FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Charity Challenge, band

1 » St. Louis Rams second-round draft choice, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, remained unsigned as of Wednesday, and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole explained that there is “one major hurdle to clear” before the process can be completed. “The Rams…[are] asking for safeguards in Jenkins’s rookie contract,” Cole reports. “According to two sources close to the situation, the Rams have proposed a deal to Jenkins’s agent Malik Shareef that features the signing bonus being split into four equal parts over the course of the contract – protection against Jenkins not panning out with the club.” He goes on to note that Shareef has declined the deal ($5 million total, $2 million signing bonus) because “according to sources, Shareef is concerned about how he will be viewed by other potential clients (and how he’ll be criticized by other agents) for taking such a deal.” Sources close to the team also told Cole that the Rams will give Jenkins interest in the held over money and that St. Louis eventually expects to consummate the deal.

2 » A Florida Gators spokesman on Thursday confirmed to OGGOA that the team will no longer be holding the annual Gator Charity Challenge (which was put on four-straight years including last year on July 29) but plans to replace it with another event in the future. “Although the Florida football program will not host the Charity Challenge event this fall, the program remains committed to charity work and serving the community through the efforts of the Goodwill Gators initiative,” Florida explained. “The Goodwill Gators program is active year-round and allows UF student-athletes to build a strong relationship with the Gainesville community. The football staff is also looking into alternative events for future years in place of the Charity Challenge. Student-athletes on the football team volunteered a total of 475 hours of community service during the 2011-12 year, working with 8 schools, 12 non-profit organizations and 3 civic organizations. Since the new coaching staff took over in January of 2011, the football program has tallied 778 hours of community service to date working with 37 unique entities, including 14 schools, 18 non-profit organizations and 5 civic organizations. Every football student-athlete volunteered during the 2011-12 year, highlighted by the St. Augustine Thanksgiving Food Distribution in which the entire team participated.”

3 » The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band is scheduled to leave Monday to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympics. According to UF’s itinerary for the event, the band (more than 230 members strong) will spend a full week in London, hold three performances (including one just before the Opening Ceremony) and take in plenty of sights and sounds. “The Gators have been raising funds and working intensely to make this dream a reality for six months, and for many it is the pinnacle of their performance career to date,” said Jay Watkins, associate director of bands. “The band is deeply honored by the unique invitations they have received.”

4 » Four-star defensive tackle and Gators 2012 commit Dante Phillips (Venice, FL) has found a new home after the admissions board at UF denied his enrollment this summer. Phillips on Wednesday announced that he signed his scholarship papers to play for Tennessee, meaning he will be going head-to-head with Florida each season.

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Phillips denied, Fowler accepted, Bullard in limbo

Four-star incoming defensive tackle Dante Phillips (Venice, FL), a prominent member of the Florida Gators 2012 signing class, has been denied admission to the University of Florida and will no longer join the team.

The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu, who first reported the story Monday after speaking with Phillips’s stepfather Damon Wilson, notes that the decision is being appealed but Phillips does not expect to win and is now looking to play elsewhere.

“We were kind of blindsided,” Wilson told the Sun. “He did everything he needed to do to be cleared by the [NCAA] Clearinghouse, but now he’s been told he doesn’t have a scholarship to Florida. He’s been cleared by the NCAA. He’s academically eligible. But the admissions office says he can’t enroll at Florida.”

InsidetheGators.com’s Bryan Holt spoke with Phillips, who said both Miami and Ole Miss believe they can get him admitted since he has been cleared by the NCAA but did not meet UF’s admission standards.

Phillips, who committed to the Gators back on Oct. 25, 2010, was ranked as the No. 120 player in the nation and No. 9 at his position by Rivals as well as the No. 110 player in the country and No. 12 at his position by ESPNU.

UPDATED (5 p.m.): Unfortunately for Florida, he is not the only 2012 commitment whose academic standing is currently in question. Five-stars Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL) and defensive end Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC) – two of the team’s three top-ranked recruits in the last cycle – are also having admissions issues though one of those was officially resolved on Monday.

Fowler was told that he would be admitted to UF as soon as official word came down from the NCAA that he had qualified. He had achieved the grades he needed to and learned Monday via a phone call from head coach Will Muschamp that he is good to go, according to Holt. Fowler will be on campus to enroll Tuesday.

Bullard’s situation remains in question and his status is not public at this time.

