Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Saturday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Offensive lineman Jon Halapio (Group: 1 | Camp: OL12), OL Jonotthan Harrison (Group: 1 | Camp: OL13) and tight end Trey Burton (Group: 3 | Camp: TE03) concluded their four days at the combine on Saturday by competing in the full workout (results below).

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley* (Group: 7 | Camp: DL09) and linebacker Ronald Powell** (Group: 9 | Camp: LB23), who both arrived at the combine on Friday, were officially measured, completed medical exams, met with the media and continued the interview process they began the previous day.

Check out Saturday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Healing

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 fourth entry comes just over a week before he heads to Indianapolis, IN to compete in the 2014 NFL Combine. Watkins is currently training in South Florida and rehabilitating a sprained Achilles he suffered during practice for the 2014 Senior Bowl.

Even though I sprained my Achilles and was unable to play in the Senior Bowl, I actually stuck around and watched the entire game. I was already there and my entire family already drove up, so I stayed and watched Solomon [Patton] and Jon [Halapio]…and Matt Patchan was there, too, so that was pretty cool.

We all hung out and ate meals together with Matt. We went through some hard times and good times together at Florida, so it was nice to reconnect. We actually didn’t know he was coming at first until we saw him walk into breakfast one day, but it was definitely good to catch up with him. It was like old times with the Gators.

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

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Eight Florida Gators invited to 2014 NFL Combine

Updated on Friday at 9:00 p.m.

The official list of invitees was released by National Football Scouting on Friday, and eight former Florida Gators have officially been invited to participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

The eight former Gators student-athletes invited to the NFL Combine include:

Tight end Lawrence (Trey) Burton – Group: 3 | Camp: TE03
Offensive lineman Jonathan (Jon) Halapio – Group: 1 | Camp: OL12
Offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison – Group: 1 | Camp: OL13
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley** – Group: 7 | Camp: DL09
Linebacker Ronald Powell* – Group: 9 | Camp: LB23
Defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB44
Defensive back Marcus Roberson* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB48
Defensive back Jaylen Watkins – Group: 11 | Camp: DB58

* Junior
** Easley (torn ACL) will not participate in the NFL Combine.

Notable names apparently left off the invite list include: wide receiver Solomon Patton, DT Damien Jacobs, LB Darrin Kitchens and OL Kyle Koehne.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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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.

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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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