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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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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Will Meyer lean on Heater to replace Strong?

Monday will mark the 19th day since former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was hired away to be the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, and head coach Urban Meyer has yet to name his replacement. When then-offensive coordinator Dan Mullen split town for the Mississippi State Bulldogs head coaching gig in 2008, Meyer had his substitute (Steve Addazio) named in just over two weeks.

Whether it is because the Gators are playing their bowl game a week earlier this season or Meyer’s has a desire to prevent another distraction from hindering his team’s performance prior to the 2010 Sugar Bowl, some fans are finding the absence of an announcement about Strong’s replacement troubling.

Earlier this month, OGGOA profiled assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach Chuck Heater – the two men on the current staff most likely to replace Strong. As time is winding down and assistants are being snatched up by programs across the country, it is looking more and more likely that one of these two will lead the Florida defense in 2010. And though Meyer was believed to be looking outside the program at first (presumably for a big-time name), recent reports and rumors indicate that Heater may very will end up earning the promotion.

SPECULATION: In addition to a tweet by Gainesville Sun beat writer Pat Dooley claiming that Heater “wants [to be defensive coordinator] bad,” rumors are circulating that Meyer has interviewed former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Willie Martinez for a position coach job. Should Martinez be hired, he would likely coach safeties, alleviating Heater of the duty. Strong’s departure also opens up the linebackers coach job, a position that could theoretically be filled by Martinez or cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford with the other taking over the entire secondary. Martinez, who is from Coral Gables, FL, and considered to be a terrific recruiter, would form a dynamic duo with Bedford when recruiting defensive players in South Florida.

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Pouncey, Hernandez win; Tebow, Spikes, Haden and Henry shut out of College Footbal Awards

Two Florida Gators juniors came home from The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Orlando, FL, Thursday evening with awards; unfortunately, four other players were not as lucky. Center Maurkice Pouncey was awarded the 2009 Rimington Trophy (best collegiate center) and tight end Aaron Hernandez was honored with the 2009 John Mackey Award (best collegiate tight end). Each was the first Gators player in history to take home his respective award.

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow, who was up for the 2009 Davey O’Brien Award (best collegiate quarterback) and 2009 Maxwell Award (best all-around player), was defeated for both by Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy. Tebow took home the O’Brien Award in 2007 and is a two-time winner of the Maxwell Award (2007, 2008). Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes lost the 2009 Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) to Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; junior cornerback Joe Haden was defeated by Tennessee Volunteers safety Eric Berry for the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back); and Georgia Bulldogs punter Drew Butler won the 2009 Ray Guy Award (best collegiate punter) over junior Chas Henry. 2009 Heisman Trophy ceremony is on Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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SIX BITS: Tebow aims high, SEC reigns supreme

1 » Steve Wieberg of USA Today wrote a terrific article about Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow that printed Friday. “Already a Florida legend, Gators’ Tebow is aiming higher,” focuses on Tebow’s ability to make selflessness cool, his fire and devotion and potential prospects on the next level in the National Football League. “Football. Athleticism. Leadership. Charity Work. His faith. You name it. I’ve never seen anybody who had all that in one package,” said former Georgia Bulldogs head coach Vince Dooley. “That’s what puts him in a class by himself.”

2 » Saturday is going to be filled with plenty of college football action. Conference championships, rivalry games and career-defining moments will be aplenty, but the day truly belongs to the Southeastern Conference and its championship game. Tommy Hicks of the Mobile Press-Register contends that “it’s the SEC’s world, and all the other leagues and teams are just playing in it.”

3 » Just because four-star running back recruit Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) committed to the Gators does not mean teams have stopped pursuing him. At the top of that list is the Tennessee Volunteers and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, who visited Brown and tried to persuade him to switch. “He said they would play me as a freshman and that in their offense, the back gets the ball more than the backs in a spread offense. He said in the spread, I’ll be sharing carries with receivers and three or four running backs.” Florida immediately called and spoke to Brown’s father. “I’m committed to Florida, I’m not taking any other visits but Florida,” Brown said.

Three more recruiting BITS and an extra BIT after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow aims high, SEC reigns supreme

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Haden named an All-American, Tebow to present

Florida Gators junior cornerback Joe Haden was chosen to the 2009 All-America Team by the American Football Coaches Association on Thursday. Haden, who is also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, was the only Florida player to land a spot on the team, the first Gators CB since Keiwan Ratliff (2003).

Beating out senior quarterback Tim Tebow for the honor was Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy, while Georgia Bulldogs punter Drew Butler was selected over Florida junior Chas Henry. Four Alabama Crimson Tide players (running back Mark Ingram, offensive lineman Mike Johnson, linebacker Rolando McClain, CB Javier Arenas) were honored.

Tebow received a different distinction on Wednesday, however, as he was announced as a presenter for The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 10. Along with Faron Kelly, Disney’s director of sports marketing, Tebow will be presenting the Disney Spirit Award (for college football’s most inspirational figure) that he won in 2008. Tebow is a 2009 finalist for the Maxwell Award (most outstanding college football player) and O’Brien Award (nation’s best college quarterback) while teammates Haden, senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (Bednarik Award – outstanding defensive player) and Henry (Ray Guy Award – nation’s best punter) are also listed as nominees.

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Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

– On NBC’s Football Night in America, Peter King said he spoke to 17 NFL general managers about Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. Asking them where they projected him being drafted, King said the average came out to No. 33 overall. However, two coaches of winning teams told King that he would not get past their pick in the first round. No surprise there. Almost the entire group of commentators on The OT on FOX agreed that Florida will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Some claimed the Gators were poised to win the National Championship while others said Tebow deserves the Heisman Trophy.

– Rolling up 545 yards of total offense on the Florida State Seminoles, the Gators unit looks the most comfortable it has the entire season. Consider the fact that it rolled up 584 yards against the Florida International Golden Panthers the week prior.

Be sure to check out the seven additional Gator Bites after the jump…
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

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Special teamers Sturgis, Henry honored this week

Florida Gators sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis has been named as one of 20 semifinalists for the 2009 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. Currently 17-of-20 (.850) on field goal attempts this season, Sturgis has kicked four from beyond 40 yards including a 56-yarder two weeks ago against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Also receiving recognition this week is punter Chas Henry, who was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance Saturday against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Though the punt coverage team allowed the first return yards of the season against one of Henry’s punts, he rocketed four for a total of 211 yards with a long of 58.

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