SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

1 » Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews and softball player Jenn Brown, just over one year ago, were both working as sideline reports for ESPN with the former taking on a bunch of other duties as well. Neither remains with the network today, but Andrews and Brown each have a great opportunity to shine with their new company. Andrews, who was hired by FOX Sports last July, spent 2012 sitting at a studio desk as host of a primetime college football pre-game show while also serving as a sideline reporter for major sports events including the MLB postseason. According to SB Nation, her duties will increase this season with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Andrews will move from the primetime half-hour show to hosting a new college football pregame show that will air on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, going head-to-head with ESPN’s College GameDay. Before leaving ESPN, Andrews was given hosting duties for the first hour of College GameDay, which aired from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU.

Brown, after spending a short stint working with NBC, has signed a deal with the NFL Network, according to The Big Lead. She will start appearing on-air Thursday when she hosts the network’s Total Access show though the breath of her duties is currently unknown. “I’m thrilled to get back to the NFL,” she told the website. “The first sports job I had was on Inside the NFL. Covering college football for ESPN was a great time and I learned a lot, but it’s good to get back to the NFL.”

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears sat down with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons to discuss what OnlyGators.com reported almost three weeks ago – Parsons’s role in luring free agent center Dwight Howard to Houston. “I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.,” Parsons explained. “We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. [Howard would] call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he’d call me at midnight with the same question. … I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We’re always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends.” Parsons also talks about his pitch, being involved in the official meeting and where he was when he learned Howard chose the Rockets.

Read and watch four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

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TWO BITS: Young to NBA? Brown off ESPN?

1 » When Florida Gators junior center Patric Young climbed the ladder and snipped his piece of Florida’s 2013 SEC Championship on Wednesday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, fans in attendance serenaded him with chants of, “One more year!” Asked after the game if he does indeed plan on remaining in Gainesville, FL for his senior season, Young said he is unsure at this point. “[The fans] are thinking about it, but I’m not thinking about it too much,” said Young, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You know I love being here. There’s no better program in America. I love playing for coach [Billy] Donovan. I’m going to do what’s best for me and my family and whatever makes me happy, honestly.” Young is currently projected to be a mid-to-late second-round selection by numerous NBA Draft analysts. His stock has actually dropped over the last two years as scouts have not seen him progress as much as they would prefer. Sticking with the Gators and putting the finishing touches on his game – improving his mid-range jump shot, becoming a more consistent rebounder, providing a sustained level of energy – could help him in the long run.

2 » According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitch, who received confirmation Wednesday from the network, ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has decided to leave the company. “Jenn Brown is no longer working for ESPN,” spokesman Mike Humes told SI. “We wish her well.” Brown first began working for ESPN in 2006 and signed full-time with the company in 2010. She had her workload increase with the departure of Erin Andrews but appears to have been one-upped by Samantha Ponder, who took some of the higher profile network assignments that Brown may have been expecting to receive. Brown, a former Florida softball player, is the second member of the Gators family to leave the network in the last seven months after Andrews (a former UF dazzler) departed for FOX Sports in August. Former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer remains with the network as a college football analyst.

Extra BIT » FOX Sports Florida announced on Thursday that the Gators’ spring game, the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut previously set for April 6, will air live on Sun Sports at 1 p.m. Additionally, FSF will be airing the game live online at FOXSportsFlorida.com and replaying the contest on television the following Sunday and multiple times thereafter (check your local listings). Larry Vettel (play-by-play), Nat Moore (color commentary) and Brady Ackerman (sideline reporting) will be on the call.

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Chad Johnson meeting with Florida Gators

NFL free agent wide receiver Chad Johnson, a 12-year veteran who was cut by the Miami Dolphins this offseason, is currently in Gainesville, FL touring Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and meeting with the Florida Gators.

