15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps missed the entire offseason while running track but officially joined the team on Monday in hopes of earning a roster spot and playing football in 2013. The Buccaneers have a roster exemption or Demps, who will have one full week to prove his worth and take one of the 53 available spots or else be released by Tampa Bay. Though the Bucs will certainly see what Demps can do for them, head coach Greg Schiano was perturbed a few weeks ago when asked where Demps was in the world and why he had not reported at the time.

» Former Florida Gators forward Cody Larson, who lost his scholarship and then quit the basketball team before the 2012-13 season but remained at Florida for academics, transferred to play for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in May and had a waiver to play immediately accepted by the NCAA this month. “We want to thank the committee and the NCAA for taking the time to look at Cody’s waiver,” head coach Scott Nagy said in a school release. “We appreciate the fact that this ruling allows him the opportunity to be eligible to compete immediately.” Larson will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining but has not played college basketball in two full seasons.

» One of the greatest tennis players in school history, Jill Craybas has decided to retire at age 39 after spending the last 18 years playing professional tennis. One of two Florida women to win the NCAA Singles Championship, Craybas captured the title in 1996 while leading the Gators women’s program to the team NCAA Championship that same season. Inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2008, Craybas never won a Grand Slam title but advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2005 after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the Round of 16 that year. She also represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life,” she told Tennis Panorama about her retirement decision. “I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Check out 12 more Gator Bites…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2013 Preseason Week 3

The 2013 NFL regular season is 11 days away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5, but 41 former Florida Gators spread out over 21 teams remained on rosters while the league participated in the second full week of preseason action from Aug. 20-25.

Thirteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Washington (four); New England, N.Y. Giants and Tampa Bay (three); and Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Seattle (two).

Below are game statistics for all 30 active players and select news updates on a number of Gators for the fifth full week of training camp.

* Rookie

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LB JON BOSTIC, Chicago Bears*: Started; eight tackles (seven solo, one for loss) [team-highs]
» Bostic was fined $21,000 by the NFL for the highlight tackle he made on Aug. 15.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2013 Preseason Week 2

The 2013 NFL regular season is two weeks away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5, but 41 former Florida Gators spread out over 21 teams remained on rosters while the league participated in the second full week of preseason action from Aug. 12-19.

Thirteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Washington (four); New England, N.Y. Giants and Tampa Bay (three); and Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Seattle (two).

Below are game statistics for every player and select news updates on some Gators for the fourth full week of training camp.

* Rookie

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Started; three tackles (two solo, two for loss), two QB hits, two sacks

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2013 Preseason Week 1

The 2013 NFL regular season is three weeks away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5, but 41 former Florida Gators spread out over 21 teams remained on rosters while the league participated in the first full week of preseason action from Aug. 8-11.

Thirteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Washington (four); New England, N.Y. Giants and Tampa Bay (three); and Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Seattle (two).

Below are game statistics for every player and select updates on some Gators for the third full week of training camp.

* Rookie

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LB JON BOSTIC, Chicago Bears*: Started; two solo tackles (one for loss), pass defense, 51-yard interception return for touchdown
» Bostic’s pick-six was against former UF quarterback Cam Newton. He is taking advantage of a veteran being injured and may be in line to steal the starting job.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
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12 Gator Bites for Friday, May 31

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Despite signing a National Letter of Intent in February and expecting to be a member of the Class of 2013, three-star defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Scooba, MS) will not be joining the Florida Gators this season. Reed was hoping to obtain his associate degree from East Mississippi Community College in one year but fell about 25 credits short. Instead, he will continue playing for EMCC in 2013 with hopes of completing his coursework and departing before the spring semester starts…though he may no longer be heading to Florida. According to The Gainesville Sun, Reed has decided to reopen his recruitment but does have the Gators at the top. “Florida is my favorite school,” he said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to close any doors just in case something crazy happens. I’d like to go on [official] visits. Who doesn’t want to take free trips?”

» South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was honored Thursday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the state of Florida’s Great Floridian Award, presented to him by Governor Rick Scott. Also in attendance were Gators head coach Will Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received the honor just one month ago. Check out the local news report by GTN’s Julie Quittner.

» Former Gators cheerleader Caroline Davidson, who concluded her run with the spirit program in 2010, had successful brain surgery to completely remove a tumor on Thursday. Her mother, Kimberly Davidson, posted on Facebook that Caroline was in ICU recovering after the surgery but all signs were positive.

