FOUR BITS: Meyer-Tebow, Shrine Game, Brewer

1 » What exactly does now-Ohio State Buckeyes head coach think of what has happened to quarterback Tim Tebow’s NFL career? “It’s a great question,” he told USA TODAY’s Robert Klemko on Thursday. “I think that his coaching transition is a big part of it, with the guy that drafted him in the first round [Josh McDaniels] getting fired immediately. Then he goes to New York and that doesn’t work out the way he envisioned.” Meyer, who claims that he speaks to Tebow each week, said he is “like anyone else” and “just waiting to see what happens” with Tebow, though he is surprised that his career has not taken an upward trajectory. “He has a unique skill set. But I have faith in Tim, and I think it will work out,” he added.

2 » The 2013 East-West Shrine Game, featuring former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis (No. 17, East) and safety Josh Evans (No. 24, East) , is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network. The game will air live from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL and wraps up a week’s worth of practices that saw Evans and Sturgis working in front of a bevy of NFL scouts. Sturgis met with a number of teams throughout the week and showed off his strong leg, while Evans also got some onlookers and even impressed East team safeties coach Marlon McCree. According to Rotoworld.com, “McCree mentioned Evans’s name more than any other during the four days of practice.” Note: Linebacker Lerentee McCray was also invited to the game but chose not to attend at the last minute in order to rest and heal up before the 2013 NFL Combine.

3 » CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper recently blogged about “the art of the leak out” in the NBA and used strong>Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer as the paradigm for his post. “There are few players in the NBA as opportunistic on a change of possession as Brewer,” he wrote. “In a league full of specialists … the Nuggets’ six-year veteran might be the NBA’s first transition specialist.” He continued, “There are two reasons why Brewer is so good at scoring on leakouts in transition: technique and speed.” Harper then breaks down Brewer’s unique ability with numerous video examples of what he is able to do during games. He also notes that “28.1 percent of Brewer’s offensive possessions come in transition” and “30.3 percent of Brewer’s points come on the fast break,” calling him possibly “the fastest player in the league without the ball.”

4 » As recently noted by school beat writer Scott Carter on Twitter, former Florida forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan are doing a great job leading their new team, the Rollins Tars, to a 12-2 start to their 2012-13 season. Allen, who plays through pain and following multiple knee surgeries that ended his Gators career, is third on the team with 9.8 points and fourth with 3.8 rebounds per game while averaging just 19.8 minutes per contest. McClanahan, on a scholarship at Rolins, is second on the Tars with both 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while playing a team-high 33.6 minutes per contest. Both players are shooting better than 46 percent from downtown this season.

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Kiper evaluates Florida Gators draft prospects

ESPN insider Mel Kiper, Jr. had a busy day on Wednesday. In addition to holding a conference call with the media (including OGGOA) to discuss prospects ahead of the 2013 NFL Draft, he also released his first mock draft ($) of the offseason as well as his list of top-five players ranked by position ($).

Junior Sharrif Floyd – Defensive Tackle
Ranking: No. 5 defensive tackle
Projection: First round, No. 30 overall
Thoughts: “Sharrif Floyd I thought had a heck of a year. I think he’s solidly in the first round, at worst early second, but I have him in the first. I have no problem with that decision [to leave early] at all.”

Junior Matt Elam – Safety
Ranking: No. 2 safety
Projection: Late first or second round
Thoughts: “Matt Elam, as I said, he could be the second safety off the board. I figure late-one, early-to-mid-two. I have no problem at all with that decision [to leave early].”

Redshirt junior Jordan Reed – Tight End
Ranking: No. 5 tight end
Projection: Third or fourth round
Thoughts: “Jordan Reed can catch the football. I think he’ll have nice workouts. As a tight end he could be a third-, fourth-round pick. Could he have elevated [his stock] a little bit [by staying]? Maybe, but I have no issue with that as well.”

