FOUR BITS: Webb in CFL, Gaffney, Miller, Horford

1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Dee Webb, who spent a portion of 2010 with the Jacksonville Sharks of the revamped AFL, has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL for the 2011 season. A former draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Webb tried out for the Miami Dolphins last year but did not make the cut. He will be playing in the CFL for a second time after previously trying out for Toronto (in 2007) and joining the Calgary Stampeders (in 2009).

2 » Though Denver Broncos wide receiver Jabar Gaffney is getting up there in age (he turns 31 next season), it appears that he will remain an integral part of the team’s receiving corps in 2011. With two starters recovering from surgeries, The Denver Post expects Gaffney to have the opportunity to capitalize on their absences. Posting career-highs in receptions (65) and yards (875) in 2010, Gaffney thrived under quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow and is not costing the team much money with a $2.4 million salary set for next season.

3 » Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, who left Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers after getting hit in the head, stayed overnight for concussion tests and will miss at least one game. It is the second time in as many games Miller sustained a blow to the head, though the first did not appear to cause any damage necessitating further tests.

4 » Just over two weeks ago, the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks clashed in a heated contest that ended with a 111-102 victory for Atlanta. During the game, a fight broke out between the teams. Forward/center Amare Stoudemire of the Knicks took exception after Hawks F/C Al Horford was “particularly vocal and demonstrative,” according to ESPN. Now Stoudemire is looking forward to going up against his NBA All-Star teammate in a rematch between New York and Atlanta on Wednesday. “It’s going to be a very, very intense game after what happened in Atlanta,” he said. “[Horford] don’t want to see me. I watched him play in Florida, and I’ve seen him play a few years in Atlanta. We’ve got two different games, and we’ll see how it plays out.” Horford responded Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t understand what he means by that, ‘He don’t want to see me,’” he said. “Like we’re supposed to be scared of [Stoudemire]. Ain’t nobody scared of him. We’re all grown men, so it’s all good.”

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TWO BITS: Will Hill and Jones-Drew…on Twitter

1 » Former Florida Gators safety Will Hill, making an appearance on The Pat Dooley Show on Monday, claimed that recent criticism he received over messages from his Twitter account were not his but instead the work of someone else. “The Twitter thing just came up to me. I haven’t been on Twitter for the last five or six months. I called my people to see what was going on. I deleted everything but some blogger cut and pasted some things. Somehow, my thing has been hacked,” he said. “That was really hard on me. I would never want to disrespect the Gator Nation or Coach [Will] Muschamp or Urban Meyer. I don’t want people to think of me as a bad person.” Hill also said academics, not behavioral issues, were the reason he was suspended the first two games of the season and played sparingly in the 2011 Outback Bowl. He chose to clarify his decision to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft as well. “Coach Meyer always talks about family and when he decided to step down he talked about how important his family was and I was thinking the same way,” Hill said. “I have three beautiful sons and a beautiful wife. I thought it was best for me to leave the university. I know I didn’t have the best year, but I know I’m a great athlete. There was a lot going on this year. I had a few injuries and I couldn’t perform to the best of my abilities. I felt I let people down.”

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who cut-down Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday via his Twitter account by claiming he “quit” like former Gators head coach Urban Meyer, decided to back-off a portion of that statement Monday…the part about Cutler. “I never attacked him, called him soft or a sore loser,” Jones-Drew said about Cutler. “I never questioned his toughness. I think people took my joke out of context.” So what exactly was his joke? “I was taking a shot at Florida fans,” he quipped. Smart move for someone playing in a metropolitan area with arguably the largest collection of Florida fans outside of Gainesville, FL. Editor’s note: Jones-Drew attended UCLA.
 

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Miller, visits, MJD, Chickillo

1 » A victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship ensured that, for the ninth consecutive season, a former Florida Gators player will be going to the Super Bowl. Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, who has started every game of the 2010-11 season for Pittsburgh but left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with a high-ankle sprain (left), could also become the 14th former Gators star to win a ring. “I know in my heart that I’m playing in that game,” Pouncey said according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I had the same injury before on my other ankle and I know how to attack it. I know how to approach things.” Should the Steelers be victorious in Super Bowl XLV, it would be the third-straight year a Florida player has won a ring (Pittsburgh-Starks, New Orleans-McCray). Editor’s note: Steelers left tackle Max Starks would also receive a ring, though he has missed most of the season after injuring his neck earlier in the year.

2 » Getting off to a slow start this year after returning from a serious thumb injury he suffered during preseason training camp, Miami Heat guard Mike Miller went nuts on Saturday with two of his team’s best players on the sideline. Playing a season-high 33 minutes, Miller went 12-of-20 (and 6-of-11 from downtown) for 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists and set a franchise record with 22 points in the second quarter alone. He was 5-for-18 before Saturday’s game and had only scored 15 points on the season. “It’s not like I forgot how [to shoot],” Miller said. “It’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it. It was a matter of time.”

3 » UF received official visits from four-star cornerback Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and three-star offensive tackle Jacob Fisher (Traverse City, MI) over the weekend, both of whom were hosted by players and took in Florida’s big basketball win over Arkansas with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Roberson, currently committed to Texas Tech (where his uncle Otis Mounds is the CB coach), may be up for grabs depending how he feels his visit went. Fisher, on the other hand, has his recruitment completely open and is strongly looking around. A former Michigan commit, he decided to weigh his options after head coach Rich Rodriguez was fired.

