1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will once again be playing football in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, on Sunday; unfortunately for many residents, he will be doing so as a member of the Denver Broncos – not the Jacksonville Jaguars. Nevertheless, Jags players know that the city is Tebow’s for the day, just ask star running back Maurice Jones-Drew. “It’s his town man. It’s going to be exciting for him,” Jones-Drew said. “Everybody is probably going to try to be at the hotel and see him. Word around here flies around fast where everyone is staying, so my advice to him is get a private room and stay in there the entire night.”
Homecoming or not, ESPN analyst and former QB Trent Dilfer continues to seriously doubt Tebow’s future in the NFL, even though he is rooting for him on a personal level. “I’m one that said he won’t [succeed],” Dilfer said. “I want to be wrong. I want Tim Tebow to be a superstar because there’s one thing you cannot coach and that’s will. […] Saying that, if he is successful as a quarterback in the first three years of his career, it will be one of the most remarkable jobs of coaching by Josh McDaniels and his staff that we have seen since [what] Bill Walsh did with Joe Montana. It will be absolutely mind-boggling from a quarterback standpoint if Josh McDaniels and his staff can make him a successful quarterback in the first three years.”
2 » Five-star Florida QB commit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), already an accomplished high school player, is drawing further comparisons to Tebow after running for 68- and 61-yard touchdowns while simultaneously setting his school’s single-game rushing record in a game last week. Driskel, who ran for 246 yards in the game, brushes off the Tebow talk, even though it is complimentary. “People are going to make that comparison just because of my size and the fact that I’m committed to Florida,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and keep leading my team.”
NFL teams were required to trim their active rosters to 53 men on Saturday, which meant a number of former Florida Gators were on the fence about whether or not they would make their respective teams going into the 2010-11 season.
» As expected, all nine Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft made it through training camp and the preseason.
» Former Florida wide receiver David Nelson, who signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills after the draft, was told Saturday afternoon that he made the team. “Officially a Buffalo Bill,” Nelson wrote to his Twitter account. “Thanks to everyone for the support and prayers through this long but rewarding process!”
» Though it is not believed he was in complete danger of making the cut, former Gators safety Reggie Nelson got what he will likely consider his own form of good news Saturday, as the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade him to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, in need of safety help after losing Gibril Wilson to a season-ending injury, decided to trade cornerback David Jones and a conditional draft pick to the Jaguars. Nelson will be reunited with wide receiver Andre Caldwell and defensive end Carlos Dunlap in Cincinnati.
» Tight end Cornelius Ingram has faced plenty of adversity since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during his senior season with Florida. Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 153 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ingram proceeded to tear the same ACL again as a rookie during training camp. Finally back at near full speed, he had been playing well for the Eagles this offseason until a baker’s cyst in his knee kept him out of action. Ingram was released by Philadelphia on Saturday but will be a candidate to land on the team’s practice squad should he go unclaimed.
» Even though he scored three touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts‘ final preseason game, former Gators kick returner Brandon James did not make the cut with one of the top teams in the AFC. Instead, the team elected to sign Devin Moore for that job. James did muff a punt that was returned for the touchdown during the preseason and will likely be picked up as a practice squad player with either the Colts or another team.
» One of the team’s most valuable defensive players throughout the 2009 playoffs, former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, just over a month after the team brought him back (they originally let him go on June 21). In the offseason, the Saints signed fellow former Florida DE Alex Brown, who will be a starter for New Orleans this season.
1 » Florida Gators junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was honored with a nomination to the 2010 Lou Groza Award preseason watch list late last week. Given annually to college football’s best place kicker, the award is being defended by UCLA’s Kai Forbath. Sturgis will have to compete with four other Southeastern Conference kickers and a total of 29 others from across the nation. Last week, Sturgis told reporters that he has been working on his accuracy all offseason. “I want to be more accurate on field goals,” he said. “I had some easy misses last year that I shouldn’t have had. That has obviously been my biggest struggle. That – and put the ball in the right spot for the kickoff team.” Unlike last season, when Jonathan Phillips was the team’s starter, Sturgis already has the job locked up.
