Steelers make Pouncey highest-paid center

The Pittsburgh Steelers and former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey came to terms Thursday on a five-year, $44 million contract extension that includes $13 million in fully guaranteed money, making Pouncey the highest-paid center in the NFL.

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio first reported Pouncey’s signing, noting that the five-year extension locks him up with the Steelers for six years at a maximum earning potential of $48 million.

Pouncey will make $14 million in 2014, adding a large portion of the signing bonus to the $3.8 million he was set to earn in the final year of his already-existing deal. He’ll also pocket nearly $27 million through March 2017.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey earned a Pro Bowl nod and was named an All-Pro from 2010-12, making him the first center in NFL history to receive either honor in each of the first three seasons.

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FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks

Through the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the fifth time from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, having now completed five of his 14 total team visits scheduled ahead of the NBA Draft.

After my workout in Philadelphia last Sunday, I had my flight scheduled to get over to Chicago on Monday afternoon. It actually got cancelled as we were on the plane, on the runway. Everyone was ready to go, but I had a bad feeling because I’ve had bad experiences with that airline before. Somehow, I knew there was going to be a problem.

That flight was scheduled for before noon, and I could not get on another until 8:30 p.m. I wound up chilling in the airport for nearly 10 hours, so to pass the time I watched Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and a Justice League cartoon on Netflix [laughing]. Eventually I did get on the plane to go to Chicago.

While working out for the Bulls on Tuesday, I got the opportunity to meet Derek Rose – that was pretty cool seeing him – Tony Snell and some other players. I sat down with the entire staff including head coach Tom Thibodeau.

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Six Florida Gators selected in 2014 MLB Draft; Shafer, Whitson decide to turn pro

The Florida Gators baseball team saw six of its current players selected over the weekend in the three-day, 40-round 2014 MLB Draft, though it is unknown as of press time how many of those drafted players will leave the program and turn professional.

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue was the first Florida player drafted when he was chosen in the fourth round with the 131st overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the second time in three seasons that the first Gators player picked in the draft spent his career behind the plate.

Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson, selected by the Boston Red Sox with the 344th overall pick in the 11th round, was the third UF player drafted but first (of two thus far) to announce his intent to forego his remaining collegiate eligibility.

“The Red Sox saw something in me and they’re giving me an opportunity to work hard for a team that’s sticking their neck out for me,” Whitson told Steven Petrella of MLB.com on Saturday. “Some other teams are looking at [the] negative of my situation. It humbles me that Boston sees positives in a kid that still has a lot to offer.”

Leaving $2.1 million on the table to play for the Gators after the San Diego Padres picked him No. 9 overall in 2010, Whitson had a tremendous freshman season but fell off a bit as a sophomore. He then missed his true junior campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery before rebounding as a redshirt junior to go 1-1 in 14 appearances (nine starts) with a 3.86 ERA in 2014.

Junior RHP Justin Shafer was the second Florida hurler drafted and second to decide to start this pro career, signing with the Toronto Blue Jays late Sunday. The Blue Jays nabbed Shafer in the eighth round with the No. 234 overall pick.

Below are the current Florida players that were selected from Thursday-Saturday.

Round 4 – No. 131
Taylor Gushue, C
Pittsburgh Pirates


Height: 6’2″ – Weight: 215 lbs.
B/T: S/R – Class: Junior

Eligible for the draft for the first time after bypassing the 2012 process by enrolling early at Florida, Gushue was one of the youngest players available over the weekend. He displayed power with the Gators – smacking team-highs of six homers and 49 RBIs as a junior as well as five dingers in each of his first two years – and served as Florida’s permanent catcher. Some believe he projects better as a first baseman on the next level, but Pittsburgh chose Gushue because of his work behind the plate and plans to keep him there should he decide to turn pro. Gushue is expected to sign with the Pirates.

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FOUR BITS: Green, McGee, MLB Draft, Easley

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Taurean Green won a professional championship this week when his team, Limoges CSP, defeated Strasbourg 73-70 in game three of the Ligue Nationale de Basket Pro A finals. It was the first time in 14 years that Limoges captured a French league crown as well as Green’s first championship since winning back-to-back national titles with the Gators in 2006-07. Green led the way for Limoges with a team-high 19 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. He was 5-for-11 overall and 5-for-6 from the charity stripe, adding two rebounds and an assist to his starting line. Limoges is the sixth international team Green has played for since moving between the NBA and NBA D-League from 2007-08. He has also played in Aragon, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Italy.

