SIX BITS: Tebow, Cooper, Jenkins, Angus

1 » The exploits of some of his former Florida Gators have kept New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow off the front page, but the spotlight is back on Tebow now that training camp has begun and some practices are open to the media. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was at Patriots practice recently, saw Tebow play first hand and offered this opinion on his weekly MMQB column.

Take this for what it’s worth: Tim Tebow made three beautiful downfield throws that I saw, completions thrown 25 yards or more hitting receivers in stride. Tebow was also the personal protector on punts (kudos to you, Mike Westhoff, for getting him started on that last summer) and ran down on punts with energy. I bet the Patriots keep three quarterbacks, knowing they’re able to use Tebow as a utility player. Not necessarily a guy they’d have active every week, but a guy they could use in certain matchup situations against some teams.

2 » Former New England signal caller Doug Flutie spoke out about Tebow, telling ESPNBoston.com that he believes Tebow is in a good situation but hopes he gets an opportunity to contribute. “If he’s just going to be the No. 3 quarterback and run the scout team, you want a guy who is going to be giving his heart and soul in every practice and running scout team to the fullest, hoping he can get better and doing everything he can,” Flutie said. “I think legitimately, Bill [Belichick] brought him in to be a quarterback, a No. 3 guy, that if they get down to their No. 3 they can be competitive with Tebow on the field, running a specified style of offense that is going to cater to his skills. A lot of teams can’t say that if they are down to their No. 3. I see that as a developmental thing for Tebow.”

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper returned to practice on Tuesday after missing a couple of days while undergoing team-sponsored counseling following the release of a video that shows him uttering one of the ugliest words in the English language. Also in King’s MMQB column, he takes a look at Eagles head coach Chip Keilly and why, following the reinstatement and rejuvenation of Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount, he is more apt to give Cooper a second chance than some others in the league. “Chip could have kicked Blount to the curb. He chose to believe in him. And it worked out,” former NFL head coach Tony Dungy told King. “With Riley Cooper, this kid made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. The big issue, too, is the alcohol. That has to be dealt with. But Chip will make the right decision. He doesn’t care what the popular opinion. He cares about what’s right.”

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

1 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons concluded the 2012-13 NBA regular season in style, draining an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to extend his team’s season finale into overtime. Though Houston fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 99-95, Parsons finished with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists. The Rockets will be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

2 » During a pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, New York Jets general manager John Idzik remained non-committal but nevertheless seemed to foreshadow quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the team. “I’m not saying he is, I’m not saying he isn’t,” said Idzik after being asked if Tebow would be involved in the Jets’ offseason quarterback competition. “I’m just saying let things play out.” He continued: “I guess I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. … He’s a Jet, and we’ve gone through some change here and that’s what I mean by letting things play out. We have a new coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have a new offensive system, I’m new. We have several new people within football administration. I think you just got to let these things develop and evolve.”

3 » Workouts at this point in the offseason do not include on-field drills, so Tebow has not yet had an opportunity to show these new coaches his ability. If one is to believe veteran quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, who told Newsday on Wednesday that he fixed Tebow’s flawed mechanics in just three days, the player may be able to impress if given a chance. “I would hope wherever he ends up, they give him an opportunity to play, because if they do, they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he told the paper. “I think he can still play.” Clarkson spent three days working with Tebow in Arizona during the month of February and explained that he fixed the flaw in Tebow’s throwing motion.

“The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion,” Clarkson said. “A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he’d make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up.” Clarkson went on to say that though Tebow has a high football IQ, his footwork was slowing him down. He even used Tai Chi to help Tebow “make his body work as one unit.” He added: “The things that he needs to work on are very coachable and actually very minor. … He just needs to have someone not be afraid of the phenomenon.”

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators football news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

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14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

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.

» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.

» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.

» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.

Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

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Pouncey named to second-straight Pro Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the third Florida Gators player in as many seasons to be named to the primary NFL Pro Bowl roster.

