Florida K Sturgis, P Christy miss out on awards

The Florida Gators’ special teams unit was arguably the nation’s best in 2012, which makes it no surprise that its two primary specialists were up for big honors on Thursday evening at the 2012 Home Depot College Football Awards held in Orlando, FL.

Despite redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis and sophomore punter Kyle Christy being named as finalists for the 2012 Lou Groza Award and 2012 Ray Guy Award, respectively, neither brought home the honor this year.

Tulane’s Cairo Santos beat out Sturgis for the Lou Groza Award after becoming just the second player in NCAA history to not miss a field goal over the course of a season (21-of-21). Sturgis finished 23-of-27 (three of his four misses were blocked) with three field goals in the 50-yard range. Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins, the third finalist, was 24-of-28 with five 50+ yarders.

Judd Davis (1993) remains the only Florida player in the 21-year history of the Lou Groza Award to bring it home to Gainesville, FL.

Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen won his second-straight Ray Guy Award, becoming the first-ever back-to-back winner, after averaging 48.0 yards per attempt with a long of 85 yards and besting his 2011 numbers by 1.9 yards and 13 yards, respectively. Christy averaged 46.1 yards with a long of 62 yards and fellow finalist Scott Kovanda of Ball State averaged just 40.2 yards with a long of 56 yards.

Chas Henry (2010) is the only Gators punter to win the Ray Guy Award, which has been handed out for the last 13 years.

Sturgis and Christy were both named unanimous first team All-SEC players by league coaches and Associated Press voters this week.

Sturgis added 2012 SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year honors on Wednesday and also made team history this year. He set the school record for made field goals in a career with 69, passing Jeff Chandler’s 67, and tied Bobby Raymond for the school’s single-season made field goal record (23).

Tags: , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Cunningham, Gilbert, volley, Quinn

1 » New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating its performance-enhancing substances policy. The substance Cunningham used was not disclosed and it is currently unknown if he already filed or plans to file an appeal. Cunningham is the fourth former Florida Gators defender to receive a four-game suspension for PEDs since 2010. New England linebacker Brandon Spikes (2010), Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (2012) and New York Giants safety Will Hill (2012) have missed four games each. All three claimed their positive tests resulted from an ingredient contained in ADHD medication like Adderall. Cunningham would be eligible to return in the playoffs.

2 » Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert is one of four former Gators on his team and one of three Florida offensive linemen that got injured this season. Unfortunately for Gilbert, while center Maurkice Pouncey and left tackle Max Starks were able to return to action, he has been sidelined since Week 6 with an ankle injury and was officially placed on the team’s injured reserve on Monday. He is the third former Gators player to be knocked out for the season with an injury, joining Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (ACL) and Patriots running back Jeff Demps (leg).

3 » Following in the footsteps of the soccer program, which cleaned up at the Southeastern Conference‘s annual awards announcement, Florida volleyball matched the program with three major awards and a number of placement on the All-SEC teams. Junior middle back Chloe Mann captured SEC Player of the Year honors, outside hitter Ziva Recek brought home SEC Freshman of the Year honors and Mary Wise was named SEC Coach of the Year for the 13th time. The Gators note that “this is the first time since 2000 and second time in program history for Florida” to win all three awards. Mann is the 17th player in team history to win Player of the Year, and Recek is the fourth UF freshman to be honored by the league in that capacity. Also honored Monday were junior setter Taylor Brauneis and senior right-side Tangerine Wiggs, who joined Mann and Recek on the All-SEC first team; senior MB Betsey Smith on the All-SEC second team; and Recek again on the All-Freshman team.

4 » Three members of the Gators football team have been named finalists for yearly national awards. Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis is one of three finalists (Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins, Tulane’s Cairo Santos) for the 2012 Lou Groza Award and sophomore punter Kyle Christy is one of three finalists (Louisiana Tech’s Ray Allen, Ball State’s Scott Kovanda) for the Ray Guy Award, both of which will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. live on ESPN.

