Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Howard

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Monday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22)
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 301 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 in.
Hand Size: 9 7/8 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.82 seconds (No. 12 time of any DL)
Broad Jump: 106.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 27.5 inches
Bench Press: 24 reps (of 225 lbs.)

Overview: With plenty of size, strength and off-the-ball quickness, Howard can impact the game at defensive tackle and proved during his senior season that he can perform well while on the field for the majority of downs. He did his best to erase concerns raised during his junior season in which he disappeared at times in games, showing that he is a durable and affecting player who can make a difference when he’s on the field. Howard became a trustworthy veteran for a team in need of leadership, but his perceived inconsistency will be something teams focus on throughout the evaluation process.
Strengths: Size, strength, durability, tackling
Weaknesses: Inconsistency, effort, blocking

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Tuesday, while Gators running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24) completed his on Sunday with some great times.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Rainey

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Sunday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24)
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 180 lbs.
Arm Length: 30 3/4 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds (No. 2 time)
20-Yard Shuttle: 3.93 seconds (No. 1 time)
60-Yard Shuttle: 11.06 seconds (No. 1 time)
3-Cone Drill: 6.50 seconds (No. 1 time)
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Bench Press: 16 reps (of 225 lbs.)

UPDATE: Rainey’s times in the shuttles and three-cone drill are the fastest of any player who has participated in this year’s combine through Monday.

Overview: With speed and quickness rivaling or topping every other running back in the 2012 draft class, Rainey is agile and electric on the field, making him an intriguing prospect as a rusher, wide receiver or kickoff and punt returner. He is powerful for a player his size with track-like speed and top-notch elusiveness. However, he is not a polished blocker and is much more effective outside the tackles where he can make plays in space as opposed to between the tackles where he is forced to draw contact.
Strengths: Speed, quickness, agility, experience
Weaknesses: Size, blocking, next-level durability

Quote: “I’m going for the 4.1. I’m going for the big one.” – Rainey on trying to break the combine 40-yard dash record

Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22) and former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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Three Gators invited to 2012 NFL Combine

OGGOA has learned that three former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

The three former Gators student-athletes invited to the combine include:

Running back Jeff Demps – Group: 6; Camp: RB06
Defensive tackle Jaye Howard – Group: 7; Camp: DL22
Running back Chris Rainey – Group: 6; Camp: RB24

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group: TBD; Camp: DB27) was also invited and is expected to participate in the event.

Demps, on the other hand, is unlikely to take part in the combine as he has decided to run track for the Gators and attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

The two notable names left off the invite list are those of quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Other draft-eligible Florida players include center/guard Dan Wenger and defensive end William Green.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
Continue Reading » Three Gators invited to 2012 NFL Combine

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Two Gators practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl

Two players representing the Florida Gators are currently in Mobile, AL practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl. Weigh-ins and the first day of practice took place on Monday, additional practices will take place Tuesday-Thursday, a walk-through will occur Friday and the game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday airing live on NFL Network.

Running back Chris Rainey, playing for the South team, checked in at 5’8 3/8″ and 178 lbs. with 9 1/2 in. hands, a 30 3/4 in. arm length and a 72 1/4 in. wingspan.

Rainey is seeing time as a rusher, wide receiver and kick returner and told the Idaho Statesman that the game will not be close. “I’m glad to be part of this. I just know it’s going to be a blowout this Saturday,” he said.

According to CBS Sports, he was also the only player singled out and praised by head coach Mike Shanahan on Tuesday. Shanahan that he was “just impressed with the way he’s handling himself the first couple of days. [...] He’s picked things up very quickly. You’re never really sure how people adapt to a system. And I’m not his agent, but I do want a little piece of the action.”

Rainey has signed with Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited, the agency that also represents all of his former Lakeland teammates including Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh), Mike Pouncey (Miami) and Ahmad Black (Tampa Bay) as well as a bevy of other Gators in the NFL.

South team defensive tackle Jaye Howard also caught the eyes of a number of scouts and general managers over the first three days after coming in at 6’3″ and 292 lbs. with 10 1/8 in. hands, 32 1/8 in. arms and a 78 3/8 in. wingspan.