2 » Florida head coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff have been experimenting with using players at a variety of positions this offseason. With redshirt junior Chris Rainey, his move from running back to wide receiver appeared to be a given from the get-go. “I never thought I’d be a receiver,” Rainey said, “because all of the stuff I looked at on YouTube had receivers going across the middle and getting big hits. Now that might be me. I’m just going to try and keep myself from doing that.” That being said, Rainey is having a good time with his new position. “Receiver is fun,” he said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You don’t get many injuries from it. You do a lot of running. It’s harder than running back, but I’m good at it. […] For receiver, you have to know everything. For running back, you know one thing and you’re done. Receiver is everything, whether you’re on the ball or off the ball.” Even blocking plays are simpler. “It’s way easier,” Rainey said about blocking downfield rather than picking up blitzes behind the line of scrimmage. “Especially when someone is coming at you, full speed, about 250 pounds and wanting to kill you.”
3 » Following up a big double-overtime victory against the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) on Friday, No. 11 Gators soccer (1-0) defeated the No. 25 Central Florida Knights 2-0 on the road in Orlando, FL. The game, which began at 7 p.m. and aired live on FOX Sports Florida, was put away at the top of the second half when junior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis scored from eight yards out at 48′. Annis would double up less than five minutes later with a 10-yard shot to the far post at 52′ as UF went on to shutout UCF.
4 » After a rough 2009 season, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson is looking to bounce back and return to the form that made him a first round pick coming out of college. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes that transformation is certainly a possibility. “What he’s doing right now gives him a chance,” Del Rio said. “He’s had some tough games, and when that happens, it can crush your confidence. We’re trying to build him back up right now.” Nelson may no longer be a starter, but he has been getting plenty of time in the preseason to prove that he deserves to get on the field a lot this season. “Whenever my number’s called, I just go play football,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to make the plays you can make, and if you don’t make one, you’ve got to move on from it. You can’t hold onto the last play. You’ve got to move on. You’re not going to do everything right. You can’t let the pressure bust the pipe.”
1 » Held out of action with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy continues to struggle to recover from a concussion he suffered during camp on Friday when he got kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah. He complained of a bad headache Sunday and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Murphy remains out of action and is now having trouble with sunlight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vittorio Tafur. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests…something that looks to be at least a few days away.
2 » After tweaking his ankle earlier in the day, former Gators WR Percy Harvin returned to Minnesota Vikings practice on Saturday without a noticeable limp. Unfortunately, Harvin missed practice Sunday and will be absent Monday as well after learning of a death in his family. OGGOA‘s thoughts go out to Harvin during this difficult time.
3 » Florida juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill were named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list on Monday – two of only 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs to be selected. Conspicuous by his absence once again is senior safety Ahmad Black. There is a long way to go and plenty of players will be added and removed to this list as the season progresses.
1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey has been underwhelming since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having only compiled 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the league, he is taking the coaching staff’s belief in him to heart by shedding some weight and becoming a more athletic player. “I thought bigger was better,” Harvey told the Florida Times-Union. “Speed is better. You’ve got to be rushing all day, and you can’t be 280 [pounds] rushing in this heat. […] It’s all on me. I’ve got to perform.” General manager Gene Smith agrees. “I think a couple of things are evident out there,” he said. “He’s probably in the best shape of his life, and he’s lighter this year, so I think you’re seeing some quickness off the snap. And he has better bend coming off the corner. He has shown better flexibility, better quickness and has been better at getting to the quarterback than in any OTAs since he’s been here.
Now that he has survived his first minicamp with the Denver Broncos, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is, according to a radio show producer, back in Tennessee working out until the team reconvenes in a few weeks. To keep Tebowmania going throughout Colorado, he called in to two radio talk shows Tuesday morning, each interview having to be pushed back because of a personal workout.
With Gary and Vic of ESPN 1600 waiting for him to call in at 7:40 a.m. (MDT), his publicist moved him back to 8:30 a.m., eliciting the following joking banter from the hosts during the commercial break: “Jesus has him at 8:00, Mary Magdalene has him at 8:15, and he’s building an orphanage at 8:20.” Upon his call-in about an hour later, they told a producer off the air to “start a conversation with him…talk about rosary beads or something.” However, before he went back-and-forth with Gary and Vic, Tebow spoke to the guys with The Score on AM 1510 at 8:20 a.m.
