SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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Patriots set to sign Gators QB Tim Tebow

Just over one month after being waived by the New York Jets, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has found a home with the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents and personality. According to multiple media reports, Tebow will sign with the New England Patriots on Monday and be in uniform for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

The Patriots are acquiring Tebow as a quarterback, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, and have already waived third-stringer Mike Kafka in order to bring the former Heisman Trophy winner into the fold. New England had previously looked to trade back-up signal caller Ryan Mallett, who just happens to wear Tebow’s No. 15, earlier in the offseason.

Joining the Patriots, Tebow reunites with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

“The thing that really makes this unique and gives it real potential is the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels,” Werder reported Monday on SportsCenter. “He believes he has the ability to teach mechanics to quarterbacks. He was undergoing that process with Tebow on a daily basis in Denver his rookie year.”

Ironically, a Yahoo! Sports report from May noted that New England head coach Bill Belichick “hated” Tebow as a football player. Four days ago, Belichick emphatically refuted that report to ESPNBoston.com.

“Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported,” he said.

In fact, Werder explained on SportsCenter that this move had been discussed by the two parties and under consideration for a long time.

“One of the things the Patriots wanted to see before they agreed to do this deal with Tebow was they wanted to see him maintain a low-key presence throughout the offseason. And to the extend he could control that, he certainly delivered on it.”

Tebow barely contributed to the Jets in 2012, seeing the field in just 12 games and rarely playing on offense. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards and took 32 carries for 102 yards, never once finding the end zone.

OGGOA RELATED: The Silver Lining – Tim Tebow’s release is an opportunity

One year earlier, as a mid-season replacement at quarterback for the Broncos, Tebow set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14.

Tebow also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. He went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns and carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score in that game.

Tebow joins former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham with the Patriots. All four were key players in Florida winning the 2008 national title.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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New York Jets finally release QB Tim Tebow

The New York Jets have finally waived quarterback Tim Tebow.

Just over 13 months after sending a fourth- and sixth-round draft selection (along with $2.53 million of a salary advance) to the Denver Broncos for Tebow’s services, the Jets have officially to cut him loose for no return.

Tebow was completely ineffective during his one year in New York, carrying the ball 32 times for 102 yards and completing 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards in the 12 games in which he saw action. However, his inability to serve as a playmaker for the Jets was hampered both by offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s lack of creativity and head coach Rex Ryan’s continuously diminishing trust for the former Florida Gators signal caller.

“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” said Ryan in a team release. “Things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”

Once it became apparent that New York did not see Tebow in its future, the team ruined any opportunity it had to trade him and receive some value back for the player by making it well known that he was not in the Jets’ plans going forward.

Multiple reports of him being cut at the start of free agency on March 13 surfaced and no team in the league had a desire to part with any form of compensation for a player it could theoretically get for free.

That is now a possibility, though it may be unlikely.

New York did Tebow no favors by waiting to the conclusion of this year’s draft to cut him. Aside from undrafted free agents being added to fill out rosters, most teams have their starting quarterback and reserves in place. There are fewer open roster spots now than have been all offseason.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on the air Monday that the Jets had granted Tebow permission to seek a trade in the offseason, but he refused to discuss the possibility of moving to tight end, an offer supposedly made by a number of franchises.

Tebow has been working all offseason to improve his throwing motion in hopes that a franchise gives him the opportunity to compete as a reserve. His quarterback coaches – and supposedly bystanders like Steve Young – have been impressed with the improvement he has made.

Tebow originally chose to play for New York rather than play for his hometown team, Jacksonville, which made a trade offer that Denver also would have accepted. He, his agent and his family decided that he would have a better opportunity to see the field and succeed with the Jets.

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Six Gators sign 2013 undrafted free agent deals

Former Florida Gators linebacker Lerentee McCray, defensive tackle Omar Hunter, defensive end Earl Okine, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon and wide receivers Omarius Hines and Frankie Hammond, Jr. each signed undrafted free agent contracts minutes after the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft on Saturday.

McCray, who was expected to be selected on the third day of the draft, wound up agreeing to a deal with the Denver Broncos. Nixon’s stock dropped immensely during the draft process, but he got inked by the Washington Redskins. Hines was snatched up by the Baltimore Ravens. Neither Hunter nor Okine nor Hammond were expected to be drafted, but the three signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

McCray will be the second former Gators player on the Broncos as wide receiver Andre Caldwell is currently signed by the team. Nixon joins quarterback Rex Grossman, guard Maurice Hurt and tight end Jordan Reed (third round, No. 85 overall) on the Redskins. Hines will see familiar faces in safety Matt Elam (first round, No. 32 overall) and WR Deonte Thompson with the Ravens. Hunter links up with center Maurkice Pouncey and G Marcus Gilbert on the Steelers.

Offensive linemen James Wilson and Sam Robey remain unsigned as of press time.

Some of the undrafted free agent signings were first reported by InsidetheGators.com‘s Bryan Holt, Florida Today‘s David Jones and Gainesville TV20‘s Kassidy Hill.

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

Through the 2013 NFL Draft from April 25-27, Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s seventh entry covers his last two weeks, which included numerous workouts and meetings with NFL teams. There are only two more entries upcoming.

Last time we touched base was before I started taking private meetings with teams. The only team I had met with at that time was the New England Patriots and that happened at The Swamp. There was a meeting scheduled two weekends ago between myself and [safeties coach] Brian Flores where he was going to come down to Brooklyn, NY to meet with me but it never really materialized. We had an interview over the phone instead, and he told me that Coach [Bill] Belichick liked me and was going to watch even more film on me. They said they liked my film, liked how I played and that I was a guy they could see being a part of their organization.

