SIX BITS: Harvin, Haden, Miller, Wilbur, Kentucky

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was added to the Minnesota Vikings injury report on Thursday with what is being called a hamstring injury. Minnesota did not decide to release how severe the injury is but the Vikings certainly need Harvin on the field Sunday night for their divisional rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers. Harvin has been a big scoring threat for Minnesota recently, returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown last week and hauling in two receiving touchdowns the previous week.

2 » Grabbing his first career interception last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants more playing time, and he just might get it, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “I thought he had his best week of practice since he’s been with us,” head coach Eric Mangini said of how Haden prepared last week. “I think that he’s starting to understand what it means to be a pro. He’s starting to understand what it takes to prepare each week, and there’s no doubt in my mind that that week of preparation, the way that he was last week, led to his best performance since he’s been here. If he keeps developing, he’ll keep pushing for playing time. That’s what you want. That’s what I want. That’s what he wants, and I don’t mean I’m looking to replace anybody. I’m looking for him to get better to push those guys to replace them because that competition makes everybody better.”

3 » Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, who is currently participating in his first preseason with the team after being signed over the summer, injured and possibly broke the thumb on his shooting hand Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. Teammate and fellow former Florida player power forward Udonis Haslem told the Associated Press that doctors believe the injury is “not season ending.”

4 » Former Gators punter Eric Wilbur has been shining this season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, and his ability to kick “high and deep angled” punts has provided his team with “a stunning field-position advantage,” according to the Hamilton Spectator. “We’re asking him to place the ball in a certain spot, so there were a couple which could have been better but overall it was excellent,” said special teams coach Dave Easley. “He gets tremendous height on the ball because he’s got a very, very strong leg.” Wilbur may be asked to kickoff as well next year for Hamilton though his eyes are still set on a bigger stage. “My ultimate goal is to be in the NFL,” Wilbur told the paper. “But I love it up here. I love the atmosphere, I love the games. If I have to stay up here, I’ll be happy.”

5 » Upsetting South Carolina last week at home, Kentucky’s fans were rightfully excited. After the final whistle blew, plenty of blue-and-white faithful stormed the field to celebrate – something that is seen all over the country after a home team upsets a top-ranked opponent. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Southeastern Conference, such celebrations are not allowed under league rules. That is why, on Thursday, Kentucky was fined $25,000 for a sportsmanship policy violation by the SEC. The policy that was violated states that “access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.”

6 » Join former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and Desire Street Ministries for a 90’s Gators Reunion Celebration from Nov. 12-13 in Gainesville, FL. Wuerffel and other Gator greats like WR Chris Doering, QB Doug Johnson, QB Shane Matthews, WR Travis McGriff, offensive tackle Jason Odom, safety Lawrence Wright and others will be in attendance to celebrate a great decade of Florida football while raising money for DSM. For more information on the event and how you can participate, please click here to read the invitation.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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FOUR BITS: Elway, Haden, Pouncey, Spikes

1 » Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway continued to support Denver Broncos rookie signal caller Tim Tebow, calling for analysts and media to be fair when evaluating the former Florida Gators star on a game-to-game basis. “There’s just so many positives about this guy, and yet all the focus seems to be one negative,” Elway said on Denver radio Monday. “He didn’t get drafted in the first round because of his release. He was drafted in the first round because he has so many intangibles that you can’t coach.”

2 » Stepping into a starting role while veteran Eric Wright was on the mend, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden worked with the first-team during practice all last week. But when it was game time, Wright resumed his role and Haden was shifted over to nickel back, a position he is still learning. “It just shows I’m starting to gain coach’s trust,” Haden said about working with the starters all week. “They keep putting me out there with the ones, so I’ve just got to keep getting better every day. I feel like I’m just getting better.” Head coach Eric Mangini agrees. “The key for Joe is to figure out a place of how he can help us and then to keep making his case to play more,” he said. “But those other guys, they’re making their case for him to play less and I think that’s a good thing because that’s competitive and you want that to be the situation. Nothing is given to anybody, it has to be earned. He’s working at it, but those other guys are working at it too and however it pans out, those guys will play.”

