FOUR BITS: Gaffney, Brewer, LaCaze, ESPNU

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, an 11-year NFL veteran who was cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, signed with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday and officially joined his fifth professional franchise. Gaffney has only missed five regular season games while employed (all in 2006) and is the type of durable, veteran presence that Miami has desperately needed. He is also coming off the best two years production-wise. Gaffney set career-highs with 65 receptions for 875 yards with Denver in 2010 and eclipsed those numbers with 68 receptions for 947 yards (and a career-high-tying five touchdowns) with Washington last season.

2 » Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (and some of his teammates) made their acting debuts this year by making cameos as football players during the acclaimed film “The Dark Knight Rises.” As it turns out, Denver Nuggets guard/forward Corey Brewer will also be featured in a movie though his is set to be released on Jan. 25, 2013. In a new trailer for the ensemble comedy “Movie 43” released by Comedy Central, Brewer is shown as a basketball player being coached up by Terrence Howard. The film – which features a start-studded cast including names like Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman and Kate Winslet (along with some well-known comedy stars) – will undoubtedly receive at least an R rating for language, nudity, sexual situations, etc. The “red band” trailer below, which features a line from Brewer, contains adult content and explicit language. (Hat tip to John B.)

3 » It appears as if Florida has added a second competitor from the 2012 London Olympics to its coaching staffs as former Gators steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze announced on Twitter that she has signed up to be a volunteer coach with the track & field program. LaCaze, who raced for Australia but did not medal in the Olympics, joins British swimmer and world record holder Gemma Spofforth, who was announced as a volunteer assistant by Florida last week. Spofforth, who graduated in 2010, competed in two Olympics and is now retired from the sport. LaCaze graduated this past spring and is planning to make a go of it for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

4 » ESPNU on Tuesday aired a special All Access program that took a look at the Gators football team as it worked through its bye last week. If you missed the show, ESPN informed OGGOA that it will re-air twice more this week on Oct. 5 at 4:30 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 6:30 a.m. Though the program did not provide much in the way of new information (similar clips have been featured in previous ESPN specials), it was an interesting look behind the scenes this season.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, September 27

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In his second contribution to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah discusses helping host a basketball tournament that featured members of different local gangs all playing together “to promote peace and bring some positivity into the neighborhood.” Noah, through his Noah’s Arc Foundation, helps “children develop a stronger sense of self” in order to help fulfill their dreams.

What I witnessed was different gangs, different religions and different kinds of people joining forces to address the problems that affect a community they all share. I felt we accomplished our goal on a micro-level for that one day, and hopefully the effects will stretch far beyond.

» Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal recently sat down for some interviews as he prepares to begin his first NBA season. Beal spoke to a member of the Wizards’ staff about going through his first media day as a professional (Video) and The Wall Street Journal (video below) about being a young man suddenly coming into money as a professional basketball player.

Check out 10 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, September 27

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Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics concluded on Sunday with the Florida Gators bringing home 16 event medals including four gold, six silver and six bronze over the course of 19 days worth of action across the pond.

In an effort to highlight the Gators’ praiseworthy accomplishments while simultaneously recapping over two weeks worth of athletic action, OGGOA presents this wrap up of the presence that Florida’s athletes made at the Olympics. Below you will find facts, figures and highlights of what the Gators accomplished from July 25 through Aug. 12.

You can check out the Olympic results as they happened as well as the official Gator Nation vs. The World medal count and plenty of other information by checking out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

FACTS AND FIGURES

» If Gator Nation was its own country, it would have been ranked 17th overall in the final Olympic medal both in weighted and grand total calculations. The Gators won as many gold medals (four) as Jamaica and Czech Republic and captured one more than Spain, Brazil and South Africa (among others).

» Twelve Florida athletes won a grand total of 18 individual medals (16 event medals) for three countries. Fourteen of the 16 medals won were captured for the United States.

» 35.3 percent of the Gators that competed in the Olympics (12-of-34) won at least one medal. 50 percent (17-of-34) at least reached a final or competed for a medal.

» Ryan Lochte (swimming, United States) led the way with five medals including two golds (one shared in a relay with Conor Dwyer), two silvers and a bronze. Following Lochte with two each were Elizabeth Beisel (swimming, United States) and Will Claye (athletics, United States), who both brought home a silver and a bronze.

» Three other Florida athletes won gold including Christian Taylor (athletics, United States), Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts (football, United States). The rest of the medals included a silver each from Tony McQuay and Jeff Demps (athletics, United States) as well as a bronze each from Lisa Raymond (tennis, United States), Melanie Booth (football, Canada) and Novlene Williams-Mills (athletics, Jamaica).

