FOUR BITS: Brantley, Tebow, Lin, lacrosse

1 » Florida Gators quarterback John Brantley has faced his fair share of obstacles over the course of his college career but trainer Tom Shaw does not believe that will prevent him from succeeding as a professional. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Brantley has been training at the ESPN/Disney Wide World of Sports Complex since the season ended and has spent much of that time working with Shaw, the acclaimed trainer/coach of big-time signal callers like Eli and Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and most notably Tom Brady. “You saw what he did at the University of Florida, so a lot of people aren’t giving him an opportunity,” Shaw told the Sentinel. “But with what I’ve seen in the time that I’ve spent with John is that he could be one of the best quarterbacks that I’ve ever had.” Shaw believes Brantley is a better athlete than Brady and has a strong arm but most work on his footwork. “I don’t sell kids. If they’re good they’re good. If they’re bad, I’ll tell you,” he said. “I’m not saying he’s the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or whoever. I’m saying this kid has the ability, the talent to be a pro football player and be successful at it because he has all the tools.”

The paper also notes that Brantley is being represented by Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited, the agent who has also signed running back Chris Rainey for 2012 and boasts a stable of other Gators including Percy Harvin (Minnesota), Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh), Mike Pouncey (Miami) and Ahmad Black. In other words, it may be wise to expect Brantley to be selected somewhere in the late rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft if Segal has anything to say about it (which he will).

2 » With his show Eastbound & Down set to return to HBO on Feb. 19, Kenny Powers recently decided to write an open letter to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow called “The Gifted Young Athlete.” The letter, available unedited on Grantland.com, is uncensored and features explicit language. Below is a very short passage appropriate enough for publication here on OGGOA.

Yet here Jesus is, helping me & Tebow out in sports, just because we’re maybe a little bit cooler in his eyes. It’s a raw deal, plain and simple.

3 » New York Knicks point guard sensation Jeremy Lin is turning heads in Madison Square Garden and the explosion of the aptly-amed “Linsanity” hysteria is drawing comparisons by media types to “Tebowmania” from the fall. In addition to both players being what some consider to be unlikely heroes, Lin (like Tebow) is quite religious and has no problem offering up praise to the man above for his recent success on the court. He also recently told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, CA that Tebow inspires him in a number of ways. “His approach to the game is just unbelievable and I respect him so much,” he said. “I want to be able to do some of the things that he doe sin terms of the amount of charity work and the non-profit work, and the way he impacts people off the field. I think that is what is most inspiring about him.”

4 » Set to officially begin their 2012 season on Saturday against No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Florida lacrosse is eyeing the program’s first national title this year. It was announced Thursday that the Gators were picked to finish second in the conference by ALC coaches, an understandable slotting considering the top team in the league is expected to be defending ALC and NCAA champion Northwestern. Florida actually won the 2011 ALC regular season title before falling to Northwestern 10-9 in the postseason tournament. In the program’s third year of existence, the Gators hope to break the final barrier and win both the ALC and national titles outright this season.

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Two Gators practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl

Two players representing the Florida Gators are currently in Mobile, AL practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl. Weigh-ins and the first day of practice took place on Monday, additional practices will take place Tuesday-Thursday, a walk-through will occur Friday and the game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday airing live on NFL Network.

Running back Chris Rainey, playing for the South team, checked in at 5’8 3/8″ and 178 lbs. with 9 1/2 in. hands, a 30 3/4 in. arm length and a 72 1/4 in. wingspan.

Rainey is seeing time as a rusher, wide receiver and kick returner and told the Idaho Statesman that the game will not be close. “I’m glad to be part of this. I just know it’s going to be a blowout this Saturday,” he said.

According to CBS Sports, he was also the only player singled out and praised by head coach Mike Shanahan on Tuesday. Shanahan that he was “just impressed with the way he’s handling himself the first couple of days. […] He’s picked things up very quickly. You’re never really sure how people adapt to a system. And I’m not his agent, but I do want a little piece of the action.”

Rainey has signed with Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited, the agency that also represents all of his former Lakeland teammates including Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh), Mike Pouncey (Miami) and Ahmad Black (Tampa Bay) as well as a bevy of other Gators in the NFL.

