Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

Updated at 9 p.m.

With NFL training camp finally underway after an extended lockout cancelled organized team activities and mini camps, more than three dozen former Florida Gators are working out and trying to earn their keep this year. Below is a comprehensive look at each player in the league as well as those still looking for work.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

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Gators undrafted free agents agree to deals

Updated July 27 at 3:30 p.m.

The end of the NFL lockout sent the league into a frenzy Monday evening as teams were officially allowed to contact and agree to contracts with undrafted free agents who were not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. With only four Florida Gators picked in the seven-round draft back in April, a number of well-known players remained available heading into one of the most questionable offseasons in pro football history.

With contracts now being signed as names continue to roll in, a number of former Gators have already been picked up to join NFL squads this year.

Everything started Monday evening as linebacker Duke Lemmens chose to stay out west and play for the Arizona Cardinals, defensive tackle Terron Sanders got a call from the Baltimore Ravens, and running back Emmanuel Moody decided to join 2010 undrafted free agent wide receiver David Nelson with the Buffalo Bills.

On Tuesday, punter Chas Henry chose to team up with wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Cornelius Ingram on the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Justin Trattou decided to play close to home with the New York Giants, and offensive lineman Carl Johnson joined up with DE Alex Brown on the New Orleans Saints.

Wednesday brought two more signings as LB A.J. Jones found a spot with the Denver Broncos and LB Brandon Hicks [unconfirmed] signed with the Bills. Jones joins quarterback Tim Tebow in Denver, while Hicks teams up with Moody and Nelson in Buffalo.

Safety Will Hill was originally reported to have agreed to a deal with the Washington Redskins; however, it surfaced Tuesday that those reports were premature and the two sides have not spoken about a contract.

OGGOA spoke with Sanders early Tuesday morning, and he related to us that former Florida defensive coordinator now Baltimore defensive backs coach Teryl Austin had a lot to do with him getting this opportunity with a top-tier franchise.

“Coach Austin, he’s up there now, and he put in a good word for me and told them that I can plug the hole and knock people back,” Sanders said. “He convinced them to take a shot at me. They called my agent, my agent called me and asked me if I’d be interested in going to Baltimore. I told them, ‘Yeah,’ and the deal is done.”

Though he has been hoping the lockout would end and has been keeping in shape, Sanders also kept himself busy with a regular job until his future was known.

“I haven’t put on a pair of shoulder pads in a while,” he said. “I’ve been working out, doing some running, and I started working at U-Haul about two weeks ago just to get some money in my pocket until this was decided.”

Other players who could be signed include WR Carl Moore and defensive lineman Brandon Antwine and Lawrence Marsh.

OGGOA will update this post as additional signings are announced.

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Eleven Gator Bites for Monday, July 25th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» With the NFL lockout now in the books, the Florida Gators four selections in the 2011 NFL Draft will be reporting to work for the first time on Thursday. Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (first round, No. 15), Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert (second round, No. 63), Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Ahmad Black (fifth round, No. 151 and Washington Redskins guard Maurice Hurt (seventh round, No. 217 are all on teams who will be eligible to workout immediately.

» While that foursome is ready and raring to go, Florida also has a number of undrafted free agents hoping to be picked up by teams looking to supplement their roster. Among those available are defensive linemen Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou, running back Emmanuel Moody and wide receiver Carl Moore. OGGOA will update you if and when these players are picked up by teams.

» The WNBA held its 2011 All-Star game over the weekend and also announced its Top 15 Players of All Time at the event. Though she was nominated and up for selection to the list, former Gators forward DeLisha Milton-Jones was not picked by fans for the honor. The six-time champion (two Olympic gold medals, two WNBA titles, two Euroleague titles) is currently averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Sparks.

There are 11 more Gator Bites including updates on Calathes, UF-FSU, Beal, Alvarez, Wambach, LeCount, ultimate Frisbee and Bostic…after the break!
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OGGOA’s comprehensive 2011 NFL Draft Preview

Legalities surrounding the lockout may still be looming, but the 2011 NFL Draft will begin without a hitch Thursday night (ESPN, NFL Network) and run through April 30 as more than a dozen former Florida Gators hope to see their childhood dreams come true.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting Florida’s players may not be as excited about the event this time around considering there will be a significant drop-off from the nation-leading nine players that were selected in 2010 (including a school-record three in the first round and six in the first two rounds).

