Florida flips Louisville OL commit Harkless

A Louisville Cardinals commitment since April 16, 2013, three-star offensive tackle Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, FL) has decided to flip allegiances and will instead join the Florida Gators as an early enrollee.

According to InsidetheGators.com recruiting analyst Blake Alderman, who cited one of the prospect’s coaches at Trinity Christian High School, Harkless will enroll in classes on Monday and join Florida for spring practice.

The Gators first offered Harkless, rated a four-star prospect by ESPN, in December and immediately became the highest-profile team to do so. Though Harkless was 100 percent committed to the Cardinals, he began considering his options at that time and has now made the switch just one day after Louisville head coach Charlie Strong decided to leave the program for Texas.

Recruited by head coach Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, Harkless (6-foot-5, 269 pounds) is an important commitment for Florida, which needs to add quality depth along the offensive line.

He is the Gators’ 20th commitment this recruiting cycle and second in the last four days.

Harkless will join Florida along with six other early enrollees including four-star quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, NC), four-star cornerback Duke Dawson (Cross City, FL), four-star tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), four-star OL Nolan Kelleher (Mount Pleasant, SC), three-star DE Taven Bryan (Casper, WY) and three-star JUCO OL Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, FL).

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1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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FOUR BITS: Evans, Reed, Strong, Kitchens

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday, according to the school. All are expected to be healthy enough to return to the field by March for spring practice.

2 » Florida senior safety Josh Evans told OGGOA on Tuesday that he has received an invitation to the 2013 NFL Combine as well as a projection from the league of being selected anywhere between the third and fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Evans is currently in Boca Raton, FL training for both the combine and the 2013 East/West Shrine Game. He has signed with agent Malik Shareef of Dimensional Sports, Inc. Friend of OGGOA Darren Heitner also reported Tuesday that redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed has signed with agent Mike George of SFX Sports Group.

3 » One player who will not be on the field for the Gators this spring is senior offensive/defensive lineman Nick Alajajian. After fracturing his right knee back in August, Alajajian missed the entire 2012 season. He has spent most of the year tweeting about returning to football, but a Florida spokesperson told GatorCountry.com’s Mike Capshaw that Alajajian did not apply for a medical hardship and therefore he has no more eligibility and his career is over. He earned one start in 32 games over four years, the first three of which he spent on the offensive line before transitioning to defense prior to the 2012 season.

4 » Just moments after the conclusion of the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong was swarmed by family, friends, reporters and his players as he celebrated his team’s victory. Also stopping by to congratulate Strong after the game were some of his Gators including redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, redshirt senior linebacker Lerentee McCray and senior LB Jon Bostic (likely among others). Check out the video below.

Extra BIT » Friend of OGGOA Whitney Holtzman snapped the below picture of junior LB Darrin Kitchens staying on the field to sing the alma mater with the band at the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl. We retweeted the picture moments after Holtzman posted it on Twitter and within a short period of time it went viral with her shot being picked up nationally. Kitchens himself quickly found out that his actions meant a lot to Florida fans and took to Twitter two days later to express his gratitude for the kind words that were sent to him via the social networking service. “I’m touched. I didn’t think my gesture would impact so many people. I’m honored to have made so many of you proud. God is to be praised ,” he wrote.

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Florida Gators end season ranked in the top 10

With Alabama staking claim to its third national title in the last four years on Monday night in Miami Gardens, FL, the only thing left to be determined for the 2012 season was how the final top 25 polls would shake out early Tuesday morning.

The Florida Gators, which entered the 2013 Sugar Bowl ranked No. 3 in the BCS and No. 4 in both the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and AP Top 25, were penalized severely for being upended by a Louisville Cardinals team listed in the bottom fifth of the rankings.

Florida checked in No. 10 in the final USA Today rankings, behind three other two-loss teams it defeated during 2012, and No. 9 in the last AP poll, one spot ahead of FSU.

For his team finishing in the top 10, Gators head coach Will Muschamp will receive a $50,000 bonus in addition to the $100,000 bonus he was already awarded for leading the team to a BCS bowl game berth.

