FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Charity Challenge, band

1 » St. Louis Rams second-round draft choice, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, remained unsigned as of Wednesday, and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole explained that there is “one major hurdle to clear” before the process can be completed. “The Rams…[are] asking for safeguards in Jenkins’s rookie contract,” Cole reports. “According to two sources close to the situation, the Rams have proposed a deal to Jenkins’s agent Malik Shareef that features the signing bonus being split into four equal parts over the course of the contract – protection against Jenkins not panning out with the club.” He goes on to note that Shareef has declined the deal ($5 million total, $2 million signing bonus) because “according to sources, Shareef is concerned about how he will be viewed by other potential clients (and how he’ll be criticized by other agents) for taking such a deal.” Sources close to the team also told Cole that the Rams will give Jenkins interest in the held over money and that St. Louis eventually expects to consummate the deal.

2 » A Florida Gators spokesman on Thursday confirmed to OGGOA that the team will no longer be holding the annual Gator Charity Challenge (which was put on four-straight years including last year on July 29) but plans to replace it with another event in the future. “Although the Florida football program will not host the Charity Challenge event this fall, the program remains committed to charity work and serving the community through the efforts of the Goodwill Gators initiative,” Florida explained. “The Goodwill Gators program is active year-round and allows UF student-athletes to build a strong relationship with the Gainesville community. The football staff is also looking into alternative events for future years in place of the Charity Challenge. Student-athletes on the football team volunteered a total of 475 hours of community service during the 2011-12 year, working with 8 schools, 12 non-profit organizations and 3 civic organizations. Since the new coaching staff took over in January of 2011, the football program has tallied 778 hours of community service to date working with 37 unique entities, including 14 schools, 18 non-profit organizations and 5 civic organizations. Every football student-athlete volunteered during the 2011-12 year, highlighted by the St. Augustine Thanksgiving Food Distribution in which the entire team participated.”

3 » The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band is scheduled to leave Monday to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympics. According to UF’s itinerary for the event, the band (more than 230 members strong) will spend a full week in London, hold three performances (including one just before the Opening Ceremony) and take in plenty of sights and sounds. “The Gators have been raising funds and working intensely to make this dream a reality for six months, and for many it is the pinnacle of their performance career to date,” said Jay Watkins, associate director of bands. “The band is deeply honored by the unique invitations they have received.”

4 » Four-star defensive tackle and Gators 2012 commit Dante Phillips (Venice, FL) has found a new home after the admissions board at UF denied his enrollment this summer. Phillips on Wednesday announced that he signed his scholarship papers to play for Tennessee, meaning he will be going head-to-head with Florida each season.

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Gator Charity Challenge an immense success

Raising money for charity while allowing fans the opportunity to see the team compete over a month before the 2011 season is set to begin, the Florida Gators held the fourth-annual Gator Charity Challenge at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday night.

With six teams going head-to-head in three events – sled push, tug-of-war and torpedo hold – only one could be victorious. That group was the Go Gettas, led by team captains sophomore running back Trey Burton, redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

The Go Gettas won the sled push, tied for second in the tug-of-war and came in second in the torpedo hold to win the event, which supported the Salvation Army of Alachua County.

Fans donated more than 650 pounds of canned food and tons of personal hygiene products that will be passed out to those in need.

The strength & conditioning event undoubtedly took a toll on the team, but everyone in attendance got a lift when a walk-on fullback won the individual push-up competition.

Junior Jesse Schmitt, who is listed at 5’7” and 175 lbs. on the official roster, walked on to the team last year and outlasted both redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey and redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown in the finals of the push-up event.

“I did my training [for the Marines] last summer, so we did a lot of push-ups there,’’ Schmitt told University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter. “That certainly helps. I’ve got a lower body weight than most of those guys by at least 100 pounds, so that comes in handy. These guys are incredible. They are just athletic freaks. It’s great to work out with them. It makes it hard to keep up.”

Speical thanks to the Orlando Sentinel for the video above.

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FOUR BITS: All-American, All-Tourney, charity

1 » Florida Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana, pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson, third baseman Austin Maddox and pitcher Hudson Randall were all named to the 2010 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team as chosen by Collegiate Baseball on Wednesday. All four players were also selected for the 2010 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team, with Maddox leading the pack by earning 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

2 » Gators softball’s freshman utility player Brittany Schutte was named to the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team on Tuesday. Her 6-9 performance with three home runs in three games was an outstanding accomplishment that made her the first Florida freshman in school history to be given this honor.

3 » Gators football is set to host the third annual Gator Charity Challenge on Friday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The event features members of the team, representing six different charities, squaring off against each other in three strength competitions (such as tire rolling). All of the organizations this year are affiliated with Shands Hospital – Shands Cancer Hospital, American Cancer Society, STOP! Children’s Cancer, Ronald McDonald House, American Heart Association and March of Dimes – and are being captained by seniors safety Ahmad Black, defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, LB A.J. Jones, DT Terron Sanders and defensive end Duke Lemmens, respectively.

4 » The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rates (APR) have been released for the 2008-09 school year, and Florida is looking good in its rankings. The Gators are situated at No. 3 in their multiyear APR (2005-08) in both football (971) and basketball (956), behind only Vanderbilt (No. 1 in both), Georgia (No. 2 football) and Alabama (No. 2 basketball).

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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SIX BITS: Injury update, crowd noise, practice, Nelson honored, no Miami, Watkins signed

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow on his final home game »

1 » While speaking with the media on Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer updated the statuses of some of his injured players. Redshirt junior linebacker A.J. Jones, who sprained his MCL Saturday against the Florida International Golden Panthers, is officially out for the Florida State Seminoles game and will also miss the SEC Championship in two weeks. Junior Brandon Hicks will start in his place. Redshirt junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) is questionable while senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (shoulder) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Terron Sanders (rib) are probable.

2 » In order to get ready for the extreme volumes produced by the crowd in The Swamp, FSU coaches piped noise into Doak Campell Stadium during practice on Tuesday. Redshirt freshman quarterback E.J. Manuel, who is starting in place of the injured Christian Ponder, benefited from the move, which should allow him to feel slightly more comfortable on Saturday. “It’s something you have to learn,” head coach Bobby Bowden said. “He’s had experience playing away from home at Wake Forest with about 40,000 people, and he’s played here in front of our crowd. Now he’s going to play down there, where it’s probably as loud a noise as he’s ever heard.”

3 » Due to inclement weather in the Gainesville, FL, area, the football team has had its practice schedule shifted around. This should not be much of an issue overall, though anything that could possibly take a team out of rhythm should be noted. However, with this veteran group, an issue like this should be minor.

Three more BITS on David Nelson, the ‘Canes and Jason Watkins after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Injury update, crowd noise, practice, Nelson honored, no Miami, Watkins signed

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