3 » Pittsburgh Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes rookie center Maurkice Pouncey has already won the starting job outright after two preseason games. “He’s no longer competing for the starting job at center. Give it to him now,” he wrote Sunday. “Pouncey is so dominant at the position that it’s not even close. He looks like a Pro Bowler after two preseason games. Not only does he block his man, he often blocks TWO men, getting one and then running downfield to obliterate someone else. The man consumes defenders.” Pouncey entered Saturday’s game during the second series, came back in for the third series and never left – playing through almost three full quarters.

4 » New England Patriots veteran linebacker Gary Guyton injured his knee on the fourth day of camp, allowing rookie Brandon Spikes to step in and get the majority of work as a starter next to Jerod Mayo. Now that Guyton has returned, his starting job may be gone for good, as ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss notes that Spikes “is getting starter-type respect” from coaches. Guyton is hopeful he can win his job back throughout the remaining few weeks, but Spikes is impressing everyone from head coach Bill Belichick to veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork. “He’s every bit the person I thought he was,” Wilfork said about Spikes. “Looking at the guy playing in college, he’s playing with that same mentality on this defense. He’s a hard-nosed, tough player who loves football. That’s exactly what he’s brought. That’s exactly what we need on this football team – somebody that loves this game and is not afraid to hit, tough, smart.”

Photo Credit: John H. Reid III/Cleveland Browns

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Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

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SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

1 » On June 24, three-star linebacker recruit Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) committed to the Florida Gators; unfortunately for him, the team did not recognize his verbal promise and did not count him as a member of its 2011 recruiting class. Friday, Cassell reiterated again to the Orlando Sentinel that he is committed to the Gators, stating that coaches simply wanted to see him perform in person before bringing him on board. However, there remain conflicting reports that Cassell is still not a part of the recruiting class – yet. So while his intentions are known, Florida’s are not. In all likelihood, the coaching staff is waiting to make sure they have a spot for him after higher ranked players decide where they will be attending school next year.

UPDATE: Cassell, for the third time now, claims that the coaches have accepted his commitment. He told the Sentinel that a phone call set for Sunday night may help clarify why there have been so many mixed messages.

2 » Legendary Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been supportive of former Florida QB Tim Tebow ever since his team selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. At a golf tournament on Thursday, Elway opened up more about Tebow. “The thing about Tebow is they’re focusing too much on his release,” Elway said. “As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. […] He’s not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it’s long and quick, that’s OK.”

Four more BITS on Tim Tebow, Channing Crowder, Joe Haden, Jabar Gaffney…and an extra BIT on recruit Curt Maggitt…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

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FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

1 » On Oct. 29, 2010, one day before the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs square-off in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, four former student-athletes will be inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Representing the Gators are linebackers Wilber Marshall and Scot Brantley, while LB Knox Culpepper and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski will be honored as former Bulldogs.

2 » A quick blurb from friend of OGGOA, former Florida football player and host of “The Morning Drive” on ESPN Radio in Ocala/Gainesville, FL, Brady Ackerman via his Twitter account Monday evening: “I am hearing that [head coach] Urban [Meyer] has made [the] team accountable for everyone this offseason. In an effort to develop leadership – a mistake hurts everyone. Meyer is trying to develop leaders and accountability with his team this summer. That will be put to test with the arrest of Hammond. The rule is if one guys messes up – everyone pays. Hammond, who is now suspended, is causing the team a little ‘extra’ running this week. I think the message will get home with the team this week and expect the rest of the summer to be quiet from ‘nonsense.'”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

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Browns nab Gators CB Joe Haden with No. 7 overall pick in first round of 2010 NFL Draft

Round 1 – No. 7
Joe Haden, CB
Cleveland Browns


Height: 5’11” – Weight: 193 lbs.
Age: 20 – Class: Junior

Months of speculation came to an end Thursday night when the Cleveland Browns selected former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden with the No. 7 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. In attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, Haden’s eyes swelled up when he received the phone call from Cleveland before he took the stage with gusto to take a picture with league commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Browns had been drooling over Haden since at least March 1, with general manager Tom Heckert making his intentions known rather publicly. “I think Haden is a heck of a football player,” Heckert said. “He’s probably one of the top corners, if not the top corner in the draft. He’s played at a big-time program, and they won a ton of games. He’s going to go early.”

