The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

1 » The New York Giants on Monday officially waived former Florida Gators safety Will Hill just days after the NFL officially suspended him for the first six games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Hill, who tested positive for marijuana for the second time as a professional, has now been suspended for drugs thrice in as many seasons (once for a performance-enhancing substance after testing positive for Adderall). The Giants gave Hill a chance despite his character flaws, signing him to a free agent contract in 2012 (after he went undrafted in 2011) and providing him with plenty of avenues for counseling and help should he need it during his tenure with the team. New York was willing to overlook his first transgression in 2012 as Hill claimed he needed Adderall for his attention deficit disorder but was perturbed when he was caught smoking marijuana in 2013. Three suspensions were simply too much for the Giants to stomach, even if Hill did amass 115 tackles (89 solo), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four pass defenses, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in two seasons.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow has not played a meaningful NFL snap since 2011 but has not given up on his dream of playing professional football even though he’s accepted a new role as analyst for the SEC Network. “I’m training every day and feel like I’m the best that I’ve ever been,” he told The Tennessean. “I still love it, love playing, talking about it, and I’m just excited about whatever the future holds. Who knows what could happen? But I’m excited about it, though.” Tebow will return to Gainesville, Florida, on Sept. 13 as the Florida-Kentucky game will be featured as the host of his SEC Nation game day program.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

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SIX BITS: Patton, Moss, NFL, Bonner, Noah

1 » Florida Gators wide receiver Solomon Patton on Wednesday confirmed to OnlyGators.com that he has been invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl. Patton plans to leave for the game, which is played in his hometown of Mobile, AL, on Saturday along with cornerback Jaylen Watkins and guard Jon Halapio, both of whom will be participating in the game. Patton got on the Senior Bowl’s radar after hauling in a MVP award in the inaugural 2014 Medal of Honor Bowl over the weekend. In other news Wednesday, Halapio was announced as a signee of Paradigm Sports Management. Patton and Watkins are both being represented by agent Tom Santanello of Elevate Football.

2 » One of five former Gators back in Gainesville, FL this spring taking classes in pursuit of their college degree, defensive end Jarvis Moss saw his semester start off on the wrong foot. Moss late Monday night was arrested and charged with a felony for tampering with evidence as well as a misdemeanor for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis after he was stopped near 900 NW 7th Ave in Gainesville. He was initially pulled over for running a stop sign, but the arresting officer smelled “a strong odor of ‘fresh’ cannabis coming from the vehicle” and “observed the defendant chewing intently.” Upon asking Moss to open his mouth, he identified “large pieces of cannabis … that he was trying to swallow.” Additionally, according to the police report, Moss “denied eating cannabis” after being read his Miranda rights but “did admit to smoking cannabis earlier.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Patton, Moss, NFL, Bonner, Noah

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Training

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His first entry covers the conclusion of the 2013 season, choosing an agent and kicking off his training in South Florida. Watkins will be back with a second entry on Wednesday.

This year was hard. There’s no other way to put it. Coming off an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl appearance, we had such high expectations this year with everyone playing so well last season. Coming into my senior season, you want to improve as a player – I think I did that – but you also want your team to go further than it did the year before. But that’s the game of football.

Injuries definitely took a toll on all of us. Each week we saw guys we care a lot about go down; sometimes twice in the same week. That’s when the next guy, the younger guys, are supposed to step up and play. It’s one thing to ask a couple guys to step up, but it got to the point where most of the players on the field at the end of the season were guys that did not start at the beginning of the year.

As much as 2013 was tough for everyone, it will be good for the team next year. A lot of guys will have a bunch of experience. A lot of young guys got meaningful playing time. Every year it happens to one team; one team gets decimated by injuries. And the next year they have a bunch of guys that played meaningful snaps the year before step up, and they have a great season.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Training

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 (2013)

The 2013 NFL regular season concluded this week with 35 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 final week of the regular season.

A total of 12 former Florida players are on rosters of eight teams that have advanced to the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs. Two of those players are out for the season due to injury.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 (2013)

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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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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 15 (2013)

The 2013 NFL regular season continued this week with 33 former Florida Gators spread out over 21 teams.

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

Below are full game statistics for all 24 active players that participated this week along with select news updates on a number of Gators for the 15th week of the regular season.

* Rookie

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Six receptions for 59 yards [team-highs] (targets: 10, long: 15), two touchdowns
» Caldwell had a career night on Thursday, scoring two touchdowns in a single game for the first time as a professional. His six receptions were the most he’s grabbed in a contest since Sept. 25, 2011, and Caldwell’s 59 receiving yards were also the most he had in a game since Nov. 20, 2011.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 15 (2013)

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SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

1 » OnlyGators.com learned Wednesday night that Florida Gators seniors cornerback Jaylen Watkins and wide receiver Solomon Patton have both signed with agent Tom Santanello of Boca Raton, FL. Santanello, who inked defensive tackle Dominique Easley in November, also represents two other former Florida players – safety Josh Evans and tight end Jordan Reed. Watkins and Patton will join Easley as he trains in Boca Raton over the next few months as all three players look to get in the best possible shape before their workouts.

2 » A late-second to early-third day pick, Watkins is hoping to raise his stock immensely before the 2014 NFL Draft and has accepted an invitation to the 2014 Senior Bowl in an effort to do just that. Many NFL personnel people already believe that Watkins has a superior skill set to junior CB Loucheiz Puriofy albeit a lower ceiling due to Purifoy’s ridiculous athleticism and penchant for highlight-making plays. Joining Watkins at the Senior Bowl (so far) is redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio. Easley was also invited but will be unable to do so as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

A source close to Easley tells OnlyGators.com that there are currently no plans for the player to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine or Pro Day at Florida. However, as he continues to heal and regain strength in his knee, anything is certainly possible. Easley does plan to at least hold a private workout prior to the draft.

Check out four more BITS on Gators in the NFL…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

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