Few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts and commentators do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen.

» Center/guard Mike Pouncey will be the only first-round pick, selected before his brother was and headed to one of five teams.

Unless a team decides that they desperately need a center and plans to trade into the top half of the first round in order to jump a handful of other teams, Pouncey will likely be headed to either the Miami Dolphins (15) or New York Giants (19) at their respective draft slots or to one of three teams that would have to trade down/up for him: Dallas Cowboys (9), Chicago Bears (29) or Pittsburgh Steelers (31). The top-rated interior lineman in the draft, Pouncey continues to garner high praise and has plenty of teams around the league looking in his direction.

» Florida will not have another player selected until at least the third round.

There was talk for a while that tackle Marcus Gilbert may be moving into the category of a late second-round selection but that has died down recently. However, he is the only player on the team who has actually climbed up draft boards since the season ended. His size is undeniable and scouts were impressed with his agility and strength. Gilbert projects as either a right tackle or guard in the NFL with many scouts believing he might perform better in the latter position. He will likely be selected sometime in the third round and may very well be one of only two Gators picked in the first two days of the draft.

» The future of Florida’s secondary standouts is not very “safe.”

Like linebacker Brandon Spikes in 2010, strong safety Ahmad Black has seen his stock slide going into the draft due to concerns about his speed. Unlike Spikes last year, Black also has scouts worried about his lack of prototypical NFL size and how his immense talent will be able to translate to the big stage. As Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow knows, all it takes is one team to believe in you. And whether former head coach Urban Meyer is in Bill Belichick’s ear once again (the New England Patriots drafted three Gators in 2010) or a team simply realizes that Black has a high football IQ and can significantly impact a game if given an opportunity, he will likely have someone take a chance on him in the third or fourth round.

Though free safety Will Hill has the prototypical size and speed that Black lacks, those around the league have realized he is missing perhaps even more important things like football IQ and character. His athleticism is undeniable, but there are too many question marks about him (including, simply, his talent level) for a team to take a risk on him early. Hill will be picked on the third day – if he is at all.

» Punter Chas Henry will be drafted later than he should be.

When it comes to specialists, just being picked in the NFL Draft is usually an honor. Sometimes one has so much upside that they are selected extremely early (see kicker Sebastian Janikowski [No. 17 overall, 2000] and P Ray Guy [No. 23 overall, 1973]), but most of the time they are just lucky to be chosen in a middle round. Though Henry was the best collegiate punter in 2010 (and arguably 2009, too), his draft position will be based strictly on team need. His ability to serve as a viable back-up kicker should provide him a bit of additional value but chances are he is picked late on the third day.

» The vast majority of Gators will be undrafted free agents.

Due to red flags ranging from injuries to lack of production, the rest of Florida’s draft-eligible players may not know where they are headed for days, weeks or months depending how NFL teams decide to handle undrafted free agent signings in the face of the (recently lifted) lockout.

Offensive lineman Carl Johnson and Maurice Hurt; running back Emmanuel Moody; wide receivers Carl Moore and Justin Williams; defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens; defensive tackles Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh and Brandon Antwine; linebackers A.J. Jones, Brandon Hicks and Lorenzo Edwards; and long snapper John Fairbanks could all be picked up after the draft concludes. There is the chance that a select few (Johnson, Hurt, Moody, Moore, Trattou) could be selected in the sixth or seventh round due to potential long-term upside.

For LIVE COVERAGE of the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to join us back here at OGGOA beginning Thursday at 8 p.m. and running through the conclusion of the event on Saturday.

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Florida spring practice will be closed to public

The Will Muschamp era of Florida Gators football will begin with a measure put in place that even former head coach Urban Meyer did not institute during his time in the orange and blue: 2011 spring practice will be closed to the public.

“With a new coaching staff here teaching our system, we feel like minimizing our distractions is important,’’ Muschamp said in an official statement. “We realize that there is high interest from the fans, and we are extremely appreciative of the support that The Gator Nation gives us. We hope that they understand that this decision has been made in the interest of helping our program be successful on Saturdays this fall by allowing our team to learn and develop together in this type of environment.

“We also respect that the media have a job to do and understand that this creates a challenge for them, so we ask for their patience with us as we work through our first spring practice here at Florida.’’

