SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

1 » ABC is making the most of its subsidiary’s employment of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, according to The Hollywood Reporter, by having the Heisman Trophy winner sit in Friday as a guest co-host on Good Morning America. Tebow, who signed with ESPN in December to cover college football and be the face of the SEC Network (set to launch as its own channel in August), will join the Time Square-based show to discuss the forthcoming Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and his former team, the Denver Broncos.

2 » The highest-profile former Florida player actually participating in Sunday’s big game is Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has a penchant for stepping up when championships are on the line. Harvin was cleared to return to practice last Wednesday and will be full-go for the Super Bowl with head coach Pete Carroll saying the playmaker has looked “great” in practice. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey called Harvin “a dangerous man” on Sunday, “one of the most explosive guys coming off the ball” and someone who can “change the game.” Harvin on Tuesday declared himself “ready to go.” “This is what I live for,” he said. “I’m used to playing in big games since I was younger, whether it was in Pop Warner or the two with the Gators.” As a freshman, Harvin picked up 82 total yards and a touchdown in Florida’s 41-14 2007 BCS National Championship win over Ohio State. Two years later in the 2009 BCS National Championship, Harvin exploded for 171 yards and a touchdown in UF’s 24-14 victory against Oklahoma.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Training

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His first entry covers the conclusion of the 2013 season, choosing an agent and kicking off his training in South Florida. Watkins will be back with a second entry on Wednesday.

This year was hard. There’s no other way to put it. Coming off an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl appearance, we had such high expectations this year with everyone playing so well last season. Coming into my senior season, you want to improve as a player – I think I did that – but you also want your team to go further than it did the year before. But that’s the game of football.

Injuries definitely took a toll on all of us. Each week we saw guys we care a lot about go down; sometimes twice in the same week. That’s when the next guy, the younger guys, are supposed to step up and play. It’s one thing to ask a couple guys to step up, but it got to the point where most of the players on the field at the end of the season were guys that did not start at the beginning of the year.

As much as 2013 was tough for everyone, it will be good for the team next year. A lot of guys will have a bunch of experience. A lot of young guys got meaningful playing time. Every year it happens to one team; one team gets decimated by injuries. And the next year they have a bunch of guys that played meaningful snaps the year before step up, and they have a great season.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Training

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Florida LB Ronald Powell to enter 2014 NFL Draft

Florida Gators linebacker Ronald Powell on Monday became the third junior to choose to forego his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during spring practice and re-tearing the same ACL while trying to get back on the field mid-year, started eight of Florida’s 11 games in 2013 and led the Gators with four sacks.

“Ronald has informed me that he has made a decision to declare for the NFL Draft,” said head coach Will Muschamp in a school release. “This hasn’t been an easy decision for him. I talked to him several times over the holidays, but it was important for him to come back and look me in the eye and tell me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. It’s one of the great experiences as a coach to watch young players mature. It’s been well documented the hardships he has had to overcome and he has always kept a positive attitude. I wish him the best of luck and, as I’ve said before, I encouraged him to return to get his degree.”

The former No. 1 overall recruit in the nation, Powell was a five-star prospect coming out of high school when he initially committed to head coach Urban Meyer, who convinced him to play college football across the country from his native California.

He has amassed 11 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 84 total tackles over his three seasons of action, never living up to the hype of his pre-college billing in large part due to changes to the coaching staff and injury issues.

Powell released a heartfelt message via Florida explaining his departure.

Continue Reading » Florida LB Ronald Powell to enter 2014 NFL Draft

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Gators CB Marcus Roberson enters NFL Draft

The Florida Gators on Friday lost their second junior cornerback to the 2014 NFL Draft as Marcus Roberson informed the program that he has decided to forego his final season of eligibility in order to play professional football.

“Marcus has informed me that he has made the decision to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL,” said Muschamp in a school release. “Marcus was part of our first recruiting class and it was a pleasure watching him mature and develop both on and off the field during his time here. I look forward to watching him play on Sundays and, like all of our players, I encourage them to return to complete his degree.”

