Week 1: Gators post-game notes and quotes

Putting forth a lackluster showing in their first game of the 2010-11 season, the No. 3/4 Florida Gators edged the Miami (OH) RedHawks 34-12 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss following the contest, OGGOA presents some of the most important notes and quotes coming out of The Swamp on Saturday.

POUNCEY STRUGGLES AT CENTER

Senior center Mike Pouncey stayed in school rather than declare for the 2010 NFL Draft for the sole purpose of improving his stock while taking over for his brother in a position more highly coveted by scouts. In his first action at his new position, Pouncey had more than a dozen miscues, snapping the ball too low – or too wobbly – or just plain poorly. One mistake early in the game led directly to a turnover, but a number of others killed offensive momentum or put Florida in a hole early in their series.

“I take full credit for messing up the whole offense,” Pouncey admitted after the game. “It was all on me. I’m the leader of the offense and I let the guys down. I’m going to work my ass off and it won’t happen again. The ball just kept slipping out of my hand. I don’t know how the hell, but it just kept slipping out. We’ll have it fixed by next week. We’ve got USF so we’ll be looking forward to it. […] When we did get stuff going, I f—ed up the snap. And then when we did get stuff going again, s–t, we just kept fumbling. It won’t happen again. […] It was my fault. I’m going to get in here in the morning to fix it. The ball kept slipping out. […] I’m glad it happened in this kind of game – a game that we could have just went out there and won – but if we do it next week we won’t win the game. We weren’t worrying about [Miami] beating us.”

STARTERS SIT FOR DISCIPLINARY REASONS

Prior to the game, it was known that at least four starters and two others players would be out of action Saturday. However, it came as a surprise to some to see neither junior safety Will Hill nor redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson on the field to start the game. As first noted by OGGOA on Twitter, both players were held out of action for disciplinary reasons. “We expect certain things in the classroom. We expect their behavior off the field. You expect a lot of things and if you don’t fulfill that you don’t play,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “Those two guys didn’t fulfill expectations.”

Sophomore S Josh Evans started in Hill’s place, and the Gators were forced to re-shuffle an already misaligned offensive line, putting redshirt junior right guard James Wilson in Johnson’s place at LG and starting redshirt freshman Jon Halapio at his RG spot. Sophomore linebacker Dee Finely (groin) was a late scratch as well.

PAGING ANDRE DEBOSE…COME IN ANDRE DEBOSE

Conspicuous by his absence was redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. After missing his true freshman season recovering from a hamstring injury, Debose had been performing well in practice and was deemed ready to go for the season opener. But even with Florida’s offensive struggles, Debose was nowhere to be found. Meyer mentioned that there was no intent to keep Debose off of the field, but he would certainly speak with WR coach Zach Azzanni about the situation.

NEW INJURIES OCCUR WHILE OTHERS HEAL

Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins, who earned the starting nod Saturday, appeared to injure his left elbow and forearm after landing on it awkwardly, was put in a sling on the sidelines and iced the area while walking to the locker room during the game. Wilson seemed to injure himself during the fourth quarter, but walked off of the field mostly under his own power. Though no updates were available on those two, Meyer said after the game that sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders and redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed (all of whom have knee injuries) should be active next Saturday against South Florida.

MOORE BLANKED WHILE HINES AND BURTON STEP UP

Meyer was not blowing smoke this fall when he said that sophomore WR Omarius Hines would be an important piece of the puzzle this season. With redshirt senior WR Carl Moore held catchless, Hines played his new hybrid tight end role and reeled in three catches for 49 yards and the team’s first offensive touchdown on the season on a 10-yard slant from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley.

Also contributing the entire game was freshman QB Trey Burton, who played five offensive positions (QB, WR, TE, fullback, H-back) and got some work on special teams. He even notched a touchdown on a two-yard run from the wildcat formation. “I imagine he graded out a winner because he seems to do everything right,” Meyer commented. “Trey Burton is going to be a major impact [player] on this team.”

