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).

Continue Reading » NBAers Al Horford, Bradley Beal injured this week

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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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FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp apparently provided Pat Dooley, columnist for The Gainesville Sun, with a few minutes of his time at some point over the last week and dropped a couple tidbits of information about the program and where it is headed. Below are some of the most notable nuggets from the 2,000-word column, much of which makes excuses provides reasoning and perspective for Florida’s tough 2013 campaign. You can check out in full by clicking here.

* Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who just last year saw his team get ravaged by injuries before finishing the 2012 season 5-7 (2-6 SEC), called Muschamp personally to provide support. “He said he couldn’t imagine what we were going through. I got a lot of calls like that. Everyone has injuries, but I had guys in this league who called and said, ‘I don’t know how I would have handled it.’”

* Out of all the injured Gators, only sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus) and freshmen linebackers Matt Rolin (torn ACL) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder surgery) are expected to miss spring practice. Dooley reports: “Muschamp told me he plans to bump the start of spring practice to later in the year to make sure [junior quarterback Jeff] Driskel is completely rehabilitated after his leg injury.”

* Muschamp said he tried to be more easy-going this season in order to combat much of the negativity the players had to face each week. He regrets that decision. “I tried to make it fun for them and they were used to me being an [expletive] for two years.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

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SIX BITS: Noah, Murphy, Delta, volleyball, Tebow

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has long held up former South African president Nelson Mandela as one of his idols. So for Noah to easily have his best game of the 2013-14 season on the day of Mandela’s passing was certainly no surprise. On Thursday, Noah posted his second-straight double-double with 17 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and a season-high 15 rebounds in a 107-87 win over Miami. After the contest, he was interviewed by TNT’s Craig Sager and ended the conversation like this:

2 » The Florida Gators are expected to have major frontcourt troubles next season with big-bodied seniors – center Patric Young and forwards Casey Prather and Will Yeguete – all scheduled to graduate. One of its other big men is on shaky ground and a fifth, who has yet to enroll, could be a one-and-done player. Facing a potential roster that would have its two tallest players – current redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith and five-star incoming F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) listed as 6-foot-8 – the Gators may have found some help in the form of current Duke redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy. The brother of Erik Murphy, Alex has decided to leave the Blue Devils at the end of the fall 2013 semester and may very well be headed to Gainesville, FL. He would have to sit out two semesters per NCAA rules and would not be eligible until next spring, but Alex Murphy would nevertheless be a much-needed addition for UF. OnlyGators.com is still working to confirm his transfer destination as of press time.

3 » Florida found another way to disappoint its fans this week. In a story overlooked for the last few days by OnlyGators.com, UF’s basketball team made headlines by displacing 50 passengers on an Atlanta, GA-bound Sunday flight when Delta decided to help the Gators by chartering a new plane for the team to Storrs, CT for its showdown with UConn. According to The Gainesville Sun, a maintenance delay grounded the plane that the team usually charters, so Delta stepped in to help at the expense of customers that had already purchased tickets on the flight. “Passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and given vouchers valid for use through Delta for future trips,” a spokesman told the paper. Florida has gone above and beyond to try and deflect any blame heading its way. The Gators have claimed ignorance regarding Delta’s decision, which he company took completely on its own shoulders.

Check out the statement and three more BITS…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Noah, Murphy, Delta, volleyball, Tebow

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SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

1 » OnlyGators.com learned Wednesday night that Florida Gators seniors cornerback Jaylen Watkins and wide receiver Solomon Patton have both signed with agent Tom Santanello of Boca Raton, FL. Santanello, who inked defensive tackle Dominique Easley in November, also represents two other former Florida players – safety Josh Evans and tight end Jordan Reed. Watkins and Patton will join Easley as he trains in Boca Raton over the next few months as all three players look to get in the best possible shape before their workouts.

2 » A late-second to early-third day pick, Watkins is hoping to raise his stock immensely before the 2014 NFL Draft and has accepted an invitation to the 2014 Senior Bowl in an effort to do just that. Many NFL personnel people already believe that Watkins has a superior skill set to junior CB Loucheiz Puriofy albeit a lower ceiling due to Purifoy’s ridiculous athleticism and penchant for highlight-making plays. Joining Watkins at the Senior Bowl (so far) is redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio. Easley was also invited but will be unable to do so as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

A source close to Easley tells OnlyGators.com that there are currently no plans for the player to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine or Pro Day at Florida. However, as he continues to heal and regain strength in his knee, anything is certainly possible. Easley does plan to at least hold a private workout prior to the draft.

Check out four more BITS on Gators in the NFL…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

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Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy enters 2014 NFL Draft

The first current member of the Florida Gators to officially but unsurprisingly forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility, junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy confirmed Monday that he has decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

“I have had a great three years at the University of Florida, but at this time I think it’s best for me and my family to pursue a career in the NFL,’’ said Purifoy in a release from the school. “Coach [Will] Muschamp and Coach [Travaris] Robinson have put me in a position to take the next step.

“I know there is still a lot of work for me ahead, but I appreciate what everyone at Florida did to get me to this point. As much as I look forward to playing in the NFL, I will miss my teammates and coaches and look forward to watching them play next year.”

Purifoy was projected as a first-round selection in this year’s draft prior to the start of the season. After being suspended for the season opener for a violation of team rules, he had an up-and-down 2013 campaign with most of his game-changing plays occurring in three contests against Arkansas, Georgia and Florida State.

Having never intercepted a pass in his first two years, Purifoy picked off two this season, returning one for a touchdown. He also broke up seven passes, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, blocked a kick and registered two sacks. Of his 24 total tackles, 3.5 were for a total loss of 17 yards.

Continue Reading » Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy enters 2014 NFL Draft

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Tebow, Tymrak, Easley

1 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal scored a career-high 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting on Sunday night during a 106-105 overtime loss to Oklahoma City. Beal played a team-high 42 minutes in the contest, draining 6-of-8 threes and grabbing six rebounds to boot. Beal has scored 63 points in his last two games after posting 29 against Brooklyn on Friday including two while posterizing Paul Pierce.

2 » It was reported over the weekend by SportsBusiness Journal that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had dumped William Morris Agency, which was handling his entertainment industry interests, and turned over all of his representation responsibilities to Creative Arts Agency. He was already being represented by CAA’s Jimmy Sexton for his football playing career but has now also hired CAA’s broadcast agent Nick Khan, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Khan has a long client list and represents a number of well-known ESPN personalities. Tebow is reportedly interested in contributing to college football broadcasts, likely as an in-studio analyst. ESPN, which has been in the Tebow business for years, sounds like the obvious choice, especially considering it will be running the SEC Network, which launches in August 2014.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Beal, Tebow, Tymrak, Easley

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