SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

1 » On June 24, three-star linebacker recruit Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) committed to the Florida Gators; unfortunately for him, the team did not recognize his verbal promise and did not count him as a member of its 2011 recruiting class. Friday, Cassell reiterated again to the Orlando Sentinel that he is committed to the Gators, stating that coaches simply wanted to see him perform in person before bringing him on board. However, there remain conflicting reports that Cassell is still not a part of the recruiting class – yet. So while his intentions are known, Florida’s are not. In all likelihood, the coaching staff is waiting to make sure they have a spot for him after higher ranked players decide where they will be attending school next year.

UPDATE: Cassell, for the third time now, claims that the coaches have accepted his commitment. He told the Sentinel that a phone call set for Sunday night may help clarify why there have been so many mixed messages.

2 » Legendary Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been supportive of former Florida QB Tim Tebow ever since his team selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. At a golf tournament on Thursday, Elway opened up more about Tebow. “The thing about Tebow is they’re focusing too much on his release,” Elway said. “As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. […] He’s not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it’s long and quick, that’s OK.”

Four more BITS on Tim Tebow, Channing Crowder, Joe Haden, Jabar Gaffney…and an extra BIT on recruit Curt Maggitt…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

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QB commit Jeff Driskel shines at Elite 11 camp

What a week it has been for Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Named Most Valuable Player of the Elite 11 QB Camp, Driskel dominated the proceedings from start-to-finish, showing off a strong arm, impressive accuracy, enviable mechanics and college-level decision-making.

Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s recruiting director, said that Driskel resembles Washington QB Jake Locker. ESPN’s Corey Long added, “Driskel is a massive young man at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, his release is on point and his passes have tremendous heat on them.”

He even drew comparisons to some NFL legends – including Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning – as he shredded the competition over the course of four days.

“You always have to try to be at your best and you have to want to be the best and I came out here to play football,” Driskel told Rivals. “I wasn’t here to go to Disneyland even though that ended up being fun. You have to have that focused attitude and I had it throughout the week.”

If you think Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow and Gators incoming starter redshirt junior John Brantley were highly praised coming out of high school, Driskel’s hype is already reaching that level. He makes all of the required throws and showed during 7-on-7 drills that he can read the field with the best of them.

Even though Driskel is a pro-style quarterback, he is deceptively athletic and runs a 4.52 40-yard-dash. He won’t carry the ball much, but the threat of his speed in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense should keep defenses honest if he is able to prove that he can use it.

Driskel is considered the top-rated QB of the 2011 recruiting class by both ESPNU and Rivals. Nationally, he is ranked No. 13 overall by the former and No. 31 by the latter.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

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FOUR BITS: Lee injured, Tebow’s playing time, Beal respected, Martin transferring

1 » Tuesday, OGGOA alerted you to a great story about new Golden State Warriors forward/center David Lee and how the former Florida Gators product was a great teammate and face of the organization for the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, Lee ended up having a tough day; he injured his right middle finger during his first practice with USA Basketball in Las Vegas, NV, while trying out for the men’s national team. “I looked down and my finger was completely turned to the side,” Lee told ESPN. “It’s possibly a tendon or a dislocation of some sort. It’s something I’ve got to go have looked at either way. Hopefully it’s something I can splint up and play with. That’s up to the doctors to decide.” He met with Dr. Bill Green in San Francisco, CA, Tuesday evening, and the prognosis appears to be a dislocation, which could be serious enough to keep him out for a while. Nevertheless, Lee will be returning to Las Vegas late on Wednesday to rejoin his teammates – even if he cannot play.

2 » Denver Broncos beat writer Dave Krieger of The Denver Post expects to see plenty of former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in the team’s wild horse offense this season. “My guess is more than you think,” Krieger writes. “In fact, my guess is the Broncos will lead the league in what other teams call wildcat plays, unless Tebow’s place in the formation determines what you call it, in which case the counting could get complicated. […] I would be surprised if [head coach Josh McDaniels] drafted Tebow in the first round to be a clipboard holder for even one year. […] Even if he is not ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, Tebow is likely to be a better passer than most running backs and a better runner than most quarterbacks.”

3 » Surveying “30 of the top recruits across the country,” Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports wanted to see who high school basketball stars agreed was the best of the best for 2011. Florida five-star commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) made it on two of the top lists – best player and best shooter. Beal received six votes for best player (only one behind the winners) and 11 votes for best shooter (eight more than the next three players).

4 » Five-star 2010 defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin (Aurora, CO), who was heavily considering the Gators during his recruitment, has decided to transfer from the California Golden Bears. Martin, who recorded 11 sacks and forced five fumbles last year for his high school team, feels he is too distracted in Berkeley, CA, and wants to concentrate both on football and his studies elsewhere. Florida and Oklahoma have emerged as the two favorites to bring in Martin but little of consequence has been reported on the matter thus far.

Extra BIT » Via his Twitter account Tuesday morning, Gators redshirt junior forward Adam Allen explained that he hopes to return to playing basketball at some point. “Great rehab [session] this morning,” Allen tweeted. “Don’t count me out, there’s still hope for a comeback [people].” OGGOA wishes him the best in his recovery.

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

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Tebow’s Nike Trainer 1.2 ad graces magazines

To help promote the release of EA SportsNCAA Football 11 video game and Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow as their newest endorser, Nike will release a signature Florida Gators-colored sneaker in the coming weeks. Blue with orange and white accents, the sneaker features reminders of Tebow’s “Promise” speech on Sept. 27, 2008, a company logo and mention of the video game on the Velcro strap.

