FOUR BITS: Mr. Football, Horford, hockey, Dorsey

1 » Playing college football at the University of Florida is not the only thing five-star safety Matt Elam (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow have in common anymore. Elam, like Tebow in 2005, has been named Mr. Football for the state of Florida. He will be presented the award at halftime of the Florida vs. South Carolina Gamecocks basketball game on Saturday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

2 » Averaging career-highs in minutes (34.4), field goal percentage (.584), free throw percentage (.754), rebounds (9.7) and points (13.7), former Gators forward/center Al Horford is tearing it up in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks. He has already compiled six 20-point games in 2009, and his coaches believe that much of his success can be attributed to the extra work he puts in at practice. “He’s one of those guys that’s going to continue to work and add something to his game every year,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “When you do that, that’s when you become an All-Star and a player in this league that everybody respects.”

3 » The Florida club ice hockey team took home the Thrasher Cup this past weekend after defeating both the Georgia and Florida State club teams. Standing at 8-4 on the season, UF’s squad won the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic in Savannah, GA, for the first time in team history. The club team competes in Division III in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

4 » Though, as OGGOA previously reported, four-star safety commitment Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) has plans to visit both the Florida State Seminoles and USC Trojans over the next two weekends, he told Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel that he is just doing his due diligence. “I’ve been to Florida several times on unofficial visits,” Dorsey said, “but I figured I’d take a couple of visits just to make sure Florida is where I want to go to school. [The Gators are] still on top, they’re still my No. 1. They aren’t going anywhere. I’d say right now they’re about 90-95 percent.”

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TWO BITS: Dwyer’s Daniels, Macklin’s transfer

1 » Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels has been pretty busy over the last few weeks – not just coaching his team but also helping to manage the commitments of some of his students such as five-star Florida Gators safety Matt Elam. “It was one of a kind,” Daniels said when speaking of Elam’s recruitment. “It’s never been like that before and will probably never be like that again. He was so highly recruited and he flip-flopped back and forth – there were so many things that played into it.” Why did Elam finally decide on Florida? “The bottom line was the relationship he had with Coach Meyer,” Daniels indicated. Worst of all, Daniels’ relationship with the Florida State Seminoles has soured a bit and he is being “vilified on Seminoles message boards” for “steering his star player to the Gators, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Whatever I say, it’s probably not going to be believed because I’m a Gator,” he concluded.

2 » Though it was a big story preseason, Gators junior transfer center Vernon Macklin’s steady play and post presence has gone somewhat unnoticed this season. Rich Radford of The Virginian-Pilot has completed a nice profile of Macklin that includes some interesting tidbits about his transfer from the Georgetown Hoyas. The first thing head coach Billy Donovan told him? “Look, I’m not going to call you ‘The Big Ticket,’” Donovan said. “There’s one Big ticket in basketball, and that’s Kevin Garnett and he plays for the Boston Celtics. So what do you want me to call you?” Macklin’s straight-forward reply? “Vernon.” Donovan continued. “A lot of guys transfer and think they can leave the baggage behind. But in reality, that baggage follows you. The thing I like about Vernon is that he came clean that a lot of it was his fault, that the effort wasn’t there when he was at Georgetown.”

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Three 5-stars commit at Army All-American Bowl

Eleven high school football players announced their college commitments during the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX, an all-star game that DirecTV offers annually. Four-star tight end Gerald Christian (West Palm Beach, FL) and four-star defensive back Jaylen Watkins (Cape Coral, FL) were the only Florida Gators commitments participating at the start of the game, but the team has acquired three additional big-names over the course of the afternoon.

Defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA) []
Height: 6’4″ – Weight: 225 lbs.
Considered a heavy Florida lean for months (on Dec. 18 he said the Gators were “most definitely at the top” of his list), Powell had second thoughts about his commitment after head coach Urban Meyer resigned and then decided to take a leave of absence instead. Meyer eased Powell’s reservations after a phone conversation. Powell also indicated that he wished to play college ball away from home with the USC Trojans his only other option. “Coach Meyer is a hell-of-a coach,” he said last month. “The college is in a college town. The players, the players definitely make you feel at home. I mean just all around, it’s a great school, a great place to be.”
More on Ronald Powell from OGGOA.
Finalists: Florida, USC
COMMITTED TO: Florida Gators

Safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) []
Height: 6’0″ – Weight: 205 lbs.
A Florida commitment for over a year, Elam played games throughout the recruiting cycle. He reaffirmed his commitment to Meyer and the Gators after his official visit in December; however, Meyer’s about-face caused Elam to question his decision, leading him to decommit from Florida and make a commitment to the Florida State Seminoles. Elam finally spoke to Meyer earlier this week to work everything out. He then decommitted from FSU and listed Florida as his leader, stating that he could not leave Coach Meyer while putting his faith in him.
More on Matt Elam from OGGOA.
Finalists: Florida, Georgia, Florida State
COMMITTED TO: Florida Gators