1 » On Feb. 1, OGGOA reported that former Florida Gators safety Reggie Nelson could be cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars if he does not show significant improvement by the time training camp concludes. Nelson owned up to ESPN about his issues in 2009 and has figured out why they occurred. “I had mistakes last year, I did,” he said. “I’ve watched film since I’ve been here in February and I can own up and say, ‘Yes, I did blow some coverages. Yes, I did miss tackles.’ That’s something I’ve looked at. I have to correct them. You’ve got to look at it: I played safety, corner, nickel, so many different positions. Most players would be like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not doing that, y’all drafted me for this.’ That’s not me, I want to win. I took that challenge, I played corner, I played nickel. I am a competitive guy. [...] They made their decision and I’ve got to live with it.” Nelson also said he will not do the same thing in 2010 – if it is up to him. “The way things happened last year, I don’t think I’d do it,” he said. “I will not do it. I tried that last year. It didn’t work. I don’t think it was fair to me. I would not go back. You live and you lean. It’s their decision, regardless. The only thing I can do is show up and play football.”
2 » The New England Patriots want former Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham to replace recently released outside linebacker Adalius Thomas – this much is known. How he will progress in the transition remains to be seen, but head coach Bill Belichick is just as confident as Cunningham is in himself. “It’s all football. I’m a football player,” Cunningham said. “I’m going to study the playbooks and just do whatever it takes to get better, and keep on getting better. […] I’m a hard worker and fundamental technician. […] Left or right, just get to the ball.” For what its worth, Cunningham has also taken to giving a name to the influx of former Gators with the Patriots – “Gator Nation North,” he calls it.
For the first time since 1989, three former University of Florida student-athletes were picked in the first round of a NFL Draft. Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow completed the trifecta for the 2010 NFL Draft, being chosen by the Denver Broncos with the No. 25 overall selection.
Tebow becomes the fourth Florida quarterback drafted in the first round and the first since Rex Grossman was picked by the Chicago Bears in 2003. Denver made four trades in the draft before eventually winding up with the opportunity to select the Heisman Trophy winning signal caller.
Months of debate about whether or not he was worthy of a first round selection were only fueled Thursday by the Broncos’ decision. Now the story changes to whether or not Tebow will be able to live up to the slot in which he was picked.
Things got rolling between the two parties early in the process but intensified this Monday when general manager Brian Xanders and head coach Josh McDaniels visited Tebow for a private meeting in Gainesville, FL.
He will join former Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive linemen Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas who are already on Denver’s roster. The team, which happens to use orange and blue as its two primary colors, recently made the No. 15 jersey available after trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins for two second round picks.
Should Tebow get a chance to play in week one of the 2010 NFL season, he will take the field at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHAT TEBOW SAID Press Conference Transcript
“A lot of people said it was going to be a hard process or a long process and that it was going to be very frustrating for me but I loved it and I enjoyed the working process. All the critics and negativity only pushed me that much more and made me work that much harder and made me better. I think that was a positive thing for me, to be honest with you. I believed in myself and the people that were around me and supporting me. I thank my quarterback coaches for the work that they put in and trying to constantly get better. Not only get better but show that I was coachable, to be humble and learn to do what someone says and I think that is something that I tried to show and I think I showed that to Coach McDaniels and the staff there.”
WHAT THEY SAID Press Conference Transcript Press Conference Video Head coach Josh McDaniels: “The player obviously has all the traits that you’re looking for in terms of toughness and competitiveness. He’s intelligent and he’s won a lot of games. He’s a leader, he works hard and he’s got all the intangibles that you look for in a player at that position. He’s produced a lot of numbers and statistically – I’m not even going to talk about that because he’s one of the best in a long, long time. We need that player in that position to be a good player, a real good player. If we can make him a special player, that’s what we’re looking for. Now we have a deep group of quarterbacks and we expect the competition to be incredible. It hasn’t changed anything in terms of our depth chart right now. We’re looking for that position to be the best player on our team if we can make it that way. Competition is only going to make each one of those players better and that’s what we expect him to come in and provide us with.”
Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m sure Tim and his family are glad the process is over. The Denver Broncos are getting a winner. Tim will show on the field what he is capable of doing and more than anything Tim has a competitive fire that will constantly push him to get better and do whatever he can to help his team win.”
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