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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Gator Bites for Thursday, July 15th

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 has been invited to try out for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team and will be trying to prove his worth during a training camp next week in Las Vegas, NV.

» Twilight actress Ashley Greene is a huge Gators fan, even recently discussing the team on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (watch video). Here is a picture of her Wednesday night with Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow at the ESPYs in Los Angeles, CA. Looks like a happy (and beautiful) young lady.

» Speaking of the ESPYs and Tebow, host Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live joked about the Heisman Trophy winner during a small portion of his opening monologue. “Tim Tebow is here. Tim’s jersey is already one of the top selling jerseys in the NFL. I heard that and thought: ‘Jesus…who does this guy know? … Oh right, Jesus.’ Just kidding, Tim. And I hope this goes without saying but…just kidding, Jesus.”

» One more… Playing a slight joke on Tebow on the ride back to the hotel Wednesday night after the ESPYs was ESPN‘s NFL insider Chris Mortensen. Sitting next to him on the hotel shuttle, Mortensen told him, “You’re gonna make a heckuva H-back.” Tebow “had a good laugh.” Also confirmed in attendance were Minnesota Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer and sideline reporters Erin Andrews and Jenn Brown.

» Ranking his top six basketball players of the 2011 recruiting class, FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman has Florida five-star commit Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) taking the last spot. “[He] reminds me so much of Ray Allen. He’s silky smooth and can really shoot the ball from deep. Beal is also a winner,” Goodman notes.

» Three former Gators golfers – Camilo Villegas, Brian Gay and Mark Calcavecchia – are participating in The Open Championship at St. Andrews this weekend. In opening round action, the three men are T17 (-4), T46 (-2) and T73 (E), respectively.

» Sophomore jumper Christian Taylor, who had a great track & field season with Florida, won his second gold medal at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Under-23 Championships at Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, FL, on Sunday. Winning the men’s triple jump to go along with his men’s long jump crown over the weekend, he is also a three-time NCAA Champion.

» The University of Florida‘s Stephen C. O’Connell Center has been named the host of the 2013 NCAA Gymnastics Southeast Regional.

» If you love recruiting and would like a quick update as to where the Gators are right now in putting together their 2011 class, check out this piece by ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg. Most if not all of this has already been written about here on OGGOA, but Newberg’s article is a nice recap and does provide some interesting tidbits.

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TWO BITS: Haden ready to sign, Nelson helps

1 » Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants to get paid, but he refuses to hold out through the start of training camp. According to Haden and his agent, Malik Shareef, the former Florida Gators star will be practicing with Cleveland right way. “We’ve been in contact with the Browns and expect to begin negotiating next week,” Shareef told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Our main objective is to get Joe in camp on time so he can perform to the best of his abilities. A holdout would not be in anyone’s best interests.” Picked No. 7 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden points out that he could not agree now even if he wanted to. “I can’t sign yet,” he said via Twitter. “[Cleveland] hasn’t even sent an offer. It goes in order of [where you are picked].”

Other former Gators still awaiting NFL contracts include: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and New England Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes.

2 » One former Florida player who is already under contract is Buffalo Bills WR David Nelson, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. Nelson, who is making strides with Buffalo and may impact the team as soon as the 2010 season, participated in a Christmas in July celebration at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Wednesday. “I have a favorite ornament that my grandma made me,” Nelson said. “She made one for all her grandkids. It’s a small figurine of me when I was about 6 years old. The figurine was how she viewed us. Mine has me with curly hair and holding a football. Making ornaments today with all the kids at the hospital was so much fun and really reminded me of my grandma making her ornaments by hand.”

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TWO BITS: Antwine’s health, Tebow’s jerseys

1 » Like with redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, the St. Petersburg Times caught up with Florida Gators redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine to discuss how he is feeling going into next season. “I’m fully recovered,” he said. “My back is feeling real good, I’m just doing preventative measures right now. I’m just rehabbing everyday – my back, my knee, my shoulder, I’m just getting right. My shoulder is feeling a lot better, my knee is feeling a lot better and I’m just ready to get out there in two-a-days and see what I can do.’ […] This is the best I’ve felt since I tried to give it a go in ’09 before I hurt my shoulder. I feel real good.” Antwine also spoke about his motivation. “I love the game,” he said. “No matter what I went through, I always had a lot of support behind me. So I just try to give it back. Me being a leader, a senior, I just look at the younger guys that are going to be here after I’m gone and I try to give them as much information as I’ve learned since I’ve been here to try to help them out any way I can. Just staying around them, them looking up to me and me seeing that they look up to me, that’s a lot of motivation to get better and get back on the field as well.”

2 » CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell reported on Wednesday that Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow continues to lead the NFL in jersey sales, having the best-selling threads at NFLShop.com over the last 90 days. “NFLShop.com currently sells Tebow jerseys in white, orange and blue, in all sizes, including youth,” Rovell writes. “The league also is offering a wide array of Tebow women’s jerseys including ‘Zebra Field Flirt’ and ‘Pink Sweetheart’ varieties.”

