SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

1 » Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed revealed in a feature written by The Washington Post’s Kent Babb that he nearly quit football – and the Florida Gators – during spring practice ahead of the 2012 season. Having seen little opportunity to be successful on the field and dealing with lingering shoulder and knee injuries, Reed had enough. “I thought my body was going to stay hurting like that,” he explained, “and it wasn’t going to get better and I had no future. And I felt like I was putting all this hard work in and nothing was coming from it.” Reed had decided to find a full-time job and support his family but eventually changed his mind, returned to school and wound up playing well enough to get selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

2 » Former Gators and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder appeared on CNN‘s Piers Morgan Live on Monday to discuss the situation in Miami surrounding left guard Richie Incognito supposedly bullying right tackle Jonathan Martin. It is only a portion of Crowder’s segment, which will hopefully be posted in full later in the day.

3 » The Houston Rockets dropped their first game of the 2013-14 season on Monday, but starting forward Chandler Parsons played well in the contest by picking up 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go along with four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block. Two of his 14 points came on this massive dunk.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

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13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Over the last few days, some new NCAA-related products have been announced including scented candles from Yankee Candle and JELL-O with a jigglers mold kit. Both companies are offering versions featuring the Florida Gators, as you can see below. Pictures via Darren Rovell (ESPN) and Andrew Giangola (IMG)

» A new company has been started specifically to sell “collegiate fragrances.”

» The only Gators basketball player on ESPN insider Chad Ford’s first Big Board ($) for the 2014 NBA Draft is not even currently enrolled at Florida. Five-star forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL), who is hoping to be cleared by the NCAA in time for the spring semester, is descried as an “upside player” who is “blessed with elite athletic abilities and length.” Ford believes Walker will need to make the transition from the four to the three and play small forward in the professional ranks.

» Florida mic’d up new defensive line coach Brad Lawing during a practice last week. Scott Carter of UF’s website also wrote an interesting feature (Q&A included) on Lawing and how he is bringing “old-school ways to new adventure.”

Check out NINE more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

1 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons concluded the 2012-13 NBA regular season in style, draining an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to extend his team’s season finale into overtime. Though Houston fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 99-95, Parsons finished with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists. The Rockets will be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

2 » During a pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, New York Jets general manager John Idzik remained non-committal but nevertheless seemed to foreshadow quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the team. “I’m not saying he is, I’m not saying he isn’t,” said Idzik after being asked if Tebow would be involved in the Jets’ offseason quarterback competition. “I’m just saying let things play out.” He continued: “I guess I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. … He’s a Jet, and we’ve gone through some change here and that’s what I mean by letting things play out. We have a new coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have a new offensive system, I’m new. We have several new people within football administration. I think you just got to let these things develop and evolve.”

3 » Workouts at this point in the offseason do not include on-field drills, so Tebow has not yet had an opportunity to show these new coaches his ability. If one is to believe veteran quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, who told Newsday on Wednesday that he fixed Tebow’s flawed mechanics in just three days, the player may be able to impress if given a chance. “I would hope wherever he ends up, they give him an opportunity to play, because if they do, they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he told the paper. “I think he can still play.” Clarkson spent three days working with Tebow in Arizona during the month of February and explained that he fixed the flaw in Tebow’s throwing motion.

“The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion,” Clarkson said. “A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he’d make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up.” Clarkson went on to say that though Tebow has a high football IQ, his footwork was slowing him down. He even used Tai Chi to help Tebow “make his body work as one unit.” He added: “The things that he needs to work on are very coachable and actually very minor. … He just needs to have someone not be afraid of the phenomenon.”

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators football news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

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Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff completed its 28-member 2013 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

Opening statement:

“I’m really proud of our staff. Today is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two-and-a-half, three years put together on a young man and you come down to signing day and you sit at the fax machine and hope that thing comes through. I hope it’s signed right and it’s dated and all that kind of good stuff. Recruiting is all about building relationships. We’ll know about this class in two or three years. It’s a developmental game. …

“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you’ve got to a have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position, which also to me was very appealing. At some positions we signed five wide receivers [for example]. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete. Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers and they’re not real sure about coming in and competing for the Gators. We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play for the University of Florida.

“This class is very balanced. It’s a high-character class with toughness, all the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed and then all of the off-the-field things we’re looking for. It’s a very committed class. A lot of these guys are guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits; there was not a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want; you want guys that are like that. …

“The coaching process is really about four things – evaluation, recruiting, developing and coaching. I think in our two years, you’ve seen on the recruiting trail – from an evaluation standpoint and a recruiting standpoint – that we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level. I’m very proud of the staff and the job that they’ve [done] and all of our support staff on campus. … There’s a true commitment level at this place for excellence, and I appreciate their support.”

