Seven Gators agree to undrafted free agent deals

Updated on Thursday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Former Florida Gators cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, wide receiver Solomon Patton, “tight end” Trey Burton, center Jonotthan Harrison, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens each agreed to undrafted free agent deals with teams shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Purifoy and Roberson, who were both expected to be selected in the draft, wound up agreeing to deals with teams just 250 miles away from each other on Monday. Purifoy (#7) inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced, while Roberson (#47) reached an agreement with the St. Louis Rams.

Purifoy joins running back Chris Rainey, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (a 2013 undrafted free agent) and Harrison (#72), who was picked up after the draft, on the Colts.

Roberson links up fellow former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the Rams after inking a three-year, $1.55 million deal including a $15,000 signing bonus.

Patton (#86) was snagged as a priority free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will join wide receiver Louis Murphy and running back Jeff Demps. He signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract with a $9,000 signing bonus.

Burton (#47) was quick to come to an agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles and will be teammates with WR Riley Cooper and CB Jaylen Watkins, the team’s selection with the first pick of the fourth round, No. 101 overall.

He also signed a three-year, $1.54 million deal, receiving a $7,500 signing bonus as part of $20,000 in total guaranteed money from the Eagles.

The Buffalo Bills did not have a single Florida player on their team entering the 2014 offseason but will enter minicamp with three, signing veteran LB Brandon Spikes and adding both Jacobs and Kitchens as undrafted free agents.

Gators offensive lineman Kyle Koehne was not picked up by a team but did receive a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

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Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

Anywhere from six to eight Florida Gators were expected to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the event came Thursday and ended Saturday with only four being picked up by professional teams out of 256 slots.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (first round, No. 29, New England), cornerback Jaylen Watkins (fourth round, No. 101, Philadelphia), linebacker Ronald Powell (fifth round, No. 169, New Orleans) and guard Jon Halapio (sixth around, No. 179, New England) were all picked, but other Gators were not as lucky.

Junior CBs Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, early entrants who were both projected as first-round picks by numerous draft analysts before the 2013 season, went undrafted during the three-day event.

Roberson’s injuries were likely the greatest deterrent to teams selecting him, though low testing numbers at the NFL Combine, a lackluster Pro Day and some off-field concerns also affected his draftability.

Purifoy did not progress as scouts hoped in terms of his coverage ability and overall play at cornerback during his junior campaign. Poor testing numbers and numerous off-field issues, including a run-in with the law for possession of marijuana and bath salts just two months before the draft, likely forced teams to bail on picking him up.

Continue Reading » Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

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Florida Gators 2014 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

OGGOA LIVE COVERAGE – May 8-10 – Florida Gators in the 2014 NFL Draft

Former Florida Gators are expected to come off the board throughout the three-day 2014 NFL Draft with the team assured of having at least six players drafted.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators are just as excited to see where the players they used to watch on Saturdays will be playing on Sundays in the fall.

The fact of the matter is that few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft. Trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player on its board brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to mock the draft, predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, OnlyGators.com is here to set your expectations for what should go down.

» Florida will not see a player drafted in the first round for the second time in the last three seasons and fifth time this century.

The Gators only have one legitimate shot to see their total of 45 first-round picks increase during this draft and that is with defensive tackle Dominique Easley. A talent deserving of being selected in the top 15 picks, Easley’s multiple knee injuries – coupled with the fact that he is still recovering from one suffered in October – make him a risky choice at the top half of the first round or on the first day altogether. Should a team be enamored with Easley and believe him to be a must-draft talent on Thursday, he would be the second UF defensive lineman chosen in the first round since 2008, and it would be the second time in school history that a defensive lineman was picked in the first round of back-to-back drafts (2007-08).

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Muschamp gathers Gators in Fort Lauderdale

Florida Gators fans in Broward County got the chance to hear head coach Will Muschamp speak for the first time since 2011 when he stopped by the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for his second Gator Gathering of the spring.

Muschamp touched on a number of topics during his hour-long appearance behind the podium on May 1 and stuck around afterward to sign autographs for all of the nearly 250 fans in attendance.

Below is a recap of some of the most newsworthy and interesting subjects that Muschamp discussed both in front of the public and in his pre-event media availability, which was attended on behalf of InsidetheGators.com.