Check out nine more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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Jaguars choose Gators S Josh Evans in seventh round of 2013 NFL Draft; Bucs trade for Demps

Round 6 – No. 169 (overall)
Josh Evans, S
Jacksonville Jaguars


Height: 6’1″ – Weight: 207 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Just moments after a pair of Florida Gators were selected at the end of the fifth round, safety Josh Evans received a phone call from the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team decided to make him the No. 169 overall selection – the first of the sixth round – in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville had been after Evans for quite some time and even contacted both him and his agent on three separate occasions in the week leading up to the draft. Evans, who penned a Path to the Draft blog exclusively here on OGGOA, said he felt “a lot of love” from the Jaguars throughout the process.

“I just want to say it’s an honor and privilege to be in this situation and be a part of a great organization like the Jaguars,” Evans said. “I’m somebody who’s committed whether it’s special teams, defense, wherever I’m needed I’m coming out there to make the best of my opportunity, to go out there and be able to compete.”

Though Evans may have been overshadowed a bit by Matt Elam in the back of the Gators’ secondary, NFL teams took notice of his ability over the last few months. He showed out in a big way at the 2013 NFL Combine and earned some added attention with an impressive performance at Florida’s Pro Day.

Evans improved in each of his four years with the Gators and showed some promise as a junior after head coach Will Muschamp took over the team and began personally coaching the safeties. He played in all 13 games and made eight starts in 2011, ending the year with 51 tackles (fifth-most on the team), a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. He took an even bigger step in his development during his senior campaign as he started all 13 games and led Florida with 83 tackles (4.5 for loss), registering two sacks, three interceptions and three pass defenses.

“It helped me a lot,” Evans said of Muschamp’s tutelage. “Having those guys a part of my life my last two years at Florida really changed my career and it helped me for the next level as far as being able to anticipate certain calls and being in different situations at game time. Checking definitely on the back end with the safeties, pretty much being the quarterback of the defense.”

The eighth Gators player drafted by the Jaguars in franchise history, Evans is the first to be selected by Jacksonville since Derrick Harvey (No. 8, 2008) but the third defensive back that has been chosen by the Gators in the last eight years. Dee Webb (No. 236, 2006) and Reggie Nelson (No. 21, 2007) are no longer with the franchise. It is the first time Florida has had two safeties have been selected in the same draft.

The New England Patriots on Saturday traded former Gators running back Jeff Demps to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for RB Legarette Blount and a seventh-round draft selection. Demps, who informed the Patriots that he wished to run track and would likely miss at least training camp (if not a few games), was jettisoned by New England to the team that wanted him most as an undrafted free agent last offseason. The Buccaneers will likely give Demps an opportunity to contribute to the team though it is unknown how his track desires will affect his ability to make the squad.

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SIX BITS: George, Bostic, Demps, Tebow, Caldwell

Aside from a story specifically about the events that took place on Monday, OGGOA chose to refrain from posting new material out of respect for those in Boston, MA. Below are six stories from Monday that we did not cover at the time.

1 » Senior forward Jennifer George was chosen with the No. 33 overall pick in the third round of the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever on Monday, becoming the first Florida Gators women’s basketball to be selected in the event since Sha Brooks in 2009. George is the 17th Florida player to ever be picked in the WNBA Draft and joins an Indiana team that concluded the 2012 season by winning the league title. She will not, however, be the only former member of the Gators to be a part of the Fever as former Florida head coach Mickie DeMoss is currently serving as an assistant coach.

2 » Could senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic be the third Florida player selected in next week’s 2013 NFL Draft. According to veteran analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, Bostic – who is widely expected to be a third-round selection – may be drafted even higher. “In recent conversations, I’ve been told it’s a distinct possibility he could slip into the late part of the second frame,” Pauline writes. “Teams like the fact that Bostic is a three-down defender and offers the potential of being a day-one starter.”

3 » After informing the New England Patriots that he had decided to return to the track but also hoped to continue his football career – a move that would involve missing much of training camp and perhaps even a few early-season games – running back Jeff Demps was thought to be a goner from the organization. And while that may very well wind up being the case, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that another option may be on the table – a trade. Demps’s agent Daniel Rose told Howe that the Patriots have discussed a possibility, which is not much of a surprise considering New England’s propensity for making deals (especially around draft time).

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: George, Bostic, Demps, Tebow, Caldwell

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