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) []
Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 310 lbs.
Once believed to be a sure-thing for Ohio State Buckeyes’s 2010 recruiting class, Floyd was also seriously considering Florida. He promised to “shock the world” with his announcement Saturday and was thrilled with the Gators’ decision to hire George Edwards as their new defensive coordinator. Reports from San Antonio had Floyd leaning toward joining the contingent of Florida commitments on Saturday, and his budding friendship with Powell and desire to play around top-tier talent only further that sentiment. “Florida overall, I genuinely care about Coach Meyer and we talk on a daily basis,” Floyd said. “I just like Florida and what the program has to offer.”
More on Sharrif Floyd from OGGOA.
Finalists: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina
COMMITTED TO: Florida Gators

In addition to the players profiled above who committed to the Gators on Saturday, the following recruits (who have chosen not to announce their respective decisions during the game) are also being targeted by UF: five-star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, MN), five-star DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Plano, TX), five-star DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Portland, OR), four-star wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) and four-star WR Ivan McCartney (Miramar, FL).

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TWO BITS: Meyer still working, Christian Green

1 » Though a leave of absence is looming in his near future, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer is still very much involved in the program at this point in time. Recruiting is one of Meyer’s passions and staying off the road (at least right now) is surely frustrating him, but he is still making an impact with high school players over the phone. He is simultaneously trying to fill out the remainder of his coaching staff. The Gators have lost four assistants (and a graduate assistant) since the 2009 SEC Championship, but Meyer has already filled in three staff spots with only one more to go. Once his staff is complete and National Signing Day passes on Feb. 3, Meyer will take a step back from the program – hopefully temporarily but potentially permanently.

2 » Florida may have landed a commitment from four-star wide receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, FL) at the Under Armour All-American Game, but the team is still looking for more pass catchers to fill out its 2010 recruiting class. Enter four-star WR Christian Green (Tampa, FL). Though Green is seemingly favoring the Florida State Seminoles (he is a lifelong fan of the team and much of his family went to FSU), he is also considering the Georgia Bulldogs and Gators. “I like the Florida program,” Green told Gerry Hamilton of Scouts, Inc. “I feel like Coach Meyer and those guys motivate players to win and they are going to make you better as a player. That and they win national championships. I think that’s important to go to a school that is going to win national championships, and they have proven they can.”

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Elam drops FSU to third, adds UGA, UF leads

A Florida Gators commitment for over a year, he changed his mind and made a pledge to the Florida State Seminoles on New Year’s Eve. Now, less than a week after that change of heart, five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) is back with the Orange and Blue…sort of.

Elam, speaking with Kipp Adams and Anthony Dasher of Rivals by text message, said, “I’m decommitting. Florida is first for me right now, followed by Georgia and Florida State is third.” Wait a minute…the Georgia Bulldogs? “It is very possible,” he said. “I am still talking to Georgia for sure. When I went on my official visit to Georgia, it really felt like home.”

Dwyer High School‘s premier athlete also opened up about his desire to receive significant playing time as a freshman, citing the fact that both Florida and Florida State have eight safeties (give-or-take) on scholarship. The story that never ends will likely have a conclusion Saturday, when Elam is expected to announce his official selection during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, TX.

Catch up on the Elam saga through these previous OGGOA entries:
12/09 – Elam still committed to UF but FSU has a chance
12/13 – Photo shows level of Matt Elam’s commitment
12/27 – Meyer’s decision stuns Gators 2010 recruits
12/31 – Matt Elam drops Gators, commits to Seminoles
01/05 – FSU commit Matt Elam switching back to UF?
01/06 – TWO BITS: New RB offered, another Elam update

Photo Credit: Jim Rassol, Sun-Sentinel

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TWO BITS: New RB offered, another Elam update

1 » Florida has just offered a scholarship to three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m gonna check it out,” said Johnson, who just recently committed to the Iowa State Cyclones. “It kinda shocked me but I don’t really know since it came so late in the season. You gotta check it out, it’s Florida, they got national championship and all that…but there are positives and negatives.” OGGOA believes the Gators’ offer to Johnson is a back-up plan in case four-star RB Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) decommits.

2 » News broke Tuesday that five-star safety recruit Matt Elam, who was previously committed to Florida for over a year before recently switching to the Florida State Seminoles, was considering recommitting (must-read) to the Gators. Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post got the thoughts of those closest to Elam about his upcoming decision. “I just have to watch the [U.S. Army All-American] game Saturday and see what he’s going to do,” said Robert Clark, Elam’s Dwyer High School teammate and three-star Florida commitment. “He’s tricky. We had a conversation [Tuesday], and he said it’s 50-50 right now.” Elam’s Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels confirmed the indecision. “Now that Coach [Urban] Meyer’s back in the mix, he’s torn again,” Daniels said. “It sounds to me like Matt is still going to go to Florida State, but other people are saying other things. You could say he was doing it for the attention, but now the kid is confused. He likes both schools a lot. He’s having a hard time.”

