Florida Gators in the NFL: Percy Harvin, Marquand Manuel, Dan Quinn win Super Bowl XLVIII

The 2013-14 NFL season concluded on Sunday as six people with ties to the Florida Gators were on teams competing for the league’s championship in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle defeated Denver 43-8 to pick up a decisive and dominant Super Bowl victory.

Below are full game statistics for the three former Gators that competed in the Super Bowl along with a variety of notes about former Florida players in the Big Game.

ACTIVE (3)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Seattle Seahawks: One reception for five yards; two carries for 45 yards; 87-yard kickoff return for touchdown [137 all-purpose yards]
» “It’s just a big horse off my back,” Harvin said after the game, according to Sports Illustrated. “I finally was able to give my team something for four quarters. That meant a lot to me. Being injured all season took a toll on me. Being able to finish and being able to give my teammates something back — because I leaned on those guys so much this year to keep me up in spirits and just keep me going — it meant the world to me.”


WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Played as a reserve
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Denver Broncos: Four tackles

INACTIVE / INJURED (1)
LB LERENTEE McCRAY, Denver Broncos*: Injured – ankle (injured reserve)

COACHES (2)
Defensive coordinator DAN QUINN, Seattle Seahawks
» Quinn found Peyton Manning’s tell, and Seattle’s defense exploited it.
» Missing out on numerous head coaching opportunities, Quinn explained to ESPN why he did not meet with teams during the playoffs and the run up to the Super Bowl. “To me, it was important [to remain focused],” he said. “The relationship I have with these players, to understand we’re all in it together – I couldn’t be more proud to be part of that group.”
Defensive assistant MARQUAND MANUEL, Seattle Seahawks

SUPER BOWL XLVIII NOTES
» Harvin joins Dallas Baker, Jeff Mitchell, Justin Trattou and Deonte Thompson as the only five players in Gators history to win an SEC Championship, national title and Super Bowl ring in their respective careers.
» It is the 12th consecutive year that a former Florida player has been on a roster of a Super Bowl team and the fifth time in the last six that one has won a Super Bowl ring.
» It is the ninth time in the last 15 years that the Gators had a player on both teams.
» Overall, Florida has 24 total Super Bowl rings won by 17 different players over 18 separate Super Bowls.

Players with their name in orange won Super Bowl XLVIII.
* Rookie

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FOUR Super Bowl BITS: Harvin, Caldwell, Mincey

1 » For Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, Super Bowl XLVIII will be just the third game he has played in all season long. Though he has totaled just 19 snaps, four receptions and 38 yards (along with one carry for nine yards), Harvin is seen by many as a potential X-factor for Seattle in its duel with the Denver Broncos. Tom Pelissero of USA Today opined Saturday that Harvin will wind up being the game’s Most Valuable Player, and history can certainly back up that proclamation. During the 2007 BCS Championship, Harvin scored a touchdown and totaled 82 yards on 11 touches. He also happened to be the Florida Gators’ leading pass catcher that day both in receptions (nine) and yards (60). Two years later, Harvin likely would have been the 2009 BCS Championship’s Most Outstanding Player had it not been for quarterback Tim Tebow’s performance. In that game, Harvin returned from an ankle injury to amass 170 total yards and a touchdown. He once again had team-highs of nine receptions and 121 receiving yards in the contest. Harvin is listed at 18-to-1 to win Super Bowl MVP honors with an over/under of 51.5 receiving yards and 1.6-to-1 odds of scoring a touchdown. Would you really bet against him?

2 » Denver Broncos WR Andre Caldwell signed up to catch passes from QB Peyton Manning but did not get much of an opportunity to do that last season. He was moved from No. 3 receiver to the bench and barely got on the field. Even in 2013, Caldwell only caught five passes through the first 14 weeks of the season before exploding on Dec. 12 with six receptions for 59 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to San Diego. He has seen more snaps with each passing game and now has the opportunity to play for a championship. “We have so much talent in the receiving corps, I’m the forgotten man,” Caldwell told CBSSports.com during Super Bowl Media Day on Thursday. “It’s humbling, but it makes me work a little harder. People forget about me on Media Day and during the game, but it just makes me work hard. But I prepare like I’m a starter anyway. I know when my opportunities come, I have to make them so people don’t forget about me.” He added: “This is something I couldn’t have imagined. I was fighting for my career and now I’m in the Super Bowl. And I’m actually playing.”

Continue Reading » FOUR Super Bowl BITS: Harvin, Caldwell, Mincey

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Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs continued this week with six former Florida Gators spread out over all four of the teams that participated in NFL Championship round action.

Three former Gators were listed as active. Each of the four teams that played – and therefore both that advanced to Super Bowl XLVIII – had at least one former Florida player on its roster.

A former Gators player is guaranteed to be on the roster of a Super Bowl winner for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It will be the 12th consecutive season that a former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team and the ninth time in the last 15 seasons that a former Gators player will be on the rosters of both Super Bowl teams.

Below are game statistics for all three active Florida players that participated in the third round of the playoffs. Check out how they performed…after the break!

Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

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FOUR BITS: Grant, Manuel, Henry, OL transfer

1 » The No. 12/14 Florida Gators pulled off a 61-52 win Tuesday night against the Alabama Crimson Tide mostly due to an explosive start to the second half in which Florida scored 16-straight points. Though the Gators were without two primary reserves in the game, the Crimson Tide had two starters indefinitely suspended, a move that head coach Anthony Grant felt he had to make. As Grant and Florida head coach Billy Donovan communicated both before and after the game, suspending players is a hard decision for a coach to make but usually a smart run because the long-term health if the team is much more important than shot-term gains. The Associated Press’ Jim Litke gave Grant kudos for his decision in this column on Wednesday.

For the price of a ticket Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, you could see something rare in college sports anymore: a coach putting his foot down. […] Grant is doing exactly what the NCAA high-handedly promotes as its core mission – holding himself and his players accountable – but the selection committee isn’t about to cut him any slack for doing the right thing. Every loss still counts as a loss, never mind that it occurred because the coach volunteered to tie one hand behind his back. Grant gets that, too. He won’t change a thing because of it.

2 » Former Florida safety Marquand Manuel, an eight-year NFL who spent last year as an intern with the Gators, has been hired as the Seattle Seahawks’ new assistant special teams coach. A two-year starter for Seattle, Manuel also played in the Super Bowl with the Seahawks and is obviously hoping to begin his climb up the coaching ladder with this move.

3 » Former Florida forward Aneika Henry was signed to a training camp contract on Monday by the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. Currently playing in Poland and ranking fifth in the EuroLeague in rebounding and eighth in double-doubles (averaging 13.6 points and 9.1 boards per game), Henry spent two years with the Gators and tallied 110 blocks while shooting 53.7 percent from the field. Should she be added to the squad for the regular season, Henry will be just the second former Florida player currently playing in the league, joining DeLisha Milton-Jones of the Los Angeles Sparks.

4 » As they did a year ago, the Gators are hoping that an experienced offensive lineman will decide to transfer to Florida and boost the team’s unit. In fact, UF is currently pursuing a pair of players looking to continue their careers at a different school. The Gators are one of a number of top teams going after three-star JUCO guard Fehoko Fanaika (San Mateo, CA), who visited the school recently and has also received offers from Georgia and LSU. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Florida is also interested in Maryland transfer three-star tackle Max Garcia (Norcorss, GA), who is leaving the program but restricted from transferring to any ACC school, Connecticut, Temple, Vanderbilt or West Virginia. Unlike Fanaika, Garcia would be forced to redshirt the 2012 season before joining any team in 2013. A Georgia native, it is believed that he would strongly consider playing close to home if he gets an offer from UGA.

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FOUR BITS: Bond, Manuel, Dwyer, swimming

1 » Florida Gators guard Jaterra Bonds, who is second on the women’s basketball team in points this year, was named to the 2011 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team on Tuesday. She won the SEC Freshman of the Week award twice this season and scored a career-high 22 points one week ago.

2 » Former Gators safety Marquand Manuel, a sixth-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, completed an eight-year NFL career in 2009 and has been hired as an intern with the football staff, according to the University of Florida. Manuel, who played under former head coach Steve Spurrier from 1998-2001, totaled 308 tackles (nine for loss), six interceptions, 22 passes defended, eight sacks and six fumble recoveries in his college career. He played in both a SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl and was an honor student at UF. In the league, he saw extensive time from 2002-2006 with Cincinnati, Seattle and Green Bay. Manuel caught and returned an interception 32 yards in the 2005 NFC Championship game to help send Seattle to Super Bowl XL, a game in which he started. He also spent a full season as a starter with Green Bay the following season before being released by the team and bouncing around the NFL until deciding to call it quits.

3 » Florida senior swimmer Conor Dwyer has been chosen as the cover athlete for the March 2011 issue of Swimming World Magazine, which is a College Championships Preview issue. Dwyer is the defending NCAA National Men’s Swimmer of the Year and is having yet another fantastic season.

4 » Gators swimming, under head coach Gregg Troy, has announced a significant restructuring of the program due to the 2012 London Olympics. Troy was named head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team and, with Florida’s blessing, will need some assistance handling both gigs next season. Below is a portion of UF’s release, which can be read in full here.

The University of Florida men’s and women’s swimming program will undergo an organizational restructuring in preparation of the 2012 Olympic year, head coach Gregg Troy announced Tuesday. Assistant head coaches Martyn Wilby and Anthony Nesty have each been promoted to the title of associate head coach, while assistant coach Steve Jungbluth has been named recruiting coordinator. Assistant coach Leah Martindale-Stancil will retain her duties on deck as well as her role as swim camp director, while Erva Gilliam has been elevated to the director of swimming operations.

“The restructuring of our program will provide us with an opportunity on deck to really focus in on the first-hand development of premier performances by our swimmers,” Troy said. “With the number of current and post-graduate swimmers here on our campus that are training towards the 2012 London Olympics, the delegation of administrative duties will allow us more time on deck to really work hand-in-hand with the training of each of our student-athletes, allowing them to compete for SEC, NCAA and Olympic Championships.”

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