Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we try to catch them with Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Remember back in April when Florida Gators forwards junior Erik Murphy and redshirt freshman Cody Larson were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a car? Since then the felony chargers were reduced to misdemeanors for both parties and Murphy accepted a plea deal that netted him fines, community service and a few other minor penalties. Larson’s situation, on the other hand, is not even close to resolved. The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway reports that he will have a Oct. 31 sentencing date to determine what legal action will be taken against him. He had previously entered a not guilty plea but could change it on the day of sentencing. As individual Florida basketball drills begin this week and practice starts on Oct. 15, according to Brockway, Larson’s status remains up in the air. The duo is currently indefinitely suspended from the team, though the expectation is that Murphy will be reinstated now that his legal situation is settled.

» Gators baseball received a commitment Wednesday evening as outfielder Max White chose to continue his career in Gainesville, FL. Also a left-handed pitcher, White is recovering from shoulder surgery and chose Florida over LSU, Central Florida, N.C. State, Maryland and North Florida, according to the Sun. “I have always wanted to play for Florida,” he told the paper. “To be in the situation where all of my hard work could possibly lead me to play for them — that is a great feeling. I just want to keep at it and I especially do not want them UF to see me slack off.”

» Florida head football coach Will Muschamp is known for his fiery demeanor on the sidelines. This fan video shot from the season opener against Florida Atlantic shows a mini-tantrum he threw during the game.

Read the rest of the Gator Bites (and watch four videos) after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Henry, McCarney, Driskel

1 » Updating a previous story, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow won the NFL‘s Rookie of the Week award for his two touchdown performance last week The award, which is voted on by fans online, is Tebow’s first NFL honor. Check him out as he makes his Monday Night Football debut against San Diego.

2 » Florida Gators senior punter Chas Henry was named one of three finalists for the 2010 Ray Guy Award on Monday, a honor presented each season to the nation’s top punter. Henry currently leads the nation with a 47.3 yards per punt average; he has landed 41.2 percent of his punts for 50 yards or more and has placed 15 inside the 20 yard line while his coverage unit has only allowed 11 to be fair caught. His competition includes Georgia’s Drew Butler (2009 winner) and Iowa’s Ryan Donahue.

3 » Yahoo! Sports college football reporter Tom Dienhart reported on Monday that Florida assistant head coach defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney is a “hot name” for the North Texas Mean Green head coaching position. “He may be the guy in Denton,” Dienhart said via Twitter. McCarney was last a head coach for the Iowa State Cyclones from 1995-2006 where he amassed a 56-86 record

4 » If you don’t know his name by now you probably should, because five/four-star 2011 QB commit Jeff Driskel will likely be the Gators’ signal caller of the future once he officially signs his National Letter of Intent early next year. Whether or not he has the talent and maturity to play next season remains to be seen, but his stellar performance in a tough loss last week opened the eyes of many who once doubted him. Driskel’s Hagerty High School fell to the more talented Lakeland High School 56-35 in the 5A playoffs, but he did his best so salvage the game for his team. Driskel accounted for 494 total yards of offense including going 15-of-29 from behind center for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception; rushing 20 times for 270 yards and two touchdowns; and catching a 42-yard touchdown pass. Check out these video highlights:

 

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

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SIX BITS: Vandy, Carter, Bedford, recruiting news

1 » REMINDER: Florida Gators basketball begins 2010 Southeastern Conference play Saturday at noon on ESPN2 against the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. Just an hour later at 1 p.m., the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air live on NBC. OGGOA will have live coverage of both games.

2 » Former Florida running backs coach Kenny Carter said that, though his move to the Louisville Cardinals appears to be a lateral one, it will help advance his career. “Florida has been great to me,” Carter told the Orlando Sentinel. “I learned so much from Urban [Meyer]. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s a dream job for 95 percent of coaches. But there are a lot of factors that go into a coaching move while most people think it has something to do with the team they are leaving. I want to be a head coach one day, and in order to be a head coach, there are things involved in that process. Helping a program from the ground up and working for Charlie [Strong] really intrigued me.” Carter will also help organize special teams with Louisville.

