The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 27

Florida basketball staff reloads

Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan knew for a while that he would have two staffers leaving the program this offseason, and it all became a reality last week when assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault and video coordinator Oliver Winterbone both departed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.

Daigneault was hired as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66ers, while Winterbone accepted a basketball information analyst position with Oklahoma City’s front office. (The 66ers are moving from Tulsa to Oklahoma City this season.)

Donovan did not wait long to fill the staffing holes and keep his machine running.

On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Donovan will hire veteran assistant coach Billy Schmidt to fill the off-court assistant position vacated by Daigneault.

Schmidt has spent the last 11 seasons coaching under Brian Gregory including eight at Dayton and the last three at Georgia Tech. He was Gregory’s first hire, joining the Flyers after spending nine seasons coaching in major conferences. Schmidt’s journey began as a manager with Wake Forest (1988-92) but continued with stops at Tennessee (1994-97), Northwestern (1997-2000) and under Tommy Amaker both at Seton Hall (2000) and Michigan (2001-03).

OnlyGators.com learned Monday evening that Donovan has also desired to hire Peter Gash to replace Winterbone as video coordinator.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 27

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FOUR BITS: Prather, Gillislee, Bonner, Wuerffel

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Casey Prather has been given a second chance at latching on with an NBA team after agreeing to join the Phoenix Suns in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Phoenix currently has 13 guaranteed contracts on its roster as well as one open roster spot. Prather will be competing with veteran center Earl Barron for that job. After spending the month of July playing for the Atlanta Hawks during NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Nevada, Prather was not retained or signed by another team. He averaged 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.

Both of Prather’s fellow undrafted teammates out of Florida, C Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin, have landed professional contracts. Young signed a two-year, $1.35 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, while Wilbekin inked a deal with the Cairns Taipans of the Australian Basketball League.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Prather, Gillislee, Bonner, Wuerffel

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FOUR BITS: Spurrier and Wuerffel, Elam, Francis

1 » Former Florida Gators head coach Steve Spurrier spoke with Yahoo! Sports’ The Postgame recently about former quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who he called “special” and a “perfect team player.” Spurrier discusses his recruitment of Wuerffel, the player’s success at Florida and the 1996 season. Check out the entire feature by clicking here.

2 » A pair of former Gators now playing in the NFL will be playing against their favorite team growing up this weekend when Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam and wide receiver Deonte Thompson head south to take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m. “Playing in front of my family will be exciting,” Elam told The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “I can’t wait. It should be a lot of fun.” Elam and Thompson will also get the opportunity to visit with a number of Florida teammates as the Dolphins have four Gators on their roster including center Mike Pouncey, kicker Caleb Sturgis, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and running back Mike Gillislee.

3 » Florida has basketball commitments all the way out until 2016 at this time, but the best of the bunch thus far is four-star 2014 guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL), a native of the Dominican Republic and one of the top 25 players in the nation, according to Rivals. Below is a recent video of Francis at the 2014 Adidas Invitational.

4 » UF freshman gymnast Silvia Colussi-Pelaez competed as part of the Spanish National Team as an all-arounder at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium this week. She did not come away with a medal but perhaps something that was even more of an honor. “I did a sideways aerial on the beam and I did the skill well so technically it is named after me, so that is exciting,” she said, according to the school’s website. “I was pretty focused on hitting that skill well.” Gators gymnastics does not begin competing as a team until Jan. 11, when it will look to defend its first NCAA national title in school history.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Wuerffel, Winslow, Culpepper

1 » Offers are coming in fast and furious for quarterback Tim Tebow – just not from NFL teams. Last week an AFL team, the L.A. KISS, offered Tebow a three-year contract that could be “worth millions” Yes, the KISS are owned by the band of the same name. No, Tebow will not be playing there. Also an unlikely destination for Tebow is Russia, though he did receive an offer of $1 million to play two games with the Moscow Black Storm. “We have offered him $1 million for two games,” team owner Mikhail Zaitsman told Russia Beyond the Headlines. “I talked with him personally and he wanted to go.” Well, yes and no. “[Tebow’s agents are] thinking of using him as a motivational speaker. They don’t want him to play football,” Zaitsman admitted.

What Tebow has actually been doing as of late is working out in Southern California. He first spotted outside a USC gym on Sept. 10 and was then captured on film throwing on a baseball field just days later. Videos at the bottom of this post. A friend of OnlyGators.com spotted Tebow at a Los Angeles, CA, restaurant Wednesday evening. Tebow has not spoken with the media since being released.

2 » The Florida Gators officially announced Thursday that former quarterback Danny Wuerffel will serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits ahead of Saturday’s game against the Tennessee Volunteers. Wuerffel, who OnlyGators.com first reported will be honored at the game for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, is the second former player to serve in this role after running back Errict Rhett did fantastic job prior to the season opener against Toledo. Check out OnlyGators.com’s interview with Wuerffel from Aug. 29 and conversation with Rhett following his performance.