Considering Haden has only been playing cornerback for three years (he set Maryland state high school records as a quarterback), his emergence as a shut-down corner in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference became the stuff of legends around the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, which he completed with less than stellar reviews after posting slow 40-yard dash times.

Haden corrected his speed at Florida’s Pro Day, impressing those in attendance including almost the entire Cleveland front office. Team president Mike Holmgren and head coach Eric Mangini met with Haden shortly after his Pro Day for a private workout and invited him to visit the team facility on April 6.

If the team’s comments are any indication, Haden has a legitimate shot to start as a rookie in 2010 opposite CB Eric Wright with veteran Sheldon Brown moving to safety; should he not be ready right away, he could play in nickel and dime packages until he is able to step in to a starting role.

The fourth defensive player from the University of Florida to be drafted in the top 10, Haden is also the highest-selected Gators cornerback of all-time.

WHAT HADEN SAID
Press Conference Transcript
Press Conference Audio
“I am just trying to soak it all up. It’s crazy. Just a dream come true. I feel like this is like a blessing. I definitely had a good idea about that when I talked to [team president Mike] Holmgren. He definitely was telling me that they were really, really interested in taking me at No. 7. And once he told me that, it just made me have a sigh of relief. Then once I left my visit in Cleveland, I really didn’t have contact with anyone from Cleveland, so I didn’t know if they just stopped liking me or what happened so I just came in here didn’t know what was going on.”

WHAT THEY SAID
Press Conference Transcript
General manager Tom Hickert: “Joe was a guy we spent a lot of time with and evaluating. He’s a bigger corner that can really play the run, good cover ability. He’s a smart kid and he’s tough. He’s a guy we liked all along.”

Head coach Eric Mangini: “He did a great job the day he visited. You could feel the intensity, feel the passion, how much he cared about playing football and continue to improve. It was real. I don’t think there was anybody that met him that didn’t feel that way.”

Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m happy for Joe and his family. He is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He came to Florida as an offensive skill player who never played cornerback. He approached the coaching staff about changing positions because he wanted to get on the field. Despite not playing cornerback in high school he developed into one of the best ever to play his position at the University of Florida and is now a first-round draft pick in the NFL.”

THINGS TO READ
– Haden Browns choice at No. 7
– Heckert, Mangini intrigued by Haden
– Cleveland Browns select Florida cornerback Joe Haden in 2010 NFL Draft
– Cleveland Browns don’t get their safety, so they go with the safe pick
– Joe Haden joins Cleveland Browns with strong endorsement from teammate Tim Tebow
– Cleveland Browns find a defensive playmaker, and that decision is hard to argue
– Browns don’t buy buzz, go ahead with Haden pick

VIDEO
Haden on stage at 2010 NFL Draft with Commissioner Roger Goodell

Heckert and Mangini talk about picking Haden

Cleveland Plain-Dealer writers discuss the Browns’ selection of Haden

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow on Deonte; Haden; Newton

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is in South Florida speaking at an event for the Boy Scouts of America Thursday. Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post caught up with him to ask his opinion of redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson’s recent comments. “I don’t think Deonte meant anything by that,” Tebow said. “He was just stating facts. [John] Brantley is a guy who throws on timing. You know when the ball is coming and when it’s not.”

For details on Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns, the Carolina Panthers’ interest in Tebow and Cameron Newton claiming his innocence…keep reading…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow on Deonte; Haden; Newton

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