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Florida Gators 2012 National Signing Day bios

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEES

Willie Bailey • Safety
6-1 • 167
Hallandale, FL • Hallandale H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Three-star recruit…Attended Hallandale High School…Rated the No. 24 cornerback in the country by ESPN…Selected as the No. 77 high school player in the state of Florida by Rivals.com…Selected to the AP Class 5A All-State Second Team as a defensive back…Talented defensive back with good size…Led Hallandale to a 6-4 record as a senior…Chose Florida over Miami, North Carolina and USF…Coached by Dameon Jones.

Jessamen Dunker • Offensive Line
6-4 • 320
Boynton Beach, FL • Boynton Beach Community H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Consensus four-star recruit…Selected as the No. 46 recruit in the ESPN 150…Ranked the No. 4 offensive guard in the country by ESPN…Listed as the No. 20 recruit in the state of Florida by Rivals.com…Named a PARADE High School All-American and 2011 Under Armour All-American…Named to the Press-Register’s 120 List…Selected to play in the 2011 FACA All-State Game…Selected to the AP Class 5A All-State First Team…Transferred to Boynton Beach High School as a junior after moving to Florida from Georgia…Did not play football until his junior year of high school…Began playing football as a high school junior…Chose Florida over Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Baylor, Florida State and Notre Dame…Coached by Rick Swain.

D.J. Humphries • Offensive Line
6-6 • 271
Charlotte, NC • Mallard Creek H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A consensus five-star and top-20 recruit…Rated as the No. 2 prospect by Rivals.com, the No. 7 prospect by ESPN and the No. 11 prospect by Scout.com…The No. 1 recruit out of the state of North Carolina according to Rivals.com…Named a first-team high school All-American by USA Today, ESPN, Rivals.com, MaxPreps and Sports Illustrated…Has started since his freshman season and hasn’t allowed a sack since his freshman season…Led Mallard Creek to a 13-1 record and berth in the NCHSAA Class 4AA State Semifinals…Mallard Creek finished No. 47 in the nation in the final POWERADE FAB 50 rankings…An AP All-State first team selection…Selected to participate in the 2012 U.S. Army All-America Bowl…Coached by Michael Palmieri…Father, D.J., played football at Presbyterian College and in the Arena Football League.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2012 National Signing Day bios

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Bullard picks Florida at Army All-American Bowl

Fourteen high school football players announced their college commitments during the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX, an all-star game filled with some of the most prominent players in the country. Five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC), four-star tight end Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) and four-star defensive tackle Dante Phillips (Venice, FL) were the Florida Gators commitments participating at the start of the game, but the team acquired one more as five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC) announced during the fourth quarter that he will be wearing orange and blue in 2012.

With a final three of Florida, Clemson and South Carolina, Bullard told Rivals.com last week that he had his decision made days ago but wanted to hold off until the bowl. He chose the school that makes him feel the most comfortable.

“It’s just where I feel home,” he said on Jan. 1. “Where I feel like I’ll have great coaching, which all three have great coaching. It’s where I fit in mostly. It was more than football at the end of the process or whatever. I feel like I picked the right school for me.”

Bullard explained at the time that head coach Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Bryant Young have all been spending plenty of time building relationships with him since they joined the staff.

“When Coach Muschamp first got the job he called me, maybe the next day, and he’s been recruiting me very hard himself,” Bullard said. “When the head coach recruits you real hard that’s gotta be a factor to you. They’ve also got Coach Young and Coach Quinn with NFL experience. Coach Young played in the NFL for a long time.”

Listed as the No. 20 player in the nation and third-best at his position by Rivals, Bullard is the Gators’ second highest ranked commitment this cycle behind Humphries (No. 3 overall). He had 13 sacks in 10 games as a senior this fall at Crest High School, where he was teammates with three-star safety Rhaheim Ledbetter (Boiling Springs, NC), who committed to Florida on July 15.

Bullard is considered a four-star prospect and the No. 83 player in the nation by ESPNU, which ranks Humphies as a five-star (No. 8). ESPNU also has Phillips (No. 112), Taylor (No. 147) and Ledbetter designated as four-star players.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army All-American Bowl

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JUCO DT Damien Jacobs picks the Gators, too

For the second time in four days the Florida Gators have received a commitment from a four-star JUCO defensive tackle, earning a pledge from Damien Jacobs (Scooba, MS) out of East Mississippi Community College on Wednesday.

“I just joined the Florida Gator Family!” he announced on Facebook.

A soft verbal commitment to Tennessee before changing his mind on junior college national signing day, Jacobs had recently taken visits to Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. He is considered the No. 10 JUCO player in the nation by Rivals.com and was previously a Florida State commitment as a three-star player in 2010.

