FOUR BITS: Harvin, Nelson, den Dekker, Moten

1 » In a piece written Thursday focusing on the Minnesota Vikings and the team’s plans at wide receiver, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported some interesting information about Percy Harvin. Cole takes a look at Harvin’s contract demands and reveals that the 2014 free agent is expecting to receive a deal closer to the $16.5 million per season paid to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson rather than the approximately $11 million being earned by guys like Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson and Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe. “The Vikings fear that the strong-willed Harvin may play the absolute minimum required to get to free agency and that he’ll create such a stink that the last thing the Vikings will consider is franchising him,” Cole reports.

Why the concern? “Harvin threatened to walk out on the team last offseason after hearing that former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez received a contract extension after only two years.” There is no doubt that Harvin is a top-tier talent – if he was not as injury-prone, an elite-level contract is not something he would need to fight to receive – but he is doing himself absolutely no favors from a professional standpoint with the attitude he has displayed since joining the NFL.

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harvin, Nelson, den Dekker, Moten

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FOUR BITS: Jacobs, Pouncey, den Dekker, Tebow

1 » Florida Gators incoming junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, joining the team as a JUCO transfer out of East Mississippi Community College, had minor but successful surgery on a finger Thursday but should be available for the start of spring practice. He enrolled early at Florida and is expected to make an impact on the team right away considering his size (6’3” 295 lbs.) and experience.

2 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was a featured guest on Thursday at a fundraiser for the Guadalupe Center, which helps impoverished and underprivileged children in Southwest Florida. “We sponsored a couple games for the guys to come to and gave away tickets,” he said. “I love giving back to kids. I remember growing up in their shoes always wanting somebody to look up to.” While at the event, Pouncey spoke to the News-Press about a number of topics including his team’s coaching search, his brother’s recovery from ankle surgery and the fact that both of them own a condo together in Tampa, FL where they are currently spending time together. Pouncey is working out and staying in shape while his brother is doing post-surgery rehab work.

3 » A fifth-round pick of the New York Mets in the 2010 MLB Draft, former Gators centerfielder Matt den Dekker has been invited by the team up to their spring training camp. He spent the last two years playing for four different Mets organizations, ending the 2011 season with the AA Binghamton Mets in the Eastern League. For his short career, den Dekker is hitting just .278 with an .807 OPS over 171 games played with 17 home runs, 88 RBI, 126 runs, 62 walks and 27 steals.

4 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow crossed over from football player to celebrity this season, which in part means that his every move will be traced by media outlets like TMZ. The gossip website reported Thursday that Tebow was in Las Vegas, NV taking in a Cirque du Soleil show (“O”) with a few friends while hiding the relevant note of the story which is that he was in town to do a new photo shoot and/or commercial for Nike. Tebow was signed by Nike prior to the start of his rookie season and has already been a part of television commercials and magazine ads for the company. Though he does not have a clothing line per se, Tebow did release a limited edition sneaker and T-shirt through Nike last year.

Extra BIT » As OGGOA mentioned this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made it a priority to re-sign their free agents including breakout defensive end and former Florida player Jeremy Mincey. However, according to The Florida Times-Union, Mincey will not be giving the team a hometown discount so the Jaguars will likely have to ward off other suitors with a solid offer in order to keep him in North Florida. Mincey’s eight sacks in 2011 were the most since former Gators DE Bobby McCray had 10 in 2006.

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Drayton, Ingram, den Dekker

1 » Bad news coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp as the team has received a roster exception for former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin, indicating that the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year will not be returning to the team anytime soon. The specific exemption, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune is “left squad.” Harvin, who is in Minnesota, has been dealing with serious migraine headaches since his grandmother passed away a few weeks ago.

2 » Florida redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody was dismayed when running backs coach Stan Drayton and the program parted ways in 2007 but was even more excited to find out he had been rehired after last season. “I didn’t know how to handle it,” Moody said at Florida Media Day regarding Drayton’s departure. “He was a big reason I came to Florida because I wanted a relationship with my position coach and I wanted to be coached by a really good running backs coach.” Upon finding out Drayton was returning? “I was in my car when I found out. I was so excited and I think I actually did scream at the top of my lungs. […] I believe he’s the best coach in the nation at running back and he takes his job very seriously. I’ve learned so much in the four or five months he’s been [back] here.”

3 » Former Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram has not played a football game in exactly 954 days. Think he is excited to get back on the gridiron? “I definitely want to produce as much as possible when I’m out there,” Ingram told the Burlington County Times. “But just being out there is going to be an unbelievable feeling.” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid is excited for Ingram too but does not want him to overexert himself. “He’s a competitive guy, and his juices will be flowing, but within reason,” Reid said. “He’s just got to play the game and concentrate on his assignments and catching the football and blocking and so on.”

4 » Florida outfielder Matt den Dekker, selected in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, added a solid note to the beginning his minor league career Thursday with the Savannah Sand Gnats. Powering his way to three doubles on four plate appearances, den Dekker has a .470 batting average in four games with the club. He started out with the Gulf Coast Mets but was promoted after only five games.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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OF Jonathan Pigott signs with Atlanta Braves

Former Florida Gators outfielder Jonathan Pigott has signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. He is the fourth member of the 2010 team to sign with an MLB team and the only one to do so after not being selected in the 2010 MLB Draft.

Pigott has been assigned to the Gulf Coast League Braves, who play their home games at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.