Joining them is defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is one of five finalists for the 2012 Broyles Award, which is presented to the top assistant college football coach in the nation. The other finalists are Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Notre Dame DC Bob Diaco, Texas A&M OC Kliff Kingsbury and Stanford DC Derek Mason. Quinn has UF’s defense ranked top-15 in the nation in pass efficiency defense (No. 1), scoring defense (No. 3), yards per play (No. 3), yards per attempt (No. 4), third-down defense (No. 5), rush defense (No. 6), interceptions (No. 6), yards per rush (No. 7), red zone touchdowns (No. 13) and red zone defense (No. 15).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Tebow, transfers, Humphrey

1 » Though he has been garnered similar honors by other outlets, Florida Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was awarded a spot on the 2011 Associated Press All-American Team on Wednesday. Sturgis was placed on the second team while Texas A&M K Randy Bullock earned the first-team nomination. He was similarly given a second-team nod on the 2011 Walter Camp All-American list and recently was a finalist (but did not win) the 2011 Lou Groza Award, as announced last Thursday. Named unanimously to the All-SEC first-team by coaches and AP voters, Sturgis accounted for 91 points this season, going 21-for-25 on field goals and 28-for-28 on extra points.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow appears to be going head-to-head with a former teammate every week. After taking on Minnesota (with wide receiver Percy Harvin) two weeks ago and Chicago (with safety Major Wright) last week, Tebow will play the New England Patriots on Sunday, where he will square off with linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. The latter told the Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport on Thursday that he still supports and believe in his former teammate. “He keeps plays alive, and he’s winning,” Hernandez said. “[He was] a leader. I’m sure he still is. He brought a lot of energy to the game. When someone has energy, you take from it.” Tebow shared his admiration for Hernandez as well. “He makes any quarterback he’s with look at lot better,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal player, one of those guys when you need competitive excellence and you need someone to step up and make a big play, he’s always ready and willing. I’m just proud of him for what he’s done as an NFL player and what he did with me at Florida.”

3 » Two former Gators are on their way to Louisville, KY and could be one step closer to playing with former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, now head coach of the Louisville Cardinals. According to a number of reports, transfers tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark will be visiting the school beginning Friday as they search for a spot to spend their final two years of eligibility. Each will have to redshirt the 2012 season and will be eligible to resume playing college football in 2013.

4 » Back in the United States, former Gators guard Lee Humphrey is now playing for the Rio Grande Vipers of the NBA Development League. The official minor league team of the NBA’s Houston Rockets (which drafted forward Chandler Parsons this year), the Vipers are nine games into the season and have Humphrey playing 29.1 minutes per game, second-most on the team. Though he’s had some big moments already this year, Humphrey is averaging just 11.8 points and 3.1 assists per game. He is shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from downtown.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Bell, Sturgis, Harvin, Fedora

1 » Minutes after the Kansas Jayhawks announced that they had hired Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as their next head coach, fans and media members began pointing to Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell as a frontrunner to replace Weis at Florida. Bell spoke with The Gainesville Sun Thursday evening about the possibility. “Naturally, the University of Florida is my alma mater,” he told the paper. “It’s something I’ve always said I’d like to do. I love being a head coach. It would have to be the right place [for me to leave Jacksonville], and Florida is the right place. Will Muschamp has a personality that seems like a guy who would be great to work with. I definitely would be interested in listening. It would be great to come back.”

2 » Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was a finalist but did not win the Lou Groza Award on Thursday. However, he was named a 2011 Walter Camp All-American and was placed on the second team, following in the footsteps of former Florida punter Chas Henry who was selected for the first team one year ago.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had one of the best games of his NFL career last Sunday, posting a career-high 156 yards with two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. Harvin almost didn’t play in the game, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, after suffering “migraine-like symptoms” just one day earlier. “The symptoms were similar to Harvin’s past struggles with migraines, according to the unnamed person, including bloodshot eyes and vomiting,” the paper reported. Harvin had been without migraines all year after believing doctors found a way of preventing them in the offseason. If he did indeed suffer a migraine, Harvin may go through even more tests this offseason to try and find another solution.

