FOUR BITS: NFL Combine, Strong poaches recruit

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Ryan Stamper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have received invites to the 2010 NFL Combine. Juniors who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft have yet to receive invitations, but fans can expect DE Carlos Dunlap, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Major Wright to participate in the event from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Indianapolis, IN.

2 » Three-star athlete Marcus Smith (Columbus, GA) had an outstanding scholarship offer from Florida and was prepared to take it…that is until Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong came calling. “If Louisville would have never been in the mix, I would have probably went to Florida,” Smith told the Courier-Journal. “But I’m glad Louisville came into the mix. I like coach Strong a lot, and I really wanted to play for coach Strong. Louisville is a great program. He wants me to play quarterback, he established that during our talk this morning. To tell you the truth, I just want to play, so I am good wherever he wants me.” Upon taking his position with the Cardinals, Strong said he would not poach recruits the Gators were interested in unless they initiated contact.

3 » The Gators hosted their biggest remaining recruiting weekend the past few days and a number of both committed and undecided prospects came away impressed. Four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who at one point was wavering after head coach Urban Meyer announced his leave of absence, solidified his recruitment after getting extensive time with new running backs coach Stan Drayton. Brown also told Adam Gorney of Rivals that Meyer may return as soon as March. “He looked pretty fine to me,” Brown said. “He looked healthy. I know he wants to coach, so I know he’s going to be there. He’s going to take a couple weeks off in February, but he’ll be back.” Fellow four-star recruits offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, FL) and wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) raved to numerous sources about their respective experiences.

4 » Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers with just two seconds remaining in the game, the Florida women’s basketball team gained a bit of revenge by taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 55-52 on the road on Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard Trumae Lucas scored seven points off of the bench in the waning minutes while senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while also grabbing seven boards.

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TWO BITS: Traffic issues, Dunkley’s decision

1 » Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel put together an excellent investigative piece on traffic citations and arrests accrued by the Florida Gators football team from 2006-09. In total, 251 citations were handed out including 21 misdemeanors/felonies. Twelve different Gators have acquired seven or more tickets with senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham leading the pack with 14. “The number of tickets per college student is not an exact science,” Fowler contends, “but research indicates UF football players get pulled over at least twice the average amount for college-aged males in the country.” Florida players average 2.61 tickets each over their career while a normal student is given less than one, according to the University Police Department.

2 » Four-star wide receiver recruit Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, FL) has announced plans to make his college commitment official on Jan. 9 at the Under Armour All-American Game. Considered a heavy Florida lean, Dunkley recently cast some doubt on that assumption by saying that the Alabama Crimson Tide remain a contender for his services. Dunkley is believed to be the Gators’ No. 1 offensive recruiting target.

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Nine Gators named to All-SEC coaches’ team

Nine Florida Gators football players were named to the 2009 All-SEC team as voted by the league’s head coaches. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow was Florida’s only unanimous selection. Joining him on the first-team offense are juniors tight end Aaron Hernandez, offensive guard Mike Pouncey and center Maurkice Pouncey. For the defense, senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and juniors cornerback Joe Haden and Carlos Dunlap received first-team honors. Seniors DE Jermaine Cunningham and LB Ryan Stamper earned spots on the second team. The Gators tied the Alabama Crimson Tide who also had a league-high nine All-SEC selections.

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Florida has 11 players named to All-SEC teams

The Associated Press released its 2009 All-SEC team lists on Monday and, to no one’s surprise, 11 Florida Gators football players made the cut.

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow, junior guard Mike Pouncey, junior center Maurkice Pouncey, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez, junior cornerback Joe Haden and junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap were all awarded first-team honors while senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, senior DE Jermaine Cunningham and junior punter Chas Henry were placed on the second team. Junior strong safety Ahmad Black received an honorable mention.

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2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 71,228]
Time: 4:00 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: N/A

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online: CBSSports.com
Sirius: 123; XM: 144

