Machen for SI: grayshirting is “reprehensible”

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, published in a feature piece for SI.com, calls offering grayshirts to student-athletes “reprehensible” and says taking away a scholarship from a player is “disgusting” and a “nefarious practice.”

Imagine the feeling if the student finds out, literally a few months before enrolling, that the institution is backing out of the contract. It is too late in the summer to go back to one’s second choice. The student is told he will have to wait until next year. Sorry, but no acceptance, no scholarship. That’s it.

In Division I college football this practice is known as “grayshirting” and, unfortunately, there are universities that sanction this activity. The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have. These schools play roulette with the lives of talented young people. If they run out of scholarships, too bad. The letter-of-intent signed by the university the previous February is voided. Technically, it’s legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.

What makes Machen’s comments particularly interesting are two stories that have come out over the last two recruiting cycles involving Florida Gators either offering or at the very least discussing grayshirts with high school players.

Rivals reported in Jan. 2010 that the Gators proposed the use of a grayshirt to three-star tight end recruit Michael McFarland, noting that he would not likely be strong enough to compete in the Southeastern Conference at his current build.

“When I went up there they threw out on the table the whole grayshirt thing,” McFarland said. “There have been times I wanted to do it and there were times I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to get up there and go play. […] They didn’t say they were going to do it but they gave me the option.”

Florida decided the move was not necessary; McFarland joined UF in the fall.

This year, four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels have noted that former Gators head coach Urban Meyer offered Brissett the opportunity to grayshirt, a move the player scoffed at.

It is important to note that there is a serious distinction between a team offering a grayshirt before a player has signed a National Letter of Intent and a team delaying or pulling a scholarship after that process is concluded. Machen is discussing the latter.

Entering into an agreement with a student-athlete that he or she will wait a year if they wish to play at a particular university where the player knows of the intentions and agrees to the move ahead of time is quite different than locking that player up and forcing him or her to abide by your decision after the fact.

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FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

1 » On Tuesday, OGGOA tweeted a picture of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow handing a football off to a kid that got some of our female followers pretty riled up. It appears that picture was taken from a Broncos Bunch kids club event that Tebow participated in over the weekend. The Denver Broncos rookie threw passes to and took pictures with a bunch of children – not all of whom were Broncos fans. “Gator nation really is everywhere,” Tebow told CBS4 in Denver, CO. “It’s great to be out here and to play with these kids, to meet the parents and just be here in the stadium. It really is humbling to have people supporting me and to have fans. It really does mean a lot. […] It’s just an opportunity to come out here, throw balls, take some pictures, hang out with people, get a chance to make a kid smile or a family smile and – it’s more important than winning games, when you really look at it.”

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Three more BITS on the futures of Udonis Haslem, David Nelson and Demar Dorsey.
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

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FOUR BITS: UM recruit blasts UF; Demar Dorsey

1 » Speaking about the Florida Gators coaching staff to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Miami Hurricanes three-star freshman linebacker Kevin Nelson (Gainesville, FL) decided to rip his hometown team. “Grimy, two-faced and disrespectful,” Nelson called the coaches. He also accused them of what some might call dirty recruiting by saying the coaches told him that “Miami hasn’t won any ACC championship[s] since going to the ACC, and that [head coach] Randy Shannon is going to leave after this year, and that I might not get any playing time.” Nelson claims he rejected an offer from Florida (many believe it was pulled), but also says he has always been a Miami fan.

2 » Canes three-star freshman cornerback Devont’a Davis (Gainesville, FL) added that the Gators disrespected him because they did not extend an offer to him – a hometown player and fan of the team. “It offended me that they didn’t make an offer because I’m the best cornerback in Florida and live down the street,” he said. This follows-up what he told Rivals on Sept. 21. “I’m real disappointed in Florida,” Nelson said of not having an offer at the time. “They didn’t even invite me to the Tennessee game, so that was very disappointing to me. So even if they do offer me, I’m out.”

3 » A former Florida commitment, five-star safety Demar Dorsey left the program just before National Signing Day, though the specifics of that split are still hazy. Dorsey claimed he decommitted, but it is widely believed that the Gators stopped recruiting him due to a variety of concerns (juvenile arrests) not including academics. He was expected to sign with either the Florida State Seminoles or Michigan Wolverines and eventually chose the latter. New reports out of Ann Arbour, MI, state Dorsey is out as a member of the incoming class even though he qualified academically with the NCAA. ESPN called him “in limbo.” Dorsey would have the choice to go to another program with an open scholarship (the Seminoles are rumored) or sign with a junior college.

4 » Former Florida guard Orien Greene has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for tamping with urine samples he submitted for a drug test while playing professional basketball in Amsterdam. Greene allegedly used another person’s urine when providing his sample. However, he only has a year of suspension remaining because he was initially suspended on March 12, 2009. Greene started his college career with the Gators before transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette. He played for Sacramento, Indiana and Boston in the NBA before playing in Europe.