» On commitments being the best recruiters: “They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day, and they want to play with other good players.”

» On if he looks at player star ratings from recruiting services: “Absolutely no consideration at all. We commit most of our guys before they ever come out, so maybe they look at our ratings.”

Read much more from Muschamp and the Florida coaching staff…after the break!
Continue Reading » Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

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TWO BITS: Hill’s turnaround, Taylor’s honor

1 » Life has been tough for former Florida Gators safety Will Hill ever since he left the team as a junior and declared for the 2011 NFL Draft. After going undrafted and not even receiving a sniff as a free agent, Hill spent most of the last year turning his life around and focusing on football. A new feature story by the New York Daily News details Hill’s turnaround, focusing on how he has changed both on the field (paying attention, concentrating on getting better) and off the field (no longer using drugs, being responsible). “I can’t just live carefree,” he told the paper. “I got worries now. My kids, these responsibilities. You have your fun, but it’s time for responsibility.” Signing with the New York Giants this offseason, Hill not only made the team but has impressed early and is already seeing extensive playing time. He has registered seven tackles (six solo) and a pass defense through four games already this season.

2 » Former Gators running back Fred Taylor was honored Sunday by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which inducted the franchise’s all-time leading rusher into the Pride of the Jaguars (ring of honor). Prior to his induction, Taylor sat down with the Florida Times-Union for a question-and-answer session that focused on his upbringing and time with Jacksonville. An excerpt from the interview can be found below as Taylor answers how he changed as a person and a player coming out of Florida and into the NFL.

“They saw a young man come in with gold teeth and leave with a helluva smile. At one point, I didn’t want to smile. The person I was back then was immature and unexposed. I wasn’t exposed to what you were supposed to be as an NFL player. My grandmother raised me the best she possibly could have. Whenever I went off course in my life, that was 100 percent me, that part of me that was being youthful and childish. When I got in the league, I was a good-natured, mild-mannered individual. I chose my friends, and sometimes we did things that was just us being young and having a good time together. As the years passed, I wanted to be better. Everyone has an opportunity to change. People know life is about growth, but not everybody wants to embrace it. I came to understand that what I am is what my legacy is going to be. I can only try to be the best I can with my imperfections.”

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Gators LB Jenkins cleared to practice in cast

Florida Gators redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who broke his thumb in week two action against Texas A&M and has missed his team’s last two games, will return to practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp announced while appearing on Sports Radio 1010XL in Jacksonville, FL on Friday afternoon.

A veteran defender who registered five tackles and a sack over the first two games of 2012, Jenkins attended his scheduled meeting with a specialist on Friday and had the surgically-inserted pin removed from his thumb.

Muschamp said on Wednesday that trainers were “optimistic” about Jenkins being able to play against LSU though he would have to do so in some form of a cast. He confirmed Friday that Jenkins will be allowed to return to practice on Tuesday or Wednesday to see how he handles playing with a large cast on his hand.

His pain and comfort levels will determine if and how much he plays next weekend.

“I certainly hope [he can play],” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said on Wednesday. “He provides some real speed for us on the field. I think the guy’s a terrific blitzer. He can certainly match up, tight end-wise, covering when we get into our nickel package. And then just his experience playing linebacker, I don’t think you can overlook that.”

Muschamp, who spent Friday in Jacksonville recruiting before appearing on the radio, is set to attend the Glades Day-Yulee high school football game in the evening. The contest features two of the best 2013 running backs in the state – four-star Florida commitment Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and four-star Alabama pledge Derrick Henry (Yulee, FL).

Asked during his interview about his relationship with former Gators RB Fred Taylor, Kelvin’s birth father who is set to be inducted into the Jacksonville Jaguars’ ring of honor on Sunday, Muschamp said the two go way back.

“He’s a great Gator. I consider him a friend. He’s a guy that’s come and spoke to our football team on several occasions and just gets real with them,” he said. “Unfortunately, I had to tackle him when I was a senior and he was a freshman. I didn’t come in on the good end of that. I was on the long list of people he ran over.”

