FOUR BITS: Horschel, Jenkins, Noah, Speights

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel exploded on the scene last season, winning the 2014 FedEx Cup and bringing home a cool $14.8 million for his efforts. Horschel, who also had a baby girl just days after the most successful four-week stretch of his career, was apparently in a sharing mood and decided to be quite generous with his newfound wealth. In a profile by Golfweek, Horschel admits that he gave $10,000 to split among the locker-room attendants at the TOUR Championship and gifted his caddie with a $1 million bonus. He also splurged on his former Gators golf coach, Buddy Alexander.

Hours after winning the BMW Championship playoff in Denver, Horschel called Alexander. Horschel asked about tickets to the Florida-Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Alexander said he thought he could come through.

“I’ve got a little extra jingle in my pocket,” Horschel said. “If you get the tickets, I’ll get the plane.”

Horschel hired a private jet.

2 » According to the Miami Herald, Miami Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins – whose breakout 2014 campaign included him being the NFL‘s leading tackler for a portion of the season – is currently back at Florida “taking five classes” during the spring semester as he attempts to earn his degree in applied physiology and kinesiology. Jenkins left school as a redshirt junior and was largely ineffective for the Dolphins as a rookie but came on in a major way last season. He told the Herald‘s Adam Beasley that he always came back to finish his degree and has seen some familiar faces while in town but is mostly staying to himself with four of the classes he’s enrolled in taking place online. Miami’s leading tackler with 108 in 2014, Jenkins is focused on improving his consistency during organized team activities this summer.

3 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah helped produce this video, You’re Not Alone, about stopping street violence in the Illinois city and across the country.

4 » Last month, Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights had a gun pulled on him outside a San Francisco night club but was unharmed, running away when “a group of gang members” tried to steal his gold chains, according to KTVU FOX 2. Speights is having a career year for the Warriors, shooting a career-best 50.3 percent from the field and averaging a career-high 12.0 points per game. He is also bringing down 5.1 boards per contest and playing 18.1 minutes on average for the best team in the NBA at 42-9 near the midpoint in the season.

Extra BIT » Here’s Horschel chilling with Albert on Feb. 6.


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FOUR BITS: Hinds, Senior Bowl, Horford, Lee

1 » According to CoachingSearch.com, the Florida Gators will add Justin Hinds to their coaching staff as a defensive graduate assistant. Hinds, who worked under defensive coordinator Geoff Collins at Mississippi State, had high praise for his boss during an October interview with ESPN.com.

Justin Hinds says there’s a genius to Collins’ eccentricity. Behind those wild blue eyes — the kind that stare at you with so much intensity they seem to shake — is a coach who knows how to fire up his players, and more important, gets them to understand what can be a complex system by boiling down the most intricate details into easily digestible parts.

“It’s like ‘A Beautiful Mind,'” Hinds says, gesturing toward a wall-to-wall white board filled with coverages and blitzes diagrammed on every available inch of space. “He’s a unique thinker.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hinds, Senior Bowl, Horford, Lee

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

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FOUR BITS: Young waived, Noah almost bitten, Parsons gets weird, Speights goes off

1 » The New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday waived former Florida Gators center Patric Young, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent this summer. Young inked a two-year deal with New Orleans after impressing Pelicans officials during the NBA Summer League. He was guaranteed an invitation to New Orleans training camp and earned his way onto the team’s regular-season roster from there. It is unknown why specifically the Pelicans decided to waive Young, who was on the active roster on Saturday but has yet to get an opportunity to play in a regular-season game. There were a number of teams interested in Young’s services following the 2014 NBA Draft, so it would not be a surprise to see him get another chance elsewhere in the near future.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Young waived, Noah almost bitten, Parsons gets weird, Speights goes off

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2014-15 NBA season begins with 12 former Florida Gators spread across 11 teams

The 2014-15 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with 12 former Florida Gators on active rosters, tied with Arizona for sixth-most across the league.

Those players are spread out over 11 teams with only the Golden State Warriors employing more than one former Gators star on their roster.

Below is a primer on all 12 Florida players (five starters, seven reserves) ahead of the 2014-15 season.

STARTERS

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 9 overall pick
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 232 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2013-14)

Already a popular player and stalwart in Chicago, Noah broke through during his seventh season to capture the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and earn nominations to the All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team. He averaged career-highs of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 steals, earning a trip to his second-straight All-Star game in the process. One year after becoming the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks, Noah became just the fourth center in NBA history to register four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. He was also the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four in a single season. Noah enters the 2014-15 campaign coming off knee surgery and is expected to be limited at times during the season.

PF/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 250 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2010-11)

One of the most underrated players in the league, due in large part to his team (Atlanta) and in ability to stay on the court, Horford has become the Hawks’ unquestioned leader and go-to player. In just 29 games last season, the second in three that has been cut short early due to a torn pectoral, Horford averaged a career-high 18.6 points per game on a career-best .567 shooting. Though he has not been selected to an NBA All-Star team since 2001, Horford plans to make his way back this year with his eyes set on a 20-10 average.

Continue Reading » 2014-15 NBA season begins with 12 former Florida Gators spread across 11 teams

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TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

1 » Training camp for many NBA teams begins on Tuesday and there are currently 15 former Florida Gators on rosters with 12 assured of making the cut out of training camp this season. Guard Bradley Beal (Washington), forward Matt Bonner (San Antonio), F Corey Brewer (Minnesota), point guard Nick Calathes (Memphis), power forward Udonis Haslem (Miami), PF Al Horford (Atlanta), PF David Lee (Golden State), F Mike Miller (Cleveland), center Joakim Noah (Chicago), F Chandler Parsons (Dallas), PF Marreese Speights (Golden State) and C Patric Young (New Orleans) will all certainly find their way onto regular-season rosters. Also competing in training camp right now are PF Vernon Macklin (New Orleans), F Erik Murphy (Boston) and F Casey Prather (Phoenix). Murphy has barely played since being selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft and will be on his fourth team in just over one full season. Macklin and Prather both received non-guaranteed, league-minimum training camp contracts.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

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FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title over the weekend when he won the 2014 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took home a winning share of $954,000. Villegas, who had not won an event since finishing first at the 2010 Honda Classic four years ago, edged Bill Hass and Freddie Jackson by a single stroke with a -17 on the tournament. He opened and closed the event by shooting 63 on Thursday and Sunday. Villegas jumped up to 37th in the new FedExCup standings, moving up 68 spots from No. 105. He is the second former Gators golfer to win on tour this year as Matt Every picked up a victory in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational back on March 23. Every is currently ranked 35th in the FedExCup.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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