New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

With eight years of professional football under his belt, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is moving on from the Chicago Bears to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. In a brand new city with an upbeat and positive mindset, Brown landed in Louisiana on Wednesday to start preparing for training camp. The first thing he did after touching down? Provide OGGOA with an exclusive half-hour interview covering everything from his recruitment and time with the Gators to the Bears’ Super Bowl run and why grits are his favorite thing about the city of New Orleans, LA (so far).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in a small town, was it difficult to get noticed by the University of Florida and make an impression on head coach Steve Spurrier?
ALEX BROWN: “Yeah, it was. I just wanted to go and play football – that’s all I did. I was nervous because I didn’t know if people would see me. My dad was really good just staying on me about it. ‘If you go play, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.’ That was his big thing. All I did was go play – and they found me.”

AS: What made you decide to attend Florida rather than going to Georgia or another school? Were you always a Gators fan?
AB: “I actually was not a Florida fan at all. I really wasn’t even going to take a visit to Florida. University of Miami – that year – my last visit I was going to take was going to be to the University of Miami. And I was going to choose between Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Auburn. There was a kid that got killed at Miami – I want to say it was like on a Monday or Tuesday – and I was supposed to go on a visit that coming weekend. And my mom was like, ‘No way, you can’t go. You can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I will not take another visit.’ I talked to [Buffalo Bills linebacker] Andra Davis, who I’ve known since like fifth grade, and he had just taken his visit to Florida and that was the celebration of the National Championship – that was that week. He had a great time. So I talked to him and he said he was going to Florida. He’s like, ‘Just take your visit there, you’re not going to go to Miami, so take your visit to Florida.’ Early in the week, I called coach [Jimmy Ray] Stephens, he was the offensive line coach at the time and the guy that recruited me. He said, ‘OK.’ I was in Gainesville for a day. [Atlanta Falcons LB] Mike Peterson was my host and, by the time I left, they could have left me there. I was going for sure. As soon as I got back, I started calling all the other coaches and letting them know that this is what I want. It wasn’t too far from home but far enough away, I guess. And they were good. I played linebacker, and they had [former DE] Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and [former LB] Johnny Rutledge – and I thought I fit right in. It was a great match for me and took me all of a day-and-a-half to figure that out.

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Alex Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

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Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright is on the cusp of beginning his rookie campaign with the Chicago Bears. Selected by Chicago in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Wright has been preparing each day since being picked to take the field for training camp and show both his coaches and Bears fans that he is capable of making an impact right away. OGGOA caught up with Wright before a scheduled appearance he had signing autographs in West Palm Beach, FL. He spoke with us about a variety of topics including his time at Florida, the future of the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish right away as a professional in the NFL.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What kind of advice would you give to a high school recruit about to make a college decision, perhaps one considering Florida?
MAJOR WRIGHT: “At Florida, you know, they recruit the best athletes. So, if they recruit you, you’re obviously one of the best athletes out there. Stay focused, maintain what you are doing and always work hard and things are going to happen for you. Especially at the University of Florida – the best talent, the best coaching, the best facilities. That’s where kids want to be at these days.”

AS: How hard was it for you to make the adjustment from high school to college?
MW: “It was pretty hard. Being that you’re coming from high school to college. With me, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas – a well-known program that has great coaching. With my coaching and the speed of the game, it’s a lot different from high school to college. It’s a hard [transition], but I made it and went on with it.”

AS: Ahmad Black and Will Hill are still left, trying to hold down the back end of the secondary. How do you think they are going to play next year?
MW: “They’re going to be great. Me playing with them, those are definitely some focused guys. They know what they’re doing. Ahmad Black and Will Hill [are] definitely [going to] be like one of the two best tandems in college football.”

Read the rest of our interview with Major Wright…after the break!
Continue Reading » Bears safety Major Wright set to “make my mark”

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FOUR BITS: Alex Brown, Chris DiMarco, Evans

1 » When the Chicago Bears signed defensive end Julius Peppers, former Florida Gators DE Alex Brown welcomed him to the team. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are showing Brown the door precisely due to their acquisition of Peppers. Head coach Lovie Smith, at the NFL owners meeting this week, informed reporters that Israel Idonije would be moving to DE, basically forcing Brown out of the way. The team is now trying to actively trade the nine-year veteran and 2009 captain but could release him if a deal is not struck.

2 » Currently tied for ninth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, former Gators golfer Chris DiMarco is playing better than he has in quite some time. Attempting to regain full exempt status on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2008, DiMarco is steadily progressing. “”I really feel like I’ve gotten back to the old swing, the old consistency” he told The Florida Times-Union after Thursday’s round. “It’s been baby steps. The confidence is back and the rhythm is back.”

3 » Sophomore cornerback Josh Evans appears to be out for the remainder of spring practice, according to The Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman. There are no reports of the injury being serious of regular season-threatening, but obviously Florida would like him back as soon as possible. OGGOA is still waiting to hear word on what happened to redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence.

4 » Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel speaks with ESPN‘s Brian Kenny:

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