» Beisel is the only current UF student-athlete that medaled in the Olympics. She will be entering her junior year in 2012.

» Seventeen countries were represented by Gators including the United States (11), Great Britain (6), Cayman Islands and Iceland (two each) and Australia, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia (one each). Florida athletes also competed in five sports categories including swimming (19), athletics (10), football (three), basketball and tennis (one each).

Read the rest of “Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics” after the break…

Continue Reading » Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

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Demps, Williams capture medals on Saturday

On the final day of competition for former Florida Gators in the 2012 London Olympics, two more medals were added to Gator Nation’s impressive haul due to runner-up finishes in track & field competition.

Former Gators running back and sprinter Jeff Demps, a member of the United States’ Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay team, was awarded a silver medal when the Americans finished second in the finals of the event on Saturday.

Demps ran for the United States in the first round of the event but was not chosen for the final foursome. Jamaica won the race and set a new world record of 36.84 seconds with the U.S. finishing second in 37.04 seconds. That mark tied the previous world record and set a new American record.

Just minutes before the men ran, Novlene Williams-Mills joined Jamaica on the track as the anchor for the Women’s 4×400 Meter Relay.

The U.S. blew past the field in the event, finishing in 3:16.87, but Williams-Mills ran the second-fastest leg of the race (49.46 seconds) and led her country to a bronze medal.

In total, 12 former Florida athletes earned 16 medal placements over the course of the Olympics. Gator Nation as its own country would be ranked 15th overall in the international medal count though dozens of medals have yet to be awarded. OGGOA will provide a full wrap-up following the conclusion of the Olympics on Sunday.

For a recap of Saturday’s events and the entire Olympics as well as a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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McQuay adds a silver to Gators’ medal haul

Just 24 hours after former Florida Gators put together arguably the most accomplished day in school Olympic history, runner Tony McQuay (United States) added another silver medal to the team’s collection by running the third leg of the Men’s 4×400 Meter Relay for the second-place Americans at the 2012 London Olympics on Friday.

McQuay’s silver is the fifth won by the Gators in these Olympics as well as Florida’s 14th overall medal. It is also the fourth in track & field events after Christian Taylor brought home gold in the Men’s Triple Jump on Thursday and Will Claye grabbed silver in that event as well as bronze in the Men’s Long Jump.

As a member of the U.S. relay team that competed in the first round of the event, McQuay ran a 43.65 split, the fastest of any of the 64 runners that competed in that round. He topped that mark with a 43.41 split in the finals, faster than any of the 36 men in the race. McQuay left the Americans in first place before handing off the baton.

Two more Gators could compete in Olympic track action in the final day of competition.

Jeff Demps (United States) ran the first leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay for the Americans on Friday. The U.S. finished first overall with a national record time of 37.38. Though Demps may not be chosen to join the final foursome competing in the finals of the event, he will still be eligible for a medal due to his participation in the first round.

Novlene Williams-Mills (Jamaica) did not run for her country in the Women’s 4×400 Meter Relay on Friday but is expected to be added to the team for the event finals. Jamaica ran a seasonal best 3:25.13 but finished fourth overall in their first round race.

For a recap of Friday’s events with stats, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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Gators Christian Taylor, Will Claye take home gold and silver for United States in Triple Jump

Former Florida Gators Christian Taylor and Will Claye dominated the finals of the Men’s Triple Jump at the 2012 London Olympics on Thursday, finishing first and second in the event, respectively, to take home gold and silver for the United States.

Taylor, 22, the reigning world champion and gold medal favorite going into the event, became the youngest jumper in 100 years to win Olympic gold in the Triple Jump.

He almost did not have the opportunity to be the first American since 1996 to capture gold in the event, however, after committing fouls on his first two introductory jumps.

Taylor hit a mark of 17.15m on his third attempt to cement his place in the top eight and qualify for three more jumps. He wasted little time showcasing his dominance, hitting a seasonal best of 17.81m on his fourth attempt, a mark that would win him the gold medal.

Claye, the world indoor champion in the event who already took home bronze on Saturday in the Men’s Long Jump, won silver with a mark of 17.62m on his fourth jump. He led through the first three jumps with a second attempt of 17.54m, a mark which only he and Taylor eclipsed over the duration of the event.

