Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason Week 2

With the 2012 NFL regular season just a few weeks away, a number of former Florida Gators football players participated in preseason action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the second week of 2012 preseason action.

Not awarded for preseason games.

Check out how the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason Week 2

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Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason Week 1

With the 2012 NFL regular season just a few weeks away, a number of former Florida Gators football players participated in preseason action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the first week of 2012 preseason action.

Not awarded for preseason games.

Check out how the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason Week 1

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Mitts, Howard, U.S. Open

1 » Preparing for the 2012 NBA Draft, Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal is up in Chicago, IL training with former college coach Josh Oppenheimer, the same trainer that Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons used one year ago. Beal, who like Parsons also signed with agent Mark Bartelstein of Prioirty Sports, told SLAMonline that he is working on his game in hopes of impressing scouts and being selected as high as possible. “I’m looking to really focus on creating my own shot offensively,” he said. “Just beating guys off of the dribble then finishing with a floater or pull-up in the lane. [I] just have to continue having high IQ for the game, focus in on ball handling and work on creating more space off the dribble.” Ironically enough, Parsons will be in New York, NY on Wednesday representing Houston on stage at the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery. The Rockets only have a 1.81 percent change of receiving a top-three pick (lowest amongst the 13 teams) so it is quite likely that Beal winds up elsewhere.

2 » Former Gators soccer star and current U.S. Women’s National Team defender Heather Mitts (34) told NBC on Sunday that the 2012 London Olympics this summer (her third appearance on the Olympic team) will be the end of the road for her as a soccer player. “Feeling the way I feel, it’s kind of weird to say that, but it’s always been my plan to hopefully play in one last Olympics and step away from the game kind of on my own terms,” she said. “I do love the game, and I am going to miss it, but I also have other things that I want to do. I just feel like I want to go out at the right time.” Mitts seems to excel Olympic years with her best performances coming in 2004 and 2008. Though she started all eight of the United States’ Olympic matches in 2008, she did not play in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and may not step on the pitch this time around either. “Ideally I want for our team to go over there and win gold,” Mitts said. “It would be great to play, but if I don’t play, I’ve been through that once before to be there and be supportive.” Despite her decision to hang up her cleats, Mitts says she is “probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” is completely healthy and still loves playing. “I feel so sharp and strong,” she added. Mitts has made 123 career appearances in the red, white and blue. Check out NBC‘s video interview with Mitts from this week.

3 » In an interview with his new team’s website, Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive tackle Jaye Howard expressed his excitement about finally being in the NFL and playing alongside some guys he grew up watching. “It’s been an unreal experience,” he said. “Walking into the same locker room and seeing Marshawn Lynch – a player that I look up to – and now I’m actually in the same locker room. It’s a great feeling. So I’m just embracing this moment right now.” There were also positive comments directed at Howard from head coach Pete Carroll and defensive line coach Todd Wash. “Jaye Howard showed up. He did some good things. He showed up on pass rush a couple of times. I know Todd mentioned that he was surprised at his quickness. That’s a really good sign,” Carroll said. Wash added, “Jaye is an explosive player. He’s learning that this level is a little bit different once our veterans got here. But we’re very excited about his progress. He’s eager to learn. He wants to know exactly what he can do better. He does a great job in the classroom, too. So we’re really pleased with what we’ve got so far.”

4 » According to The Florida Times-Union, seven former and current Florida golfers “will play in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier Monday at Black Diamond Ranch Quarry Course in Lecanto.” Among those players competing will be junior T.J. Vogel, freshman J.D. Tomlinson, redshirt senior Zach Lee and former players Tyson Alexander, Andres Echavarria, Brett Stegmaier and Bank Vongvanij. With the Gators competing for the 2012 NCAA Championship this week, Vogel, Tomlinson and Lee could have a tight window to get into town for the qualifier depending how well Florida does at the event.

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Seattle signs DT Jaye Howard for four years

Defensive tackle Jaye Howard signed a four-year deal (terms currently undisclosed) with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, according to Pro Football Talk. Howard agreeing to terms means both Florida Gators draft picks are under contract with their respective teams heading into the 2012 season.

The No. 114 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Howard surprised many by being the first former Florida player selected. He was the 12th player at his position chosen in the draft and the first Gators defensive tackle picked since 2007 (Marcus Thomas). Howard has the size (6’3″ 301 lbs.) and upside to one day be a NFL starter but must first prove he can be consistent in a reserve role.