Fans will be able to get their first look at the new Gators team on April 9 at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut spring game. The event will air live on Sun Sports beginning at noon. Tickets are free for students, Gator Boosters and members of the Alumni Association and F Club. A limited number of free tickets are available to the public; otherwise the cost is $5 per person.

Florida also announced Wednesday that Pro Day will be held for those players hoping to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft on March 15 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Among those expected to participated, according to UF, are center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black, punter Chas Henry and guard Carl Johnson.

OGGOA has previously been informed that running back Emmanuel Moody, defensive linemen Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou will also be participating along with a number of other former seniors/graduates.

In the past, Pro Day had been open to both the public and the media. This time around, only the media will be allowed to attend.

“Pro Day is an extremely important day for the career hopes of these players, and they’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy preparing for it,” Florida associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain said in a release.

“We feel that creating a more private environment and minimizing potential distractions will help give them the best chance to perform up to their potential. We also feel like it’s become more important than ever for us to monitor who is around our team and student-athletes, and taking this step provides us an even greater ability to manage that.”

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Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

According to the University of Florida, 33 student-athletes will be earning their degrees in commencement ceremonies on campus over the weekend. Twelve Florida Gators football players and eight swimmers lead the pack, which also includes some of the most accomplished athletes in school history like football’s Chas Henry and swimming’s Gemma Spofforth. OGGOA readers can view the entire list below as compiled by the University Athletic Association.

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Gators topple Mountaineers 48-10 on Senior Day

Saturday in The Swamp was a celebration for the Florida Gators’ senior class as they led their team for the final time at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to a dominant 48-10 victory over the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Florida (7-4) had lost its previous three games in Gainesville, FL, before defeating Appalachian State (9-2), a rarity for a senior class that was 19-2 at home going into this year.

Unlike the rest of the season, the Gators’ offense got a quick start on Saturday, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game and four of its first five. Florida led 28-0 going into halftime, but head coach Urban Meyer took his foot off the gas in the second half; UF still outscored ASU 20-10 in the latter part of the game.

Redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed led the way for the Gators with four touchdowns including three on the ground and one through their air to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley in what was the first reception of Brantley’s career. UF’s leading passer, Brantley finished 16-of-22 for 222 yards and one interception.

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey dominated early with 40 yards rushing on the first drive including a 16-yard touchdown; he finished the day taking six carries for 87 yards and catching two balls for 23 yards. Reed carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards, and RBs sophomore Mike Gillislee and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody tallied 56 yards apiece on the ground.

Florida’s players accounted for a number of career-highs in the contest. Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson reeled in six catches for a career-high 100 yards, freshman defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell swarmed for a career-high nine tackles, and redshirt junior cornerback Moses Jenkins and senior LB Brandon Hicks each notched a career-high seven tackles.

Hicks also forced a fumble in the second quarter that was eventually recovered by senior safety Ahmad Black; it led to Reed’s TD pass to Brantley. Senior punter/kicker Chas Henry made all six of his extra point attempts and punted the ball once for 42 yards.

The Gators finished with a season-high 311 rushing yards and 547 total yards while scoring seven touchdowns – the most this year. The final score was attributed to redshirt senior defensive tackle Gary Beemer, a walk-on who Meyer gave three carries inside the three in order to score his first career touchdown.

Saturday was an emotional day for Florida’s seniors. A number of players – including center Mike Pouncey and Black – were noticeably teary-eyed when being introduced before the game. Pouncey put his head down in Meyer’s chest and Black dropped to his knees in the end zone. After Beemer’s touchdown, his helmet came off in celebration and he pumped up the crowd while tightly holding onto the ball.

UF hopes to keep the emotion and energy going next week when they take on Florida State on the road in Tallahassee, FL, in the final game of the 2010 regular season. Kickoff will be set shortly for either 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

Photo Credits: The Gainesville Sun

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Week 12: Florida Gators vs. App. St. Mountaineers