QUOTES (after the break…)
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Week 1: No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Miami RedHawks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 91°F, 30% chance of precipitation
Time: 12:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Sirius/XM: 220/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 3 FLORIDA GATORS MIAMI (OH) REDHAWKS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Michael Haywood
2009 Record: 13-1 2009 Record: 1-11
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -38; O/U 54

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is returning 43 letterwiners and 11 starters from the 2009 season – six on offense (junior running back Jeff Demps, redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, senior center Mike Pouncey, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt seniors guard Carl Johnson and right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and five on defense (senior safety Ahmad Black, junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, redshirt seniors linebacker A.J. Jones and defensive tackle Terron Sanders, redshirt sophomore DT Omar Hunter).
» The Gators have a SEC-best opening day winning streak of 20 games and are 76-27 all-time to start the season (62-6 in Gainesville). Teams coached by Meyer at any point in his career are 18-5 to begin the season; he has 16-straight opening day victories.
» Florida is also sporting a 10-game home winning streak and has won 20 consecutive regular season games. The Orange and Blue has a .897 (113-13) winning percentage at Florida Field since 1990, good for best in the nation.
» Miami (OH) leads the all-time series against UF 1-0, defeating the Gators 16-7 in The Swamp in the 1973 Tangerine Bowl; Florida is 10-3 all-time against the MAC.
» The Gators are the only team in the nation to finish the season in the top three in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls in three of the past four years; Florida is also the only school in the country to be ranked in the top five of the preseason coaches’ poll in each of the last four years.
» The RedHawks’ passing offense and passing defense each ranked 23rd in the nation in 2009, respectively throwing for 273.2 and giving up 190.4 yards per game.
» UF committed a nation-low 81 turnovers since 2005 and has had 23 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation).

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who will be starting the first game of his Florida career. In 2009, he went 36-of-48 for 410 yards and seven touchdowns. Brantley tossed 75 percent of his balls for completions and finished the year with a QB rating of 194.9. He has thrown 61 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 10-1 TD/INT ratio for his Gators career.
» Florida’s veteran offensive line…which has combined for 87 career starts and is led by Pouncey (32). That total is the highest among returning offensive linemen since Meyer’s first season as coach in 2005.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey…who is moving to the slot after playing running back for two seasons. Rainey will be explosive while playing a modified “Percy Position” and could very well be the team’s best offensive weapon this season.
» Linebackers sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins…who are each trying to win the starting role in the middle but will likely split snaps Saturday. The same goes for cornerbacks redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins, each of whom hope to win the job opposite junior Janoris Jenkins.
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose…who missed the entire 2009 season with a hamstring injury but remains a five-star recruit expected to make an immediate impact.
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis…who set a UF record for field goal attempted in a season (30) in 2009 and had the second-highest total of field goals made in school history (22).
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who has been receiving extra attention at tight end during practices and is one of Meyer’s favorite youngsters. With other TEs injured and developing, Burton may see action early and often.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries (All out)
Senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders (knee), redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed (knee) left tackles redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist), sophomore Xavier Nixon (knee), sophomore LB Dee Finley

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. (indefinite suspension), junior S Will Hill (team decision)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The host of the first game to air Saturday on ESPN, Florida will be profiled in part during the network’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. The main feature on the Gators will be a report from Tom Rinaldi focusing on Meyer’s decision to unretire one day after resigning from his job before the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Additionally, ESPN will feature a sound bite from Meyer talking about Florida’s offense, which will then be discussed by analysts Desmond Howard and David Pollack.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Miami RedHawks preview after the jump!
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TWO BITS: Jenkins’ future, coaches adjusting

1 » It is no secret that Florida Gators junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins is already a top prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft – and he has not even played a down in the 2010 season yet. ESPN currently ranks him as the No. 10 overall draft prospect for next year, and Jenkins is aware that he could very well follow in Cleveland Browns rookie CB Joe Haden’s footsteps not only at Florida but also in the pros as well. Pahokee High School head coach Blaze Thompson told the Palm Beach Post Tuesday that Jenkins is “one of those guys that doesn’t accept the back seat and isn’t intimidated by many people. The NFL is his dream. If by the end of the year he’s slated as a first-round pick, I would say Florida’s losing a corner. It’s hard to pass that money up.” The Post’s Jason Lieser also points out something else interesting – that new Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was dejected to learn that Jenkins was only a sophomore when he was evaluating defensive backs prior to the 2010 NFL Draft; he was looking at Haden, but Jenkins stood out to him on film.