UF writer Scott Carter spoke with the real and original Mr. Two Bits, George Edmonson, who said he approves of the new tradition. “That’s great,” he said. “I was pleased to hear about it. They wanted to check with me before they did it and I told them I think that’s a great idea. I feel honored that some of these celebrities would portray me out there on the field before the game.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Wuerffel, Winslow, Culpepper

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QB Danny Wuerffel discusses hall of fame, disease, Florida football and New Orleans

Former Florida Gators quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013 on Dec. 10 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, NY.

Wuerffel, who was first up for induction in 2012 but not chosen on his first ballot, is the seventh Florida player and 10th representative of the Gators (three coaches) to earn induction into the prestigious group. He joins defensive end Dale Van Sickel (1975), QB Steve Spurrier (1986), DE Jack Youngblood (1992), running back Emmitt Smith (2006), linebacker Wilber Marshall (2008) and wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (2011) as players in the career-defining club. Coaches Charlie Bachman (1978), Ray Graves (1990) and Doug Dickey (2003) are also members.

The winner of seven awards in 1996, the Davey O’Brien Award in 1995, two SEC Player of the Year honors and two first-team All-American nods, Wuerffel threw for an astounding 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns in his four-year career at Florida, both of which remain school records. He also led the Gators to the program’s first national championship and four-straight SEC titles.

In 1995, his efficiency rating of 178.4 set a single-season collegiate record. In his Heisman year of 1996, Wuerffel led the nation with an SEC-record 39 touchdowns while setting another SEC record with 3,625 yards and registering a 170.6 efficiency rating, making him the first quarterback to ever post a rating of 170+ in consecutive seasons.

At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Wuerffel held four national records, 12 conference records and 32 school records.

He was enshrined in the Gators’ Ring of Honor in 2006 and is also immortalized in a bronze statue outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

In a recent interview with OnlyGators.com, he revealed that he will return to The Swamp on Sept. 21 for the Tennessee game as he will be honored on the field for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Now the executive director of Desire Street Ministries, which works to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development, and on his way to a full recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease that he was first stricken with in 2011, Wuerffel discussed his illness, Florida football and more in a 30-minute exclusive conversation earlier this month.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: It has been a while since we last spoke. Let’s hear some good news about your recovery and how are you feeling these days.
DANNY WUERFFEL: “I’m happy to report that I’m feeling very blessed and fortunate. I think I’m probably in the 90-95 percent range from where I was before. Actually, Guillain-Barre is usually something that comes, attacks your body and then you get over it to whatever degree you recover. Rarely do you have ongoing symptoms or another bout with it. In the world of difficult health issues, this is often one of the kinder ones to struggle through because I know a lot of friends that have ongoing, chronic struggles that really have no end in sight. So I feel very fortunate.”

Continue Reading » QB Danny Wuerffel discusses hall of fame, disease, Florida football and New Orleans

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

From time to time, OGGOA 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.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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SIX BITS: WNBA, Parsons, Dunlap, Starks, Wuerffel

1 » The 2013 WNBA season opens this week with two former Florida Gators players and two more former coaches spread across the league. Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones will be entering her 15th season as a professional but first with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Guard Aneika Henry joins the Atlanta Dream for her second season after averaging 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting .468 as a rookie in 2012. Former Florida head coach Carol Ross returns to the same position with the Los Angeles Sparks, and former Gators head coach Mickie DeMoss comes back as an assistant with the Indiana Fever. Gators center Jennifer George, who was selected in the third round of the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Fever, is not on the team’s roster.

2 » Second-year Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons was asked to prom by a high schooler named Stephanie Flores in May. Though he had to decline her invitation as he was not in Houston, TX at the time, Parsons ensured that the student and her friends had a great time. He and the Rockets sent a party bus to escort Flores and her friends to and from the event, leading her to take the picture below.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: WNBA, Parsons, Dunlap, Starks, Wuerffel

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Florida quarterback, Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel named to College Football Hall of Fame

Former Florida Gators quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013 on Dec. 10 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, NY.

Wuerffel, who was first up for induction in 2012 but not chosen on his first ballot, is the seventh Florida player and 10th representative of the Gators (three coaches) to earn induction into the prestigious group. He joins defensive end Dale Van Sickel (1975), QB Steve Spurrier (1986), DE Jack Youngblood (1992), running back Emmitt Smith (2006), linebacker Wilber Marshall (2008) and wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (2011) as players in the career-defining club. Coaches Charlie Bachman (1978), Ray Graves (1990) and Doug Dickey (2003) are also members.

“This is a great honor and I’m very thankful to the Foundation for giving me this award,” said Wuerffel. “But I want to also thank my teammates and Gator fans at the University of Florida who were a big part of the great years I had there.”

Continue Reading » Florida quarterback, Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel named to College Football Hall of Fame

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