FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

1 » Just a couple days after voicing his belief in the talent and potential of former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was forced to waive the player for non-football reasons. “You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed,” he said Saturday. “He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.” Pagano is expected to address the situation after training camp on Monday, though it is doubtful that he will detail what specific conduct rule that Rainey violated. It will be the second time in as many offseasons that Rainey will be released by a team for non-football reasons. Just one year ago, Rainey was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after an arrest for domestic violence, a charge that was later dropped and expunged from his record. The Steelers also had concerns about Rainey’s off-field activity including a gambling habit that affected him during his rookie season.

2 » Updating an item from Friday, former Gators safety Will Hill spoke with the media about being signed by the Baltimore Ravens, claiming once again that “everything is behind me” in terms of his marijuana use. “[I was] just being irresponsible,” he said, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve learned. I’m ready to play football. [The Ravens] talked to the [New York] Giants and they had nothing but good words to say about me.” Apparently Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome sat down with Hill and was assured that the player’s drug use – which has been an issue since he started playing at Florida – is now in the back window. “It was just getting comfortable with each other and letting him know that the things that happened before won’t be happening here,” Hill added. Though he will be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games, Hill will not be activated for the 2014 regular season until Oct. 13 as he must first serve a six-game suspension, his third for drug use (second for a substance of abuse) since being signed by the Giants three years ago.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

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Florida sees four players decommit in 10 days

Four times in the last 10 days, a 2015 prospect previously committed to the Florida Gators has changed course and taken back his verbal pledge.

On Monday, less than 24 hours after three-star athlete Jalen Julius (Orlando, FL) reopened his recruitment, Florida learned that its second-highest rated pledge, four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis (Washington, D.C.) has decided to decommit as well.

“I am officially announcing my decommitment from the University of Florida. I am grateful for the opportunity the university granted me,” Lewis wrote on his Twitter account.

According to InsidetheGators.com‘s Blake Alderman and many other recruiting analysts, Lewis’s decommitment was a “long time coming.” He visited Michigan over the weekend and is expected to eventually make a pledge to continue his career there.

Rated by Rivals as the No. 84 overall player in the nation, Lewis committed to the Gators back on April 17. He cited Florida’s ability to put defensive backs in the NFL and the program’s recent addition of freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor, also a Washington, D.C. product, as big reasons for his decision.

Julius pulled his trigger on Sunday. The Gators were recruiting him as a cornerback, though as he mentioned on Twitter back on July 15: “I want to play [wide receiver] at the next level I feel like I would be a dominant player at that position.”

Three days prior to his decommitment, on Thursday, Julius tweeted that he could not wait to arrive in Gainesville, Florida, to participate in the annual Friday Night Lights camp.

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2015 QB Sheriron Jones commits to Florida

The Florida Gators are obviously making an effort to bring in talented and athletic dual-threat quarterbacks with its most recent addition, 2015 four-star Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, California), committing to the program on Sunday afternoon after spending the weekend attending a camp in Gainesville, Florida.

A versatile athlete from the same high school as former Gators defensive standout Ronald Powell, Jones is the third highly-acclaimed signal caller to make a pledge for Florida in the last two recruiting cycles and first California prospect since Powell in 2010 to decide to play college football at UF.

Five-star freshman Will Grier joined the program for spring practice in January, and four-star incoming freshman Treon Harris is set to arrive on campus in the summer.

Jones (6-foot-2, 189 pounds) was offered by the Gators in the spring and chose UF primarily over Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee. He was recruited by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and running backs coach Brian White, who is responsible for prospects in the state of California.

Three-star offensive lineman Tyler Jordan (Jacksonville, Florida) also had a heavy hand in Jones’s recruitment; the two have grown close throughout the process.

Jones is the ninth member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class but just the second four-star prospect to jump into the fold. He is the second-highest rated commitment overall at No. 243 on the Rivals250 behind only four-star defensive back Marcus Lewis (Washington, D.C.) at No. 84 overall.

CommitmentPos.RivalsESPNOverall
» Cleveland, OH | Story
» Height: 6'1" | Weight: 206 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/11/2014
LB36|68
» Cincinnati, OH | Story
» Height: 6'6" | Weight: 264 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/25/14
OL172 | NR
» Moreno Valley, CA | Story
» Height: 6'2" | Weight: 189 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 6/8/2014
QB250|216
» Lawrenceville, GA | Story
» Height: 6'3" | Weight: 219 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 8/1/2014
LBNR|63
» Jacksonville, FL | Story
» Height: 6'5" | Weight: 270 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/22/14
OTNR|107
» Franklinton, LA | Story
» Height: 5'11" | Weight: 175 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/30/14
WRNR|145
» Atlanta, GA | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 320 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/31/14
O/DLNR|246
» Tallahassee, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 220 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/26/14
TENR
» Dade City, FL | Story
» Height: 6'3" | Weight: 285 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/29/14
DTNR
» Neptune Beach, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 198 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/29/2014
WRNR

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Gators add CB/ATH Jalen Julius to 2015 class

The Florida Gators on Wednesday added their third defensive back pledge of the 2015 recruiting cycle, gaining a verbal commitment from a fast-rising local product in speedy athlete Jalen Julius (Orlando, Florida).

Unranked and unrated by Rivals.com, Julius was offered by the Gators on March 23 and took just over one month to come to his decision, telling recruiting analyst Blake Alderman that he chose UF over Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee after he and his family came to a unanimous decision.

“Florida has a great environment. My aunt knows Coach T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] on the staff and my mom likes Florida and then I like Florida,” he told Alderman at InsidetheGators.com ($). “I think the team has good chemistry and the coaches are easy going. It’s a good place for me because my connections with them.”

Primarily an offensive player during his first three years of high school, Julius (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) is considered an athlete and committed to the Gators as a cornerback. He is also a likely candidate for kick and punt returner. [Highlights]

Former Florida CB Keiwan Ratliff is Julius’s 7-on-7 coach and has been training him on the defensive side of the ball.

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Florida adds four-star CB Marcus Lewis

The Florida Gators have landed yet another highly-touted recruit to their extremely talented secondary, gaining a verbal commitment Thursday from four-star 2015 cornerback Marcus Lewis (Washington, D.C.).

Ranked No. 76 nationally and rated as the second-best player in his area by Rivals, Lewis (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) had committed to Virginia Tech in November 2013 but decommitted days later after initially making the decision without enough research or knowledge of his potential opportunities.

Lewis, who will be transferring from Gonzaga High School to IMG Sports Academy (Bradenton, FL) in June, boasts an impressive offer list with Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others, showing considerable interest in his services.

Florida came on strong for Lewis in April and did not take long to land the top-tier prospect. The Gators – specifically head coach Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, the team’s top recruiters – used playing time, opportunity and talent development as their pitch.

“IM 100 %COMMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!! #GatorNation!!!! #FloridaFamily!!!!” he tweeted.

Lewis’s commitment was first reported by Rivals.com‘s Adam Friedman.

UF may start a freshman cornerback for its second-straight season and has a history of developing talent in the defensive backfield. Three Florida cornerbacks will be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, likely within the first two days of the event.

Lewis joins three-star safety Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL), the Gators’ other secondary commitment, as part of the 2015 class. He is the sixth overall pledge.

If he follows through with his commitment, Lewis will be the 19th Rivals 250 defensive back to join Florida over the last six recruiting cycles.

The Gators added four-star CB Jalen Tabor out of the nation’s capital in 2014.

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