Breakdown: 2008 Florida Gators – one of the greatest teams in college football history

Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer opined during a football camp last week that his 2008 squad, winners of the 2009 BCS Championship, were the best team in the history of college football.

Though measuring such a claim is near-impossible, Meyer can rightly boast that his 2008 roster and coaching staff were supremely special.

One-fourth of the Gators’ official 120-man roster – which includes walk-ons – has either played a game in the NFL or is currently under contract with a team in the league.

Florida’s roster had 19 players eventually selected in the NFL Draft including six first-round picks, five second-round picks, a third-round pick, two fourth-round picks, four fifth-round picks and a seventh-round pick. Only three of those draft selections are no longer in the league (for a variety of reasons, see table).

Additionally, a total of 11 players signed after the process as undrafted free agents have either played in the NFL or are currently a member of an NFL roster.

UF’s success did not stop at the players on the field.

Continue Reading » Breakdown: 2008 Florida Gators – one of the greatest teams in college football history

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Steelers make Pouncey highest-paid center

The Pittsburgh Steelers and former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey came to terms Thursday on a five-year, $44 million contract extension that includes $13 million in fully guaranteed money, making Pouncey the highest-paid center in the NFL.

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio first reported Pouncey’s signing, noting that the five-year extension locks him up with the Steelers for six years at a maximum earning potential of $48 million.

Pouncey will make $14 million in 2014, adding a large portion of the signing bonus to the $3.8 million he was set to earn in the final year of his already-existing deal. He’ll also pocket nearly $27 million through March 2017.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey earned a Pro Bowl nod and was named an All-Pro from 2010-12, making him the first center in NFL history to receive either honor in each of the first three seasons.

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Browns ink CB Haden to big contract thru 2019

The Cleveland Browns and former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden came to terms Tuesday on a five-year, $68 million contract extension that includes $45 million in guaranteed money, one of the richest deals in the league for a player at his position.

ProFootballTalk.com first reported Haden’s signing, while ESPN’s Adam Schefter released the terms of the extension. The former notes that the $14 million signing bonus, $22 million fully guaranteed at signing and $23 million guaranteed for injury “all surpass the deal that Richard Sherman just signed with Seattle.”

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden has spent his entire career with Cleveland. He will also earn $8.9 million in the final year of his rookie contract in 2014.

Haden played in 57 games over his first four seasons, missing four games in 2012 after being suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances after testing positive for Adderall in the offseason.

Haden has racked up 13 interceptions, three forced fumbles and 67 pass defenses in his career, scoring his first career interception return touchdown last season.

He also was named to his first Pro Bowl last year.

Haden has adopted the city as his own and become a fan favorite. He is often seen at Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games and other sporting events supporting a variety of local teams, charitable efforts and youth activities.

At just 25 years old and the star of the Browns’ defense, he could certainly play out his extension in Cleveland. The Browns even picked CB Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft to take some pressure off Haden in the secondary.

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Florida Gators compete in Pro Bowl, Senior Bowl

Four former Florida Gators participated in all-star games over the weekend with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey headlining as participants in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on Sunday evening.

The 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl, both played in the game for the first time in their respective careers.

Haden was the sixth player drafted and played for Team (Jerry) Rice. He intercepted quarterback Cam Newton and also registered one solo tackle and one pass defense.

Pouncey was the first center selected but did not start for Team (Deion) Sanders. He did see plenty of action throughout the game, however.

On Saturday, guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Land-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.

Halapio started at right guard for the South, but Patton saw limited action in the contest. He was targeted only once in the game but did not catch a pass. Patton did his most work as a returner, bringing back a kickoff for 27 yards and a punt for 15 yards.

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins, OnlyGators.com’s 2014 Path to the Draft blogger, suffered an Achilles injury Wednesday and was unable to compete on Saturday. He is expected to be able to participate in all upcoming pre-draft events.

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

1 » Joining a bevy of national analysts to come to the defenses of Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who has missed nine games this spring without receiving clearance or any information as to when a decision ill be reached on his eligibility by the NCAA, is ESPN‘s Jay Bilas. On Wednesday, Bilas sent the following tweet: “Dear NCAA: Chris Walker and Florida have waited long enough. The DMV now believes you are slow and inefficient.” He expanded on that thought Thursday in a conversation with Florida Today. “One, I don’t think it’s any of the NCAA’s business,” Bilas said. “But even if it is, it’s taken way too long. At some point you have to say, ‘You know what? We don’t have it. And until we do, the kid can play.’ They’ve got a clock ticking and the NCAA kind of tends to look at from their own perspective in that, we don’t want somebody else to run out the clock while we investigate. … At some point you’ve got to say, you know what the delay is unreasonable. It’s hurt the kid, it’s hurt the school and it’s just wrong.”

2 » Due to the Seattle Seahawks remaining in contention throughout the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs and ultimately earning a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been unavailable for head coaching job interviews despite the fact that three teams – Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland – reportedly had him as a frontrunner for their vacancies. Quinn told the media Thursday that he is not frustrated about the situation because it ultimately means his team has the chance to play for a title. “None. No, certainly not,” he said. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of this and moving forward here keeping the focus on our team, which it is.” Quinn had never even held a coordinator job until Gators head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011. After just four seasons (assuming he remains in his current position with Seattle in 2014), his dream of leading a team could finally come true next offseason.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Joe Haden, Mike Pouncey picked for Pro Bowl

A pair of former Florida Gators were elected Friday to the NFL Pro Bowl for the first time in their respective careers as fourth-year Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and third-year Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey were both chosen to participate in this season’s all-star game.

Haden, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is in the midst of the best campaign of his young career. Already considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, he has shut down talented opposing receivers while registering 43 solo tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) through 15 games.

Pouncey, the No. 15 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is finally being recognized for his on-field talent despite getting overlooked and snubbed in 2012 when he actually outperformed his brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (who was elected to his third-straight Pro Bowl last season).

Though he missed two games this season due to an illness, Mike Pouncey has once again proven to be one of the most versatile centers in the NFL.

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 16 (2013)

The 2013 NFL regular season continued this week with 34 former Florida Gators spread out over 20 teams.

Ten teams have multiple Florida players on their respective rosters including Miami (four); Denver and Washington (three each); Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets and Pittsburgh (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 23 active players that participated this week along with select news updates on a number of Gators for the 16th week of the regular season.

* Rookie

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
S WILL HILL, New York Giants: Started | 11 tackles (six solo) [team-highs], pass defense, interception return for touchdown (38 yards)
» Hill was arrested Friday for nonpayment of child support but still played Sunday.
WR DAVID NELSON, New York Jets: Started | four receptions for 33 yards (targets: 5, long: 15), two touchdowns
» Nelson had his first career two-touchdown game. He caught his first touchdowns both in the 2013 season and as a member of the Jets. Nelson had not found the end zone for a score since Nov. 27, 2011…against New York.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 16 (2013)

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