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.

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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.

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TWO BITS: Spikes paid? Foley vs. agents.

1 » Georgia-based football agent Terry Watson of Watson Sports Agency, who is facing 14 felony counts for violating North Carolina’s athlete agent law, may have made payments to Shelby, North Carolina-native linebacker Brandon Spikes, potentially while he was a student-athlete playing for the Florida Gators. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, which cites interviews and court documents relating to the state’s case against Watson, “athletes at three schools other than UNC have been named in court papers” including one from the University of Florida.

Relating specifically to Spikes, the paper sources Patrick Jones, listed as a “close friend of Watson’s,” who “recalls wiring money to Brandon Spikes” but is unable to pinpoint an exact date. “One affidavit appears to document Jones providing Spikes with $212 in March 2011,” which is nearly a year after he was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

2 » In related news… Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is one of 65 athletic officials whose name appears at the end of a nine-page memo calling for major changes to agent laws. According to the Associated Press, the memo pushes “for changes that would include broadening the law to cover agents, runners, financial advisers, marketers or anyone else who tries to sign athletes or provide gifts to jeopardize their eligibility” and was sent Thursday to a United States government “committee that will meet later this month in Chicago to consider updates to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.” The law, which currently exists in 41 states along with the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands, was adopted in 2000 by the Uniform Law Commission.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley out for the season

Florida Gators senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, a leader of the defense and one of the unit’s most explosive players through the team’s three games, will miss the rest of the 2013 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial meniscus in his right knee during practice on Tuesday.

Head coach Will Muschamp officially announced Easley’s injury on Wednesday afternoon after downplaying it earlier in the day during the weekly SEC football coaches’ media teleconference.

“I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season. Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach,” he said in a school release. “Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process.”

“It was non-contact,” said defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday. “He was turning, running on a screen pass and just tweaked it a little bit, it looked like on tape.”

Easley is the second big-time starter and team leader to go down for the Gators in a four-day span as Florida also lost junior quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken right fibula during Saturday’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee.

“Gatornation thank you for all of 4 yrs of sticking wi th me but god has something else planned for and have no worries #believe,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

He is also the sixth UF player (fourth starter) to suffer a season-ending injury joining Driskel (ACL), redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum), redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (ACL), freshman defensive back Nick Washington (shoulder) and freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (ACL). Green, Debose and Rolin were each knocked out for the season during fall camp.

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SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is active on an NFL regular season roster for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to bring him aboard on Monday, the cut-off date established by the league for Demps’s roster exemption. Demps was traded by the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay in April but did not put on a helmet until after the preseason concluded as he spent the entire summer and offseason running track. Now officially a member of the Bucs, Demps will likely handle kick return duties and play sparingly on offense. He has not played a snap of meaningful football since Jan. 2, 2012.

2 » Out of work since being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason following an arrest (on a charge that was later dropped), RB Chris Rainey has received a couple of workout opportunities over the last few months. His latest was with the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Rainey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash during the workout, but “the Chiefs have decided that they currently don’t have a spot for him.”

“Ran a 4.29 in the 40 and kill the workout too. Waitin on the Kansas City chiefs to get back at me or Watever team now. God is Good!!!” Rainey tweeted on Monday.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS (two videos)…after the break!
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Three legendary Florida Gators – Rick Casares, Larry Travis, Hans Tanzler – have passed away

A trio of well-known and highly-successful former Florida Gators football players has passed away in the last two months with fullback Rick Casares, on Friday, becoming the latest to meet his maker. He was 82.

From 1951-53, Casares played football and basketball at Florida but had his career cut short when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was the first player in the history of the Gators football program to score a touchdown (and kick an extra point) in a bowl game – doing so in the 1953 Gator Bowl – and also served as a kicker for Florida. He went 13-for-13 on field goals in 1951.

A captain in both sports, Casares won multiple All-SEC honors and was even named an honorable mention All-American. On the hardwood, he led the Gators basketball team in scoring and rebounding in consecutive seasons, averaging 14.9 points and 11.3 rebounds in 1951-52 and 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in 1952-53.

“He was the best to ever play here in my opinion,” said program historian Norm Carlson in a conversation with UF’s website. “He was an incredible athlete. If they needed him to play quarterback, he would play quarterback. If they asked him to play linebacker, he would do that and knock somebody’s head off. He was a great fullback. He could do anything on the football field and look so good doing it.”

When he was eligible after his military service was complete, Casares was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the second round of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played for three teams over 12 years (1955-66), racking up career numbers of 5,797 rushing yards, 1,588 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns in 130 games.

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15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

From time to time, OGGOA 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.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps missed the entire offseason while running track but officially joined the team on Monday in hopes of earning a roster spot and playing football in 2013. The Buccaneers have a roster exemption or Demps, who will have one full week to prove his worth and take one of the 53 available spots or else be released by Tampa Bay. Though the Bucs will certainly see what Demps can do for them, head coach Greg Schiano was perturbed a few weeks ago when asked where Demps was in the world and why he had not reported at the time.

» Former Florida Gators forward Cody Larson, who lost his scholarship and then quit the basketball team before the 2012-13 season but remained at Florida for academics, transferred to play for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in May and had a waiver to play immediately accepted by the NCAA this month. “We want to thank the committee and the NCAA for taking the time to look at Cody’s waiver,” head coach Scott Nagy said in a school release. “We appreciate the fact that this ruling allows him the opportunity to be eligible to compete immediately.” Larson will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining but has not played college basketball in two full seasons.

» One of the greatest tennis players in school history, Jill Craybas has decided to retire at age 39 after spending the last 18 years playing professional tennis. One of two Florida women to win the NCAA Singles Championship, Craybas captured the title in 1996 while leading the Gators women’s program to the team NCAA Championship that same season. Inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2008, Craybas never won a Grand Slam title but advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2005 after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the Round of 16 that year. She also represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life,” she told Tennis Panorama about her retirement decision. “I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Check out 12 more Gator Bites…after the break!
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