Though it is not currently known why the coaching staff chose to allow Johnson to have access to the team, the man formerly known as “Ochocinco” tweeted that he drove into Gainesville, FL with motivational speaker Tony Gaskins, Jr., who himself tweeted that he is going to be speaking with the Florida football team Friday evening. One could assume that Johnson is part of that speaking engagement in some way.

Johnson has shared a number of pictures since arriving. He is pictured (clockwise) with head coach Will Muschamp, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, junior safety Matt Elam, ESPN reporter Jenn Brown and the Gators’ secondary.

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TWO BITS: band off to London, Tebow’s motion

1 » The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band will be in the air on Monday as they travel to London, England to represent the United States in ceremonies preceding the 2012 London Olympics. According to Florida, the band will be dispersed over 10 different planes (more than 245 people will be travelling abroad) and will be spending a full week in town both playing music and taking in the sights and sounds. To see the band off, Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp and head soccer coach Becky Burleigh gave them a pep talk (video via GatorVision); former softball player Jenn Brown (now a sideline reporter for ESPN) also sent in a video message to the band. The Gainesville Sun reports that the total cost of the trip is nearly $1 million. “The band received about $100,000 from the UF provost’s office and $25,000 from the Univeresity Athletic Association” but raised the vast majority of the money privately.

2 » New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow – for the third consecutive offseason – is working on his throwing motion, doing so this time with a “throwing guru” and former minor league pitcher who had previously worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees among others. According to ESPNLosAngeles.com, Tebow spent five days last week tweaking his delivery with Tom House on campus at USC but has since flown back to New York.

The typical quarterback’s schedule is a weeklong program at the Rod Dedeaux Research and Baseball Institute on the USC campus, where 3D video analysis is used in coordination with traditional drills to break down individual motions to a thousand frames per second and discover small inconsistencies or errors.

House said Friday he believes Tebow benefited from the week’s worth of workouts. “I think he’s getting better, but the proof is in the pudding,” House said. “Being out here at USC is different than being with the New York Jets.”

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FOUR BITS: Tebow’s billboard, Hill’s thoughts, Brown’s new gig, Andrews on Kimmel

1 » The billboard in downtown Denver, CO featuring words and images supporting Denver Broncos back-up quarterback Tim Tebow has finally arrived – just not by the hands of those who promised to erect it in the first place. According to the Denver Post, a company named Multiline International Imports decided to utilize a large digital sign by their business (located just east of the I-25 highway) for this purpose. Check out the Post’s story on the billboard, which also includes one additional picture of it.

2 » Former Florida Gators safety Will Hill, who signed with the AFL’s Arizona Rattlers on Wednesday, told the Palm Beach Post Friday that he did not regret leaving Florida early and he would have made the same move still knowing the path his career has taken. He also said that his use of marijuana at the University of Florida was the main reason teams did not sign him even as an undrafted free agent.

“I had smoked in college,” he told the Post. “It wasn’t about failing drug tests, but the coaches knew I smoked, and that’s what the NFL asked about. My problem was off the field. By me doing this I can stay in shape and still look at the NFL. I had off the field problems like partying and things. That’s what kept me from the NFL. If I clean up my act and show I can still play, I can still get there.”

Read a BIT on Jenn Brown and watch another of Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow’s billboard, Hill’s thoughts, Brown’s new gig, Andrews on Kimmel

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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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FOUR BITS: Dowling, Thomas, Benjamin, Brown

1 » Florida Gators freshman safety Jonathan Dowling is excited about his first season of college football, but no game is getting him more pumped up than one coming up on Oct 2. “I can’t wait until the Alabama game,” Dowling told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “I am just going to keep working hard, doing what I am told. Hopefully I can get on the field this year. That is my main goal. I will just keep going as hard as I can these next few weeks and that decision will be left up to the coaches.” Dowling also said that junior S Will Hill has taken him under his wing. “I follow everything he does, learn as much as I can,” he said. “He teaches me as much as he can so I just pay attention to everything he does and try to copy everything he does to the best of my ability. I want to make myself as good as he is, or try to get even better.”

