Ryan Stamper set for workout with Detriot Lions

Two bulging discs causing excruciating pain in his back prevented former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper from showing teams what he was made of prior to the 2010 NFL Draft in April. Regardless, there remained plenty of interest from a variety of teams throughout the league, one of which acted on instinct just after the seventh round was completed.

Fortunately, the Gators’ leading tackler in 2009 was one of the very first players contacted by the Detroit Lions after the draft; he was immediately signed to an undrafted free agent contract.

“It was frustrating to sit back while everybody else was working out,” Stamper told the Orlando Sentinel back in April. “All teams had on me was game film and they kept saying they wanted to see me live. It was impossible to work out because every time I tried, it felt like I couldn’t walk the next day.”

Unfortunately for Stamper, his injury had not fully healed when he met with trainers, causing him to fail a team physical and forcing the Lions to cut him right away.

Even so, the team has decided to give him another chance by inviting him back to Detroit in two weeks – as early as July 18 – for a workout. Stamper has been staying in shape and completing full workouts in Gainesville, FL, recently; he is expected to be ready to earn a roster spot with the Lions before training camp beings on July 30.

Photo Credit: Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI

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FOUR BITS: Tebow & McDaniels, Stamper, Patriots

1 » Apparently the already close relationship between former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his new head coach, Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos, was like an old-fashioned story – love at first sight. The Denver Post reports that occurrence took place at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine when the two met in a private room along with other Broncos’ staffers. “I was jacked leaving that room. I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time,” Tebow said. “We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”

2 » Two bulging discs in his back prevented former Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper from showing teams what he was made of prior to the 2010 NFL Draft – even though there was plenty of interest. What his injury did not faze was the Detroit Lions’ interest in signing him to an undrafted free agent contract. “It was frustrating to sit back while everybody else was working out,” Stamper told the Orlando Sentinel. “All teams had on me was game film and they kept saying they wanted to see me live. It was impossible to work out because every time I tried, it felt like I couldn’t walk the next day.”

3 » The New England Patriots drafted three former Florida players over the weekend – defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. However, only one of the three already has ties (albeit limited ones) to the area. According to a variety of reports, Spikes has been dating Callie Rivers, a volleyball player at UF who happens to be the daughter of Boston Celtics‘ coach Doc Rivers and brother of former Gators five-star basketball commitment Austin Rivers. Needless to say, her father is happy to have Spikes close and even gave Patriots head coach Bill Belichick a recommendation. “Big guy, big for an inside linebacker,” Belichick told the Boston Herald. “Very highly respected […] and, of course, came with a good recommendation from Doc. Of course, I appreciate that. He can keep an eye on him up here, keep his daughter a little closer to home.”

4 » Already a close personal friend with Gators head coach Urban Meyer, Belichick spoke fondly of the Florida football program when asked why he drafted three players from it over the weekend. “[When] we were in Florida, I felt like we were working out half of the first and second round,” he said. “We saw all those guys [...] it was the day after their Pro Day down there. It was a good meeting like it always is with Florida. Those kids are very focused on football. Football’s important to them. They’re in a good program. It’s important for them to win. They know what they are doing. They’ve worked hard both on and off the field. They’re extremely well-coached by Coach Meyer and his staff, so it’s a lot of fun to sit down and talk football with them.”

Extra Bit » Former Gators cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis has been given a tryout with the New York Giants and will attend the team’s mini camp hoping to earn a contract, according to the Naples News.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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KR James, WR Nelson, LB Stamper find homes

Though they were not fortunate enough to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, three former Florida Gators players have already signed professional contracts as undrafted free agents.

Kick returner Brandon James was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver David Nelson found a home with the Buffalo Bills and linebacker Ryan Stamper agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.

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FOUR BITS: Knight to UK, Dunlap, Hernandez

1 » It’s official: Five-star 2010 guard recruit Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has committed to the Kentucky Wildcats, and four-star 2010 point guard recruit Ray McCallum, Jr. (Detroit, MI) has committed to play for his dad w/ the Detroit Mercy.

2 » On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock expressed concerns about former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap‘s position in the 2010 NFL Draft. “In my opinion, he’s got a substantially below average motor,” Mayock said. “He only plays a certain percentage of plays hard. When you’re doing that, you’re going to get dinged pretty badly by the NFL. Carlos Dunlap is a beautiful body with a tremendous physical skill set, but he doesn’t play every play hard. I think he’s going to fall midway to late in the second round, and maybe to the third. He’s definitely got ability, but how much money to you want to pay a guy who doesn’t play hard every play?”

Mayock also said that he expects quarterback Tim Tebow to be a starter in the league within in three years. He has always been one of the talking heads who has supported Tebow the most throughout the process.

3 » Former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez is meeting with the Detroit Lions today according to a report by the National Football Post. Some are concerned with Hernandez’s personality off the field, something that may have him fall from the second to the third round next week.

4 » In addition to being in the running for three-star point guards Brandon Young (Washington, D.C.) and Chris Denson (Columbus, GA) as well as three-star power forward Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL), Florida has secured an in-home visit with three-star PF Marcus Thornton (Atlanta, GA), according to The Gainesville Sun.

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FOUR BITS: Marshall and Tebow, Leak, Cooper

1 » With the 2010 NFL Draft closing in, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is making his final in-house trip today to the Denver Broncos. Coming the same day as the team has traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, Tebow’s visit has raised questions about the possibility of Denver packaging some picks to move back into the first round and draft him. The Broncos now have the No. 11, No. 43 and No. 45 overall picks (as well as an extra second-rounder from Miami in 2011) and could very well take Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant early and Tebow later in this year’s first-round. Just food for thought. By the way, Marshall’s No. 15 is now vacant…and their uniforms are orange and blue. Just a thought.

2 » Speaking of Florida quarterbacks, the Palm Beach Post caught up with Montreal Alouettes back-up Chris Leak while he was in town for the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut last weekend. Leak spoke on a variety of subjects but, most importantly, touched on why he was there – to work with redshirt junior John Brantley on the player’s request. “I’m going to be a coach after I’m done playing, which is many, many years away from now,” Leak said. “Me and John have been talking for a while now. He wanted me to come out and watch him, and I just came out here to support him and watch him grow as a quarterback. He did an awesome job [Saturday]. His feet looked great, his decision-making is excellent, he really showed a lot today.”

3 » According to The Florida Times-Union, the Jacksonville Jaguars “have shown some interest” in former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper, who could be a target for them in the second or third round (should he fall). Cooper would fit in nicely with Jacksonville, which needs a compliment for Mike Sims-Walker.

4 » Former Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard, most recently with the New York Jets after spending most of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, has scheduled a workout with the Detroit Lions for the next two days, according to Pro Football Talk.

Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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