Media: Florida Gators to finish fifth in SEC East; three named 2015 Preseason All-SEC


The Southeastern Conference released its annual media poll on Thursday at the 2015 SEC Media Days, and the masses predicted that the Florida Gators will finish fifth in their division next season.

Florida, which actually received one vote as the 2015 SEC champion, finished behind Georgia (166), Tennessee (36), Missouri (20) and South Carolina (1), only ahead of Kentucky (1) and Vanderbilt in the SEC East.

On Friday, the Gators had three players named to the media’s 2015 Preseason All-SEC team. Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (the No. 2 vote-getter behind Georgia running back Nick Chubb) earned first team honors, while senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard was placed on the second team and senior linebacker Antonio Morrison on the third team.

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2015 SEC Media Days: Gators getting healthy, but Florida still has a long way to go

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain, senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard, junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and sophomore wide receiver Brandon Powell represented the team on Monday by participating in the 2015 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.

Below are highlights primarily from McElwain’s sessions with the media.

Slowly but surely

The most positive development for Florida on Monday came when McElwain provided an overall status update for multiple players that sat out spring practice with a variety of injuries.

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Florida Gators featured at 2015 SEC Media Days on Monday: What to know, how to watch

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain – and a trio of players – will take center stage in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday at the 2015 SEC Media Days.

Florida will be one of the first three teams featured in the event, joining Auburn and Vanderbilt on Monday’s schedule. Live coverage will be offered from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on SEC Network both on television and online (all times Eastern).

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Florida Gators 2015 Orange & Blue Debut Preview: start time, TV schedule, live stream, who to watch

OnlyGators.com will offer a complete recap of the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut later Saturday evening following its tape-delayed replay on the SEC Network. More information below.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: Cloudy, 82 degrees, winds west/south-west at 7-8 mph
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Live online/mobile (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network +
Live TV (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network alternate (“whip-around” coverage)
TV (9:00 p.m. tape delay): SEC Network
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

EXPANDED VIEWING INFORMATION

Television:
Florida’s 2015 spring game will not air live in its entirety on television but rather on tape delay at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Live “whip-around” coverage will be available on the SEC Network‘s alternate channel (where available) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Online:
While the game is not being offered live on television, you can stream it live online (and via your mobile device) via SEC Network +. The game may be immediately available for replay via SEC Network + at the conclusion of the spring game.

EVENT FORMAT

» Florida will field an orange team and a blue team, which will square off over four 12-minute quarters and an un-timed overtime.

» Between each half, the Gators will hold a 12-minute halftime.

» There will also be a running clock for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, likely with some additional kicking and special teams work.

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Assistant Chris Rumph on Gators defense: ‘They fool you … just like the girl I dated in high school’

With April Fool’s Day approaching, Florida Gators defensive line coach Chris Rumph indicated last week that he is no fan of tricks.

He has been burned before, which is why he is taking any signs of promise that Florida’s defense has showed him halfway through spring practice with a mountain of salt.

“They flash; they fool you,” said Rumph of his players. “[They]’re just like the girl I dated in high school. She told me she was gonna take me to the prom, and I’m getting my hair cut, trying to get my brother’s car, washing it up clean and all that stuff. I’m all excited about it … and then all of a sudden she calls and says, ‘I’m going to go with your best friend.’

“That’s how they are. They flash, they tell me they’re going to take me to the prom, but we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Yes, the Gators’ defense – which head coach Jim McElwain believes is well ahead of the offense to this point – is still a work in progress, according to Rumph. Florida will field arguably the nation’s best secondary in 2015, but he sees plenty of work ahead for the younger players in that unit as well as those in the defensive front seven.

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No wholesale changes, just more swag and edge coming for Florida’s defense under Geoff Collins

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Terrell Williams | Tim Skipper

There was enough wrong with – and enough changes coming to – the Florida Gators that the last thing the program needed was to mess with the one thing that has been a bright spot over the last four years, it’s defense.

So when head coach Jim McElwain was tasked with replacing the combined defensive leadership of Will Muschamp and D.J. Durkin, he decided not to rock the boat.

Enter 2014 Broyles Award nominee and former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, whose experience under Nick Saban (at Alabama) and veterans George O’Leary (at UCF) and John L. Smith (at Louisville) made him a no-brainer hire for McElwain.

“They’ve done a really good job. Coach Muschamp and I know each other. D.J. and I know each other. I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done on defense the last four years. The talent that has been assembled here is legitimate SEC talent,” he said on Thursday. “It’s not a wholesale change. Let’s just work on finding the things we can get better at and take us to the next level. … Finding that edge and going out and getting it done so we can improve upon where we are right now.”

Collins plans to keep it simple, employing similar principles, concepts and techniques that were taught by Muschamp. There may be some terminology tweaks and a couple schemes added to the playbook, but it will be business as usual for the most part with Florida’s defense.

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Gators LB Morrison returning for senior season

Junior linebacker Antonio Morrison has decided to return to the Florida Gators for his senior season.

Morrison, Florida’s first defender to register 100+ tackles since Ahmad Black in 2010, received an evaluation for the 2015 NFL Draft but will chose to remain in school.

“I’m returning to Florida and I will be getting my degree in 2015. That plays a big role in why I’m returning,” Morrison said in a statement released by the school. “And as a leader of this team, I want to lead my team to Atlanta and possibly a national championship. Coach [Jim] McElwain has put together a great staff and I’m looking forward to working with them this year.”

Morrison is the second Gators player in as many days to pick Florida and its new coaching staff over the NFL. Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard announced Monday that he will return to UF for the 2015 season.

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Florida DL Bullard to return for senior season

Florida Gators junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard announced Monday that he will not join four teammates who chose to forgo their final season of eligibility and declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead, Bullard will return to the Gators for his senior campaign despite the coaching staff being completely overhauled.

“I wasn’t projected to go where I want to go,” Bullard said in a statement released by the school. “I want to leave a bigger mark on the Florida program than what I have.”

Bullard promised to keep a level head when making his decision, noting that he would consult former Florida head coach Will Muschamp after receiving his evaluation back from the NFL. Muschamp has long held that he would only recommend players to declare early if they are projected to be first-round selections.

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