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has already had a few eventful days in Florida in the month of July. On Saturday – teaming up with Florida’s Blood Centers, the Van Duzer Foundation and Palm Beach Autographs – the former Florida Gators star headlined a 12-hour blood drive in Fort Pierce, FL. Between meeting with fans, signing a ton of autographs (some of which can be purchased here) and speaking about his charities, Tebow entertained the crowd and kept fans wanting more. His First and 15 Foundation was also a featured part of a brand new playroom addition to Shands Children’s Hospital‘s pediatric cancer facility; the organization donated $156,000 used to buy high definition televisions, video game consoles and the like.

Five more BITS on John Brantley, golfer Billy Horschel and more…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Meyer, Richard, free agency

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will have plenty of doubters to prove on throughout his career with the Denver Broncos, but he is most concerned with making his new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders feel confident in their decision to select him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. “I definitely take pride in the coaches picking me and take pride in the fact that I want to prove them right,” Tebow told NFL.com. “That’ll be a goal of mine in playing in the National Football League – to prove coach McDaniels right and to prove Brian Xanders right and to prove the people that supported me right. That’s something that I’ll take pride in trying to do.” As to him playing as a rookie? “I don’t even think about it like that,” Tebow added. “I think about every day I have to get better, and if I do that, then I’ll be satisfied with myself and going in and getting better every day. Because that’s all I can control and that’s what I’m going to worry about.”

2 » Just one year ago, amid speculation that he might be headed elsewhere, Urban Meyer agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract to remain head coach at Florida. According to ESPN’s Mike Fish, who spoke with Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, Meyer is on the verge of finally signing his new deal, the terms of which were finalized way back on Aug. 3, 2009. “It’ll get signed sometime in the next month or so, if not sooner,” Foley said. “There are no hang-ups. Bottom line, he has a [previously signed] contract that has four years left to run on it. It’s not like he doesn’t have a contract. And he is getting compensated at the new rate. We have an agreement with Urban Meyer at the new rate, and the contract will get signed here shortly.” Regarding Meyer’s health, Foley remains unfazed. “It’s going to be fine,” he said. “It’s not like I have to worry about him having those issues day-to-day. He is a high-energy guy. He is a guy who has total commitment to what he does. I don’t think that has changed.”

3 » Former Gators forward/center Chris Richard, who appeared in 18 games for the Chicago Bulls last season, was waived by the team on Wednesday. Richard averaged 2.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes of action per game and was signed after fellow Florida F/C Joakim Noah was injured during the season. He will likely be signed to Chicago’s summer league roster and may find himself back on the team next year.

4 » With NBA free agency beginning literally as this is typed, some former Gators are available to be signed and others may factor into potential sign-and-trade scenarios. Former New York Knicks F/C David Lee, former Washington Wizards guard Mike Miller and former Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem are three of the most prominent “second tier” free agents available. Lee also has the possibility of being involved in a sign-and-trade situation, and Noah could always be moved off of the Bulls in an effort to get a bigger-name free agent under a long-term contract.

Extra BIT » Squidbillies is the name of a cartoon aired during Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim programming block. Tom Treebow is the name of its new character, a parody of Tebow. He will debut on the show on July 11, but you can catch a glimpse right here.

Photo Credit: Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post

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TWO BITS: Tebow in camp, Hernandez’s progress

1 » The Denver Broncos will open training camp on July 26, when the team will require all rookies – including former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow – to report. Veterans will join the youngsters on July 31, and the Broncos have announced that they will open practice to the public beginning on Aug. 1. So, if you are a Florida or Denver fan who just happens to be in the area, feel free to stop by and grab a glimpse.

2 » For the first time since the Boston Globe broke a story about him failing at least one drug test while at the University of Florida, former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez spoke to the media after New England Patriots practice. Though Hernandez would not answer any questions about the drug test – repeatedly saying that the issue was “in the past” – he did drool over the chance to catch passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. “You don’t even dream, coming from Connecticut, playing with a quarterback like that,” Hernandez said. “He’s like a movie star out there. You don’t think about it when you’re out there, but at the same time I go home and think, ‘It’s crazy.’” As to how workouts are unfolding, Hernandez said he is “going out every practice and working as hard as I can, trying to make some plays. [..] I’ve been in quite a few spots. I just come out every day, they put me in places, and I try to go as hard as I can.”

Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet reports that Hernandez struggled on Wednesday by dropping a touchdown pass, accidentally kicking a teammate in the belly on a long pass in the air and lining up incorrectly, the latter of which he received an “expletive-filled earful” for doing wrong. However, Curran notes that Hernandez does look good during practices and is impressing coaches with his catching and playmaking abilities.

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

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