The medals won by Taylor and Claye mark the 11th and 12th by former Gators in these Olympics. Representatives of Florida now have three golds, four silvers and five bronzes over the course of the games with a handful of events remaining.

Taylor’s medal is also the first individual track & field gold in program history. Taylor and Claye’s medals are just the second and third field medals in school history.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Demps will run, Haden fails test

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps, who gave up football after his senior season and is now a professional sprinter, did not qualify run for the United States at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June. However, he did wind up being added to the team as an injury replacement just days before the 2012 London Olympics got underway and learned this week that he will be running the first leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay on Friday. “I was very excited,” Demps said in a statement issued by agent Nohemy Baltodano to the Orlando Sentinel. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” As a member of the relay pool, Demps was not assured a spot in the event but has still been practicing with the team in London, England. By competing in the preliminaries, he will be eligible for a medal should Team USA win one in the finals of the event even if he is not a member of the four-man team to run that race.

2 » According to ESPN Cleveland, a website that is the online home for radio stations WKNR 850 AM and KNRZ 1540 AM, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden is facing a possible four-game suspension after failing a NFL drug test that is currently being reviewed by the league. “One source said that Haden tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall during a routine, off-season test,” Will Burge and Tony Grossi wrote. “Adderall, which is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy, is also used for excessive tiredness. It is on the NFL’s list of banned substances and is classified by the league as a stimulant.” Haden will have the opportunity to appeal his suspension, if one is handed down, though it would be unlikely for the NFL to change its mind barring something unforeseen.

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FOUR BITS: Taylor, Hill, Tebow, volleyball

1 » ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, in a piece published on July 31 and apparently missed by OGGOA, said that Florida Gators field star Christian Taylor (United States) is someone whose name should be remembered by the public heading into the 2012 London Olympics. Needing just one jump on Tuesday to qualify for the finals of the Men’s Triple Jump (set to be held on Thursday at 2:20 p.m.), Taylor explained to Wilbon how he learned the event that he has been so successful in up to this point in his career. “I went to YouTube … and how to DVDs. That was my film session,” he said.

2 » Former Gators safety Will Hill continues to turn heads at New York Giants training camp, so much so that the undrafted free agent who spent a year away from football is said to be “vying for significant time at safety” this season, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. Hill was also praised by head coach Tom Coughlin last week for being a standout in the secondary (as well as during special teams drills) and has been taking snaps as a first-team nickel back this week, according to the Associated Press. “I have the mentality, because I wasn’t drafted, [that] I have to prove myself to not only the coaches but also the players that I belong here,” Hill said. “So that’s how I just go out every day and attack it, full-on.” He also admitted that he only had himself to blame. “Me. Me,” Hill said. “Just thinking too highly of myself and thinking, ‘Oh, I am at the top again, nothing can happen to me and I can do whatever I want.’ And I paid for it.”

3 » Speaking on his own WFAN radio show on Monday, former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason suggested that the New York Jets should cut QB Tim Tebow.

“You want to know, if I were the Jets, what I would do? Want to know what I would do? I would cut Tim Tebow, I really would. I would. I’m just telling you right now: I would. And I’ll tell you why I would. It’s just not in any way, shape or form, I think, benefitting this team. I don’t see how it benefits…unless one thing that I would say is because you got a bunch of lunatics in that locker room. [...] The fact is, the reason you may want Tim Tebow on this team – specifically for one reason and one reason only – and that’s the character issue.”

Esiason has been critical of Tebow in the past and similarly suggested that the Denver Broncos cut him following a poor performance in a regular season game in 2011. And what did Tebow say when he was asked to respond to Esiason’s comments? “I’ve heard nothing but great things about Mr. Esiason. I know he was a great player here and I wish him nothing but the best in his announcing. God bless him.”

4 » Though most Florida fans may be focused on the upcoming football season, Gators volleyball is set to host the Campus USA Credit Union Invite from Aug. 24-25 in Gainesville, FL against three other teams from the state of Florida. The Southeastern Conference this week polled its volleyball coaches to come up with preseason predictions. The SEC coaches chose Tennessee to win the conference championship with 12-of-13 first-place votes; Florida received the other but was picked to finish sixth in the league standings. The Gators also had just one team member – junior middle back Chloe Mann – selected for the Preseason All-SEC Team. Being an underdog is new ground for Florida under head coach Mary Wise. The Gators won the SEC consecutively from 1991-2008 and also took home a conference title in 2010. Florida finished third in 2009 and second last season. The 2012 team features just five upper classmen along with four sophomores and seven freshman (one redshirt).

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