4 » When Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left the NFC Championship game on Sunday with a knee injury, many current and former NFL players took to Twitter in order to bash him. An interesting – and to Gators fans “offensive” – tweet came through from the account of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who likened Cutler’s sitting on the sidelines to Florida head coach Urban Meyer resigning. “Hey I think the Urban Meyer rule is effect right now. When the going gets tough… QUIT,” Jones-Drew wrote. “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee. I played the whole season on one…” Editor’s note: Jones-Drew missed the final two games of the 2010 season (while Jacksonville was still in playoff contention) with a knee injury.

Extra BIT » Though the new coaching staff, including head coach Will Muschamp made a strong case to get him to switch, four-star defensive end Anthony Chickillo decided to reaffirm his commitment to the Miami Hurricanes over the weekend.

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TWO BITS: Taylor may retire, women fall to UK

1 » After a 13-year NFL career including 10 seasons as a feature running back, former Florida Gators star Fred Taylor’s professional career may very well be over. Carrying the ball only 43 times this season for the New England Patriots, Taylor has rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns and caught 290 passes for 2,384 yards and eight more scores in his lengthy career. Injury plagued for most of his career, Taylor missed 36 games during his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (he only played two games during the 2001 season) and has only started one game in two years with New England. Inactive for the Patriots’ sole playoff game this season, Taylor is getting an inkling that it may be time to hang up the cleats. Here is what he had to say after the game.

“I think at this point I’ve got a million things floating through my brain. It’s kind of hard to comprehend. None of it’s really clear. It’s kind of hard to play the game you love so much with the limitations [I had] last year, with the ankle, and not being able to do the things I know I can do. This year with the toes. It’s real tough and frustrating.

“I just have to take some time to be realistic. I kind of know what my body’s telling me, and what my family has been telling me, but I also know that this is what I’ve been programmed to do the majority of my life.

“I’ll probably just take some time, get the training this offseason. The camaraderie – being around the guys, it’s kind of hard to separate from that. I don’t want to be too fast in figuring [it out].”

2 » While the men were doing their best to win a close game on the road, the Florida women’s basketball team (12-8, 2-4 SEC) was at home dropping a similarly nail-biting contest to the Kentucky Wildcats (14-4, 3-2 SEC) 59-58 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Up double digits with just over five minutes left, the Gators allowed the Wildcats to take off on an 11-0 run and eventually take the lead, 55-54, with 1:13 remaining. Florida junior guard Deana Allen drained a dagger three-pointer to put her team ahead by one with 23.3 seconds left on the clock, but two free throws by Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap (coupled with a missed buzzer beater by UF) allowed UK to claim the victory.

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SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss’ career with the Denver Broncos was uneventful with the former first round pick totaling only 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in under four full seasons with the team. Cut by Denver on Nov. 17, Moss cleared waivers and signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday. Moved to outside linebacker his last two seasons with the Broncos, Moss will return to his natural defensive end position with the Raiders and is set to back-up second-year player Matt Shaughnessy. He could play as soon as Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

2 » Speaking of Denver, their season appears to be getting worse and worse with each passing week. Even though head coach Josh McDaniels may be in danger of losing his job if he does not show some signs improvement over the next few weeks, he does not believe the time is right to try playing former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow more. “I don’t know. Not willing to go there,” he said, according to The Denver Post. “That’s not the case right now, so we’ll think about that when that happens.” McDaniels has had opportunities to get Tebow some playing time at the end of blowout losses this season but has declined on at least two occasions. “We haven’t had too many situations like that, but there’s a lot that could go into it,” he said. “I think each game is different. I think we’ve had the one game against Kansas City where you felt like there was a situation there but there are some other things that played into that. We’re not adverse to [putting him in late], we just haven’t had many opportunities to do that this year.”

3 » Former Florida swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year during the 2010 USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggle Awards on Monday. Lochte once again had a dominant summer in the pool, nearly breaking the 200-meter individual medley world record in a winning performance at the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Three more BITS including FSU already declaring victory…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

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SIX BITS: 12-0, Murphy, Tebow, Crowder, Harvey

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators volleyball (19-1, 12-0 SEC) kept its host streak alive Wednesday with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) sweep of the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-17, 2-10 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers dominated the contest with a match-high 11 kills and a career-high-tying four service aces. She also contributed five digs and a .524 hitting efficiency for a total of 15 points. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy backed up Rivers with her seventh-straight double-double to the tune of 11 kills and12 assists. Having completed a five-game homestand, Florida will hit the road for two three-game stretches over their final eight games of the regular season, which concludes on Nov. 26.

2 » Leaving during the third quarter with an injury as the Oakland Raiders dominated the Denver Broncos last week, it has been determined that former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy suffered a bruised lung and will miss several weeks of action. The Raiders’ No. 1 receiver, Murphy got off to a fast start this season but has floundered in recent weeks while dealing with injuries and constant quarterback changes.

Four more BITS on Tebow, Crowder, Harvey and how you can own a Gators ring…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: 12-0, Murphy, Tebow, Crowder, Harvey

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TWO BITS: Tebow returns home, Driskel compared

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.”

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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NFL cuts deliver good and bad news for ex-Gators

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.

GOOD NEWS

» 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.

BAD NEWS

» 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.

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