He was selected as a starter for the AFC this year after being picked as the backup for Nick Mangold of the New York Jets last season.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Pouncey earned Pro Bowl nominations 2009 and 2010, respectively. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist, while Pouncey did not play due to being on a Super Bowl team.

Pouncey is the 20th former Florida player to be picked for the Pro Bowl; his nomination in 2010 made him the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin). Former Gators have made a total of 57 appearances in the game and have participated in 35 of 42 total Pro Bowls.

The Denver Post reports that former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is a second alternate for the AFC. Should two of New England’s Tom Brady, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and San Diego’s Philip Rivers not participate in the game, Tebow would get the nod and take the trip to Honolulu, HI.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is the primary alternate behind New England teammate Rob Gronkowski and San Diego’s Antonio Gates.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Carter (1/2): “It’s the kind of pressure you want.”

There are few former Florida Gators football players more accomplished than defensive end Kevin Carter. A three-time Southeastern Conference champion who was named first-team All-SEC twice (1993-94) and earned first-team All-American honors his senior year (1994), Carter is a member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame (as a Gator Great) and went on to a storied 14-year NFL career.

After being selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, Carter ended up a two-time Pro Bowler (1999, 2002) who was named the Rams’ most valuable player in 1998 and won Super Bowl XXXIV.

The consummate team player, Carter played both end and tackle in the NFL and registered 104.5 career sacks including a league-high 17 during St. Louis’ 1999 Super Bowl run. He never missed a game due to injury or otherwise and retired from the NFL after fulfilling his dreams and earning the immense respect of his peers.

Last week, Carter sat down with OGGOA for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touched on his time at Florida, extensive NFL career, charitable efforts and new gig as a television analyst for the SEC Gridiron Live program. OGGOA caught up with Carter while at his home and, even though he was in the middle of getting a brand new deck built, he stepped inside to reminisce about his career and look ahead to new beginnings.

This is part one of our interview with Carter; the second half will be posted Saturday.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You were born in Miami and grew up living in Tallahassee. What was it that got you to end up playing at Florida rather than for Miami or Florida State?
KEVIN CARTER: “Growing up, I didn’t really grow up a Seminoles fan – I actually grew up a big Georgia Bulldogs fan as a kid, when Georgia won the national championship with Hershel Walker back in 1981. That was more of who I followed as far as being a fan. When it came time for me to go to school, I went to a couple of game at Florida State, took a visit there, got to know some of the players and knew a lot of the guys who were going to go there, but it just never felt like home. It felt too much like being at home. For me, I was looking to kind of get away, be on my own but still close enough for mom’s cooking.

“Academically, Florida State didn’t really have what I wanted to major in. I wanted to do something in the medical field, something medical science-related, possibly pharmacy. I wanted to be at a place that had not only everything that I wanted in a football school but also everything that I needed for my life, academically as well. For me it came down to Notre Dame and Florida. When I met Coach [Steve] Spurrier, I was pretty sold after I talked to him. I was really impressed just by the man he was, his candor and how he lived his life. I liked his style. He was a little cocky – not arrogant but just sure, very process-oriented and driven. I was really impressed by that at 17-years-old. He sold me.”

AS: Your career with Florida speaks for itself, but almost every former Gator I talk to has one game where they felt they performed on a different level that really sticks out in their mind. Which one was that for you?
KC: “The Tennessee game in Knoxville my senior year, 1994, when we went up to Neyland Stadium. They had a big, strong offensive line with all of these big, big guys and [the media was] talking about how this offensive line was going to overpower us and how James Stewart was going to have a big game against us. They were the favorite in the SEC East, and we had just come off of a good year, but a shootout in The Swamp a year prior. We went up there; we took it as a personal challenge. Like I said, we were supposedly outmatched, upfront especially. We took it upon ourselves – me and Ellis Johnson and Henry McMillan, Johnny Church, Mark Campbell – we really took it upon ourselves to go out there and shut up all the critics, come out and really lead the way on defense. We actually ended up winning that game 31-0, so it was a pretty dominating performance on defense.”

Read the rest of part one of our interview with Kevin Carter…after the break!
Continue Reading » Carter (1/2): “It’s the kind of pressure you want.”