He was the ninth former UF player to be drafted by the Seahawks in franchise history and the first to join the team through the draft since 2000 (wide receiver Darrell Jackson). Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn assisted Seattle in their evaluation of Howard; his endorsement was a key to the Seahawks brining Howard in.

Former Florida running back Chris Rainey, the No. 159 overall pick in the draft, inked a four-year, $2.28 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

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Seahawks choose DT Jaye Howard with No. 114 overall pick in fourth round of 2012 NFL Draft

Round 4 – No. 114
Jaye Howard, DT
Seattle Seahawks

Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 301 lbs.
Age: 23 – Class: Senior

Though he improved his value from a year ago, Florida Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard was unable to crack the first two days of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was selected Saturday with 114th overall pick in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks.

The 12th player at his position chosen in the draft, Howard is the first defensive tackle to be drafted out of Florida since 2007 when Marcus Thomas was picked by Denver with the No. 121 overall pick in the fourth round.

Howard has the size (6’3” 301 lbs.) and potential to one day be a NFL starter, but he will begin his tenure with Seattle fighting for playing time in a reserve role. Scouts and analysts believe he needs to improve his overall production to go along with his increased levels of consistency and work ethic in his final season with the Gators.

He is the ninth former Gators player to be drafted by the Seahawks in franchise history and is the first to join the team through the draft since wide receiver Darrell Jackson was picked with the 80th overall pick in 2000.

Seattle’s website notes that “the Seahawks envision him supplying some pass rush from the three-technique tackle spot” and adds that former defensive line coach Dan Quinn – now Florida’s defensive coordinator – “helped the team in its evaluation of Howard.”

“[Playing for Quinn] helped me a lot,” Howard said after being selected. “He got my technique right. He stayed on me this year. I appreciate him coming in and just getting me to where I needed to be. So it helps me a lot going into [the Seahawks system]. I’m sort of familiar with it. So it helps.”

He actually learned that he was drafted while charging his iPhone in an Apple Store. Howard received a call from a number with a 425 area code, one he recognized from speaking to Quinn on the phone a year ago. “I knew right then where I was going,” he told The Seattle Times.

UF has had at least one player selected in every NFL Draft dating back to 1951.

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Florida Gators 2012 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

The Florida Gators may not have a proverbial dog in the race when it comes to the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday but a handful of former Florida players still hope to see their childhood dreams come true this weekend.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators may not be as excited about the event this time around considering there will be yet another a significant drop-off from the nation-leading nine players that were selected in 2010 (including a school-record three in the first round and six in the first two rounds). In fact, Florida is not expected to have a first-round pick for the first time since the 2006 draft when Chad Jackson was an early second-round selection by New England.

Few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen Thursday-Sunday.

» Cornerback Janoris Jenkins will be the only player with (close) ties to Florida to be selected in the first two rounds – probably in the latter part of round one.

Unless a team falls in love with running back Chris Rainey’s potential, Jenkins is the only name Gators fans can hope to hear on Thursday or early Friday. He has early first-round potential but what many teams apparently consider undraftable off-the-field character concerns. Reports coming out this week state that some teams have removed Jenkins from their draft boards entirely while others recognize that his talent may be too good to pass up. Many analysts even believe he has a higher upside than LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who is expected to be the first cornerback selected (somewhere in the top 10) on Thursday. With such a rush of anti-Jenkins reports, it appears as if a number of teams are trying to create a major smokescreen in the hopes that he falls to them late in the first round. Marijuana arrests and multiple children out of wedlock may matter to some front office executives, but they are not considered to be on the same level with felony arrests, for example. It is likely that someone takes a chance on Jenkins Thursday and does not let him slip into the second round where he would be an absolute steal.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2012 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

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FOUR BITS: football, Howard, Jenkins, Shaw

1 » The Florida Gators released this week a pair of question-and-answer stories with coordinators Brent Pease (offensive) and Dan Quinn (defensive) on their thoughts following the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. Pease pointed to the improvement of the offensive line as what he was most impressed with after watching film. “We established an identity in being physical up front and being able to run the ball. I think our core kids there are very good. They are quick learners and they are very good athletes,” he said. “I think we built some depth that if we get some injuries during the season, we can rotate guys and put them in positions. We should be good there because there are good players there and there’s experience.” Quinn said that junior transfer defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and junior Jaylen Watkins stood out for him though it was the first two that took the biggest step. “[Jacobs] showed in the spring that he had power and that he could convert from run into pass rush,” he said. “Antonio Morrison continued to impress me with how it wasn’t too big for him – he got it. He’s got good instincts at the linebacker position.”