Signed with Drew Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, Howard is trying to make his way up draft boards. SI.com‘s Tony Pauline was impressed with his efforts Tuesday, saying he “made several nice plays” and noticably “fires off the snap and is able to penetrate the line of scrimmage.”

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who spent last season with North Alabama and has signed with Ben Dogra of Creative Artists Agency, came in at 5/9 6/8″ and 191 lbs. with 8 1/4 in. hands, 30 3/8 in. arms and a 74 1/4 in. wingspan.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s No. 2 cornerback available in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jenkins is trying to prove that his character concerns are a thing of the past in order to make his way into the bottom of the first round.

“I just go in, that’s who I am, tell them what happened and be honest,” Jenkins said when speaking with reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I did it. I made a mistake. I take full responsibility for it. [...] I’m sure I’ll have to deal with it, but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have nothing to hide. I just go in and they ask me the questions and I give it to them and I’m honest and I look them in the eye and talk to them and let them know that I am honest and I learned from my mistakes.”

His performance so far in practice for the South team may go a long way towards him accomplishing that goal. “He’s fast, easily stays downfield with opponents and [...] looks as though his ball skills have improved. Scouts have to be thinking first round for Jenkins after his performance,” Pauline explained.

Jenkins has already interviewed with a mystery team, Minnesota, Oakland, Dallas and Miami, the latter of which also met with Rainey at the Senior Bowl.

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Mel Kiper on Florida Gators in 2012 NFL Draft

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. spoke on a conference call Thursday, taking an early look at the 2012 NFL Draft and where he expects players across the nation to be slotted.

Asked about players coming into the league from the Florida Gators this year, Kiper expects running back Chris Rainey to be the highest pick but says he is unlikely to be selected before the fourth round.

“Florida right now is looking at guys that are figuring on day three of the draft,” he said. “Rainey is an interesting guy because he has speed and has got some versatility. He certainly could fit what a team is looking for in the fourth round area.”

The rest of available Gators – notably defensive tackle Jaye Howard and quarterback John Brantley – Kiper believes will be picked in rounds 5-7 depending how they perform at Pro Day and the 2012 NFL Combine.

“Howard right now I have as the 12th highest-rated defensive tackle and that was before the juniors came in,” he said. “That would push him down between say 17 and 23, which pushes him into the late-round category.”

Kiper has Brantley as the No. 15 quarterback overall and says that his inability to show any major strides this season is the reason he will not be picked higher if at all.

“He never developed into the quarterback he was hyped to be,” he explained. “We all heard about John Brantley coming through. He was going to be coming over off of [Tim] Tebow. He was going to be the pure passer. He was going to be the guy that was going to get that passing game going. You never saw any indications of him being an early round pick. He just didn’t perform to that level.

“Obviously he did not have great talent around him to the level that Florida has had in past years. We know that. The guys up front and certainly the guys at the skill positions even though they did have [Jeff] Demps and Rainey and some other kids that have ability. You never saw any indication that Brantley was going to take that next step and put himself in the mix with the first-second-third-round quarterbacks.”

Other UF players available for selection in the draft include defensive end William Green, wide receiver Deonte Thompson and center/guard Dan Wenger.

Kiper’s highest-rated player with any ties to Florida is North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He believes Jenkins “looked like a first-rounder” while playing for the Gators and continued to play up to that level this season.

If there were no character concerns, Kiper thinks Jenkins could have been selected in the middle of the first round. Now he will have to fight to be among the first 32 picks.

“When you look at Jenkins, I’d say right now early- to mid-second with a chance of moving into the late first if he maximizes the next three months,” Kiper said. “But right now I’m projecting him as a kid that goes between 33 and 42.”

Kiper, who had thrown some positive comments Tebow’s way during the 2011-12 NFL season, found an opportunity to reaffirm his original stance on the Denver Broncos quarterback when discussing why he never wavered from believing Robert Griffin III would be a quarterback at the next level.