No. 1 Florida Gators No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 12-0 (8-0) Record: 12-0 (8-0)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5, O/U 41
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…the winningest group in Southeastern Conference history with a 47-6 overall record. The seniors will be playing in their third SEC Championship game in the Georgia Dome in four years.
– Senior quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama running back Mark Ingram…who will both be making their respective cases for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Considered two of the main competitors for the award, Tebow and Ingram each have a chance, through their play, to make an argument that they should win the trophy.
- Junior defensive end Justin Trattou…who along with redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard will be filling in for suspended junior starting DE Carlos Dunlap.
- Junior cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Julio Jones…who will face off in what could potentially be the match-up of the game between one of the best CBs and one of the best WRs in the nation.
- Head coach Urban Meyer…who is 2-0 in the SEC Championship and a combined 5-1 with Florida in championship or bowl games.
- Kick returners Brandon James and Javier Arenas…who each have a chance to make a difference in the game on special teams. James will be going up against one of the worst coverage units in college football while Arenas, one of the best returners in 2009, will be going up against the best punt coverage in the nation (13 total yards allowed). In 11 of 12 games, Florida have allowed zero punt return yards.
- Experienced players…the Gators feature 19 starters and 44 players who saw action in the 2008 SEC Championship, while the Crimson Tide return 10 starters and 36 players of their own from the game.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 22 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the nation in the last 15 years. 21 of Florida’s 22 wins have been by a double digit margin. The team is also 12-0 for the second time in school history, the first time solely in the regular season.
- Florida and Alabama meet in the SEC Championship for the second year in a row and seventh time since the game was instituted in 1992. The Gators are 4-2 in these games and 6-4 overall in the last 10 meetings. Alabama leads the all-time series 20-14.
- For the first time in SEC Championship history, both division leaders are undefeated.
- Florida has the most SEC Championship game wins and appearances by any team.
- The Gators lead the SEC in total offense (451.3), rushing offense (236.7) and third-down efficiency (.500). They also come in No. 2 in scoring offense (36.5). Florida’s offense is the only unit in the nation that has posted at least 2,800 rushing yards and 2,575 passing yards on the season.
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered 11 touchdowns (nine from scrimmage) all season (both totals fewest in the nation). The unit has only allowed 14 field goals for a total of 118 points (9.8 per game) – tops in the nation. The defense is also No. 1 in total defense (233.1 yards per game) and pass defense (143.2 yards per game).
- The Gators have not thrown an interception in over a month (Oct. 24); however, the defense has recorded 13 interceptions over the past six weeks – most in the nation.
- Florida’s defense has held nine of its 12 opponents under 100 yards rushing. The secondary has held four opponents under 100 yards passing and forced six to complete fewer than 50 percent of their pass attempts.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » 2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

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Meyer suspends Dunlap for SEC Championship

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has decided to suspend junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap for the 2009 SEC Championship game after he was arrested Tuesday morning by Gainesville Police on charges of driving under the influence. Dunlap was found slumped over sleeping behind the wheel of his red Chrystler at a traffic light. Dunlap faces one second degree misdemeanor DUI charge and was released on his own recognizance without bond by Judge Mary Day Coker.

“Carlos obviously made a very poor decision,” Meyer said. “He’s not going to play, and I want to visit with him and his family first, and then go from there. Stunning is probably a good word [to describe how I felt when I found out]. Young guys make decisions all the time. This one’s a serious one.”

One of the Gators’ top defensive players, Dunlap was named the 2009 BCS National Championship game MVP and has been a powerful, athletic force on the defensive line in 2009. He is expected to leave school after this season and be the top Florida player taken in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“You think you’re in control and the next thing you know you’re in trouble,” Carlos Dunlap, Sr. said about his son’s arrest. “I am dumbfounded right now. He’s always been so anti-drug, anti-drinking. But it’s not what you do, it’s how you respond to what you do.”

Meyer said junior DE Justin Trattou will start in place of Dunlap while senior DE Jermaine Cunningham will stay on the field for more snaps than usual. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard will get playing time at end while redshirt junior DTs Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders hold down the inside of the line. “The good thing is we have a little bit of depth,” Meyer said.

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Week 13: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 60°F – Partly Sunny

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online: CBSSports.com.
Sirius: 218; XM: 201

Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Record: 11-0 (8-0) Record: 6-5 (4-4)
Division: SEC East Division: ACC Atlantic
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -24.5, O/U 56
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…who set the Southeastern Conference record for winningest class with their 46th win last Saturday and will be honored on Senior Day. 25 seniors will be playing their last game in The Swamp, and the University of Florida has set aside 10 minutes prior to the game to recognize each player.
- Senior quarterback Tim Tebow…who has already broken the SEC rushing touchdown record (Herschel Walker, Georgia) and touchdowns-scored record (Kevin Faulk, LSU) with 54, set the SEC career record for rushing yards by a QB with 2,743 and has a 169.3 career rating good for No. 1 in conference history.
- Senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham…who leads the team with seven sacks.
- Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper…who is tops on the Gators with 64 tackles.
- Senior kick returner Brandon James…who set the SEC record for kickoff return yards last week with 2,538 yards on 105 returns. He has also set the SEC all-time kick return mark (combined) with 3,930 yards and all-time punt return mark with 1,339 yards.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 21 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the nation in the last 15 years. 20 of Florida’s 21 wins have been by a double digit margin. The team is also 11-0 for the second time in school history.
- The Gators lead the SEC in rushing offense (229.9) and third-down efficiency (.475). They also come in No. 2 in total offense (442.8) and scoring offense (36.5). Florida’s offense is one of two teams nationally that has posted at least 2,500 rushing yards and 2,300 passing yards (TCU).
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered ten touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation). The unit has also only allowed 13 field goals for a total of 108 points (9.8 points per game) – this also leads the nation.
- Florida has held three straight opponents and seven this season under 100 yards rushing.
- The Gators lead the all-time series against the Seminoles 32-19-2 with a 19-8-1 record in Gainesville, FL. UF has also won the last five consecutive meetings between the schools with a 90-27 combined margin of victory over that time span.