2 » Though Florida’s coaching staff has changed drastically since last season, assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney believes the current lineup is as good as ever. “I think they all come from phenomenal programs, good people, they are winners,” he said, according to Florida Today. “Most, if not all, have a great background with Urban Meyer, which makes it pretty unique. […] I’ve been on some great staffs. I think this one may be as good as any I’ve ever been around.”

Extra BIT » Remember when OGGOA told you that former Gators softball player and ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown had signed an endorsement deal with Icehouse? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. According to MillerCoors, which distributes Icehouse, ESPN decided to nix the deal even after they initially approved it when Brown’s agent broached the subject. Brown can now continue to enjoy her Coronas without having to worry about angering her sponsor.

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08/23: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is beginning their third week fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Monday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

REPLACING BRANDON JAMES…

During his media availability Monday, head coach Urban Meyer announced that junior running back Jeff Demps would be handling kickoff returns, while redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey would get the vast majority of work as the team’s punt returner for the upcoming season. Meyer added that junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins will see time bringing back punts on occasion. OGGOA continues to believe that – considering Demps, Rainey and Jenkins are all very important starters at other positions – fans may see another player (freshman WR Robert Clark?) take over some of these duties as the season progresses (especially if any are nursing injuries).

THE ‘STACHE IS TRASH

Redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley had a mustache. Now he doesn’t.

Moving on.

MOVEMENT AT LEFT TACKLE

Whether it is due to a knee injury sustained by sophomore Xavier Nixon, the talent and progression of redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan or both, it appears that the latter has the inside track on the Gators’ starting left tackle job. Patchan, who is returning from a wrist injury and not yet participating fully in practice, could very well supplant Nixon, who started the final five games of the 2009 season.

Starting middle linebacker – being contested by sophomore Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins – and starting cornerback – a battle between redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins – both remain open position battles.

PROVING HIS WORTH

When punishing sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., Meyer chose to take him off of scholarship rather than immediately suspend him from games or kick him off the team, giving the player a chance to earn his way back in his coaches’ and teammates’ good graces. Hammond has been doing just that over the last few weeks, proving that he has his head on straight, will not duplicate his mistake and is an integral part of the team. Though Meyer will not reinstate Hammond’s scholarship before the season, a successful year off the field could get him back on track before spring or summer

IF YOU GON’ DO IT – DO IT JUST LIKE THIS

After the scrimmage on Saturday – the team’s final one of the fall – Meyer graded out a number of players as Champions of the team. Offense: QB Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior T Marcus Gilbert, redshirt sophomore fullback T.J. PridemoreDefense: senior safety Ahmad Black, defensive ends senior Duke Lemmens and junior defensive end William Green, linebackers sophomore Jon Bostic and senior Lorzenzo Edwards.

INJURY UPDATES

Meyer said that redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine has been out of action the last few days after suffering a concussion; he may return on Tuesday if cleared by doctors. Redshirt senior WR Justin Williams hurt his shoulder during practice and has been using a sling. Junior WR Deonte Thompson’s hamstring acted up on him, causing him to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage, but he will be fine; likewise, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring injury is believed to be behind him.

QUOTES

Meyer on Saturday’s final scrimmage and where the team is at right now: “We weren’t very good. … It really was not a very good scrimmage. Defense played well – about what you’d think for where we’re at right now. I’m hitting the panic button a little bit right now. We’ve got to get better faster than what we are at right now. It’s not that we’re not good, it’s just consistency of the offensive and defensive line[s]. We have to get them all in there. Once Patchan comes back and Xavier Nixon gets back, we’ll look a little better on the offensive line. When DT and Carl [Moore] and Omarius Hines [are] all together, we’ll look a little better, but right now, it’s not Florida football yet.”

Meyer comparing Brantley and Tim Tebow: “Somebody asked me today about the difference between John Brantley and Tim Tebow. Outward appearances, there’s a big difference. Inward … his competitiveness and leadership are fantastic right now, much better than I thought. I was really worried about that. When you have a guy like that [Tebow] in front of you, [Brantley] didn’t show much. Today we did the two-minute drill and he did fantastic. He ran the whole show and acted like a veteran quarterback – like he is. I’m really encouraged by John. Everybody knows he can throw the ball. The other part is fantastic right now as far as management of the team and leadership.”