Roberson only played seven of 12 games in 2013, missing four games due to injury and another to suspension after committing a violation of team rules. He ended his final season at Florida with 11 solo tackles, three pass defenses and no interceptions.

His best year with the Gators came as a sophomore in 2012 when he played in 13 games, starting four. Roberson registered 23 tackles, 12 pass defenses and two interceptions. He also forced a fumble and picked up a sack.

For his efforts, Roberson was named to the 2012 All-SEC Second Team.

“I’m very thankful of everyone at Florida that helped me to get to this point in my career,” said Roberson via the school. “From Tony Meacham, my academic adviser, to Jeff Dillman to Coach Muschamp and the entire coaching staff. It’s been a great experience here and now that it is over I can truly appreciate everything that is in place here for players to be successful and have an opportunity to play at the next level.”

Roberson joins fellow junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy as the only two underclassmen thus far to leave Florida for the draft. Both were projected as first-round selections before the season but have seen their stock dip after the 2013 campaign.

Purifoy has been praised for his athleticism and ability to help on special teams but criticized for his technique as a cornerback, which evaluators believe he needs to improve. The primary concerns with Roberson are his injury history, lack of field time this past season and substandard production when he did play.

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11/30: Florida vs. Florida State report; Purifoy declares, Foley speaks, Muschamp promises

The Florida Gators (4-8) lost their seventh-straight game on Saturday, falling 37-7 to the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley held an impromptu session with the media before the game, and head coach Will Muschamp spoke after the season-ending loss.

SENIOR DAY

DECLARATIONS BEGIN

Minutes after the conclusion of Saturday’s game, Florida junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy declared his intention to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He told ESPN‘s Joe Schad as much after the game, but the Gators are unlikely to announce his decision (as well as those of others) for a few days.

Purifoy had an up-and-down season for Florida but did register an interception return for a touchdown earlier in the year and actually picked off Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on Saturday. He struggled at times in coverage and with his discipline but will nevertheless be a second-round pick at worst in April. OnlyGators.com will have more on Purifoy’s declaration, as well as that of others, when the time comes.

“That is something I’ll discuss in the coming days. I’ve had discussions with a couple guys but I really don’t want to comment at this time about that,” Muschamp said.

INJURY UPDATES

Senior wide receiver Trey Burton was knocked from the game early in the first quarter after taking a zone read 50 yards down the field for one of his best plays of the season. Burton immediately went to the locker room and was ruled out with a shoulder injury, ending his career at Florida. As it turns out, the Gators actually planned to use Burton extensively on Saturday.

“We were probably going to have about 30-35 snaps with Trey, some of the misdirection runs now go out of the game plan so you got to make adjustments and you got to change,” Muschamp explained. “I hurt for Trey because he’s a senior and it was his last game in The Swamp. It was very difficult for him. He’s a great young man. But that kind of sums up what’s happened this year. It’s been very frustrating.”

Continue Reading » 11/30: Florida vs. Florida State report; Purifoy declares, Foley speaks, Muschamp promises

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Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s season finale against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles, which is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on ESPN.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the five posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links below).

Monday: Changes ahead for offensive staff | Will Muschamp talks coaching changes, fixing the Gators and more injuries
Tuesday: Brent Pease asked 17 questions about job status, future at Florida
Wednesday: Snell’s Slant: Beat Florida State? It can happen. | Muschamp provides updates on injuries, thoughts about Pease

FINAL GOODBYES FOR GATORS SENIORS

Fifteen Gators football players are guaranteed to step onto Florida Field for the last time as student-athletes on Saturday as they will have used up their eligibility as either true seniors or fifth-year seniors. Below is what many of them had to say about their careers, final home game and last time wearing a Florida uniform.

» Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins: “It’s going to be very emotional for all of us. We’ve been here four years, some five. We have some who have been here six years. It’s a new chapter for most of us to after football and actually graduating. Some of us are graduating next month. It’s going to be very exciting for both us and our families. … This is our last game we’ll ever play in The Swamp in an orange and blue jersey, so all of the seniors I know are going to go out and give everything they’ve got.”

» Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who will have his parents and fiancée there to support him after running out of the tunnel: “I just hope I don’t cry like everybody else has been saying. It’s going to be very emotional coming out the tunnel one last time. I’m very excited but sad at the same time.”

» Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, who transferred from a junior college: “It’s bittersweet. Not even just because of the simple fact that this has been a bad season. Mostly because I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life. So it’s bittersweet that way. … I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty emotional, yeah. It’s the last one. It’s probably not going to hit me until probably after a week later that it was my last one.”

» Senior do-everything Trey Burton, who will have multiple members of his family there as well as his wife and baby daughter: “A lot of mixed emotions. I’m really happy for my time here. I wouldn’t want to take anything back, all the challenges and all that type of stuff has helped me mature as a man. I’m just really happy with how things have gone. … I’m going to try not to cry. My family will be out there so I hope it won’t be too bad. I play and I have a lot of emotions for everything I do, so we’ll see. … I think it’s bittersweet for everybody. You don’t want your last game in college football to come and it’s coming.”

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11/27: Muschamp talks Gators injuries, Pease

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team heading into Saturday’s game against the Florida State Seminoles.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) is “still questionable” though he did throw some early in the week. Others who might be able to play include junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) and sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard (knee).

Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL), redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor (MCL) and freshman LB Alex Anzalone (shoulder) are all out for the game.

OFFENSIVE EVALUATION

In his only question of the day, Muschamp was asked to evaluate the job offensive coordinator Brent Pease has done as a play-caller this season.

“I think when you lose three offensive tackles and two quarterbacks and a 1,000-yard rusher, it makes it very difficult to call plays,” he replied. “Brent is a good play-caller and an outstanding football coach. It’s been frustrating for all of us, including him, in our production offensively this year.”

Muschamp then provided one more statement which fits closer in line with his comments regarding the offense over the last couple of weeks. “We want to do what we got to do to win games. That’s what you want to do, and we haven’t done that this year,” he said.

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11/25: More Florida injuries; Muschamp on coaching changes, fixing the Gators in 2014

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 26-20 loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles and upcoming season finale at home against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Nov. 30. The game will kick off at 12:00 p.m. and air live on ESPN.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators will be without at least two more players on Saturday as redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor (sprained MCL) and freshman LB Alex Anzalone (dislocated shoulder) have already been ruled out for the game. Taylor will avoid surgery, but Anzalone will be forced to go under the knife.

Muschamp also called redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) questionable and listed sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) as doubtful.

Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) has already been cleared to play, and sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard (knee) is probable to see the field.

COACHING CHANGES COMING?

Muschamp refused to address the recent reports that it has already been decided that adjustments will be made to Florida’s offensive staff.

“There’s no changes that have been made at this time,” he said. “I’m not ready to make any statement on that at this point. We’re still playing out the season and those guys are going to coach their butts off. I’ll make that decision when I think it’s ready.”

In a similar vein, Muschamp was adamant that he was not at all concerned about his future with the Gators.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if he was worried about his job. After being questioned about his confidence in returning next season, Muschamp similarly answered, “Absolutely.”

He also once again put the blame on his shoulders – “It’s on me. We’ll get it fixed. I can assure you of that” – but admitted that it was nice to have the support of the players in addition to that of the administration.

“I think it’s important. Obviously I think that they understand where we are and where we’re headed with the program.” Muschamp said. “They have total confidence, in my opinion, of where we’re headed. I think they understand the plan and what we need to do … as we move forward.”

Continue Reading » 11/25: More Florida injuries; Muschamp on coaching changes, fixing the Gators in 2014

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