4 » Former Florida offensive coordinator Larry Fedora (2002-04) was introduced as the new head football coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday. After leaving the Gators alongside then-head coach Ron Zook, Fedora worked as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 before taking the top job at Southern Mississippi in 2008. During his introductory press conference with UNC, Fedora singled out Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and thanked him for all of his help getting to this point in his career. Foley told UF senior writer Scott Carter shortly after how much he appreciated Fedora’s ability and work ethic. “I’ve always felt very highly about Larry Fedora and have followed his career closely. He did an outstanding job for us as an assistant at Florida and has had success at every stop since,” Foley said. “He is a good football coach, but even a better person and family man and I fully expect his success to continue.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sturgis, Rainey, Howard earn All-SEC honors

Three members of the 2011 Florida Gators football team earned recognition as All-SEC players this week when the Southeastern Conference coaches and Associated Press voters released their lists on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was placed on the first team by both voting bodies, the only Florida player to receive such an honor. He has accounted for 91 points this season, going 21-for-25 on field goals and a perfect 28-for-28 on extra points for the Gators. Sturgis is also a finalist for the Lou Groza Award.

Honored by the SEC coaches, redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey was placed on the All-SEC first team as an all-purpose player. Rainey is Florida’s leading rusher with 790 yards and two touchdowns on 155 attempts and is also second on the team in receiving with 28 catches for 350 yards and two more scores. He has 1,318 all-purpose yards for the Gators this season for an average of 119.8 per game.

Additionally, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard received an honorable mention from the AP for his stellar play this year. Starting all 12 regular season games for Florida, Howard was fourth on the team with 60 tackles (8.5 for loss) and second in sacks with four. He also had two fumble recoveries and broke up two passes.

Combining both lists, the Gators had a total of three players recognized as All-SEC caliber this year. That is the fewest since the team had two players recognized in 1979.

Tags: , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Rainey, soccer, Nelson

1 » Florida Gators junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was honored with a nomination to the 2010 Lou Groza Award preseason watch list late last week. Given annually to college football’s best place kicker, the award is being defended by UCLA’s Kai Forbath. Sturgis will have to compete with four other Southeastern Conference kickers and a total of 29 others from across the nation. Last week, Sturgis told reporters that he has been working on his accuracy all offseason. “I want to be more accurate on field goals,” he said. “I had some easy misses last year that I shouldn’t have had. That has obviously been my biggest struggle. That – and put the ball in the right spot for the kickoff team.” Unlike last season, when Jonathan Phillips was the team’s starter, Sturgis already has the job locked up.

2 » Florida head coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff have been experimenting with using players at a variety of positions this offseason. With redshirt junior Chris Rainey, his move from running back to wide receiver appeared to be a given from the get-go. “I never thought I’d be a receiver,” Rainey said, “because all of the stuff I looked at on YouTube had receivers going across the middle and getting big hits. Now that might be me. I’m just going to try and keep myself from doing that.” That being said, Rainey is having a good time with his new position. “Receiver is fun,” he said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You don’t get many injuries from it. You do a lot of running. It’s harder than running back, but I’m good at it. […] For receiver, you have to know everything. For running back, you know one thing and you’re done. Receiver is everything, whether you’re on the ball or off the ball.” Even blocking plays are simpler. “It’s way easier,” Rainey said about blocking downfield rather than picking up blitzes behind the line of scrimmage. “Especially when someone is coming at you, full speed, about 250 pounds and wanting to kill you.”