Meyer on how the freshmen are performing: “Just OK. Actually, [I’m] a little disappointed in some of them. I thought they’d go take a spot. A few guys are doing decent – [safety] Matt Elam, [DT] Dominique Easley and [WR] Quinton Dunbar – who has been very good for us and might play this year. [DE] Ronald Powell had a great practice today, but didn’t have a great camp. He’s coming on strong now. Some of those big-game guys, I thought we’d have some of them cracking the lineup right now … but not yet.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.

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8/17: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is in the midst of their second week of fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Tuesday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

INJURIES PILING UP

Redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks will miss about a month after having surgery on his back last week. He is expected to make a full recovery. Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (ankle) is sitting out while his main competition, redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist), is back working out. Like Nixon, redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (hamstring) is currently recovering and listed as day-to-day. Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) is at full speed, and though junior running back Jeff Demps has missed a few practices with a concussion, he is back, too.

MORE STRIPES COME OFF

Freshmen offensive tackle Ian Silberman and tight end Gerald Christian both had their black helmet stripes removed on Tuesday. That now makes 10 frosh who are stripe-less with 16 more to go.

POWELL TAKING A WHILE

With freshmen DTs Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley and safety Matt Elam impressing early, defensive end Ronald Powell is bringing up the rear in terms of development for arguably the team’s top four 2010 recruits. “Powell’s a little bit behind [Floyd and Easley], but he’s coming on,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “He gained a little weight, because he wants to be bigger. We’re trying to knock a few pounds off him.”

QUOTES

Meyer on sophomore S Will Hill’s improvement: “Night and day. There were a lot of issues. We’ve got 105 guys and he was a guy that drank the poison, or whatever you want to call it. Now he’s going as hard as we’ve ever had a safety go around here, and he’s doing really well. He and [co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach] Chuck Heater have a good little deal going on back there. His position coach is real strong. Everyone knows Heater. He handles things a certain way and expects great effort and great performance on- and off-the-field. We’re starting to see that now with him.”

Meyer on defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin’s effect on junior CB Janoris Jenkins: “The same thing you see from our safeties. We have a big saying around here: ‘power of the unity.’ That’s a unit that’s really going well and [Jenkins] is the leader. Night and day. You’re going to see a really good player this season. He’s no nonsense. He’s just 100 percent all the time. It’s a credit to his position coach. Change is good. The transition is good. Janoris is the man there and he knows it.”

Meyer on S Jordan Haden transferring: “Jordan’s a great young man. […] When you have that name on the back of your jersey, that’s darn near Tebow-ish. That’s Pouncey-ish. When you start talking about the name, there’s an expectation level that is sometimes not fair. […] I was worried about that when we first started recruiting him because those are tough shoes to fill right there. But he’ll be fine, and we’ll help him do all we can.”

Meyer on the WRs as a whole:Deonte [Thompson] is there, Carl Moore’s there. I’m hoping Omarius Hines gets there real soon. Quinton Dunbar is darn close – that kid’s good. Andre Debose is struggling – just dead legs right now, but he’s coming back.”

Meyer clarifying Hines’ role on the team: “He’s not a tight end, he’s a movement guy. […] We’re kind of created a position in the last few years, the ‘Percy [Harvin] position’ and the ‘Aaron Hernandez position,’ and if you have that, you can be dynamic. I think he’s got that kind of ability. He’s doing well.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and The Gainesville Sun for the above quotes.

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8/14: Florida Gators 2010 fall scrimmage updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators has been participating fall practice for just about a week and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during Saturday’s scrimmage. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) may have returned to practice Friday, but he was held out of contact drills once again Saturday. With Sunday off, he will probably resume those exercises on Monday. Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks (dehydration) did not return to practice and is still recovering. He will also likely be back Monday.

Other players held out of Saturday’s scrimmage include left tackles sophomore Xavier Nixon (minor injuries) and redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist). The duo, who are competing for the starting job, were replaced by redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert, though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson saw some action there also.