South team defensive tackle Jaye Howard also caught the eyes of a number of scouts and general managers over the first three days after coming in at 6’3″ and 292 lbs. with 10 1/8 in. hands, 32 1/8 in. arms and a 78 3/8 in. wingspan.

Signed with Drew Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, Howard is trying to make his way up draft boards. SI.com‘s Tony Pauline was impressed with his efforts Tuesday, saying he “made several nice plays” and noticably “fires off the snap and is able to penetrate the line of scrimmage.”

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who spent last season with North Alabama and has signed with Ben Dogra of Creative Artists Agency, came in at 5/9 6/8″ and 191 lbs. with 8 1/4 in. hands, 30 3/8 in. arms and a 74 1/4 in. wingspan.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s No. 2 cornerback available in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jenkins is trying to prove that his character concerns are a thing of the past in order to make his way into the bottom of the first round.

“I just go in, that’s who I am, tell them what happened and be honest,” Jenkins said when speaking with reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I did it. I made a mistake. I take full responsibility for it. […] I’m sure I’ll have to deal with it, but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have nothing to hide. I just go in and they ask me the questions and I give it to them and I’m honest and I look them in the eye and talk to them and let them know that I am honest and I learned from my mistakes.”

His performance so far in practice for the South team may go a long way towards him accomplishing that goal. “He’s fast, easily stays downfield with opponents and […] looks as though his ball skills have improved. Scouts have to be thinking first round for Jenkins after his performance,” Pauline explained.

Jenkins has already interviewed with a mystery team, Minnesota, Oakland, Dallas and Miami, the latter of which also met with Rainey at the Senior Bowl.

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Three Gators practicing for 2011 Senior Bowl

Though center/guard Mike Pouncey ended up choosing not to attend, three players representing the Florida Gators arrived in Mobile, AL to begin practice for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl. Weigh-ins and the first day of practice took place on Monday with little news coming out of Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Safety Ahmad Black, named by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock over the weekend as his No. 2 safety in the country, checked in at 5’9 3/8” and 183 lbs. with 9 5/8 in. hands, 29 1/2 in. arm length and a 73 1/4 in. wingspan. As expected, Black’s size was a topic of conversation amongst scouts who otherwise were impressed with his ability and tenacity.

He has signed with Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited, the agency that also represents both Pouncey twins and NFLers including Gerard Warren (New England), Alex Brown (New Orleans), Percy Harvin (Minnesota), Channing Crowder (Miami) and Riley Cooper (Philadelphia).

Without Pouncey in attendance, Marcus Gilbert was the sole representative of Florida’s offensive line. He came in at 6’6 1/2” and 329 lbs. with 9 7/8 in. hands, 34 in. arm length and an 81 1/8 in. wingspan. It is rumored that Gilbert, who is receiving a second-day projection, has signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Punter/kicker Chas Henry, a first-team All-American and 2010 Ray Guy Award winner, is the third former Gators player on the South team. Though Henry’s representation is currently unknown, he will likely be selected during the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft even though most punters are signed as undrafted free agents or picked toward the end of the third day. At 6’3 3/8” and 220 lbs. with 9 3/8 in. hands, 33 in. arms and a 77 1/8 in. wingspan, scouts believe his talent is worth an early selection.

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SIX BITS: Tebow, ad, TMZ, Cooper, Harvin, Parsons

1 » Senior Bowl Practice Day 1:
By all accounts, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow did not have a great day practicing in Mobile, AL. Most of the criticism surrounding Tebow Monday centered on his fumbling of multiple snaps from under center. However, he did put together some good throws and showed nice arm strength. Wide receiver Riley Cooper proved to be one of the best in his position and showed a nice combination of size and quickness.

“I feel like it was good. Kind of back to the basics,” Tebow said after practice. “Gotta get the timing down, gotta get the snaps down, everything, so it’s like you’re back in junior high.” He also explained some of his early struggles. “I think it has to do with getting used to a new [center]. They are rotating in three quarterbacks, rotating in three centers, so that’s something you have to get used to and it takes a little time.”

Five more BITS including Tebow’s Super Bowl ad, a TMZ piece, Cooper’s agent, Harvin’s Pro Bowl, Parsons’ Facebook friends and Tebow on ESPN…after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, ad, TMZ, Cooper, Harvin, Parsons

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