Silver Lining for May 20: Updates on Florida Gators in the NFL; farewell to David Letterman

Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Three weeks have passed since the 2015 NFL Draft and Florida Gators have spent the time signing rich contracts to play professional football.

The most notable deal struck to this point was that between No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the defensive end suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his very first NFL practice and signing an injury waiver, the Jaguars did not force offset language into his contract and still inked him to a four-year, $23.5 million fully-guaranteed deal with a $15.3 million signing bonus. Fowler will bring home $4.27 million this season without stepping foot on the field.

Continue Reading » Silver Lining for May 20: Updates on Florida Gators in the NFL; farewell to David Letterman

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4 NFL BITS: Tebow, Cunningham, Demps, Draft

1 » Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly over the weekend dismissed comments from quarterback Mark Sanchez, who called former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow just a “camp arm” for the franchise this summer. “I think everybody here that we bring to our organization is here to compete for a job. That’s what Timmy’s going to do,” Kelly said live on the NFL Network. “He’s an unbelievable competitor. If we were just going to have guys throw drills, we’d take [network analyst Mike] Mayock in the offseason and bring him down here and let him throw to them.”

2 » Former Florida linebacker Jermaine Cunningham was arrested in December after allegedly sending naked or sexual pictures of a woman he was seeing to her friends and family following a domestic dispute between the two parties. (Other charges at the time of his arrest included transporting a gun in his car and tampering with clothing.) As such, he will appear court on Wednesday to face “revenge porn” charges under New Jersey law, according to the Associated Press. Cunningham was picked up by the New York Jets after being released during the 2013 season and spent the 2014 campaign with the team, most of it on injured reserve. He is currently a free agent.

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Chaz Green – Path to 2015 NFL Draft: Visits with Dallas, Buffalo, Atlanta, Tampa and Indianapolis

Through the 2015 NFL Draft from April 30 to May 2 in Chicago, Illinois, Florida Gators offensive lineman Chaz Green will keep you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Green checks in for the fourth time as he continued his on- and off-site visits with NFL teams from across the country.

Right after Pro Day was over, I flew out to Dallas. It was a great trip. I met the whole coaching staff. [Offensive line] coach [Frank] Pollack, after he came down to work me out in Gainesville, it was good to go up there and see him again. I met Mr. [Jerry] Jones, sat down with Coach [Jason] Garrett and had a great conversation. They showed me everything they have to offer and what it means, the tradition behind that franchise. That’s one franchise where you can definitely feel the tradition and history that comes with being a Cowboy. Overall it was a great experience. Everything definitely is bigger in Texas like they say; I definitely felt that while I was there compared to my other trips.

The first day I got there, we went to the stadium and they were actually setting up for the Country Music Awards. We went into the sky box, had dinner, meeting everyone, all the coaches and Mr. Jones. It was all about getting to know everyone and them getting to see you on a personal level.

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FOUR BITS: Okine, McElwain, Noah, Arnold

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive lineman Earl Okine signed with the Indianapolis Colts this week after spending time in both the Arena Football League and Fall Experimental Football League last season. Okine, who was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans last May, did not make the team’s regular-season roster. He picked up 28 tackles and 5.5 sacks for the AFL’s Orlando Predators.

2 » Florida head coach Jim McElwain made a statement with his 2015 recruiting class, proving that the Gators were not only able to close strong but also add some out-of-state commitments to the fold. Overall, UF locked up five players from the state of Georgia – including rising athlete Chris Williamson – last cycle after not grabbing a single Peach State prospect in 2014. McElwain this week told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Michael Carvell why he has made Georgia such a priority. “I think [it was due to a] couple things,” McElwain said of why UF had success recruiting the area. “There were pre-existing relationships with some guys on our staff who recruited the area in the past. That obviously helps. But for us, our thought is [to lock down] a five-hour radius around Gainesville. And with that being said, that goes up into Georgia, and that will be something that we’ll try to continue to make Gator Country.”

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Conference Championship – one advances to Super Bowl

The 2014-15 NFL Playoffs continued this week with the Conference Championship round and three former Florida Gators spread out over two of the four teams remaining in the postseason.

Two Gators were eliminated from the NFL Playoffs this week with Super Bowl XLIX set with the New England Patriots taking on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1.

A former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team for the 13th consecutive season. Should New England defeat Seattle, a former Gators player would be a Super Bowl champion for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Overall, UF has 24 Super Bowl rings won by 17 different players over 18 Super Bowls.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
C Jonotthan Harrison*: Inactive
OT Xavier Nixon: Inactive

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DT Dominique Easley: Injured reserve – season

NOTES
» Harrison and Nixon were inactive for the second-straight week. Harrison’s play declined throughout the season, earning him a spot on the bench and then pushing him off the Colts’ game day roster. Nixon played as a reserve most of the year but was inactive last week and missed the Indianapolis team flight; he did not join the team.
» Former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn works for the Seahawks in the same position. In his second year as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Quinn is helping lead the team to its second-straight Super Bowl appearance as he looks for his second ring.
» Former Gators defensive back Marquand Manuel is in his third year as a coach with the Seahawks. He served as an assistant special teams coach in 2012 and moved into a defensive assistant role in 2013. Like Quinn, he is hoping to win his second Super Bowl in as many seasons.

* Rookie

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Divisional

The 2014-15 NFL Playoffs continued this week with the Divisional round and eight former Florida Gators spread out over five of the eight teams remaining in the postseason.

Five Gators were eliminated from the postseason this week with the Conference Championship round set to include three Florida players (one injured) on two of the remaining four teams (both in the AFC).

Below are full game statistics for all five players (three starters) that saw action during the Divisional round.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Dallas Cowboys: Started | five tackles (three solo, one for loss), forced fumble, fumble recovery

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: 2014 Wild Card

The 2014 NFL Playoffs began this week with the Wild Card round and 13 former Florida Gators spread out over seven of the 12 competing in the postseason.

Four Gators were eliminated from the postseason. The Divisional Round will include eight former Florida players on five teams including all four in the AFC.

Below are full game statistics for all eight players (five starters) that saw action during the Wild Card round.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Dallas Cowboys: Started | four tackles (three solo, one for loss), sack, QB hit, pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

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