Louisville subsequently finished No. 13 in both rankings, jumping up five spots in the former and nine in the latter.

Florida concluded the 2012 season with a 5-2 record against the top 25 teams in the nation. UF picked up victories over Texas A&M (No. 5/5), South Carolina (No. 7/8), Florida State (No. 8/10), LSU (No. 12/14) and Vanderbilt (No. 20/23) but fell to Georgia (No. 4/5) and Louisville (No. 13/13).

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Alabama (56), Oregon, Notre Dame, Georgia, Texas A&M
6-10: Stanford, South Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Florida
11-15: Kansas State, LSU, Louisville, Boise State, Oklahoma
16-20: Northwestern, Utah State, Texas, Oregon State, Vanderbilt
21-25: San Jose State, Cincinnati, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Tulsa

Last Week 1-5: Notre Dame (56), Alabama (3), Oregon, Florida, Georgia
6-10: Kansas State, LSU, Stanford, Texas A&M, South Carolina
11-15: Oklahoma, Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State, Boise State
16-20: Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Louisville, UCLA, Utah State
21-25: Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, San Jose State, Texas

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25
This Week 1-5: Alabama (59), Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia/Texas A&M
7-10: Stanford, South Carolina, Florida, Florida State
11-15: Clemson, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Oklahoma
16-20: Utah State, Northwestern, Boise State, Texas, Oregon State
21-25: San Jose State, Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Nebraska

Last Week 1-5: Notre Dame (60), Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon
6-10: Georgia, Kansas State, Stanford, LSU, Texas A&M
11-15: South Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State
16-20: Northern Illinois, UCLA, Utah State, Michigan, Boise State
21-25: Northwestern, Louisville, Nebraska, San Jose State, Kent State

* Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Snell’s Slant: What the hell happened to Florida?

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

What in the world happened to Florida? The last time we saw this team, it was hitting Florida State in the mouth and running up and down the field on its in-state rival. On the flip side, Louisville looked as if it did not even belong in a BCS bowl after losing two of its last three regular season games. It is truly amazing the difference one month can make. And it’s exactly why they play the game on the field and not on paper.

The Gators clearly got outcoached, outplayed and outsmarted in every phase of the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. The Cardinals were obviously the more focused team on a night where both squads were being showcased on a national stage for the whole country to see. One team took advantage of the moment.

What was so amazing about Florida’s failure is that this team played the toughest schedule in the country and went 4-1 against teams ranked in the top of the BCS standings. All five of those teams were better than Louisville. That brings me back to my original question: What the hell happened? Why did a team so much better lose to a team that is definitely not at the same level?

Continue Reading » Snell’s Slant: What the hell happened to Florida?

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1/2: Florida vs. Louisville post-Sugar Bowl report

No. 3 Florida Gators football (11-2) was upended in the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday as the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2) pulled off a 33-23 upset victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Florida head coach Will Muschamp provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 5-2 all-time in BCS bowl games and had its school-record four-straight bowl winning streak snapped. The Gators are 3-6 all-time in the Sugar Bowl and suffered their first loss in the game since 2000. UF is now 20-20 all-time in bowl games and lost its first since the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
» Wednesday was the first time Louisville defeated Florida in program history (1-2).
» The Gators are 4-7 vs. ranked teams under Muschamp including 4-2 during the 2012 season. Florida is also 4-7 when trailing at the half under Muschamp but 4-2 in such instances this year.
» The 33 points given up to the Cardinals were the most allowed by the Gators this season. UF also had its largest deficit of the year in the game.
» Florida posted a -2 turnover margin in the game and has lost both games this season in which it did not win the turnover battle.
» The Gators totaled 20 interceptions on the season after registering eight in 2011.
» Florida wore blue jerseys and orange pants together for the first time since 1999 vs. FSU. UF is now 0-3 all-time in that uniform combination.
» Wednesday marked the Gators’ second loss under Muschamp when the defense held the opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing (10-2).
» Florida ranked sixth nationally in time of possession entering the game, but Louisville held the ball for 11:14 longer over the course of the Sugar Bowl.
» Penalties once again killed the Gators. UF committed nine for a total loss of 98 yards while UL only committed two for 25 lost yards.
» The Sugar Bowl’s announced attendance was 54,178, the game’s worst figure since 1939 and the smallest ever in a BCS bowl game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis set a new school single-season record for field goals made with his 24th of the year on Wednesday. He broke a 28-year-old record formerly held by Bobby Raymond.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the second-straight bowl game in which he has returned a kickoff for a touchdown (99 yards in the 2012 Gator Bowl). The play also set the Sugar Bowl record for longest kickoff return.
» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy played wide receiver and caught one pass for five yards in the first quarter. It was the first time a defensive starter registered an offensive reception since Keiwan Ratliff did so in the 2003 Outback Bowl.
» Redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar registered career-highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (77) during the Sugar Bowl.
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel did not have his best game, but he did engineer a pair of impressive scoring drives during the contest. Driskel completed 4-of-5 passes for 45 yards and ran for 24 yards as part of an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to end the first half. He also went 5-for-8 for 66 yards as part of a 13-play, 97-yard touchdown drive on Florida’s last possession of the game. Aside from those two drives, Driskel was 7-of-16 for 64 yards over the rest of the game.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We got outcoached and outplayed. That’s what I told the football team. It’s the bottom line. You go out and you get beat, you get beat. And that’s what happened. … Credit their organization. They did a good job. We got outcoached and outplayed.”