2 » Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard may not be getting as much attention as some other current and former Gators heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, but he is still doing whatever he can to prove to teams that he is worth selecting relatively early in the process. NFL.com recently released a short video interview with Howard in which he talks about getting ready for the event later this month. “[Teams are] not going to invest any money in anyone who is not conducting themselves in the right manner,” he said. “You have to carry yourself in the right way all the time. I’m going look at the coaches right in the face and square and tell them that I’m going to provide energy to the team, be a team player and try to compete to earn a spot on the team.”

3 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins’s stock continues to fall as the NFL Draft approaches. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who cites sources with three different teams, Jenkins “admitted in pre-draft interviews that he continued his drug use at North Alabama.” He had previously claimed that being dismissed from the Gators was the dose of reality he needed to stop smoking. UNA claims that Jenkins was tested while with the program as part of a “Zero tolerance behavioral contract” he signed that included random drug testing. Breer reports that “a significant number of NFL executives cast a skeptical eye toward” such a statement despite many seeing him as potentially the best cornerback in the entire crop of players available. “It’s not just his personal situation with the kids and different moms. This is a multiple offender of the drug policy in college, and it’s not like there were no character concerns at North Alabama,” an AFC personnel executive told Breer. “He had multiple opportunities to get away from it. He didn’t at Florida, and he went to North Alabama and he wasn’t clean there. You just wish the situation at North Alabama was clean, that he had a rebirth, from a personal and football character standpoint. But it was more of the same.” You can read much more about Jenkins including opinions from other executives here.

4 » Former Gators DB Joshua Shaw will be eligible to play for the USC Trojans in 2012 after being granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shaw, a California native who transferred from Florida in order to be close to home (his father and grandfather are sick), will compete for the starting job at both strong safety and cornerback.

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FOUR BITS: Pro Day, Tim Tebow, tennis, WBK

1 » Though the date has been set for at least a few weeks now, the Florida Gators officially announced this week that the team will hold its Pro Day on March 13. Free and open to the public, Pro Day will feature a number of draft-eligible Gators working out for NFL scouts and coaches from around the league right on Florida Field in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida also announced that seven players who graduated in 2011 – quarterback John Brantley, defensive end William Green, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, defensive back Moses Jenkins, running back Chris Rainey and wide receiver Deonte Thompson – are scheduled to participate. Also in attendance to work out for scouts will be former Gators including DT Troy Epps, DT Lawrence Marsh, DB Dorian Munroe, DB Wondy Pierre-Louis and WR Justin Williams.

2 » EA Sports announced via their Facebook page that QB Tim Tebow is one of two Denver Broncos players representing his team in the online voting for cover athlete for the Madden NFL 13 video game. Voting begins March 7; after the field is cut down to 32 players, head-to-head votes will take place until the final cover athlete is picked. Tebow, who was on the cover of NCAA Football 11 two years ago, may actually want to avoid winning this contest due to the dreaded and much-publicized Madden curse.

3 » No. 15 Florida women’s tennis (6-1) swept the Florida State Seminoles (5-4) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex for the team’s 99th consecutive home victory. The Gators, now 52-1 all-time against the Seminoles, beat their in-state rivals 7-0. The No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen won 8-2, leading the way for three doubles victories. No. 1 Will (6-1, 6-2), No. 39 Oyen (6-2, 6-1), No. 18 senior Joanna Mather (6-3, 6-1), No. 23 junior Lauren Embree (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Olivia Janowicz (6-4, retired) all won their singles matches as well in the rout. Florida will compete in back-to-back road meets against Tennessee on Friday and Georgia on Sunday before returning to Gainesville, FL looking for their 100th straight win at home next Friday against Vanderbilt.

4 » Eight-seed Gators women’s basketball (18-11, 8-8 SEC) is set to begin action in the 2012 SEC Tournament by taking on the nine-seed Auburn Tigers (13-16, 5-11 SEC) on Thursday at 1 p.m. With the game airing live on FOX Sports Network, fans can watch as Florida tries to pull out a victory for the opportunity to square-off with one-seed Kentucky on Friday at 1 p.m.

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