3 » In its first meet of the 2010 season, No. 4 Gators gymnastics fell to the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners 195.275 to 196.250. Florida won the vault but lost on bars, beam and floor while competing on the road in Norman, OK.

4 » Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong officially announced Friday that former Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford has been hired as his defensive coordinator.

5 » Conflicting reports emerged that three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) received a scholarship offer from Florida earlier this week, but in the end none of them truly matter. Johnson, who claims he received an offer from the Gators to play defensive back, has reaffirmed his commitment to the Iowa State Cyclones. “They want me to play DB,” Johnson told Chris Hays of the Sentinel. “I’m a running back. I run the ball. That’s what I do.”

6 » Four-stars athlete/safety recruit Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commitment Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) will be visiting Gainesville, FL, this weekend according to Rivals.

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TWO BITS: New RB offered, another Elam update

1 » Florida has just offered a scholarship to three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m gonna check it out,” said Johnson, who just recently committed to the Iowa State Cyclones. “It kinda shocked me but I don’t really know since it came so late in the season. You gotta check it out, it’s Florida, they got national championship and all that…but there are positives and negatives.” OGGOA believes the Gators’ offer to Johnson is a back-up plan in case four-star RB Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) decommits.

2 » News broke Tuesday that five-star safety recruit Matt Elam, who was previously committed to Florida for over a year before recently switching to the Florida State Seminoles, was considering recommitting (must-read) to the Gators. Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post got the thoughts of those closest to Elam about his upcoming decision. “I just have to watch the [U.S. Army All-American] game Saturday and see what he’s going to do,” said Robert Clark, Elam’s Dwyer High School teammate and three-star Florida commitment. “He’s tricky. We had a conversation [Tuesday], and he said it’s 50-50 right now.” Elam’s Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels confirmed the indecision. “Now that Coach [Urban] Meyer’s back in the mix, he’s torn again,” Daniels said. “It sounds to me like Matt is still going to go to Florida State, but other people are saying other things. You could say he was doing it for the attention, but now the kid is confused. He likes both schools a lot. He’s having a hard time.”

UPDATE: Scout is reporting that Elam will choose between Florida, Florida State and the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

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Who will replace Strong as defensive coordinator?

Now that Charlie Strong is officially the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer must find someone to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator. Strong, who said Wednesday that he will stay on to coach the Gators defense in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, will likely work with his future successor in preparation for the game, similar to how former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen worked with his replacement Steve Addazio before the 2009 BCS National Championship. Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chuck Heater are currently Meyer’s leading candidates to replace Strong, though he could hire someone from the outside.

Dan McCarney
Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach

A 32-year coaching veteran, McCarney remains the longest tenured head coach in Big 12 history, leading the Iowa State Cyclones to five bowl games from 1995-2006. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004 and was responsible for the rebirth of Iowa State’s defense, which ranked among the Big 12 leaders in total defense in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Prior to his tenure with the Cyclones, McCarney, 56, was the Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator. In 1993, his defense ranked 19th nationally against the run and allowed only 16.3 points per game. Wisconsin recorded a nation’s-best 23 interceptions as well as 34 turnovers that season.

Chuck Heater
Assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach

A 33-year coaching veteran, Heater has worked with Meyer at four different programs including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Colorado State Rams and Utah Utes. He has worked with six National Coaches of the Year (Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Meyer, Bill McCartney, Bo Schembechler) and coached in 22 bowl games including six on New Year’s Day and two BCS National Championship games. Heater, 57, was the Gators’ recruiting coordinator in 2006 and 2007 for two of the team’s best recruiting classes to date. His cornerback units helped Florida lead the SEC in interceptions with 16 (2005, T-Georgia) and 21 (2006), respectively.

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