“I know I’ve debated that with different people, about him being a wide receiver. I never saw that. I thought he was a quarterback all along,” Kiper said of Griffin. “I didn’t think that about Tebow. I still think Tebow’s an H-back. And I said that about Pat White, I thought he should have been a receiver and a return man. He wanted to be a quarterback and now he’s out of the league.

“Sometimes you hit, sometimes you don’t on these guys. But I always thought Griffin was a quarterback and not a projection. I think Denard Robinson’s a projection, a wide receiver coming out of Michigan. I didn’t think that about RG3.”

No matter how things unfold for Florida, chances are the Gators will not have a first-round pick to their name for the first time since 2006. Florida has had 43 players selected in the first round of the draft all-time including 12 in the last 15 years.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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 catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In a poll conducted by ESPN and calculated monthly, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow topped the December list as the United States’ favorite athlete. Tebow is “just the sixth different athlete to finish No. 1 in the monthly rankings since 2007” and, in the 18 years of the poll, only 11 different athletes have ever held that distinction.

» In addition to the Top 10 list OGGOA posted Wednesday from CBS’s the Late Show with David Letterman, Tebow was also brought up on TBS’s Conan. Host Conan O’Brien, claiming he was absent the budget to air actual game footage, had his staff put together a recreation of his game-winning play from Sunday…with peanuts replacing the players.

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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TWO BITS: Senior Bowl, transfer destinations

1 » A pair of Florida Gators – redshirt seniors running back Chris Rainey and defensive tackle Jaye Howard – have officially accepted invitations to participate in the 2012 Senior Bowl, the organization announced on Wednesday. The duo will play on the South roster and are the only Florida players currently invited/committed to the event. “It feels good. I know a lot of great players have come to this game and I’m glad I’m invited and hope to do the best that I can to compete with the other greats,” Rainey said in the event’s official release. “The first thing I’m going to tell the scouts and coaches is that I want to be on special teams. They are going to have to set up some scheme for me to block a punt or do whatever they want me to do on special teams, because I love special teams and that’s the number one thing that wins games.”

Howard said he is playing in the game because he wants to “prove that I’m one of the elite defenders in this class this year and it’s a business trip for me.” He continued, “I’m quick, I can run all over the field and chase plays down. I want to prove that I can play several positions on the defensive line, not just d-tackle. I can play the end, nose guard—everything on the d-line, so I can bring that to a system.” The Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 28 and air live on NFL Network beginning at 4 p.m. Practices will also be televised during the week leading up to the game on the same network.

2 » Four former Gators who decided to transfer this season have already chosen their new destinations, according to various reports. Defensive back Joshua Shaw has chosen to head closer to home (Palmdale, CA) and picked UCLA where he will sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules, while linebacker Dee Finley announced that he will play for Tuskegee, a HBCU, beginning next year. Two Florida players are expected to be heading to Louisville to play for former UF defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Tight end Gerald Christian told the Palm Beach Post on Wednesday that he will be going to Louisville, while multiple reports over the last two weeks have wide receiver Robert Clark planning to join him. Like Shaw, each will have to sit out one year due to NCAA transfer regulations and will be eligible to play beginning in 2013.

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Special teams, defense lead Florida to 24-17 win over Ohio State in 2012 Gator Bowl

Offense was not the Florida Gators’ strong suit this season, but Florida (7-6) got just enough of it Monday to compliment a sterling effort from their special teams and defense en route to a 24-17 toppling of the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-7) in the 2012 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

The Gators and Buckeyes were tied at a touchdown apiece minutes into the second quarter until a kickoff return and punt block were each brought back for touchdowns to give UF a 21-10 lead and help the team pull out a much-needed victory to end a tough first season under first-year head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida started out at their own 40-yard-line after the opening kickoff fell out of bounds at the one. The Gators got two quick first downs before redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was hit from behind and, after a review that overturned an incomplete pass, the loose ball was ruled a fumble and given to the Buckeyes. OSU moved down the field but consecutive sacks by UF sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd forced a punt.