» Muschamp said he has definitely learned some lessons through his first three seasons on the job: “Keep your quarterback healthy. Number one through five. I think every year you go back and look at the growth stages from being a coordinator through now being a head coach. I don’t know that I was a much different coach than I was when we won 11 games. Keep your quarterback healthy. Anticipating issues that come up, maybe, after being through an experience like that. I’ve never been through an experience as an assistant coach. I’ve had head coaches that have been coaching for a long time call me and say, ‘I had no idea the amount of things that happened and occurred.’ You live and you learn. I never want to experience it again, I can assure you of that. But I think as much as anything anticipation of things that come up.”

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Evaluating Florida Gators ahead of 2014 NFL Draft

Despite being incredibly busy during the week of the 2014 NFL Draft, longtime analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net sat down with OnlyGators.com on Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging look at the Florida Gators who could be selected Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York.

Pauline evaluated all 11 Florida players available in the draft and even provided projections for each prospect including those who may neither be selected May 8-10 nor signed after the festivities are over.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Projection: Round 2
Analysis: “Easley, if he didn’t have the knee injury, he probably slides into round one. He’s a quick, explosive three-technique lineman who brings some inside pass rush. That’s becoming more and more valuable these days. The way it is, even with the knee injury, I think he’s going to slide into that second day of the draft and has a definite shot of going in the second round.”

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Jonotthan Harrison clarifies comments, defends Florida Gators coach WIll Muschamp

Less than 24 hours after a story quoting center Jonotthan Harrison cast the Florida Gators 2013 season in an even more negative light than the team’s 4-8 record would indicate, the player has spoken out to say that his comments were neither meant as criticisms of the team nor head coach Will Muschamp.

In a Wednesday conversation with the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson, Harrison stood firm behind his belief that “off-the field actions carried to the on-the-field results” and “may have been hindering the success of the team.” However, he did not intend for those comments to be seen as criticisms about Muschamp or most of his teammates.

RELATED: Harrison tells tale of “crumbling” locker room during 2013 season

“I believe that my interview is being read out of context,” Harrison told the paper. “I have the utmost respect for Coach Muschamp and the coaching staff that was there during my years. He’s a phenomenal coach and he did everything a great coach would do when it came to disciplining his players.”

Furthermore, Harrison explained that he never meant to hurt anybody with his statements. A number of his teammates contacted him directly after reading his comments and expressed a mixture of displeasure and concern.

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Jonotthan Harrison tells tale of “crumbling” Florida Gators locker room during 2013 season

UPDATED STORY (8:00 p.m.): Jonotthan Harrison clarifies comments, defends Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp

Story below updated on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

According to former Florida Gators center Jonotthan Harrison, a fifth-year senior in 2013 who was starting in the middle of the offensive line for his third-straight year, Florida’s continuously declining play and subsequent 4-8 record had as much to do with the team’s off-field issues as it did on-field performance.

Discussing the situation with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Harrison provided insight into locker room incidents, pre-game distractions and significant infighting that derailed the Gators as they dealt with mounting injuries, a growing number of losses and increasing fan unrest.

Dunne begins by relating Harrison’s view of an incident that occurred following Florida’s embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern in its second-to-last game of the season.

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Defensive line shake-up working well for Gators

It was no surprise when the Florida Gators defensive line struggled last season after defensive tackle Dominique Easley, the star of the unit and a leader on the team, went down with a torn ACL during a late September practice.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp tried to fill in the gaps the best he could, but the Gators had issues stopping the run, getting to the quarterback or doing much of anything at times with their defensive front seven.

So while the offense is in the middle of an overhaul under new coordinator Kurt Roper, Muschamp and defensive line coach Brad Lawing are tweaking a unit that must make significant improvements if Florida is going to have substantial success in 2014.

Before the Gators could begin improving came the realization that they would have to do so without redshirt senior Leon Orr, who is not expected to be cleared until May 1 as he recovers from a fractured wrist he suffered last season.

Filling in for him on the interior is junior Jonathan Bullard, a defensive end who played some tackle in 2013 despite not actually having the desire to switch positions. Bullard admitted Tuesday that he was frustrated when Muschamp asked him to move inside because he had never played the position before and felt like his production would significantly decrease (which it ultimately did).

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