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 76°F, clear skies
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: PPV [Information]
TV Replays: Sun Sports – Sun., Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m.; Tues., Nov. 23 at 11:00 p.m.
Online Video: ESPN3.com (Outside of Florida only.)
Sirius/XM: 215/200
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS APP. STATE MOUNTAINEERS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Jerry Moore
Record: 6-4 Record: 9-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southern (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -23.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Appalachian State have never squared off before, but the Gators are 24-2 all-time against Southern Conference opponents.
» Since 2005, UF and ASU have combined for five national championships. The Gators have won two FBS titles (2006, 2008), while the Mountaineers have captured three-straight FCS championships (2005-07).
» Florida has faced three FCS schools since 2006, beating them a combined 194-22. However Appalachian State is easily the best of the bunch, having won six-straight conference titles (2005-10) under Moore’s leadership.
» UF is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Florida is back out of the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after returning to the rankings two weeks ago. This season is the first time the Gators have been unranked in all three under Meyer. Florida had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State three weeks ago.
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» UF under Meyer is 41-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 38-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» Florida redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson and sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon are both from North Carolina, while Appalachian State boasts five players from the state of Florida. ASU defensive coordinator Dale Jones was a former UF assistant (1991).

SENIOR DAY

The Gators’ 2010 senior class is one of the winningest classes in SEC history with a 41-10 record in their time in the Orange and Blue. However, that is not the only accomplishment the class has made in the last four years. The senior class also has:

Two National Championships – Three BCS bowl game wins (2010 Sugar Bowl) – Two SEC Championships (three appearances) – Three SEC Eastern Division titles – 29-5 record at The Swamp – 15-1 record vs. rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, FSU and Miami)

* Brandon Antwine – #47 – DT – Garland, Tex.
* Ahmad Black – #35 – SS – Lakeland, Fla.
* Lorenzo Edwards – #26 – LB – Orlando, Fla.
* John Fairbanks – #59 – LS – Celebration, Fla.
* Marcus Gilbert – #76 – LT – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
* Chas Henry – #17 – P/K – Dallas, Ga.
* Brandon Hicks – #40 – LB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Maurice Hurt – #74 – T/G – Milledgeville, Ga.
* Carl Johnson – #57 – G – Durham, N.C.
* A.J. Jones – #16 – LB – Tampa, Fla.
* Duke Lemmens – #44 – DE/LB – Westlake Village, Calif.
* Lawrence Marsh – #90 – DT – Augusta, Ga.
* Emmanuel Moody – #21 – RB – Coppell, Tex.
* Carl Moore – #9 – WR – Rancho Cordova, Calif.
* Mike Pouncey – #55 – C – Lakeland, Fla.
* Terron Sanders – #92 – DT – Bradenton, Fla.
* Justin Trattou – #94 – DE – Ramsey, N.J.
* Justin Williams – #7 – WR – Folkston, Ga.
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* Gary Beemer – #61 – DT – Valrico, Fla.
* Miguel Carodine – #41 – S – Gainesville, Fla.
* Eugene Minchin – #33 – LB – Gainesville, Fla.
* Shawn Schmieder – #70 – DT – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Solomon Schoonover – #29 – WR – Aventura, Fla.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 8-7 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing an interception last week. He has completed 172-of-282 passes (61.0 percent) for 1,746 yards and has a passer rating of 117.4.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 10 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (56 carries for 279 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center two weeks, going 11-of-19 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran 16 times for 84 yards with another score.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (488 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in five others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 28 carries for 140 yards (along with 16 receptions for 150 yards) and three touchdowns this year.
» Redshirt freshman WR/kick returner Andre Debose…who set a school single-season record with his second kickoff return touchdown last week. With an 88-yard return against LSU and a 99-yard return against South Carolina, he is the only freshman nationally with two in 2010 and one of only two players nationally with two in 2010. He is one of the reasons why the Gators rank No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in kickoff returns with a 26.1 average.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles seven times this season: vs. South Carolina (career-high 16), LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 93 tackles, including nine for loss.

APPALACHIAN STATE
» QB DeAndre Presley…who has passed for 2,066 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions this season while simultaneously leading his team on the ground with 727 rushing yards.
» WR Brian Quick…who has a team-high 36 catches for 685 yards and seven TDs.
» Linebacker D.J. Smith, defensive tackle Jabari Fletcher and CB Mark LeGree…who lead the team with 108 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions, respectively.

INJURIES

Active/Probable: Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard (ankle), sophomore LB Jon Bostic (bruised sternum)
Inactives: Redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones, redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

Catch the Gators’ 11th game of the season live on television on pay-per-view, via the radio or through OGGOA‘s live updates on Twitter.
 

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