Continue Reading » Kiper evaluates Florida Gators draft prospects

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Safety Josh Evans to guest blog for OGGOA

With more than a dozen former Florida Gators football players in the process of training and preparing for the 2013 NFL Combine and upcoming 2013 NFL Draft in April, four-year safety Josh Evans has agreed to join ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive as a guest blogger to chronicle his entire process from now through the draft.

Evans will check in with OGGOA each week to discuss what he is up to in his quest to raise his stock and continue his football-playing career on the professional level.

Readers will be able to tag along as Evans participates in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game, trains for the combine, meets with individual teams interested in selecting him and is eventually drafted at some point from April 25-27.

Leaving Florida closing in on a degree in criminology, Evans led the team in tackles (83) last year, registering 4.5 for lost yardage including 2.5 quarterback sacks. His 34 assisted tackles were also most on the Gators, and he added notched three interceptions, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.

Evans is the sixth former Florida player to guest blog for OGGOA. Former offensive lineman Shannon Snell and catcher Teddy Foster continue to write about football and baseball, respectively. Previous contributors include quarterback Danny Wuerffel (football), guard Adam Allen (basketball) and forward Chandler Parsons (basketball), who previously blogged his path to the 2011 NBA Draft.

Keep a look out for his contributions exclusively here on OGGOA!

You can also follow Josh Evans on Twitter by clicking here.

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FOUR BITS: Shrine, early enrollees, Floyd, Jenkins

1 » Practices for the 2013 East-West Shrine Game began on Tuesday with only two – rather than three – former Florida Gators showing up on rosters. Safety Josh Evans and kicker Caleb Sturgis were both listed on the rosters Tuesday while linebacker Lerentee McCray mysteriously had his name removed. Though not much can be taken from the first day of practices, Evans and Sturgis each got measured as part of the standard first-day procedure. Evans checked in at 6’1 1/8” and 205 lbs. with 10-inch hands, a 31 ¼-inch arm length and 77-inch wingspan. Sturgis was listed at 5’9 7/8” and 186 lbs. with 8 ¾-inch hands, a 29 ¾-inch arm length and 71 5/8-inch wingspan.

2 » Florida announced eight early enrollees on Tuesday, all of whom are four-star prospects according to Rivals, including LB Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA), JUCO defensive tackle Darious Cummings (Scooba, MS), four-star defensive end Joey Ivie (Dade City, FL), LB Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), transfer offensive lineman Tyler Moore (Clearwater, FL), wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA), LB Matt Rolin (Ashburn, VA) and running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade). Among those early enrollees, Anzalone and Robinson were last-minute additions with the former player’s defection from Notre Dame coming as a surprise to UF. Furthermore, Cummings has chosen to be referred to on the Gators roster as “Bear Cummings,” using a nickname he has had since childhood.

3 » A pair of now-former Florida players have released statements thanking the school, coaches and fans for their support during their careers with the Gators. The first comes from junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who took out an ad in Wednesday’s The Independent Florida Alligator (picture via sports editor Joe Morgan).

4 » On Monday, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins sent an extra-long message out via his Twitter account expressing a similar sentiment.

I am truly grateful to the University of Florida, Faculty and Administrators, Coach Muschamp and the entire Coaching Staff, my Brothers on the Gators Football Team and GATOR NATION for all the love and support you have shown me throughout the years. All of my future aspirations will reflect the proud tradition of GATOR PRIDE AND GREATNESS

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Eight Gators seniors in all-star bowl games

A total of eight Florida Gators seniors will be participating in all-star bowl games in the month of January. Below is a list of each game and the players that are set to compete.

2013 Under Armour Senior Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Saturday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Linebacker Jon Bostic
» Running back Mike Gillislee
» Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon

2013 East-West Shrine Game (St. Petersburg, FL)
Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Safety Josh Evans (#24)
» Linebacker Lerentee McCray (#34)
» Kicker Caleb Sturgis (#17)

2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game (Tucson, AZ)
Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. live on ESPN3.com
» Wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (#10)
» Wide receiver Omarius Hines (#5)

OGGOA will present practice and game notes from each contest. Be sure to check the schedule at the top of the right side bar each week for date and time remainders.