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FOUR BITS: Machen, Taylor, Tebow, Beal

1 » University of Florida President Bernie Machen announced Friday that he will conclude his tenure sometime in 2013 after nearly a decade at the helm of the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the state. Machen, 68, made his announcement at the UF Board of Trustees meeting, and the school sent an e-mail to students, alumni and faculty almost simultaneously. “This decision reflects our joint feeling that there’s a time for everything in life and it’s now our time to pursue the next chapter,” said Machen while also referring to his wife Chris, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Of course, it will be pursued here in Gainesville and it will be pursued at the University of Florida.” The Sun notes that his most recent contract extension, signed last year, “establishes a post-presidency role for Machen at the university.” The school expects that it will have a decision on Machen’s replacement in the next six months; a smooth transition will take place with Machen handing over the reins and responsibilities at a time both parties deem to be the most convenient and effective. Read the school’s official announcement on Machen’s decision.

2 » The Jacksonville Jaguars announced Thursday that recently retired running back Fred Taylor would be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars this season. Taylor, who will join offensive tackle Tony Boselli as the second member of the Pride, is arguably the most talented and popular player in team history. He finished his career in Jacksonville (spanning 11 years) with 11,271 yards (4.6 yards per carry average) and 62 rushing touchdowns along with 2,361 receiving yards and eight reception scores. Taylor is not a member of the Florida GatorsRing of Honor as he is not yet eligible but could become eligible should he be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is, however, a member of the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame and UF Athletic Hall of Fame.

3 » It has been obvious from day one of the trade that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan believes in quarterback Tim Tebow. Though he may have his reservations about him as a signal caller, Ryan continues to be impressed with Tebow’s character and football-playing abilities. He also seems to be infatuated with his strength. “Let me give you a little story about Tim,” Ryan said on Thursday, according to Pro Football Talk. “I saw this in the weight room. A player had challenged him, holding these big huge sledgehammers. They held them doing this big iron cross kind of deal. The big lineman went first. [Tebow] said you want to go first or second. The big lineman said he’d go first. He went for about a 1:04, shaking. Tim went for 1:18. This guy is crazy with how strong he is and the kind of focus [he has]. I see that from him. He’s super competitive.” Ryan also said that he understands Tebow likes to use his athleticism in the pocket and is perfectly with that in the correct situations. “He’s done some things in some previous practices, where it’s like, wow, that’s a football player,” he said. “The defense will start chirping about him, ‘Come on. Throw the ball, stand back and throw the ball.’ Why? If he sees two-man [deep defense], he’s running with it. Someone better go out there and make a tackle. I think everyone sees Tim for what he is. He’s a super competitive guy and a good teammate. I’ve noticed he’s always building guys up. By the way, he’s a talented kid, or young man.”

4 » At the 2012 NBA Combine as a partial participant, Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal has been getting plenty of work done off the court. According to the Chicago Tribune (the combine is taking place in Chicago, IL), Beal “had interviews with Detroit, Denver and Sacramento on Wednesday,” several more planned for Thursday and individual workouts scheduled with Charlotte (No. 2 overall pick) and Washington (No. 3 overall pick) in the near future.

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Leak, Tucker, Jaguars

1 » Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, set to be one of the primary faces/athletes representing the United States in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics was announced as the fourth male to ever grace the cover of American Vogue magazine when the June cover was released on Monday. Lochte appears on the cover alongside women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo and tennis phenom Serena Williams. The three men that were previously featured on the cover of Vogue – Richard Gere, George Clooney and LeBron James – each appeared alongside a female model “Cindy Crawford, Gisele, and Gisele again, respectively,” the magazine notes.

2 » Traded to the Orlando Predators recently after falling out of grace with the Jacksonville Sharks, former Florida quarterback Chris Leak will start his first game with his new team on Friday. Leak, who has already appeared in two games for Orlando as a backup and has amassed 78 yards and three touchdowns on 9-of-17 passing, hopes to turnaround the season for a team that has started a paltry 1-7. The Predators hope Leak can be the team’s starter for a long time and have plans for him to be a franchise player as long as he succeeds.

3 » Gators senior right fielder Preston Tucker will begin his final regular season series in the orange and blue looking, in part, to set the school record for career hits. Smacking a single on Tuesday, Tucker tied former Florida outfielder Mark Ellis for the career mark with 319 hits; one more and the record is all his. UF is set to face Auburn in a three-game road series Thursday-Saturday before beginning postseason competition.

4 » As part of an outreach program that will attempt to generate “excitement and energy” for the team heading into the 2012 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be visiting Gainesville, FL with a “Jaguars Caravan” including players, coaches, cheerleaders and other team representatives, according to The Gainesville Sun. As part of the event, which will take place on June 6 at Tioga Town Center from 6-8 p.m., Gators fans will be able to see some familiar faces in former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville’s head coach), current Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey and former Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor.

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