2 » OnlyGators.com, on Friday, published a story about the failure of Florida’s tight ends in 2013 and how redshirt senior transfer Jake McGee should be able to help resurrect production at the position for the Gators in 2014. However, not everything McGee told the media on Thursday fit within the story, so below are some additional thoughts he shared on his relationship with his new roommates and a recent Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

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FOUR BITS: MLB Draft, revenue, Walker, Spikes

1 » The 2014 MLB Draft begins Thursday night and unlike years past, members of the Florida Gators baseball team will not have their attention diverted from postseason competition due to the program being eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Also unlike previous years, Florida does not have anyone projected to go in the early rounds of the draft, though that does not mean that draft-eligible Gators will not leave the program early (there were no seniors on the roster).

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue should be the first Florida player off the board at some point during the second day of the draft on Friday (Rounds 3-10). Juniors right-handed pitcher Ryan Harris, first baseman Zack Powers (previously drafted), left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner, outfielder/RHP Justin Shafer, third baseman Josh Tobias (previously drafted) and second baseman Casey Turgeon (previously drafted) could all be selected. Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, is expected to be picked and choose to a professional after dealing with injuries throughout his Gators career. Florida will also have a number of players from its 14-member 2015 recruiting class drafted.

2 » USA Today on Thursday released its college athletic department financial database, and Florida checked in sixth nationally in total revenue by bringing in more than $130 million last year. Weighed against its $107 million in expenses, UF netted over $23 million (second to Alabama’s $27 million) in 2013. Florida brought in $1 million more in ticket sales ($24.6 million) and $2 million more in contributions ($48.4 million) compared to 2012, figures that increased for the third-straight year (2011-13) after dipping in consecutive years (2009-10). The Gators also spent $1 million more on coaching and staff ($41.9 million) compared to 2012 but were nearly $2 million below its nine-year maximum of $43.7 million in 2011.

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, softball, Pouncey, Boynton

1 » The Houston Rockets have chosen to decline the fourth-year option in forward Chandler Parsons’s rookie contract, making him a restricted free agent this summer. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who first reported the team’s decision, the Rockets have every intention of bringing Parsons back but will decline his $960,000 option in hopes of “match[ing] an offer sheet and retain[ing] Parsons on a longer-term contract.” Houston is also looking to keep its cap space this summer so it can go after another big-name free agent. If the Rockets were to otherwise pick up Parsons’s option, he would be an unrestricted free agent next summer with the ability to go to the highest-paying suitor. Speaking with league executives, Wojnarowski estimates that Parsons holds a value of $12-13 million annually. Houston selected Parsons with the No. 38 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft but signed him to a first round-caliber deal. He has seriously outplayed his rookie contract, averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his third NBA season.

2 » Florida Gators softball fans can welcome home the 2014 NCAA National Champions on Wednesday. The school will open Pressly Softball Stadium at 5 p.m. with a championship celebration expected to begin 30-90 minutes later. The event, which will include highlights and live interviews, can also be viewed live here.

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Phoenix, San Antonio, Philadelphia

Through the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the fourth time from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after completing the first three of 14 total team visits he has scheduled before the NBA Draft.

I’m three workouts into the NBA Draft process. It is already proving to be a long, hectic process, and June is going to be crazy. As of right now, I have 14 total workouts scheduled and 11 to go.

My first workout was with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, my second was with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and the one I just finished up was hosted by the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

At my first workout in Phoenix, I heard rumors from the guys at IMG that there was going to be a lot of running and it would be high-tempo. Those guys were right. I was definitely a little nervous going into it because I could see them taking me as one of their picks, and I really wanted to do well.

When I got into Phoenix on Tuesday, I decided to get some work in and put up some shots at the gym. It helped calm my nerves a little bit to get used to the facility.

I didn’t do as great as I wanted to, but I still played really hard, competed well and got a lot of good feedback from the team. I still shot the ball really well; I just think the nerves got to me a little bit with it being my first workout. My energy level, defense and rebounding were absolutely there though.

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