SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

1 » ABC is making the most of its subsidiary’s employment of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, according to The Hollywood Reporter, by having the Heisman Trophy winner sit in Friday as a guest co-host on Good Morning America. Tebow, who signed with ESPN in December to cover college football and be the face of the SEC Network (set to launch as its own channel in August), will join the Time Square-based show to discuss the forthcoming Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and his former team, the Denver Broncos.

2 » The highest-profile former Florida player actually participating in Sunday’s big game is Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has a penchant for stepping up when championships are on the line. Harvin was cleared to return to practice last Wednesday and will be full-go for the Super Bowl with head coach Pete Carroll saying the playmaker has looked “great” in practice. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey called Harvin “a dangerous man” on Sunday, “one of the most explosive guys coming off the ball” and someone who can “change the game.” Harvin on Tuesday declared himself “ready to go.” “This is what I live for,” he said. “I’m used to playing in big games since I was younger, whether it was in Pop Warner or the two with the Gators.” As a freshman, Harvin picked up 82 total yards and a touchdown in Florida’s 41-14 2007 BCS National Championship win over Ohio State. Two years later in the 2009 BCS National Championship, Harvin exploded for 171 yards and a touchdown in UF’s 24-14 victory against Oklahoma.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His third entry comes live from Mobile, AL as Watkins is currently practicing ahead of and set to compete in the 2014 Senior Bowl on Saturday.

Since the last time I checked in here, I spent a few days getting extra treatment rather than training as hard for the combine as I had been previously. It was time to get prepared for the Senior Bowl, which I ended up leaving for on Saturday.

Saturday and Sunday we just came in, did our check in, took the Wonderlic and other tests and got weighed. It was really weird to get measured in front of so many other people. We walked up to the stairs and were suddenly in front of 300 people wearing just our compression shorts. [Laughing] If you know what those are, you will be laughing at that, too.

I took about six or seven different tests and definitely felt good going through each of them. There is not really any way to prepare for them because they’re not standardized tests like in school. The tests work you through concepts and get an idea how you learn and process information.

When we finally got on the field to practice, I had to get adjusted the first day in a helmet and pads. Some guys were only a few weeks out from playing, but I obviously had a longer time off. My first practice went really well, but my first time through warm-ups felt kind of weird. I was anxious, which is something I have not felt in a long time, but once practice got going and I went through the individual period, everything was great.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Preparation

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His second entry covers the impact of Florida’s coaches on his career, playing a new position as a senior and the importance of being invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl.

The Senior Bowl is next Saturday, and we are all getting some last minute training in before heading out to Mobile, AL on January 18th. [Editor’s Note: Watkins will be joined in Mobile by guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton.]

It honestly feels great to be picked for the Senior Bowl. It lets me know I was doing something right during the season and in my career with the Gators. Obviously Coach [Will] Muschamp and T-Rob [defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson] put me in a great position to showcase my skills.

Their football knowledge is beyond levels of college. Being in that defense, the standard they hold you to makes you a better player. That helped me excel. I was able to grasp so much information at once and play so many different positions. Being able to play safety, nickel, corner, it all paid off. If you listen and do what they say, you’ll definitely be a better player because they know what they’re talking about.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Preparation

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Gators CB Marcus Roberson enters NFL Draft

The Florida Gators on Friday lost their second junior cornerback to the 2014 NFL Draft as Marcus Roberson informed the program that he has decided to forego his final season of eligibility in order to play professional football.

“Marcus has informed me that he has made the decision to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL,” said Muschamp in a school release. “Marcus was part of our first recruiting class and it was a pleasure watching him mature and develop both on and off the field during his time here. I look forward to watching him play on Sundays and, like all of our players, I encourage them to return to complete his degree.”

Roberson only played seven of 12 games in 2013, missing four games due to injury and another to suspension after committing a violation of team rules. He ended his final season at Florida with 11 solo tackles, three pass defenses and no interceptions.

His best year with the Gators came as a sophomore in 2012 when he played in 13 games, starting four. Roberson registered 23 tackles, 12 pass defenses and two interceptions. He also forced a fumble and picked up a sack.

For his efforts, Roberson was named to the 2012 All-SEC Second Team.

