FOUR BITS: Brantley, Azzanni, Riley, Tebow

1 » Known as “The Future” and “The Next Tom Brady” by redshirt junior guard Carl Johnson and many of his Florida Gators teammates, redshirt sophomore quarterback John Brantley’s time is now. “He’s going to be really good,” Johnson said when asked about Brantley by the Orlando Sentinel. With everyone focusing on who is departing Gainesville, FL, perhaps it is time to focus on the bright future ahead for some younger Gators. Though he will likely never match what senior QB Tim Tebow has done, Brantley doesn’t have to in order to be successful in Orange and Blue. “I’m not really trying to match [Tebow’s legacy],” Brantley said. “I just want to come out and not miss a beat when my number’s called and hopefully win championships as a starter if I get that opportunity. I don’t have to go in there thinking I have to do everything and make every play.”

2 » Brand new Florida wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni has removed his name from the candidate list for the Central Michigan Chippewas head coach job. “I will be staying in Florida and coaching with the Gators next year,” Azzanni told the Morning Sun. Azzanni did not tell the paper if he was contacted for an interview or offered the position, “but there was a possibility for him to go to Cincinnati with Butch Jones following Urban Meyer’s retirement talk last week,” according to the paper. “We’re always staying busy,” Azzanni said. “There is never a day off in college football. [Winning the Sugar Bowl] felt good. There are so many talented players on the team and everyone really welcomed me in. It was a great experience.”

3 » Now that five-star safety Matt Elam has decommitted from the Gators and joined the Florida State Seminoles, Florida is putting the full court press on four-star defensive back recruit Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA). Participating in the Under Armour All-America game, Riley heard from plenty of UF commitments that he was wanted in the Orange and Blue next year. “Coach Meyer is still recruiting me hard and they told me I’m their safety to get now after Elam,” Riley told Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “They’ve been recruiting me since October and they’ve been telling me to sit tight and be patient and we’ll let you know which guys to go the NFL.” Meyer’s recent announcements have not swayed Riley from including the Gators in his top three. “I understand that he has to take care of his health first […] that’s primary, his family and his health. He’s doing what’s best for the program,” he said. “I talked with him and he said he plans on returing to the school and he’s going to be a Florida Gator no matter what. He’s not going to go to any other school, so I’m happy about that.”

4 » Speaking of Tebow, he should retire and never play football again. Well, that’s the opinion of at least one man – CBSSports.com national columnist Gregg Doyel. Yup, Doyel believes Tebow will never reach a higher point in his career than he already has, is destined to fail in the NFL and should not even try to make it on the next level. Chomping: I guess I should have quit writing when I got my first article published by a major newspaper or when I won my first writing award, based on Doyel’s logic. At least there is one college football writer who refuses to bet against Tebow.

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Matt Elam drops Gators, commits to Seminoles

Five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), formerly the prize of the Florida Gators 2010 recruiting class, has decommitted and pledged to play for the Florida State Seminoles. Elam, who appeared to waiver about his commitment throughout the entire recruiting process, reaffirmed his decision to play for the Gators numerous times over the last few months, most recently sporting a Florida jersey and declaring that he could not wait to enroll early in January. Now his jersey is garnet and gold.

“I just see better opportunity to come in and play and to have an impact as a freshman,” Elam told Warchant.com. “They have two of the best cornerbacks in the country and I just feel like I can go in there and help make that secondary even better. They got three two of the best players in the country and I see along of things changing. It was on my mind, but today I really made the decision. I was sitting down thinking like I can make a difference, if I go to Florida I really can’t make a difference at Florida I can just jump on the bandwagon. I want to make a difference and I see a lot of good things there.”

Head coach Urban Meyer was the main reason Elam planned to attend the University of Florida, as he has been close with the coach ever since Meyer recruited his brother Abram Elam (now with the Cleveland Browns) to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. When Meyer briefly resigned on Saturday before deciding to take a leave of absence from the Gators instead, Elam became very upset.

“I feel like he knew before Saturday that he wanted to step down,” Elam Orlando Sentinel. Dorsey will visit the Tennessee Volunteers on Jan. 14, a trip scheduled before Meyer’s announcement. He has long been considered one of the most likely Gators commitments to decommit.

Photo Credit: Ray Graham, Palm Beach Post

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Cooper says white helmets will be shelved

As part of Nike‘s roll-out of their Pro Combat line of football gear, the Florida Gators sported new uniforms during the final home game of the season against the Florida State Seminoles. Senior wide receiver Riley Cooper said the players liked the look of the white “F” helmets so much that they elected to wear them for the 2009 SEC Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide. “They look cool,” Cooper said. “We all liked how they looked.”

Head coach Urban Meyer seems to have a superstition with uniforms, shelving certain color combinations and utilizing others more often when the team has success wearing them. Such is the reason, OGGOA believes, that fans no longer see the white jersey-orange pants combination and often see the all-blue and all-white uniform choices. Even the white jersey-blue pants uniform has become a rarity, though the blue jersey-white pants combination is used often.

Though the Nike Pro Combat uniforms were only a one-time promotional ploy, the Gators’ sporting the white “F” helmets for a second straight game led many fans to worry they might end up replacing the good ol’ orange helmets with the cursive “Gators” script.

Those fans should no longer be concerned with breaking tradition, according to Cooper. “It didn’t work out for us, so I don’t think we’ll wear those again,” he said. “I’m not wearing mine.” Not that Cooper would have a chance, seeing as Friday’s 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats is the last game of his college career.

While Florida’s 2010 uniforms will look the same as they have in the past, it is believed that the athletic department will use some of the Nike Pro Combat gear from a technical standpoint. Better gloves, lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics and lighter shoes are all things that can give the Gators an advantage – especially in the smoldering Florida heat.

Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms are said to be 37% lighter than current designs and utilize a four-way stretch twill that does not hold sweat or water. Additional features include Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, evaporation and cooling zones, more padding zones and improved ventilation and breathability. Players also wore Nike Vapor Trail 2.0 gloves and Nike Zoom Air cleats that are lightweight and feature better cushioning in the heel.

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SIX BITS: Urban Meyer absence edition (Part 1)

1 » Urban Meyer’s Press Conference Transcript

2 » Perhaps the key component to Meyer’s recent decision and then about-face is the effect it will have on rival schools and coaches who will use it as an opportunity to pounce on the Florida Gators and their recruits. OGGOA starts the festivities with a piece from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who contends that Meyer’s flip-flop is a bad sign for Florida and an opening for the Georgia Bulldogs. “Meyer isn’t so much on the clock now as he is looking at it,” Schultz writes before flip-flopping himself. “Don’t misunderstand. I’m not projecting the Gators’ program is going to implode. But odds are, the Gators take a significant step back.”

3 » Next to jump on the pile are the Tennessee Volunteers faithful. The Knoxville News-Sentinel named Gainesville, FL, the flip-flop coaching capital of the world. No real reason to click that link – not much to read there. Just covering all angles.

Check out three more BITS (worth reading) after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Urban Meyer absence edition (Part 1)

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Sporting world reacts to Meyer’s resignation

Much has already been said about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s resignation, and it has only been hours since he has decided to step down from the program. Many of Meyer’s players, former players, peers and friends have already released statements about their thoughts and feelings about the situation.

Check out the sporting world’s reaction to Meyer’s announcement after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » Sporting world reacts to Meyer’s resignation

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TWO BITS: Rainey sticking around, basketball falls

1 » Amid speculation that he was considering entry into the 2010 NFL Draft, Florida Gators redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey told the Orlando Sentinel that he will stay in Gainesville, FL, for “at least another year.” With Rainey, sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody all coming back next season, the Gators’ running back unit may be the deepest it has been in years. Also on the roster will be sophomore Mike Gillislee, redshirt junior walk-on Christopher Scott and four-star 2010 commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA).

2 » After starting the 2009 campaign 8-0 including wins over the Florida State Seminoles and then-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans, the Florida basketball team rose to No. 10/11 in the AP and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, respectively. Consecutive losses to the No. 5/5 Syracuse Orange and unranked Richmond Spiders (both at neutral sites) have since dropped the Gators down to a No. 18 ranking in both polls. Florida has returned home to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and will take on the South Alabama Jaguars Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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FOUR BITS: Dwyer HS, FSU, California, Bailey

1 » The Florida Gators‘ two commitments from Dwyer High School, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star tight end Gerald Christian, got a visit from recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales on Tuesday, who also took time to meet with their teammate and three-star cornerback Robert Clark. [OGGOA Exclusive:] It is expected that Meyer will pay a visit to Dwyer in the coming days and offer Clark a scholarship (if he has not been offered one already), especially after learning that both Lane and Monte Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers attended Dwyer practice on Tuesday pushing hard for Clark in hopes that he could sway Elam.

2 » Over the last few days, Florida has lost out on two of the top 2010 recruits in the country to the Florida State Seminoles. First, it was four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) who liked the transition from Bobby Bowden to head coach Jimbo Fisher. According to reports Wednesday morning, five-star cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has also committed to FSU. Joyner, considered the No. 1 overall CB recruit in the country, and Luc were both highly regarded prospects by Gators, though neither were strong leans to Florida.

3 » Four-star wide receiver Kenny Stills (Carlsbad, CA) has narrowed his list to two schools: the Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners. Stills, who will announce on Dec. 18, said the Miami Hurricanes still have a shot but not a great one. The Gators have already pulled one recruit from California for 2010, four-star CB Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, CA), and many believe that head coach Urban Meyer is looking for the trifecta with Stills and five-star defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA).

4 » Florida is the early leader for Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, GA), a 2011 defensive end who is expected to be rated a four-star prior to his senior year of high school. “I could say [the Gators are out in front],” Bailey told JC Shurburtt of ESPN. “It was a surprising offer at first because they were not sending me much in the mail. My coach called me up and told me that Florida had offered. At first, I didn’t believe him. Then, I called and got on the phone with Urban Meyer. He told me that they were glad to offer me a scholarship and that when they saw me on film, it was a no-brainer.”

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Elam still committed to UF but FSU has a chance

High school sports reporter Jason Lieser over at the Palm Beach Post was able to pull a plethora of information from five-star Florida Gators safety commitment Matt Elam on Tuesday night at the 2009 Lou Groza Award banquet regarding his status with the school and future in college football. (He won the award for the second consecutive season.) Elam, who committed to the Gators in October 2008, has wavered the last two months about whether or not he would actually attend Florida when he enrolls early after this semester. It is a widely held belief that Elam is doing this simply for the buzz and attention as his high school career comes to a close, though some Gators fans are legitimately concerned that he could bolt for another program before officially signing.

Scheduled for an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend, Elam has already signed his enrollment forms for Florida. They will be processed after he graduates from Dwyer High School in December (a semester early) so he can begin participating in spring practices in January…as long as he does not change his mind. “I’m committed to Florida,” Elam told the Post. “I’m still doing some thinking. I’ll do my official visit this weekend and I’ll make my decision after.”

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin met with Elam at his school in October (OGGOA Exclusive) and returned for a second visit Tuesday. “I could go to Tennessee, but, no, I’m committed to Florida,” Elam said at the banquet.

Also visiting him on Tuesday was new Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. If any team could pry Elam away from the Gators at this point, he says it would be Seminoles. Gaining the commitment of four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) last week, FSU has peaked Elam’s interest. “That got my attention,” he said.

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