2 » Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow may be getting all of the attention from Florida fans, but three other former Gators – defensive end Jarvis Moss, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas are also trying to do big things with the Denver Broncos. “It’s down to the wire,” Thomas told The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley. “I put it in the mindset that I’m back in college. This is the fourth year of college. It’s time to start producing. You can’t be a rookie forever. I see guys get cut and never sign on with anyone else. I don’t want people to be wondering what ever happened to [me].”

Reflecting on his college career, Thomas wishes he could have done things differently. “I look back at Florida and I really, really blew it. I’m definitely more mature now. I thought I had thrown my career away at the time,” he said. “[I] missed out on the national championship game. I was happy they won but I should have been out there. It hurt. It really hurt. On the flip side, when I was watching the game, I was wishing I was playing for Ohio State. There was some resentment. But when I look back, I was being prepared for the real world. In college, you’re still being babied. You come out here and there are no second or third chances. […] The [Gators] had some regulations and restrictions I pretty much violated. I was doing well on the field and I felt like they pretty much needed me. I thought I was bigger than the team. Urban [Meyer] proved I wasn’t.”

3 » Glades Central High School head coach Jessie Hester has told the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser that four-star WR recruit Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) currently has Florida in the lead for his services. At 6’5” and over 200 lbs., Benjamin is one of the best players in the country and will likely stay in the state no matter what school he chooses. “I think he’s leaning toward Florida right now, believe it or not. He’s up there a lot,” Hester, a former Florida State WR, said. “Miami’s just down the road and I know he hasn’t been there much — if any. The only time he went to Florida State was when we had the 7-on-7 [event]. So I think it’s Florida.”

4 » Just two days after being “outed” by Star Magazine as the woman with whom country music star Kenny Chesney is having an affair, former Gators softball player and ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has been announced as Icehouse’s new national spokesperson and brand ambassador. “Icehouse doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Brown said in a company press release. “It’s like a loyal friend who’s always having fun and knows that time spent with buddies should never be less than great… and never watered down. And what’s better than watching football with an ice-cold Icehouse?” Watching it with almost any other beer on the market.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas

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SIX BITS: Tebow’s ribs, Super Tuesday, DL, Moss

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow left training camp with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, apparently still feeling the effects of some of the hits he took in his first NFL game last week> “[Tebow] appeared to be holding his left side after going through some footwork drills early in the Broncos’ practice,” The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports. “Tebow did not participate in sprints at the end of practice Tuesday [either]. He had previously won every post-practice conditioning sprint among offensive players in training camp.”

The Denver Post is calling Tebow’s ribs “bruised” and notes that teammates like Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan appreciated the effort. “That’s what you like about him,” Haggan said. “There was no choice to be made – you go for pay dirt.” One of his offensive linemen agree. “They always talk about the ‘welcome to the NFL’ hit. You’ve got to get your pads firmed up when you start off in the NFL. I think he had an opportunity to do that,” right tackle Ryan Harris said. One more? “[Tebow] has a warrior’s mentality,” safety Brian Dawkins said. “Which is good, but at the same time, being able to decipher when and when not to. Hopefully he won’t have to learn the hard, hard way.”

2 » ESPN announced its men’s college basketball Super Tuesday schedule for 2011 on Wednesday; Florida is set to begin the slate and will appear three times in four weeks: Jan. 11 at Tennessee (9 p.m.), Jan. 25 at Georgia (7 p.m.) and Feb. 1 vs. Vanderbilt (9 p.m.). The Gators also appeared in three Super Tuesday games last season and are already scheduled for four ESPN appearances (Nov. 16 vs. Ohio State – 6 p.m.).

Four more BITS about the defensive line, Jarvis Moss, Austin Rivers and Jenn Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow’s ribs, Super Tuesday, DL, Moss

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