Jacobs is graduating this semester and will join the Gators in January.

Florida also gained a pledge Sunday from Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA), a 6’3” 340-pound nose tackle who may also see some time on the Gators’ offensive line depending how he performs in practice once he arrives in Gainesville, FL.

Rivals.com ranks Salt as the No. 9 JUCO player in the country, and Florida expects him to join the team in May after he graduates from Mount San Antonio College.

Jacobs is the 18th player to commit to the Gators for 2012 and the fifth defensive lineman. He joins Salt, four-star Dante Phillips (Venice, FL) and three-stars Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) and Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA).

Florida announced Jacobs’s commitment Wednesday afternoon:

Jacobs, a defensive tackle from East Mississippi Community College, was a part of the team that won the 2011 NJCAA Football Championship Game over Arizona Western College. Listed at 6’4” and 310 pounds, he totaled 47 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 4 QB hurries, 2 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries this season for the Lions.

The following video contains a song with explicit lyrics.

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JUCO DT Visesio Salt commits to the Gators

Looking to add depth along the defensive line, the Florida Gators gained a verbal commitment Sunday from four-star JUCO defensive tackle Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA).

Nicknamed “Junior,” Salt confirmed his commitment to ESPN.com, which notes that he will be utilized as a nose tackle in part due to his 6’3” 340-pound frame. He can also play offensive guard and could be moved to that side of the ball depending how he performs in practice once he arrives in Gainesville, FL.

He is listed as the No. 9 JUCO player in the country, according to Rivals.com, and is expected to join Florida in May after graduating from Mount San Antonio College.

Salt is the 17th player to commit to the Gators for 2012 and the fourth defensive lineman. He joins four-star DT Dante Phillips (Venice, FL), three-star defensive end Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) and three-star DT Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA).

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Seven Gators placed in first Rivals250 for 2012

Released Tuesday afternoon, the first Rivals250 for the class of 2012 is filled with players verbally committed to play for the Florida Gators next season. Though only one Florida commit was in the company’s Rivals100 released on Monday, six more are considered to be in the top 250 recruits in the nation.

Below is a breakdown of where the Gators’ commits are ranked:

No. 49 – Jessamen Dunker, OT (Boynton Beach, FL)
At 6’6” and 315 lbs., Dunker is listed as the No. 12 overall offensive lineman in the class and the third-best in the state of Florida. He has already accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and is rated a 5.9/6.1*.

No. 122 – Mike Davis, RB (Stone Mountain, GA)
The second running back to commit for 2012, the 5’9” 192 lbs. Davis was given a 5.8/6.1 ranking by Rivals and is listed No. 12 at his position in the nation and No. 1 in the state of Georgia. He recently earned a Most Valuable Player award at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA.

No. 157 – Matt Jones, RB (Seffner, FL)
Florida’s first running back commit, the 6’2” 200 lbs. Jones was heavily recruited by the Gators and is listed as the 16th best rusher in the country. Rated 5.8/6.1, he is ranked as the No. 3 back in the state.

No. 197 – Colin Thompson, TE (Warminster, PA)
The top player at his position in Pennsylvania, Thompson is 6’5” 225 lbs., rated 5.8/6.1 and ranked as the No. 6 tight end in the nation. Florida’s most recent commitment, he has accepted an invitation to play in the Under Armour game. (No other tight end was ranked higher than No. 68 overall.)

No. 218 – Jeremi Powell, LB (Largo, FL)
A 5.8/6.1 rated player like his future teammates, Powell is ranked as the No. 24 overall linebacker in 2012 but No. 2 in the state of Florida. At 6’2″ and 200 lbs., he is the Gators’ only commitment at the position.

No. 225 – Dante Phillips, DT (Venice, FL)
The No. 17 defensive tackle prospect in the nation, Phillips is 6’6” and 268 lbs. and is becoming a force in the middle. He is also rated 5.8/6.1 and listed as the No. 2 player at his position in the state.

No. 240 – Latroy Pittman, WR (Citra, FL)
At 6’1” and 190 lbs., Pittman may not have the size of an elite prospect, but his 5.8/6.1 ranking puts him up there talent-wise. He is the 36th-ranked wide receiver in his class and No. 6 in the state of Florida.

Check out the entire Rivals250

*Rivals’s ranking system grades prospects from 6.1-4.9:

6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect

6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region’s top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player

4.9 Sleeper; no Rivals.com expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about

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