That following Monday, I flew out to meet with the Cleveland Browns. It went great. I got a chance to see Joe Haden, and it is always good to see a former teammate in the NFL. He said he put in a good word for me and told the coaching staff that I was a good football player who never had off-the-field issues and could come in and contribute.

The coaching staff was really cool, very down to earth. It’s a whole new staff so they’re running a brand new scheme on both sides of the ball. I definitely felt a connection there with them as far as the defensive backs coach [Louie Cioffi], the head coach [Rob Chudzinski] and the defensive coordinator [Ray Horton], even the special teams coach [Chris Tabor]. They all showed a lot of love and interest in me, and I enjoyed myself.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

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SIX BITS: George, Bostic, Demps, Tebow, Caldwell

Aside from a story specifically about the events that took place on Monday, OGGOA chose to refrain from posting new material out of respect for those in Boston, MA. Below are six stories from Monday that we did not cover at the time.

1 » Senior forward Jennifer George was chosen with the No. 33 overall pick in the third round of the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever on Monday, becoming the first Florida Gators women’s basketball to be selected in the event since Sha Brooks in 2009. George is the 17th Florida player to ever be picked in the WNBA Draft and joins an Indiana team that concluded the 2012 season by winning the league title. She will not, however, be the only former member of the Gators to be a part of the Fever as former Florida head coach Mickie DeMoss is currently serving as an assistant coach.

2 » Could senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic be the third Florida player selected in next week’s 2013 NFL Draft. According to veteran analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, Bostic – who is widely expected to be a third-round selection – may be drafted even higher. “In recent conversations, I’ve been told it’s a distinct possibility he could slip into the late part of the second frame,” Pauline writes. “Teams like the fact that Bostic is a three-down defender and offers the potential of being a day-one starter.”

3 » After informing the New England Patriots that he had decided to return to the track but also hoped to continue his football career – a move that would involve missing much of training camp and perhaps even a few early-season games – running back Jeff Demps was thought to be a goner from the organization. And while that may very well wind up being the case, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that another option may be on the table – a trade. Demps’s agent Daniel Rose told Howe that the Patriots have discussed a possibility, which is not much of a surprise considering New England’s propensity for making deals (especially around draft time).

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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Urban Meyer on Tim Tebow: “I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl.”

Tim Tebow detractors appear to be multiplying by the day, but his former head coach with the Florida Gators is most certainly not one of them.

In an interview with WOCA 1730 AM on Wednesday, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said that he still maintains a strong relationship with the New York Jets quarterback and believes in his abilities on the football field just as much as he did when he was coaching him in Gainesville, FL.

“I think I’m like every Gator fan and anybody that just appreciates great people and great warriors. There’s got to be a team – it all comes down to one team believing in a human being or believing in an athlete or a player. I think I got the same feeling as most everybody that watched him and grew up with him,” he said.

“All they need is to let him get his foot in the door and he’s going to win games, and I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl. I still believe that, probably because I spent as much or more time with him as any other coach. I have that much confidence in him.”

Meyer went on to describe their relationship, saying he and Tebow still converse “very frequently, once a week probably” though they have not spoken in the last few weeks.

The coach and former pupil went to lunch a few months ago when Meyer was in New Jersey recruiting the Tri-State Area. He felt Tebow was still in good spirits despite being traded from the Denver Broncos following the 2011 season and barely stepping foot on the field with the Jets in 2012.

“He’s a positive guy. He wants to win. He’s a winner. He’s always won. This losing thing doesn’t really sit well with him,” Meyer said. “He wants to be on a team that’s…he believes New York is committed to win. He has a lot of respect from Coach [Rex] Ryan. He’s a guy that’s pretty positive all the time, but I could see there was a little bit of worry in his face, concern.”

Recent word nationally (and out of New York) is that the Jets tried to find a trading partner for Tebow at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. If New York is unable to trade Tebow – a likely scenario because team sources have already let it be known that the player will be cut if a trade partner is not found – he is expected to be released when free agency begins in early March.

As far as Meyer is concerned, NFL teams should definitely be interested in Tebow as long as they are willing to give him a legitimate opportunity to succeed.

“You put Tim Tebow on a team with great players, he’s going to be a great quarterback,” Meyer said.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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SIX BITS: Muschamp, Young, Valentine, Tebow

1 » It appears as if Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and members of his coaching staff recently met with Luther Campbell, the former frontman of 2 Live Crew known as Uncle Luke. Campbell, who has a strong and long-time association with the Miami Hurricanes, is a known pornographer, hosts a Miami radio show, writes a column for the Miami New Times and recently ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County. He is also the defensive coordinator at Miami Northwestern High School.

2 » Could Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young be on his way to the Seattle Seahawks to join defensive coordinator Dan Quinn? It is all speculation at this point, but Seattle did just lose defensive line coach Todd Wash to Jacksonville and Quinn may very well wish to bring Young along for the ride and his first NFL coaching job. The Gators recently hired Brad Lawing as assistant head coach and defensive line coach (with a focus on the defensive ends) rather than promoting Young from assistant defensive line coach (with a focus on defensive tackles) to the full role. Young has received overwhelmingly positive reviews as a coach and recruiter over his two years at Florida. He is not yet signed for 2013 but is on a one-year renewable contract.

Read four more BITS in this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Muschamp, Young, Valentine, Tebow

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