Former pro scout on Gators in 2010 NFL Draft

With the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine coming up on Feb. 24 and the NFL Draft just over two months away, OGGOA sat down with former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah of Move The Sticks to pick his brain about departed Florida Gators players participating in the combine and eligible to be selected from April 22-24. Jeremiah was completely candid in our discussion, pointing out qualities he liked in each player while explaining why certain Gators might fall further than some may expect. In addition to his Web site, Jeremiah also offers comprehensive NFL scouting coverage on Twitter (@MoveTheSticks) as well as with his brand new podcast (also available on iTunes).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Obviously scouting is about hitting and not missing on prospects. What qualities separate a successful NFL scout from the rest of the pack?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Successful NFL scouts know what they are looking for. If you go into a school knowing what makes a good player and what fits your team, you are way ahead of the curve.

AS: Is there one player in particular who you were dead-right on over your six years in the league? Perhaps one you overrated going into the draft?
DJ: Several of both instances. I really felt that Reggie Bush would become the biggest playmaker in the NFL. He has been very good but not up to the level I thought he would be performing. I felt very strongly about Roddy White and DeMarcus Ware, even though they came out of lesser known programs. Both should have been top five picks.

AS: Let’s get this out of the way: I know you were able to get a good look at Tim Tebow both through your extensive tape watching as well as in-person at the Senior Bowl. Assuming for a second he is able to correct his release, what else do you believe will eventually hold him back from being a successful starting quarterback in the NFL?
DJ: He needs to improve his downfield accuracy. He is much better on lob throws (fades, corner routes, deep posts) than he is on drive throws. That is my second biggest concern after improving his release.

Read more of his thoughts on Tebow and the rest of the Gators after the break!
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Ten Gators invited to 2010 NFL Scouting Combine

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive has learned that 10 former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) in Indianapolis, IN, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 24 to March 2, 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 staff look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2010 NFL Draft commences on April 22.

The 10 former Gators student-athletes participating in the combine include:

Seniors
Quarterback Tim Tebow – Group: 05; Camp: QB19
Wide receiver Riley Cooper – Group: 04; Camp: WO12
Wide receiver Brandon James – Group: 04; Camp: WO19
Linebacker Brandon Spikes = Group: 09; Camp: LB30
Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham – Group: 07; Camp: DL09

Juniors
Cornerback Joe Haden – Group: 10; Camp: DB20
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap – Group: 07; Camp: DL13
Safety Major Wright – Group 11; Camp DB58
Tight end Aaron Hernandez – Group: 03; Camp: TE13
Center Maurkice Pouncey – Group: 02; Camp: OL33

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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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!
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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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