Injuries force four Gators to miss Outback Bowl

Four Florida Gators upperclassmen – including starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins – will be unable to play against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to injuries suffered during the 2010 season.

In addition to Jenkins (right shoulder), redshirt senior offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (right knee) and redshirt senior defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (right hip) and Terron Sanders (right shoulder) will not play for the Gators in Tampa, FL on Jan. 1. All had surgeries to correct their injuries after the season and are still in recovery.

For Hurt, Marsh and Sanders, the trio of veterans have played their last game in the orange and blue. Jenkins’ situation is not as settled. He is expected to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft but could very well return to Florida next season if he so chooses.

Jenkins may or may not be healthy enough to participate in the NFL Combine. If he is not of complete health, he could still attend for interviews and general evaluations with workouts delayed for Florida’s Pro Day.

The University of Florida confirmed the players would miss the game on Monday.

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Tebow spurns Gatorade for…FRS Health Energy?

Though he briefly did sponsorship work for the company prior to the 2010 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow has decided not to sign an endorsement deal with Gatorade, the sports drink invented by University of Florida researchers in Gainesville, FL. Instead Tebow has agreed to a multi-year deal with the wellness drink company FRS Health Energy.

“I use their products regularly and can honestly say I believe FRS has helped me perform at my best on and off the field,” Tebow said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing my FRS story with fans and spreading the word on this amazing brand.”

According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, FRS Health Energy first “got on the map three years ago by signing Lance Armstrong, who endorses the product and owns a piece of the company.” Rovell reports, according to XV Enterprises marketer Angel Gonzalez, that Tebow’s endorsement deal includes some equity in the company.

One of the reasons Tebow and his representatives picked FRS over Gatorade is because Tebow actually used the product while training for the combine. The company reportedly “became intrigued with Tebow when they heard he walked into a Gainesville GNC while training for the NFL combine to purchase the product,” Rovell reports.

Both Gatorade and Powerade were also vying for Tebow’s services.

Other endorsers for FRS Health Energy include Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow starting, Addazio leaving?

1 » Four quarterbacks were selected within the first 85 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft, yet Denver Broncos rookie Tim Tebow – picked No. 25 overall in the first round – is the only one of the bunch yet to start a game at QB for his team this season. That will change Sunday as Tebow will take his place behind center for the 3-10 Broncos in relief of injured starter Kyle Orton (ribs). Tebow, who has taken almost every first-team snap in practice this week, already has four touchdowns this year (three rushing) but has played sparingly for Denver up until this point. The head coach who drafted him and believed in him, Josh McDaniels, is no longer with the club, and Tebow will be starting behind an offensive line that allowed Orton to be sacked 34 times in the team’s first 13 games. Nevertheless, all eyes will be on Tebow at 4:15 p.m. (ET) expecting him to show he has what it takes to play QB in the NFL.

2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio will interview for the head coaching job with the Temple Owls. Addazio, who has never been a NCAA head coach, has been coaching in college since 1995 and is not likely to be retained at his current position by new Florida head coach Will Muschamp. Though a majority of fans are pleased with Addazio’s past success as a recruiter and coaching the offensive line, his struggles managing the Gators’ offense over the last two seasons have drawn their ire. Addazio is not the only candidate for the job but would be a big pick-up for a smaller school as he could bring in top recruits and likely perform better as a head coach than a coordinator.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has missed his team’s past two games after his severe migraine headaches acted up again, is expected to return to the field this week. Harvin has undergone plenty of treatment for his migraines since entering the NFL, but doctors have continuously failed in pinpointing their cause or minimizing their affect on him. According to the player, he now has a “clear mind” and practiced “more explosive than when I left” after spending a week at a Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, meeting with a migraine specialist. Harvin is now on a new medicine that will help him control other triggers that might cause the headaches. “We covered pretty much every base. We’ve got a plan to prevent it, we’ve got a plan if it comes, and we’ve got a plan if it’s real bad,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

4 » Certain BCS bowl teams may be having problems selling out the tickets for their games, but Florida has had no issues getting rid of their allotment for the 2011 Outback Bowl. The Gators have sold their assigned 12,000 tickets for the event and fans are snatching up plenty of the non-allotted tickets to see head coach Urban Meyer lead the team for the last time against the Penn State Nittany Lions and soon-to-be 84-year-old head coach Joe Paterno.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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Could Tim Tebow start Sunday for the Broncos?