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Ten recruits to watch on National Signing Day

National Signing Day is approaching on Feb. 3, and the Florida Gators are looking to add to their consensus No. 1-ranked 2010 recruiting class. Seeing as high school football players across the country will begin making declarations as early as Friday afternoon, OGGOA has put together a comprehensive preview of the recruits the Gators are still attempting to gain commitments from. The top 10 players who Florida is after are listed below along with a short prediction at the end.

OT Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, MN)
Rivals: No. 2 – ESPNU: No. 8
Also considering: Ohio State, Southern California, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Miami (FL)

His high school is a pipeline to Notre Dame, his last visit is to Miami, he’s been (reportedly) favoring Ohio State for quite some time, he’s from Minnesota and USC has been in his ear lately making a big push. Florida is considered a long-shot to land Henderson, one of the top overall recruits in the country and the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman.

Learn about the other nine recruits who you should keep an eye on after the jump!
Continue Reading » Ten recruits to watch on National Signing Day

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SIX BITS: McFarland, Tyus, Brewer, Tebow

1 » In the immediate aftermath of dropping four-star safety Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL), the Florida Gators contacted three-star tight end commitment Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) and informed him that they no longer need him to grayshirt for the 2010 season as an additional scholarship has opened up. Instead, assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney told McFarland that the Gators want him to enroll with the rest of his 2010 class. OGGOA believes McFarland will likely redshirt his first season.

2 » Freshman guard Kenny Boynton has the star power, sophomore point guard Erving Walker is hitting daggers from downtown, junior forward Chandler Parsons is nailing remarkable buzzer-beating game-winners and junior transfer center Vernon Macklin brings the size…so what exactly is junior F Alex Tyus’ role? Tyus is, simply put, the most consistent player on the team. He has scored double figures in 11 straight games with 15+ points in six of those contests all while being a terror in the paint and averaging almost eight rebounds per game. Through the ups and downs of the season, Tyus has been the constant either keeping the Gators in games or helping them pull off routs. He’s even been hitting three-pointers. “I feel like I’m understanding my role a little more,” Tyus told Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun. “I’m more comfortable.” If Tyus continues playing at this level, a triumvirate of himself, Boynton and Walker could very well propel Florida to its first March Madness birth in three seasons.

Four more BITS on Corey Brewer, Tim Tebow and more after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: McFarland, Tyus, Brewer, Tebow

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Demar Dorsey no longer being recruited by Gators

Rivals is reporting that four-star safety recruit Demar Dorsey is no longer being recruited by the Florida Gators and, therefore, is free to give his commitment to another program. Mark Wheeler was told Florida informed Dorsey that they were no longer interested in having him as a part of the 2010 recruiting class.

Whether or not this is how this particular situation went down remains to be seen. Reports surfaced Monday evening claiming that Dorsey had decommitted from the Gators and agreed to play for the Florida State Seminoles after visiting the Tallahassee, FL, campus last weekend. He openly wavered with his commitment throughout the process but, as recently as last week, proclaimed that he was 90-95 percent solid to the Gators – the highest percentage he had given them over the last year.

Speaking with Wheeler Tuesday night, Dorsey said he was “50-50 right now” and “up in the air” because of the great experience he had on his visit. He also mentioned that Florida had not scheduled an in-home visit with him. Some sources mentioned that the Gators were going to attempt and visit with Dorsey either Tuesday or Wednesday but apparently those plans were canceled or never existed in the first place.

Though he is considered a heavy Florida State lean, Dorsey will travel West to visit the USC Trojans this weekend and may not make up his mind until National Signing Day on Feb. 3. There were questions about his ability to academically qualify for admission to Florida; whether or not that factored in this decision is not presently known.

Expect the Gators to make an even stronger push for three-star athlete Jeremy Deering (Tampa, FL), who is said to be leaning toward Florida State but may be swayed into changing his mind if Dorsey does indeed sign there on Feb. 3. Deering was originally offered a scholarship after five-star safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) decommitted three weeks ago but before he eventually re-committed to Florida.

Photo Credit: Rivals

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UPDATE: Dorsey clarifies commitment status

UPDATE: Demar Dorsey no longer being recruited by Gators

Though he claims that he has not officially decommitted from the Florida Gators, four-star safety Demar Dorsey told Mark Wheeler of Rivals Tuesday that he is no longer as confident in his commitment as he was just one week ago.

Claiming he was 90-95 percent committed to the Gators last week, Dorsey said that he is “50-50 right now” and “up in the air” after having a great experience on his visit with the Florida State Seminoles last weekend. He will travel West to visit the USC Trojans this weekend and may not make up his mind until National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

Dorsey added that Florida has not scheduled an in-home visit with him before the dark period begins next Monday; however, some sources believe that the Gators could be meeting with him Tuesday night. UF may not want to wait for Dorsey’s decision next Wednesday, especially if coaches do not get an opportunity to speak with him sooner.

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