3 » Following up a big double-overtime victory against the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) on Friday, No. 11 Gators soccer (1-0) defeated the No. 25 Central Florida Knights 2-0 on the road in Orlando, FL. The game, which began at 7 p.m. and aired live on FOX Sports Florida, was put away at the top of the second half when junior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis scored from eight yards out at 48′. Annis would double up less than five minutes later with a 10-yard shot to the far post at 52′ as UF went on to shutout UCF.

4 » After a rough 2009 season, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson is looking to bounce back and return to the form that made him a first round pick coming out of college. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes that transformation is certainly a possibility. “What he’s doing right now gives him a chance,” Del Rio said. “He’s had some tough games, and when that happens, it can crush your confidence. We’re trying to build him back up right now.” Nelson may no longer be a starter, but he has been getting plenty of time in the preseason to prove that he deserves to get on the field a lot this season. “Whenever my number’s called, I just go play football,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to make the plays you can make, and if you don’t make one, you’ve got to move on from it. You can’t hold onto the last play. You’ve got to move on. You’re not going to do everything right. You can’t let the pressure bust the pipe.”

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elam still committed to UF but FSU has a chance

High school sports reporter Jason Lieser over at the Palm Beach Post was able to pull a plethora of information from five-star Florida Gators safety commitment Matt Elam on Tuesday night at the 2009 Lou Groza Award banquet regarding his status with the school and future in college football. (He won the award for the second consecutive season.) Elam, who committed to the Gators in October 2008, has wavered the last two months about whether or not he would actually attend Florida when he enrolls early after this semester. It is a widely held belief that Elam is doing this simply for the buzz and attention as his high school career comes to a close, though some Gators fans are legitimately concerned that he could bolt for another program before officially signing.

Scheduled for an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend, Elam has already signed his enrollment forms for Florida. They will be processed after he graduates from Dwyer High School in December (a semester early) so he can begin participating in spring practices in January…as long as he does not change his mind. “I’m committed to Florida,” Elam told the Post. “I’m still doing some thinking. I’ll do my official visit this weekend and I’ll make my decision after.”

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin met with Elam at his school in October (OGGOA Exclusive) and returned for a second visit Tuesday. “I could go to Tennessee, but, no, I’m committed to Florida,” Elam said at the banquet.

Also visiting him on Tuesday was new Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. If any team could pry Elam away from the Gators at this point, he says it would be Seminoles. Gaining the commitment of four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) last week, FSU has peaked Elam’s interest. “That got my attention,” he said.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tim Tebow takes home 2009 Campbell Trophy

Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow was awarded the 2009 William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman Trophy,” by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The trophy is awarded annually to a college graduate for their outstanding ability on the field, work in the classroom (minimum 3.2 GPA) and strong leadership. The honor comes with a bronze trophy and $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.

“This award means so much because it’s not just how you play on the field, it’s not just what you do in the classroom, but it’s what you do as a leader and someone who is going to serve your community,” Tebow said. “That’s what’s most important about this award, because all these guys are great players and they’re extremely intelligent, but more importantly, they’re good people. They help their community and they make a difference in this world. The National Football Foundation has done such a good job of taking us in, putting us together and letting us build relationships with each other. With so many of the members, it has been a blessing to get to know all these guys, great guys who you see on the field, but then when you really meet them, you get to know them as people, you get to build those relationships. I think that’s what’s so special about things like this.”

One of only four schools to have multiple winners of the trophy, previous Gators recipients include defensive tackle Brad Culpepper (1991) and quarterback Danny Wuerffel (1996). Center Mike Degory (2005) and long snapper James Smith (2008) were semifinalists for the Campbell Trophy, while quarterback Chris Leak was a finalist in 2006. Florida has the most recipients of any school in the award’s 20-year existence.

– – –

Prized five-star Gators safety commitment Matt Elam received two prestigious honors over the last few days. On Thursday, Elam was named the 2009 Gatorade Football Player of the Year for the state of Florida while on Tuesday he was honored as 2009 Lou Groza Award winner for Outstanding High School Football Player. Elam is the first back-to-back winner of the award (2008).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »