Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs began this week with 12 former Florida Gators spread out over eight teams.

Six former Gators were listed as active for Wild Card action with eight total players (on five of eight remaining teams) advancing to the Divisional round next weekend.

Below are game statistics for all six active Florida players that were capable of participating in the opening round of the playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Started | six receptions for 68 yards (targets: 8, long: 22) [team-highs], touchdown
» New Orleans eliminated Philadelphia with a 26-24 win on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

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Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

For the third time in an NFL career that has spanned as many full seasons, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been dismissed by the franchise to which he was under contract as the New England Patriots decided to release the former Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday as they were forced to cut 22 players in order to whittle their roster down to 53 players ahead of the 2013 season.

ESPN‘s Adam Schefter first reported Tebow’s release via Twitter.

It took one month after being waived by the New York Jets for Tebow to be signed by New England, the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents.

The Patriots acquired Tebow as a quarterback and waived Mike Kafka in order to bring him into the fold. In joining New England, he reunited 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.

But McDaniels’s desire to give him an opportunity and owner Robert Kraft’s affection for him as a person were simply not enough to keep Tebow on the 53-man roster.

In 2011, during his second year with the Broncos, Tebow was a mid-season replacement at starting quarterback and 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. He also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, going went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns while carrying the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score.

Continue Reading » Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

The 2013 NFL regular season is exactly one month away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5.

More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.

Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the second full week of training camp from July 28 to Aug. 4.

The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys squared off during the 2013 Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game, in Canton, OH, on Sunday night.

RB MIKE GILLISLEE*, Miami Dolphins: Seven carries for 21 yards (long: 9)
LB JELANI JENKINS*, Miami Dolphins: Two tackles
C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Started Hall of Fame Game
K CALEB STURGIS*, Miami Dolphins: Did not play – groin

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: Though cameras caught Tebow hauling in passes and protecting the ball in a drill last week, he will be nothing but a quarterback for the Patriots, according to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “He’s just practicing his open-field running,” McDaniels said. “We know Tim has a skill set that some of these other guys don’t possess in terms of ability to run with it, scramble with it when he has it in his hands. … He’s put in a lot of time and effort to improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback in our offense, and I think every day is a learning tool for him.” Tebow has also received a nod from starter Tom Brady. “We have good conversations,” Brady said, according to the Associated Press. “He loves playing football and that’s usually the type of guys who do well here.”

Read updates on seven other former Gators…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

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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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