Seven Gators agree to undrafted free agent deals

Updated on Thursday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Former Florida Gators cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, wide receiver Solomon Patton, “tight end” Trey Burton, center Jonotthan Harrison, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens each agreed to undrafted free agent deals with teams shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Purifoy and Roberson, who were both expected to be selected in the draft, wound up agreeing to deals with teams just 250 miles away from each other on Monday. Purifoy (#7) inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced, while Roberson (#47) reached an agreement with the St. Louis Rams.

Purifoy joins running back Chris Rainey, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (a 2013 undrafted free agent) and Harrison (#72), who was picked up after the draft, on the Colts.

Roberson links up fellow former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the Rams after inking a three-year, $1.55 million deal including a $15,000 signing bonus.

Patton (#86) was snagged as a priority free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will join wide receiver Louis Murphy and running back Jeff Demps. He signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract with a $9,000 signing bonus.

Burton (#47) was quick to come to an agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles and will be teammates with WR Riley Cooper and CB Jaylen Watkins, the team’s selection with the first pick of the fourth round, No. 101 overall.

He also signed a three-year, $1.54 million deal, receiving a $7,500 signing bonus as part of $20,000 in total guaranteed money from the Eagles.

The Buffalo Bills did not have a single Florida player on their team entering the 2014 offseason but will enter minicamp with three, signing veteran LB Brandon Spikes and adding both Jacobs and Kitchens as undrafted free agents.

Gators offensive lineman Kyle Koehne was not picked up by a team but did receive a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His eighth entry was submitted shortly after his participation in Pro Day in Gainesville, FL. Watkins also began private meetings and workouts.

Heading into Pro Day, I was hoping to be 100 percent recovered from my Achillles injury. I felt good that day, good enough to do the broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle drills and on-field work, which I did not anticipate doing all of those heading into the day. I ended up aggravating it doing those activities, and it definitely started bothering me, but I got some good notes back on how I performed.

The weather played a factor, too. It was nasty last year but dried up before the guys got out on the field. We didn’t know what to expect. The earlier part of the day, looking outside, it was pouring and we didn’t expect to go outside at all. I know it was rough for Marcus [Roberson] and Loucheiz [Purifoy] and the rest of the guys having to run on the indoor track and having things off-schedule. “Out of all the days, it had to rain this day.” You know? It was warm the day before, right after it cleared up as well. But just for it to happen like that was a stroke of bad luck for all of us.

Before Pro Day even began, the night before, I had my first meeting since the combine and linked up with the Indianapolis Colts at the Florida football facility. It was very similar to all of my other meetings. We went over film, got to know each other and they picked my brain on some things over about 20-30 minutes.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

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Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs began this week with 12 former Florida Gators spread out over eight teams.

Six former Gators were listed as active for Wild Card action with eight total players (on five of eight remaining teams) advancing to the Divisional round next weekend.

Below are game statistics for all six active Florida players that were capable of participating in the opening round of the playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Started | six receptions for 68 yards (targets: 8, long: 22) [team-highs], touchdown
» New Orleans eliminated Philadelphia with a 26-24 win on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

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SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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FOUR BITS: soccer, flugtag, Starks, Nixon, Sturgis

1 » No. 7 Florida Gators soccer (7-1-1, 1-0 SEC) has been on a roll at the start of the season, outscoring its non-conference opponents 18-6 and registering four-straight home shutouts over a two-week span in the middle of September. Florida opened SEC play last Friday with a 3-0 shutout of Alabama at home but will hit the road this weekend for a two-game stretch – first and only time it will happen this season. ESPNW took a look at the Gators’ hot start in its latest power rankings, slotting UF at No. 10 in the nation. Sunday’s match will air live on ESPNU at 2 p.m.

2 » Red Bull held its annual Flugtag event at Bayfront Park in Miami, FL, last weekend. Though dozens of groups came out to participate in the event – a competition where homemade, human-powered flying machines are launched off a pier to see if they will glide – one particular group of Florida fans gained some popularity at the event with their contraption. The pictures below are courtesy of George Martinez and gmartnx.com.

Read/watch two more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: soccer, flugtag, Starks, Nixon, Sturgis

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

Through the 2013 NFL Draft from April 25-27, Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s seventh entry covers his last two weeks, which included numerous workouts and meetings with NFL teams. There are only two more entries upcoming.

Last time we touched base was before I started taking private meetings with teams. The only team I had met with at that time was the New England Patriots and that happened at The Swamp. There was a meeting scheduled two weekends ago between myself and [safeties coach] Brian Flores where he was going to come down to Brooklyn, NY to meet with me but it never really materialized. We had an interview over the phone instead, and he told me that Coach [Bill] Belichick liked me and was going to watch even more film on me. They said they liked my film, liked how I played and that I was a guy they could see being a part of their organization.

That following Monday, I flew out to meet with the Cleveland Browns. It went great. I got a chance to see Joe Haden, and it is always good to see a former teammate in the NFL. He said he put in a good word for me and told the coaching staff that I was a good football player who never had off-the-field issues and could come in and contribute.

The coaching staff was really cool, very down to earth. It’s a whole new staff so they’re running a brand new scheme on both sides of the ball. I definitely felt a connection there with them as far as the defensive backs coach [Louie Cioffi], the head coach [Rob Chudzinski] and the defensive coordinator [Ray Horton], even the special teams coach [Chris Tabor]. They all showed a lot of love and interest in me, and I enjoyed myself.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Meetings

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Carthon named Rams’ pro director of personnel

Former Florida Gators running back Ran Carthon has been named the new director of pro director of personnel for the St. Louis Rams, the organization has announced.

Carthon, who led Florida in rushing with 595 yards and six touchdowns in 2003, finished his career with the Gators having played in 48 games (11 starts). He accounted for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scored 12 total touchdowns.

Since ending his NFL playing career following three years (2004-06) with Indianapolis Colts, Carthon has been working as a scout with the Atlanta Falcons (2008-11).

For him, the opportunity in Atlanta was a lifelong ambition come true.

“Scouting is something I’ve always been interested in,” he told OGGOA in March. “I used to sit home and record every draft from 1995 to 2003. I would sit by the TV and have my legal pad and kind of do my own little mocks with the magazines and all that.

“When I was in school, whatever team my dad [Maurice Carthon] was with and whatever coach came down, I would always get with them to watch film when they watched our guys for Pro Day. I would be on the field timing 40s myself, timing drills and doing all those things. It was something I always wanted to do.”

Scouting always came naturally to Carthon, who returned to Florida in 2008 to get his degree. After graduating he sent letters to every NFL team looking for an opportunity but got his big break when former Gators head coach Urban Meyer allowed him to participate in Pro Day and bump into some coaches and scouts.

“I wasn’t there working out, but I came and I met some of the scouts and got some cards and kind of kept in touch with guys throughout that process. I was able to get an interview with the Falcons and was able to land the job,” he said.

Carthon has been a popular figure in Atlanta’s front office and even created a Fatherhood Ticket Program that earned him recognition from the White House for responding to a call from President Barack Obama to help strengthen the bonds of fathers and families.

He now has a new challenge in St. Louis and should do quite well if he continues to possess the same passion and fortitude he has throughout his career.

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Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.

He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).

He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.

Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.

Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized?
RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”

AS: Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)?
RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”

AS: Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers?
RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”

Read the rest of our interview with Ran Carthon…after the break!
Continue Reading » Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

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