“I’m very thankful of everyone at Florida that helped me to get to this point in my career,” said Roberson via the school. “From Tony Meacham, my academic adviser, to Jeff Dillman to Coach Muschamp and the entire coaching staff. It’s been a great experience here and now that it is over I can truly appreciate everything that is in place here for players to be successful and have an opportunity to play at the next level.”

Roberson joins fellow junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy as the only two underclassmen thus far to leave Florida for the draft. Both were projected as first-round selections before the season but have seen their stock dip after the 2013 campaign.

Purifoy has been praised for his athleticism and ability to help on special teams but criticized for his technique as a cornerback, which evaluators believe he needs to improve. The primary concerns with Roberson are his injury history, lack of field time this past season and substandard production when he did play.

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Jaylen Watkins to chronicle Path to the Draft as part of expanded coverage on OnlyGators.com

With a number of former Florida Gators football players in the process of training and preparing for the 2014 NFL Combine and upcoming 2014 NFL Draft in May, OnlyGators.com is pleased to announce an significant expansion to its annual comprehensive coverage leading up to and during the event.

Continuing the tradition of OnlyGators.com‘s Path to the Draft blog in 2014 will be four-year defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who has agreed to join the website and chronicle his process from now through the big day. Watkins will check in regularly to discuss the quest to raise his stock and continue his football-playing career on the professional level.

Readers will be able to tag along as Watkins participates in the 2014 Senior Bowl, trains for the combine, meets with teams interested in selecting him and is eventually drafted at some point during the three-day event from May 8-10.

A versatile member of Florida’s secondary, Watkins played cornerback during his first three seasons with the team but added assignments at safety to his plate during his senior year. He started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

Watkins registered three interceptions and broke up eight passes as a cornerback in 2011. This past season, he picked up seven pass defenses (second-most on the team) and was third on the Gators with 52 total tackles (two for lost yardage).

The fourth Florida student-athlete to participate as the featured player in OnlyGators.com’s Path to the Draft series – following Chandler Parsons, Josh Evans and Erik Murphy – Watkins will have company on the website over the next few months.

OnlyGators.com will also be presenting a four-part series on defensive tackle Dominique Easley, chronicling his rehabilitation from the serious knee injury he suffered on Sept. 24 up until the day he is drafted, and has plans in the works to check in with a number of other former Gators including wide receiver Solomon Patton.

Watkins will be the eighth former Florida player to guest blog for OnlyGators.com. Former offensive lineman Shannon Snell, forward Adam Allen and catcher Teddy Foster are currently on staff writing about football, basketball and baseball, respectively. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel was the website’s first contributor in 2010.

You can also follow Jaylen Watkins on Twitter by clicking here.

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NBAers Al Horford, Bradley Beal injured this week

Updated on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

On consecutive days, Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford (pectoral) and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (knee) suffered serious in-game injuries that may significantly affect their ability to participate in the 2013-14 NBA season.

For the second time in the last three seasons, Horford will miss a significant amount of time with a torn pectoral muscle. Horford, who tore his left pectoral on Jan. 11, 2012, subsequently missed 58 games (55 in the regular season) and only played in 17 total contests that year (three in the postseason).

On Thursday, Horford suffered a complete tear of his right pectoral muscle while trying to deflect an inbounds pass. The injury will sideline him indefinitely and most likely for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign.

Horford was in the midst of the best season of his career, one which likely would have resulted in his third NBA All-Star nod in the last four years. He was averaging career-highs of 18.6 points and 1.5 blocks while shooting a career-best 56.7 percent from the field. Horford is currently one of just six NBA players leading his respective team in both points and rebounding (8.4 per game).

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Joe Haden, Mike Pouncey picked for Pro Bowl

A pair of former Florida Gators were elected Friday to the NFL Pro Bowl for the first time in their respective careers as fourth-year Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and third-year Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey were both chosen to participate in this season’s all-star game.

Haden, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is in the midst of the best campaign of his young career. Already considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, he has shut down talented opposing receivers while registering 43 solo tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) through 15 games.

Pouncey, the No. 15 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is finally being recognized for his on-field talent despite getting overlooked and snubbed in 2012 when he actually outperformed his brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (who was elected to his third-straight Pro Bowl last season).

Though he missed two games this season due to an illness, Mike Pouncey has once again proven to be one of the most versatile centers in the NFL.

Continue Reading » Joe Haden, Mike Pouncey picked for Pro Bowl

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