What should also be noted is that this special edition sneaker is not the only product Tebow is endorsing for Nike; in fact, he is the face of their entire Nike Trainer 1.2 line. The following print advertisement, his first for the company, appeared in copies of ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated this week (click to enlarge):

If using the advertisement image above, please provide proper credit to OGGOA.

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was the subject of a piece by Harvey Araton of The New York Times on Monday. Lee, who has spent his whole career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him coming out of college, has a special bond with the team and has been the face of the franchise over the last few years. Read about how he went out of his way to represent the team (even after being traded to Golden State) at a funeral for longtime NBA and Madison Square Garden security official Scott Jaffer and how he will always be remembered in New York for being such an upstanding person.

» Interviewed by the NFL Network about his throwing mechanics, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went through the motions with some of the studio analysts on Monday. Because of the subject matter, Rivers was asked about Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow’s motion, and the veteran offered advice and insight into what Tebow may and may not need to do going forward.

» Florida should be excited about 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) – he could be the best player the team has signed since guard Nick Calathes. Then again, with one of the top players in the country considering his future in a different sport, there is a slight cause for concern. With his father and two brothers all having played collegiate football, Beal tells USA Today that he is “still trying to decide” which sport to play. “My brothers, especially my younger brothers, want me to play football so we can be on the same team,” Beal said. “But my mom always tells me, ‘You don’t have the body for football, so you have to stick to basketball.’” Don’t get it twisted – his future is on the court – not the field. Having a former Gators star like Lee (who also graduated from Chaminade High School) in his ear certainly helps. “We don’t have that much in common because we play different positions,” Beal said. “He came back to visit the school, and I talk to him during lunch period. He gave me input on the game.”

» While Beal is deciding what sport to play, four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) is just trying to figure out what school to end. According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, Waisome now considers his final five to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina; he plans to decide in August.

» Updating a previous item, four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) still considers the Gators to be the leader for his services, even after having Miami Hurricanes commitment four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) in his ear during the Nike 7-on-7 Championship last Saturday. “Florida is still in the lead,” Benjamin told SoFLAfootball.com. “I like Florida and what they showed me, how they would use me. I like Miami too and Florida State, so all the Florida teams, they’re really up there. But I like Florida.”

Three more BITES on Meyer, Smith and Werner…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

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TWO BITS: Tebow starting, Caldwell working

1 » Appearing Friday on The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio, the network’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson predicted that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will start this season for the Denver Broncos – beginning in week 12. Williamson believes Kyle Orton will play the first 10 games of the season, and Tebow will take the reigns if the team is no longer in playoff contention. ESPN Insider notes that “Williamson points out that Tebow was drafted not to serve as a clipboard holder or gadget play extraordinaire, but to play starting QB, and he will be given the opportunity to do so unless Orton comes through with a very solid season.”

2 » One of the best things about following athletes on Twitter is the ability to read their streams of consciousness when going off on a tangent or speaking passionately about an issue. Monday, former Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell of the Cincinnati Bengals expressed his desire to take his game to another level while putting some responsibilities – like family and friends – on the back burner for a short period of time.

“Training camp starts in [nine] days. I can’t wait. I dedicated my entire offseason to getting better and working hard – now it’s time to show it off,” Caldwell wrote. “I worked extra hard this whole offseason. I haven’t had much time to hang out with family and friends. I’m trying to accomplish my dream and be the best WR in the NFL, and the only way I know how to be the best is to work harder than every WR in the league. My friends and family say I’m selfish and I have changed [be]cause I don’t make time for them. I tell them I’m chasing my dream. Am I wrong? People say I have become crazy and my work ethic is insane, but my love for the game is much crazier and failure is not a[n] option. I see and hear all the comment[s] these report[er]s write and how they write me off, but it just add[s] fuel to this fire burning inside me.”

Extra BIT » Former New York Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent was a thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox, so it is no wonder that having his son – and Florida freshman – Cody Dent playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the summer was a “risky” move. “The first day they were joking about Bucky (Bleeping) Dent,” Cody told The Gainesville Sun. “I just laugh along with it. It’s all good humor.” The move was a suggestion by head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who elicited a funny response from the elder statesman. “I texted Sully and said, ‘What are you trying to do, get my son killed?” Bucky exclaimed. Never nervous while playing professionally, watching his son play makes Dent jitter. “I can’t sit still,” he said. “I’ve go to move because I get really nervous. Way more nervous than when I played. I’m sitting there in the College World Series and he’s playing third base against Florida State and I’m going, ‘Oh God, he’s 18 years old, there’s 20,000 people in the stands and national TV,’ and I’m sweating bullets.”

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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Tim Tebow’s NCAA 11 cover spoofed in Alabama

Florida Gators fans across the country were excited to hear that Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow had been chosen for the cover of EA SportsNCAA Football 11 video game. Alabama Crimson Tide fans, on the other hand, probably did not care very much…until their local Tuscaloosa, AL, GameStop managers decided to spoof the cover with an alternate version.

Rather than sell the game as-is, these guys created a custom cover for the game featuring two pictures of Tebow crying when the Gators lost to the Crimson Tide in the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship.

Successful marketing ploy or another attempt to add some insult to injury? You decide.

Image and details courtesy of SB Nation.

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