With veteran quarterback Kyle Orton performing well in front of him much of the season, Denver Broncos rookie signal caller Tim Tebow was relegated to back-up and spot duty. Though he has scored four touchdowns this year (three rushing), Tebow and many of his fans knew it would be a reach for him to start a game in 2010.

That is until things changed in Denver.

The Broncos began playing worse and worse each week, head coach Josh McDaniels was fired and replaced with interim coach Eric Studesville, and Orton injured his ribs on Sunday against Arizona during a terrible performance.

Those events have led to Tebow taking the majority of first-team snaps during the last two practices even though Studesville claimed earlier in the week that Orton would be his starter. Studesville changed his tune a bit Thursday, saying he was “not in a hurry to make a decision” about his starting QB.

“He did a nice job in practice yesterday. He went in there and ran the huddle, he did a nice job throwing the ball, and going through alert systems in the run game,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said, according to The Denver Post. “It was great for Timmy to get in there and have the majority of the snaps. As practice went along he got better and better, he felt more and more comfortable with everybody.”

Columnists and fans in the Mile-High City have been clamoring for the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft to see the field for an extensive period of time behind center. That time may finally come on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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Transferring not Brantley’s only viable option

After new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp concluded his introductory press conference Tuesday, the media surrounded a few players – including redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley – to gauge their impressions of the new man in charge.

However, when it came to Brantley, the real question of the evening was whether or not he would transfer after the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

“I’m sure we will still talk about it,” said Brantley, giving an indication for the first time that transferring is a legitimate option for him. “We have a little relationship with coach Muschamp from when I was committed to Texas, so we’ll definitely see what happens. [Hiring Muschamp] definitely changes a lot, but we’re going to have some conversation and figure this thing out.”

Later Brantley did a quick interview with ESPN and gave a similar statement. “I’m still going to sit down with my family after this bowl game,” he said. “I think coach Muschamp is a great coach and he’s going to have a great staff come in here. But I’m still going to sit down with my family and talk about things.”

Though he did not mention it on Tuesday, Brantley has a third road he can go down in addition to returning to Florida or transferring to another school. That road goes to the NFL and will certainly be a consideration when he meets with his family.

Think about Brantley’s options for a second. He can start over with the Gators under Muschamp and a currently unnamed offensive coordinator who will ideally install a pro-style offense, transfer to a FCS program and try to raise his draft stock, transfer to another FBS program (he will graduate and be eligible to do so without sitting out), or simply head for greener pastures now and hope he performs well enough to be drafted in a later round or catch on somewhere as an undrafted free agent with upside.

Staying at Florida is probably Brantley’s best bet – give the new coach a chance and see what happens. He would have the inside track at the starting job and the ability to shine if one is to believe that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and the offensive schemes are to blame. (Obviously Brantley’s poor play was a lot of his own doing as well.)

Transferring could work, but for every Joe Flacco (went to Pittsburgh, transferred to Delaware, drafted No. 18 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft) there are dozens of quarterbacks who make the same decision and whom you either never hear from again or still end up going undrafted when their NCAA eligibility expires. Brantley has to consider whether he would be in the minority or the majority in that scenario.

The NFL, however, gives Brantley another option: forget college. He can wipe his hands of the spread offense or the spread-to-pro-style hybrid that may be in place with the Gators next year. He wouldn’t have to worry about starting fresh elsewhere for one year (Flacco had two years at Delaware). Instead he can concentrate on his mechanics, train hard and try to “wow” scouts into believing that his struggles were all his team’s fault.

Taking the later route may be the most difficult. Perhaps Brantley doesn’t great drafted until the third day – if at all. Maybe he has to work his way up from the practice squad. But a respite at another school could end up doing nothing for him – maybe his stats get inflated and he performs better, but will he actually improve as a player?

No matter what Brantley decides, head coach Urban Meyer stepping down provided him with more options than he would have had if he stayed. Sticking around at Florida is probably his best choice, but his opportunities are not limited as limited as they could be.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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Tim Tebow sends best wishes to Urban Meyer

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, selected No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft after playing four seasons with the Florida Gators under head coach Urban Meyer with whom he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and two BCS National Championships, released the following statement Wednesday after learning Meyer decided to call it quits on his Florida coaching career.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a man who will be remembered as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. But Coach Meyer was more than just a coach to me: He was a father figure who cared about me as a person and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.

“I respect that Coach Meyer had the courage to make the decision that was right for himself and his family. He will be blessed and better off for it. I am truly glad that he’s happy and no matter what, we both will be Gators for the rest of our lives.

“While change is never easy, the University of Florida will find the right head coach to continue its proud football tradition and will have the full support of Gator Nation. I wish Coach Meyer and his family all the best going forward, and they will always be a big part of my life.”

UPDATE: Tebow spoke further about Meyer on Friday.

“I’ve talked to him pretty much every day, multiple times. I’m proud of him. It takes a lot to leave something that you love like that, like coaching, like the University of Florida, but he knew what the right thing was to do for him and no one else knew that except for him,” he said. “He just wanted to spend more time with his family, and that was the most important thing to him, and I thought that was great. I respect him even more for making a decision like that.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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McDaniels’ canning leaves Tebow’s future murky

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen finally fired head coach Josh McDaniels on Monday, days after his staff was accused of participating in “Spygate II” and approximately 24 hours after his team dropped its ninth game of the 2010 season. Though McDaniels won his first six games as head coach in Denver, he finished his short career an astoundingly awful 5-17 in his last 22 contests.

Depending who you ask, McDaniels either made a gutsy and intelligent call or colossal mistake in trading up for and drafting former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Tebow, being selected by a coach infatuated with QBs and confident that he could mold him into a NFL-caliber signal caller, was pleased to be playing for the Broncos and was welcomed into the community with open arms even as some fans were skeptical of his ability.

Though Tebow has scored four touchdowns this year (three rushing in goal line packages, one passing), he was not utilized as much as McDaniels had promised and fans had hoped. With Denver inching further and further away from playoff contention in recent weeks, McDaniels was asked over-and-over again if he would play Tebow, a question that consistently elicited a response aimed at propping up starter Kyle Orton, who has thrived under McDaniels’ tutelage.

With McDaniels – one of two coaches in the league who were believed to be enthusiastic developers for Tebow (the other being New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick) – now out of a job, one must wonder what lies ahead in the player’s future.

“Thank you for everything you did for me Coach McDaniels, including drafting me into this great organization,” Tebow said via his Twitter account Monday evening. “I wish you nothing but the best.”

Should someone like Jon Gruden take over in Denver, Tebow would likely not miss a step and perhaps gain another prudent supporter. Then again the Broncos could also sign someone who wants nothing to do with the former Heisman Trophy winner, leaving him as a back-up or perhaps even trading him for pennies on the dollar to another club that believes they can develop him properly.

While Tebow’s long-term success or failure in the NFL is not even close to being determined, his immediate future in Denver is up in the air – a mile high.

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Four Gators starters earn AP All-SEC honors

Four Florida Gators football players were selected by the Associated Press as members of their 2010 All-SEC Teams on Monday.

Senior safety Ahmad Black, senior punter Chas Henry and junior cornerback Janoris Jekins were named All-SEC first-team selections, while senior center Mike Pouncey earned second team honors.

With Black, Henry and Pouncey graduating – and Jenkins expected to declare his eligibility for the 2011 NFL Draft – none of Florida’s honorees will likely return for the 2011 season.

Southeastern Conference coaches placed 10 Gators on their preseason All-SEC teams. Included on that list were Pouncey, Jenkins and redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson on the first team, and Black, Henry, junior running back Jeff Demps, junior S Will Hill, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey and junior kicker Caleb Sturgis on the second team.

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