SENIORS:
The Gators 2009 senior class is the winningest class in SEC history with a 46-6 record in their time in the Orange and Blue. However, that is not the only accomplishment the class has made in the last four years. The senior class has:

Three All-Americans – Five All-SEC Members – 12 SEC Academic Honor Roll Members – Two SEC Championships – Three SEC Eastern Division titles – Two National Championships – 27-5 SEC record – 25-2 record at The Swamp – 14-3 (.823) vs. ranked teams, the top winning pct. for a UF senior class – 11-1 vs. rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State and Miami) – National Defensive POY – Heisman Trophy Winner

* Markihe Anderson – #14 – CB – Fort Myers, Fla.
* Jim Barrie – #68 – OL – Tampa, Fla.
* Andrew Blaylock – #14 – QB – Durham, N.C.
* Rick Burgess – #48 – FB – Jupiter, Fla.
* Christopher Coleman – #84 – TE – Lake City, Fla.
* Riley Cooper – #11 – WR – Clearwater, Fla.
* Dustin Doe – #32 – LB – Jasper, Fla.
* Jermaine Cunningham – #49 – DE – Stone Mountain, Ga.
* Troy Epps – #98 – DT – Union, S.C.
* John Fairbanks – #59 – LS – Celebration, Fla.
* Michael Guilford – #46 – QB – Quincy, Fla.
* Corey Hobbs – #79 – OL – Oviedo, Fla.
* Cade Holliday – #22 – WR – Gainesville, Fla.
* Brandon James – #25 – ATH – St. Augustine, Fla.
* Dorian Munroe – #20 – S – Miami, Fla.
* David Nelson – #83 – WR – Wichita Falls, Texas
* Jonathan Phillips – #38 – K – Wellington, Fla.
* Wondy Pierre-Louis – #4 – CB – Naples, Fla.
* Chris Pintado – #30 – LB – Miami, Fla.
* Christopher Scott – #29 – RB – Englewood, Fla.
* Joey Sorrentino – #39 – WR – Ocala, Fla.
* Brandon Spikes – #51 – LB – Shelby, N.C.
* Ryan Stamper – #41 – LB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Tim Tebow – #15 – QB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Mike Williamson – #53 – LS – Winter Park, Fla.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles preview after the jump…

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FOUR BITS: FSU smack talk, ’06 recruits, updates

1 » Florida Gators fans who follow recruiting closely will certainly know the name Greg Reid. For those of who don’t, Reid was a four-star cornerback who committed to Florida but eventually turned his back on the Gators to sign with the Florida State Seminoles this year. Now that he is set to play Florida for the first time, Reid is spouting off at the mouth about UF and head coach Urban Meyer. “Hopefully they’ll punt the ball to me,” Reid said. “I ain’t scared of [Meyer], I ain’t afraid of him. I know he wants to kind of get some payback. So I hope he brings it. I hope they punt the ball to me maybe three or four times. Out of them, I’m gonna take one to the house, I know that.” On decommitting from the Gators, Reid continued talking. “It was kind of disappointing. [Meyer] was talking to me like Florida was the world. But, I mean, I don’t too much like cockiness.” Are you saying Meyer is cocky? “I ain’t afraid to say that.” The last Seminole to talk smack of this level against Florida was linebacker Geno Hayes. “Tim Tebow’s going down,” Hayes said in 2007. “The bigger they are, the harder the fall. Hopefully we can go out there and shatter his dream.” In case you need a reminder of Tebow’s response, here it is:

2 » Florida State running back Jermaine Thomas, who injured his ribs last Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins, is “100 percent” for the Florida game on Saturday. However, the Seminoles will already be playing without three starters as quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Caz Piuowski are out and left guard Rodney Hudson is “very doubtful” for for the game.

3 » Meyer has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, especially the fact that his 2006 recruiting class appears to be the best ever assembled at Florida. Consisting of Tebow, linebackers Brandon Spikes and A.J. Jones, wide receivers Percy Harvin and Riley Cooper, offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert, defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James, it is certainly a worthwhile argument. “There are many guys in that class that have done a great job,” Meyer said.

4 » According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the Gators have strong interest in South Carolina Gamecocks four-star OL commit Eric Mack (St. Matthews, SC). The paper reports that Mack was invited for and accepted an official visit to Gainesville, FL, the same weekend as the North-South game.

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