UPDATE: Scout is reporting that Elam will choose between Florida, Florida State and the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

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FSU commit Matt Elam switching back to UF?

Five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), formerly the prize of the Florida Gators 2010 recruiting class, decommitted and pledged to play for the Florida State Seminoles on New Year’s Eve. 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 but changed his mind after learning about Meyer’s indecision on his future. Elam was flabbergasted.

Ignoring two of Meyer’s phone calls following the Florida coach’s decision to take a leave of absence two Sundays ago, Elam eventually picked up and spoke with Meyer sometime after the 2010 Sugar Bowl. “He tried [to sway me back], but it didn’t work,” Elam said of the phone call. Meyer, apparently, persisted.

Adam Gorney of Rivals spoke with Elam Tuesday and reports that the safety may be having second third fourth fifth sixth seventh thoughts about has commitment. Apparently Meyer and Elam had a “long and emotional conversation” with Elam telling Gorney that he “doesn’t think he can leave Meyer,” though he has yet to decommit.

“I talked to Urban last night,” Elam told Gorney. “We were talking about our relationship basically and he told me to have trust, to have trust in him and he asked me a word that really touched me. He said, ‘Do you know what faith means?’ and he told me the definition. It really touched me a lot. It really touched me so my decision might change. I’ve known him for a while. It’s been tough to leave him so I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

Upon hearing this story, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post contacted Elam and asked him point-blank if there was any chance he would spurn FSU for UF. “No,” Elam said. “Other players are probably telling them that.” If Gorney is sourcing Elam and Lieser is as well, someone obviously has the story wrong.

Elam will make his commitment official on Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. OGGOA will have full coverage of the event.

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 5th

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.

» A rumor making its way around the Web over the last few days states that former Florida Gators running backs coach Stan Drayton may return to the program if Kenny Carter bolts for the Louisville Cardinals. This is the same Drayton that left Florida for the Tennessee Volunteers and took this shot at the Gators and head coach Urban Meyer on his way out the door: “If you’re going to be a running backs coach, you want to be part of a system that involves the running back.” Not gonna happen.

» Another option at running backs coach could very well be former Florida RB Terry Jackson. A Gator great who was a member of the 1996 National Championship team and played seven years in the NFL, Jackson was named Director of Player and Community Relations at UF in March 2008. Jackson, whose father Willie Sr. and brother Willie Jr. also played at Florida, has thought about getting into coaching since finishing his pro career. Hiring Jackson could be a very smooth transition for the Gators.

» Speaking of Carter, four-star RB commit Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) made news last night when he told two reporters that Carter was leaving the program for Louisville. However, Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel also spoke with Brown, who told him that Carter did not say he was leaving and that he “didn’t talk to him about it.” Perhaps Brown said something he wasn’t supposed to and is now being sush-ed about it?

» UPDATE: Brown provided more information about his feelings on Carter’s switch to Rivals Monday night. “I understand he had to do what he had to do,” he said. “I know he has a good relationship with coach Strong and he’s going to have a better position with more money coming in for his family. I’m still committed to Florida. I’m going to wait it out and see what happens. I’m confused. You’re supposed to commit to a school, but you get to know the coaches and they feel like family. All the coaches that I got to know over the last year, that I dealt with over the summer, they’re all leaving. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to have to talk about it with my family.”

» Brady Ackerman is reporting that Gators assistant defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater turned down an offer from new Marshall Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday to be his team’s defensive coordinator. Heater wants the UF job badly. OGGOA continues to project him as the team’s next defensive coordinator.

» Ackerman also confirmed an OGGOA report that assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney would only leave Florida if he was offered a head coaching position – presumably with the South Florida Bulls. Jim Leavitt has not been removed from his position there, and McCarney told reporters last week that he is not interested in the Gators’ defensive coordinator position.

» Five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), a former Gators commit who spurned the team for the Florida State Seminoles, ignored two phone calls placed from Meyer last week. However, Elam finally picked up recently and said Meyer attempted to sway him back to UF. “He tried, but it didn’t work,” Elam said. Elam is expected to make his announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

» OGGOA has heard a rumor from two very different sources that Meyer was either offered a contract or spoken to by ESPN about working for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” should he eventually decide not to return to coaching. Not a shocker.

» Think Florida losing to the South Alabama Jaguars last week was a tough pill to swallow? Try being the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels who fell Monday night to the College of Charleston Cougars.

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