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Gators must replace 13 starters from 2012 team

The last time the Florida Gators saw a handful of juniors move on to the NFL Draft was the 2009 season and fans have certainly not forgotten how the team looked in the two years subsequent to those departures.

And while Florida now has four junior starters having declared for the 2013 NFL Draft to go along with the nine senior starters departing the program, the Gators are in a better position to move forward next season even if there may be a few bumps in the road.

On offense, Florida will lose five starters including left tackle Xavier Nixon (senior), left guard James Wilson (redshirt senior), running back Mike Gillislee (senior), wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (redshirt senior) and tight end Jordan Reed (draft).

Continue Reading » Gators must replace 13 starters from 2012 team

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12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

No. 3 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and a handful of players met with the media after practice on Saturday to preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals and provide thoughts on the team heading into the game.

ELAM’S IMPORTANCE AND FUTURE

Not every team has player as passionate and tough as junior safety Matt Elam. A first-team All-American who may very well be playing his final game at Florida, he was asked on Saturday what play he will remember from the 2012 season. “Maybe the LSU game. That strip was a big play. That saved the game. That probably was the biggest play of the year,” he said.

His teammates agree. “Right after they showed that the ball did come out and they said it was our ball. That might be the play,” senior linebacker Jon Bostic noted.

Elam is Florida’s best playmaker on the defensive side of the ball but may very well be taking his talents to the next level. According to Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels, who spoke to the Palm Beach Post, Elam’s time in the orange and blue may be through on Wednesday. “I think he’s got his mind made up. He’s gone,” Daniels said.

Whether or not he does decide to leave, something that neither he nor the coaching staff plan to discuss until after the bowl game, he has made a huge fan out of his defensive coordinator.

“The biggest transformation to me that I’ve seen from my first year of coaching Matt to now is how physical he is. And I think that really has to stem from the time and effort that he spent in the weight room changing. He’s getting stronger,” Quinn said.

“We play him at the line of scrimmage a lot, whether it’s at safety or nickel. And I think he can blitz. He can cover. But to me the physical style he plays with is one of the things that really jumps out on your team. He can blitz. He can cover. But just the physical nature that a guy can bring to your club really is a huge advantage.”

Read the rest of what the Gators had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

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TWO BITS: football awards, less Tebow on ESPN

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2012 award winners, according to the University of Florida, along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Michael McNeely, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that Sturgis won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jon Bostic, Jeremy Brown, Caleb Sturgis
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Omarius Hines, Lerentee McCray, Sam Robey
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Dominique Easley, Chaz Green, Jon Halapio, Ronald Powell, James Wilson
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon | Defensive: Alex McCalister, Jeremi Powell | ST: David Campbell, Rhaheim Ledbetter

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Xavier Nixon | Defense: Dominique Easley, Matt Elam
* Second-straight year that Easley won the award.
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd
Most Valuable Player Offense: Mike Gillislee | Defense: Matt Elam ST: Loucheiz Purifoy, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award for the offense (Chris Rainey). Second-straight year that Elam and Sturgis won the award for defense and special teams, respectively.
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Bostic, Matt Elam
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Mike Gillislee
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award (Chris Rainey).
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jon Bostic, Josh Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Frankie Hammond, Jr.
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam, Mike Gillislee, Jon Halapio, Omar Hunter

2 » New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has barely seen the field since being traded last offseason. Now the head of ESPN is promising fans that they will see much less of him on their television sets as well. In an conversation with John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN President John Skipper said he recently told his production staff to reduce the amount of coverage that the networks give to Tebow and his exploits. “I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t handle this very well. Going to training camp wasn’t a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long,’” Skipper explained. “Training camp was fine. The guy’s very popular. In our business, we want to drive ratings. You’ve just got to keep long-term, short-term in mind.”

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