The Gators took over on their own 20, and Brantley began leading his team down the field once again. On first-and-10 from the Buckeyes’ 22-yard-line, junior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) and Brantley (right forearm) both went down with injuries when the latter was sacked. Brantley would return to the game and two plays later threw a 17-yard strike on third down to redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thomspon for the first touchdown of the game.

Thompson’s reception was questioned by Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell as it appeared the ball came loose when he hit the ground, but Florida got on the field to kick the extra point before he could call a timeout to force a review.

A review wound up being called on the ensuing possession when OSU running back Dan Herron fumbled the ball on first down. UF recovered and won the challenge but coughed it back up to the Buckeyes just two plays later when Brantley mishandled a snap.

Ohio State took advantage of the miscue by tying the game. QB Braxton Miller, who did not attempt a pass in the first quarter, completed three throws for 41 yards as part of an eight-play, 72-yard drive that ended in a touchdown with 11:25 left in the first half.

Florida responded even quicker as redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, going down the field untouched and putting his team ahead 14-7 while setting a school record for longest play in a bowl game and a Gator Bowl record for longest play. He was named the contest’s Most Valuable Player after the game.

Two possessions later, the Gators were stopped for a three-and-out, but a shanked punt by freshman Kyle Christy allowed the Buckeyes to take over at midfield. After gaining two first downs, Miller was sacked for an 11-yard loss as redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard broke through the offensive line. OSU kicked a 47-yard field goal to reduce their deficit, heading into the half down four.

Forcing Ohio State to punt on their first possession of the second half, Florida had both redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey and sophomore WR Solomon Patton break through the formation. The former blocked the punt, which was picked up by freshman linebacker Graham Stewart and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. It was the sixth blocked punt of Rainey’s career, setting a SEC record.

The Gators got another defensive stop and began moving the ball once again until Brantley’s third down pass was intercepted by LB Tyler Moller at Florida’s 47-yard-line. However, just three plays later, Miller completed a pass to Posey that was quickly fumbled (forced by freshman cornerback Louchiez Purifoy), recovered by UF, fumbled again and picked up by junior safety Josh Evans.

Brantley made up for his pick with a great 32-yard pass to redshirt junior TE Omarius Hines on his next play, starting the Gators off on a eight-play, 53-yard drive that stalled a half-yard short of the end zone. Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs netted a 17-yard field goal to provide Florida with a two-touchdown advantage.

Though the Gators stifled the Buckeyes’ offense much of the second half, Miller led Ohio State on a seven-play, 88-yard drive in just 2:08 that ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass to WR Jordan Hall, who made several players miss on his way to the end zone.

Florida, however, recovered the onside kick and kneeled the ball to end the game and earn the hard-fought victory.

Brantley finished his final contest in orange and blue 12/16 for 132 yards with a touchdown, interception and two fumbles. Rainey had team-highs in carries (16), rushing yards (71) and receptions (three) while also coming through with the game-changing punt. Thompson’s touchdown was his first of the season, and Demps was also efficient with eight touches for 34 yards.

Miller was also quite efficient, going 18/24 for 162 yards in the air and two scores; he also carried the ball 15 times for 20 yards, losing a lot of ground due to the number of times he was sacked.

OSU outgained UF 299-263, passing and rushing for more yards, but was held to just 2-of-10 on third down conversion attempts. The Buckeyes also forced one more turnover (3-2) than the Gators and held the ball for slightly under five minutes longer. Florida, however, converted 50 percent of their third downs (6-of-12) and scored twice on drives of one play or fewer.

The Gators avoided a losing season but handed the Buckeyes their first seven-loss campaign since 1897. Florida now has 24-straight winning seasons and 32 consecutive years ending with a record at or above .500, two accomplishments which lead the country. UF also posted four-straight bowl wins for the first time in school history.

Ohio State is now 0-10 all-time against SEC teams in bowl games due to a victory in 2010 being vacated. The Gators also improved to 2-0 all-time against the Buckeyes with their last victory coming 41-14 in the 2007 BCS National Championship.

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