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Pouncey adds Pro Bowl to stellar rookie season

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the second Florida Gators rookie in as many seasons to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl.

He was selected as the back-up for the AFC to Nick Mangold of the New York Jets, who was tabbed for the third-straight season.

Pouncey follows in the footsteps of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who earned a Pro Bowl nomination last season as a rookie out of Florida. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist.

Barring injury, Pouncey will have started every game this season for Pittsburgh at center. He is a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, an award that will likely go to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and was also won by Harvin last season.

Pouncey is the 20th former Gators player to be picked for the Pro Bowl and only the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin).

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

With eight years of professional football under his belt, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is moving on from the Chicago Bears to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. In a brand new city with an upbeat and positive mindset, Brown landed in Louisiana on Wednesday to start preparing for training camp. The first thing he did after touching down? Provide OGGOA with an exclusive half-hour interview covering everything from his recruitment and time with the Gators to the Bears’ Super Bowl run and why grits are his favorite thing about the city of New Orleans, LA (so far).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in a small town, was it difficult to get noticed by the University of Florida and make an impression on head coach Steve Spurrier?
ALEX BROWN: “Yeah, it was. I just wanted to go and play football – that’s all I did. I was nervous because I didn’t know if people would see me. My dad was really good just staying on me about it. ‘If you go play, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.’ That was his big thing. All I did was go play – and they found me.”

AS: What made you decide to attend Florida rather than going to Georgia or another school? Were you always a Gators fan?
AB: “I actually was not a Florida fan at all. I really wasn’t even going to take a visit to Florida. University of Miami – that year – my last visit I was going to take was going to be to the University of Miami. And I was going to choose between Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Auburn. There was a kid that got killed at Miami – I want to say it was like on a Monday or Tuesday – and I was supposed to go on a visit that coming weekend. And my mom was like, ‘No way, you can’t go. You can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I will not take another visit.’ I talked to [Buffalo Bills linebacker] Andra Davis, who I’ve known since like fifth grade, and he had just taken his visit to Florida and that was the celebration of the National Championship – that was that week. He had a great time. So I talked to him and he said he was going to Florida. He’s like, ‘Just take your visit there, you’re not going to go to Miami, so take your visit to Florida.’ Early in the week, I called coach [Jimmy Ray] Stephens, he was the offensive line coach at the time and the guy that recruited me. He said, ‘OK.’ I was in Gainesville for a day. [Atlanta Falcons LB] Mike Peterson was my host and, by the time I left, they could have left me there. I was going for sure. As soon as I got back, I started calling all the other coaches and letting them know that this is what I want. It wasn’t too far from home but far enough away, I guess. And they were good. I played linebacker, and they had [former DE] Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and [former LB] Johnny Rutledge – and I thought I fit right in. It was a great match for me and took me all of a day-and-a-half to figure that out.

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Alex Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

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Patriots add Gators LB Brandon Spikes with No. 62 overall pick in second round of 2010 NFL Draft

Round 2 – No. 62
Brandon Spikes, LB
New England Patriots


Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 249 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Senior

Steadily drowning under intense scrutiny due to slow 40-yard dash times and concerns about durability, former Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes was thrown a life vest by the New England Patriots, which selected the him with the No. 62 overall pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

New England head coach Bill Belichick chose his second Florida player of the evening in Spikes, who will likely be slotted to line up next to former Tennessee star Jerod Mayo as an inside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4 defensive scheme. He could end up spending a lot of time on the field with Gators teammate Jermaine Cunningham, who Belichick selected as an outside linebacker just nine picks earlier.

The first Florida linebacker picked since Brandon Siler (seventh round, San Diego Chargers – 2007), Spikes is also the highest drafted at his position since Jevon Kearse (first round, Tennessee Titans – 1999).

At the University of Florida, he was a two-time first-team All American (2008, 2009) and finalist for the Nagurski Award (2008), Butkus Award (2009) and Bednarik Award (2009) while serving as the undisputed leader of the defensive unit.

Spikes and Cunningham join former Gators running back Fred Taylor in New England.

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