Continue Reading » 1/2: Florida vs. Louisville post-Sugar Bowl report

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Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd declare for 2013 NFL Draft

Florida Gators juniors safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd officially declared for the 2013 NFL Draft on Wednesday while in the locker room following their team’s crushing loss to the Louisville Cardinals in the 2013 Sugar Bowl.

According to media members on site at the game, both players said they had their minds made up while junior defensive end Dominique Easley and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed each said they were undecided. Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins is expected to remain with the team for his senior season.

Elam and Floyd will be the first Gators underclassmen to be selected by professional teams since Florida had five juniors go in the first 113 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft. Safety Will Hill left early in 2011 but went undrafted. Both players are potential first-round selections with Floyd the likeliest to go in the first 32 picks.

Second on the team in tackles with 76, Elam registered two sacks on the season and 11 total tackles for loss. He also had a team-high four interceptions and was easily the best playmaker in the Gators’ defensive backfield.

“It’s time to take care of the family,” Elam said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “[Playing in the NFL] was a dream. It was a goal. It’s a dream come true. … It’s been a great three years. I wish we could finish it better.”

Floyd, moved to his natural position on the interior of the defensive line, finished the campaign with 46 tackles including a team-high 13 for lost yardage. He also registered three sacks, six quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and two blocked kicks.

“This game made me focus on what I wanted to do,” Floyd said per the paper. “All my focus was on my team and on the season and on this game. Now it’s time to move. I got the blessings from my coaches. They felt it was best for me.”

OGGOA will update this story shortly.

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No. 21 Louisville stuns No. 3 Florida in Sugar Bowl

Despite being overwhelming favorites and the team with the BCS pedigree, the No. 3 Florida Gators (11-2) were blasted on Wednesday evening by the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2), which pulled off a 33-23 upset victory at the 2013 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

Louisville scored on the first play from scrimmage of each half, overwhelmed Florida’s defense throughout the game and capitalized on each one of its opponent’s miscues to pull off the greatest victory in program history and biggest upset in BCS bowl game history. The Gators also snapped their streak of four-straight bowl wins and fell in a BCS game for the first time since 2000.

Florida put itself in an early hole on the very first play from scrimmage as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel’s pass was tipped off the hands of redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose only to be intercepted by Louisville cornerback Terrell Floyd and returned for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the game. The defensive score was the Cardinals’ first of the season.

The Gators then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and allowed UL QB Teddy Bridgewater to convert three third downs before running back Jeremy Wright carried the ball in for a one-yard touchdown. The 12-play, 83-yard drive ended with 6:47 left in the first quarter and gave UF its largest deficit of the season.

Continue Reading » No. 21 Louisville stuns No. 3 Florida in Sugar Bowl

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