TWO BITS: Deering update, Schlabach predictions

1 » With four-star safety commitment Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) visiting the USC Trojans on Jan. 29, the Florida Gators are likely considering options to replace him should he bolt for the West Coast. Their top option is believed to be four-star athlete recruit Jeremy Deering (Tampa, FL), who paid a visit to Gainesville, FL, recently. However, JC Shurburtt of ESPN reports that Deering is leaning toward the Florida State Seminoles, calling them “the likely team to beat” while saying that the Gators “do not appear to be an option because they are quickly filling up.” Perhaps FSU is indeed the leader…unless a spot suddenly opens up at Florida on National Signing Day.

2 » While most outlets (including OGGOA, Sports Illustrated, etc.) wrapped up their “All-Decade” lists and articles in December 2009, ESPN has spent the last week printing theirs about college football. Mark Schlabach concluded the series with his predictions for the next decade, most of which are positive for Gators fans. Among his 20 predictions, Schlabach believes the Southeastern Conference will win at least four more BCS National Championships; head coach Urban Meyer will win at least one more at Florida; another Gators quarterback, John Brantley, will lead the Gators to the SEC East title in 2010; and Brantley will win the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 2011.

Extra Bit » Five-star Florida defensive end commit Ronald Powell, the consensus No. 1-rated player in the country, told Justin Wells of Gator Country that his loyalty to the Gators is unchanged after being pursued heavily by Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron. “There isn’t anybody that going to change my mind,” Powell told Wells. “I’m a Florida Gator, and I’m going to be a Florida Gator. [Kiffin and Orgeron] came to my school and tried to talk to me there, and I told them, ‘I’m a Florida Gator,’ and that’s it. They’ve tried to call, but I’m done.”

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TWO BITS: Pierre-Louis’ girlfriend denies charges

1 » The Tampa Tribune has recounted a statement made by Starlett Lazenberry, the girlfriend former Florida Gators cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis, in an Alachua County courtroom Tuesday morning. “I do not fear for my life or anything like that,” Lazenberry told the court. “He’s not a danger to anyone. He couldn’t hurt a frog.” Lazenberry apparently went on to dispute other claims attributed to her in the police report filed Sunday morning. She said that Pierre-Louis neither broke into her apartment nor attempted to strangle her, the two key indictments made against him in the report filed by the Gainesville Police Department. Judge Walter Green reduced Pierre-Louis’ bail from $185,000 to $40,000 but said he still saw probable cause, according to the report. You can read OGGOA‘s two stories on this alleged incident here and then here.

2 » The University of Tennessee is looking into actions that may have been taken by former Tennessee Volunteers now USC Trojans recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach Ed Orgeron upon his departure from the school. Orgeron’s questionable actions include statements he may have made to enrolled UT student-athletes. More on the story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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Fallout from Kiffin departure lands UF a recruit

Lane Kiffin heading west from Knoxville, TN, to Los Angeles, CA, will no doubt have its impact on the landscape of the Southeastern Conference and the immediate future of the Tennessee Volunteers. Because Kiffin dropped the Vols for the USC Trojans just three weeks before National Signing Day, some of Tennessee’s recruits may now be looking elsewhere while USC’s appear more likely to stay put.

Part of that immediate fallout may be three-star linebacker Michael Taylor (Atlanta, GA). Just hours after Kiffin’s announcement, speculation began to mount that Taylor will be joining the Florida Gators 2010 recruiting class. “Yeah, he is going to the University of Florida,” said Tony Jacobs, Taylor’s teammate at Atlanta Westlake High.

UPDATE: Sources other than the Sentinel are reporting that Taylor has not yet officially committed to Florida, though he likely will once he has some time to decide. Taylor actually paid a visit to Gainesville, FL, last weekend.

Considered one of the Volunteers’ top recruits and the MVP for his team in the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game, Taylor is not the only one upset at Kiffin and company. Fellow recruit four-star defensive end Brandon Willis told ESPN that he was dismayed at the fact that the former Tennessee tried to bring him along to their new gig. “They had the nerve to call me and ask me to come to Southern Cal,” Willis said. “And coach Ed Orgeron [who is going with Kiffin to USC] said that he was going to be my coach at Tennessee.”

Whether this decision came after Kiffin’s announcement or not, Gators four-star running back commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) has said that he no longer plans to take any official visits besides one to UF. Four-star defensive back commit Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) was planning on visiting Tennessee and Florida State but may no longer be making that first trip.

It is also important for Florida fans to keep an eye on recent five-star commitment Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA), who will almost certainly be a top target for Orgeron, a recruiting mastermind and the Trojans’ new assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

VIDEO: Volunteers fans torch a Kiffin t-shirt
VIDEO: Tennessee supporters rush Neyland-Thompson Sports Center
VIDEO: Vols fan pulls an R. Kelly on a Kiffin t-shirt [Explicit]
PHOTOS: Campus scenes of Lane Kiffin’s last day
STORY: Kiffin’s departure sparks emotion in Knoxville
STORY: The meteoric rise of mediocre Kiffin

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Kiffin kicks Tennessee to curb for USC job

Tennessee VolunteersLane Kiffin has agreed to become the next head coach of the USC Trojans, multiple sources told ESPN‘s Chris Low Tuesday night. Kiffin, whose sole season with Tennessee was shrouded in controversy both on and off the field, will bring his father Monte Kiffin along as defensive coordinator. Ed Orgeron is expected to follow and continue his role under Kiffin as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, and Norm Chow plans to return to the program as offensive coordinator.

“We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett said. “I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I’m confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect. Lane brings a lot to the table. He has a coaching background both in the pros and in the best collegiate conferences. He has a great command of the X’s and O’s. He is familiar with the Trojan landscape and will be a great representative of our university. He keeps the game fun. And, very importantly, he has proven to be one of the finest recruiters anywhere.”

An assistant with USC from 2001-06, Kiffin left to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007. He spent just over one season in Oakland, going 5-15 before being fired by owner Al Davis in September 2008. His sole season with the Volunteers ended with a 7-6 record and 37-14 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Peach Bowl.

Kiffin made it a point to become public enemy No. 1 for the Florida Gators and their fans after he claimed his team would be singing “Rocky Top all night long” after defeating UF in The Swamp. He furthered his villainous stature by not only insulting head coach Urban Meyer but also falsely accusing him of recruiting violations after nabbing wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson away from the Gators.

Ironically, Kiffin and his staff incurred six minor recruiting violations over the last year, and Richardson was dismissed from the team after committing armed robbery outside of a gas station in Knoxville, TN. Florida would go on to defeat Tennessee 23-13, leaving Meyer undefeated against Kiffin in Southeastern Conference play.

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SIX BITS: Tebow aims high, SEC reigns supreme

1 » Steve Wieberg of USA Today wrote a terrific article about Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow that printed Friday. “Already a Florida legend, Gators’ Tebow is aiming higher,” focuses on Tebow’s ability to make selflessness cool, his fire and devotion and potential prospects on the next level in the National Football League. “Football. Athleticism. Leadership. Charity Work. His faith. You name it. I’ve never seen anybody who had all that in one package,” said former Georgia Bulldogs head coach Vince Dooley. “That’s what puts him in a class by himself.”

2 » Saturday is going to be filled with plenty of college football action. Conference championships, rivalry games and career-defining moments will be aplenty, but the day truly belongs to the Southeastern Conference and its championship game. Tommy Hicks of the Mobile Press-Register contends that “it’s the SEC’s world, and all the other leagues and teams are just playing in it.”

3 » Just because four-star running back recruit Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) committed to the Gators does not mean teams have stopped pursuing him. At the top of that list is the Tennessee Volunteers and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, who visited Brown and tried to persuade him to switch. “He said they would play me as a freshman and that in their offense, the back gets the ball more than the backs in a spread offense. He said in the spread, I’ll be sharing carries with receivers and three or four running backs.” Florida immediately called and spoke to Brown’s father. “I’m committed to Florida, I’m not taking any other visits but Florida,” Brown said.

Three more recruiting BITS and an extra BIT after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow aims high, SEC reigns supreme

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SIX BITS: SC confident; Spurrier; Addazio speaks; Harvin/Murphy; coaching salaries; Walker Q&A

1 » In 2008, the Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 56-6 in The Swamp, handing head coach Steve Spurrier the worst loss of his career. A year later, Gamecocks players are inspired and more confident in their ability to compete and potentially defeat the Gators. “They haven’t done as much as they’ve done last year,” defensive tackle Nathan Pepper said. “But they’ve definitely done a lot this season.”

2 » Speaking of South Carolina, Spurrier said Tuesday that he will be taking over his team’s play calling beginning this week against Florida. Spurrier’s decision came based on the fact that the Gamecocks are struggling to score points and have not scored more than 16 in any of their last four Southeastern Conference games.

3 » Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio had an interesting day in front of the media on Tuesday. According to transcripts, Addazio went on…and on…and on…for eight minutes about his offense, game planning and the team being undefeated. You can read the “short” form here, listen to the audio here or read the entire transcript here.

More on Harvin and Murphy, SEC coaching salaries and Walker after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SC confident; Spurrier; Addazio speaks; Harvin/Murphy; coaching salaries; Walker Q&A

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