assistant defensive line coach for the Florida Gators, former 14-year NFL veteran Bryant Young has decided to resign from his post with the team.

Florida announced Young’s resignation on Wednesday afternoon, noting that he is stepping away from the program “for non-football reasons.”

“After heavy consideration and giving over two decades to the game of football, I have made a personal decision to resign from my position at the University of Florida in order to pursue more time with my family,” Young said in a school release.

“I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity I have had to positively influence the hardworking student-athletes and young men whom I will surely miss,” he continued.

“However, I have come to the realization that it is time to invest more in my family during this fleeting season in life. I have truly loved my time being a Gator, enjoyed a great working relationship with Coach [Will] Muschamp and will also miss the dedicated staff at this University. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and support I have received from Coach Muschamp, Jeremy Foley and the entire athletic department.”

Young was a member of Muschamp’s original coaching staff and served as a defensive line coach (specializing on defensive tackles) alongside then-defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn left to become defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks after the 2012 season and now Young has decided to move on as well.

“We are very thankful for Coach Young’s contributions to the program and I respect his decision. This is strictly a personal decision and has nothing to do with NCAA compliance, but just an opportunity to evaluate his future path,” Muschamp said. “I always have, and will continue to be very supportive of Coach Young and his family. Our entire staff will be there for him to provide any assistance and guidance in the future. We wish he and his family nothing but the best.”

Young spent all 14 of his NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he was coached by Quinn. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, four-time NFL All-Pro, Super Bowl XXIX champion and the league’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1999.

It is unlikely that the Gators hire a replacement for Young as Muschamp brought in Brad Lawing as the team’s new assistant head coach and defensive line coach in January. However, Florida does now have a coaching spot open on the roster. Muschamp could hire someone to coordinate special teams as those duties are currently being handled by the coaching staff as a whole.

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FOUR BITS: Uniforms, Elam, Young, Hargreaves

1 » Likely spurred by a picture posted by a 2013 commitment that spread around the internet and OGGOA‘s sourced report on Tuesday, the Florida Gators confirmed Wednesday that the team will indeed be wearing slightly different uniforms for the 2013 season. As described by the school’s website, Florida will be wearing a new style of Nike jerseys that are made of a more breathable fabric, only being used by select schools and “could also be used in the NFL one day.” The Gators will debut them in the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut on April 6. Florida also confirmed, as OGGOA reported Tuesday, that “the fonts for the numbers have changed to reflect the font used in UF’s official athletics brand identity” and that the sides of the jerseys are now mesh to increase “breathability to help reduce heat.” The main part of the jersey number (white) is thicker with the colored lining around it slightly smaller.

2 » Gators safety Matt Elam and kicker Caleb Sturgis will both be competing in the 2013 Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge. The event, which is being held for the 15th year in a row, features five separate skills competitions and a total of 20 participants (four in each individual event). Elam will compete in the Skechers GoRun Hands Competition against Texas S Kenny Vaccario, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and USC WR Robert Woods. Sturgis will look to outlast FSU’s Dustin Hopkins, Nebraska’s Brent Maher and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer in the Speed Kick. The All-Star Football Challenge was held on Tuesday but will not be aired until Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. Encore showings will air on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. (ESPN2), Feb. 17 at noon (ESPN2) and April 14 at 4 p.m. (ESPN).

3 » So much for Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young possibly joining defensive coordinator Dan Quinn with the Seattle Seahawks. Shortly after the defensive line coach position became available in Seattle, Quinn and head coach Pete Carroll filled it with New Orleans assistant DL coach Travis Jones on Tuesday. As it turns out, Jones was on the same Miami coaching staff with Quinn and Gators head coach Will Muschamp. Also like Muschamp, he is a Georgia graduate.

4 » With National Signing Day just over a week away, Gators five-star defensive back commit Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL) sat down with the Tampa Bay Times and detailed his entire recruitment, noting how certain teams pitched him and why it was difficult to ultimately make his decision with so many options in front of him. Hargreaves talks about everything from the intimidation of Alabama’s Nick Saban to why he was turned off to the idea of attending Ohio State.

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