POSITION BATTLES

Nothing new on starting middle linebacker (still a competition between sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins), but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters Saturday that (as expected) redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins separated themselves from the freshmen in the race for starting cornerback. Freshmen Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy continue to compete for back-up quarterback behind redshirt junior starter John Brantley.

“I THOUGHT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HYBRID ANIMALS”

Always searching for roster flexibility, the Gators have been experimenting with using redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines at tight end. Hines has bulked up a bit (up to 222 lbs.) and has good size for the position but is still primarily a receiver. Similarly, redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed is still playing Wildcat quarterback – especially on goal line formations. And though Murphy will likely convert to receiver once five-star QB recruit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) joins the program in 2011, he has not been working out at that position as of yet.

WIDE RECEIVERS STAND OUT

WR coach Zach Azzanni raved about freshman Quinton Dunbar’s performance Saturday, noting that “He jumped over the top of our corner and made a heck of a touchdown catch. He has a lot of natural talent,” according to the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser. Dunbar apparently took advantage of freshman cornerback Josh Shaw on this play, but junior CB Janoris Jenkins admitted that the secondary as a whole did not grab a single interception all day mostly because of Brantley’s accuracy.

There was also a lot of talk about redshirt senior WR Carl Moore being perhaps the most consistent pass catcher of fall practice thus far…and no one should be surprised (in our opinion) that redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. is reportedly working his tail off to make the team and earn the respect of both his peers and coaches.

QUOTES

Brantley on his pass catchers: “Our receivers have come a long way. They’ve been catching the ball really well. [They are] running fast, running great routes. It’s been hot out there and they just keep going. That’s what I like to see. They just keep going.”

QB coach Scot Loeffler on Brantley: “He’s doing a much better job of leadership and taking command of the offense. It’s his time to step up and be the leader and he’s taking that challenge on and doing a much better job with it. I thought Johnny did a fairly good job today of going to the right place with the ball. We’ve just got to make plays when plays present themselves and when the play is not there obviously protect the football. That’s our plan to win around here. We need to protect the football and make sure we do a great job helping our team continue to win.”

Austin on Jenkins’ corner play: “He did some good things out there. Sometimes as a corner you don’t get a lot of looks, but when the play does come your way, are you in position to make the play and you make the play, and he did that [Saturday].”

Brown on finally being healthy: “This is as excited as I’ve ever been here. I’m just taking it all in. I’ve been away from the game so long, you just want to help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing, so the opportunity just to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Thanks to the News-Press, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.

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Seven Florida Gators on preseason watch lists

With just over three weeks to go until the 2010-11 season commences, seven Florida Gators players have been honored with nominations to preseason award watch lists.

Maxwell Award (Outstanding collegiate football player)
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley
Junior running back Jeff Demps
» Previous winner(s): Danny Wuerffel (1996), Tim Tebow (2007, 2008)

Chuck Bednarik Award (Outstanding collegiate defender)
Senior safety Ahmad Black
» Previous winner(s): None

Rimington Trophy (Outstanding offensive center)
Senior center Mike Pouncey
» Previous winner(s): Maurkice Pouncey (2009)

Jim Thorpe Award (Outstanding defensive back)
Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins
Junior safety Will Hill
» Previous winner(s): Lawrence Wright (1996)

Ray Guy Award (Outstanding collegiate punter)
Must display team leadership, self-discipline and positive impact on team’s success
Senior punter Chas Henry
» Previous winner(s): None

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SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

1 » After two years of sitting and waiting while his back healed and pain subsided – “I’ve had a million procedures done, but we’ve got it taken care of…” – Florida Gators redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown is ready to claim the spot across the field from junior CB Janoris Jenkins. And while he is feeling better than ever, Brown still remains cautious. “I’d be lying if I said mentally I’m just ready,” Brown told the Miami Herald. “There are certain things I second-guess, like should I really just … throw myself in there? In the back of my head I’m just thinking, ‘Man, this might be my back again.’ […] I’ve been away from the game for so long, I just want to play and help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing. The opportunity to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Five more BITS on Percy Harvin, Lito Sheppard, Gators soccer, baseball commitments and Ean McQuay…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

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