A defensive-minded player, Pigott did not commit a single error in 267 chances during his four-year Florida career.

Closer Kevin Chapman (fourth round, Kansas City Royals), outfielder Matt den Dekker (fifth round, New York Mets) and catcher Hampton Tignor (36th round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) are the other former players who found professional homes this offseason.

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/21): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 4:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Mike Martin
Starter: RHP Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.95 ERA) Starter: LHP Brian Busch (5-2, 3.97 ERA)
Record: 47-16 Record: 47-19
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida State leads the all-time series against Florida 119-96-1; however, the Gators have a 3-0 record against the Seminoles in the NCAA College World Series and are 10-3 against them (including seven of the last eight) in the NCAA Tournament.
» The two teams will be squaring off for the fifth time in 2010 with every game taking place in a different city. FSU is 3-1 this year against UF, winning in Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee; Florida won at home.
» O’Sullivan, throughout his time in Gainesville, is 4-7 against the Seminoles; 3-0 at home, 1-3 in Tallahassee and 0-4 at neutral sites.
» The last time these teams played in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators fell 17-11 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-5 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 434-282 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-12 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-13 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-16 when trailing after six, 2-15 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-15 when down through eight.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.591).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.355), runs (65) and hits (87). He is also on an eight-game hitting streak.
» Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana…who is hitting at a .333 clip through six NCAA Tournament games with nine walks, seven runs, three RBI, two doubles and a homer.
As of the beginning of the College World Series…
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/19): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 7 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators No. 6 UCLA Bruins
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: John Savage
Starter: LHP Alex Panteliodis (11-2, 3.39) Starter: RHP Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02)
Record: 47-15 Record: 48-14
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida leads the all-time series against UCLA 3-1, including a 2-0 record in the NCAA Tournament. The teams have never meet in the College World Series.
» The Gators will be making their sixth appearance in the CWS (first since 2005), while the Bruins will be there for the third time (first since 1997).
» Ironically enough, UF and UCLA are the only two teams to also reach the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series – the women faced-off in first round action on June 3.
» Against common opponents this season, the Gators are 11-2, while the Bruins are 6-1.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-4 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 431-271 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-11 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-12 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-15 when trailing after six, 2-14 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-14 when down through eight.
» Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis, with 26 career strikeouts in NCAA competition, is seven away from tying the school record for most in the NCAA Tournament for a career (John Burke, 33, 1991-92). He is also two wins away from tying the school record the most career wins in the tournament (Tommy Boss, 4, 2002-05).
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97)…who have led the team from the hill this season with sterling performances and a combined 3.69 ERA.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.358), runs (64) and hits (86).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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FOUR BITS: Easley, Crowder, den Dekker, UCF

1 » When the New York Post asked Florida Gators five-star freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley what his goals are when he heads to Gainesville, FL, next week, his response was straight-forward: “start right away and get to that BCS championship game.” Easley – who was honored with a student-athlete award on Monday after finishing high school with an 85 grade average while compiling 73 tackles and 16 sacks as a senior – says that he is excited for his future. “It’s getting crazy,” he said. “I’m going to be doing what I’ve been watching all my life.” Earning praise from his teachers, administrators, coaches and peers, Easley is on the fast track to success and may realize that as soon as Sept. 4 against Miami (OH).

2 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, entering his sixth season in the NFL, is facing a bit of adversity this offseason after the team signed high-priced free agent LB Karlos Dansby and traded for back-up LB Tim Dobbins to compete with him for one of the inside positions. Though Crowder has not been a source of game-changing plays yet in the NFL, his consistent play and locker room presence is one of the driving forces of the team’s defense. Crowder sat down with the Sun-Sentinel for a wide-ranging interview which can be viewed below. As OGGOA has contended for years, Crowder is easily the best interview in the NFL. Enjoy.

3 » In college baseball, deciding to remain in school after being selected in the MLB Draft is an increasingly difficult decision – especially when the lure of money is being thrown around. But according to Gators senior outfielder Matt den Dekker, returning to school could not have gone any better. “This is definitely the best moment in my career,” den Dekker said after defeating Miami last week to advance to the 2010 NCAA College World Series. “Coming back was the best decision I could have made.” The choice also improved his draft stock, seeing as he moved up from a 16th-round pick in 2009 to the No. 152 overall pick just over a week ago as selected by the New York Mets.

4 » As OGGOA first reported via Twitter early Wednesday, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan and Central Florida Knights head coach Donnie Jones will be holding a joint press conference in Orlando, FL, on Thursday at 3 p.m. to officially announce the neutral-site game to be played at the brand new Amway Center on Dec. 1. The game will be the first college basketball contest played at the $480 million facility and will hold added significance on two levels for Donovan. Most notably, he will be going up against his former long-time assistant in Jones for the first time since he left the program for the top job at Marshall after the 2007 NCAA National Championship season. Donovan also will be coaching in the new home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the team he once agreed to coach before backing out just days later and signing a new contract with Florida in 2007.

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Errors doom Miami as Florida advances to 2010 NCAA College World Series with 4-3 win Saturday

Advancing to the 2010 NCAA College World Series for the first time since 2005, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (47-15) defeated the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (43-20) 4-3 in extra innings Saturday after Miami tied a postseason school record with seven errors including three in the final two innings.

As the away team at McKethan Stadium in the second game of the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional, Florida was down 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. Hurricanes shortstop Stephen Perez was charged with a throwing error on a routine ground out hit by Gators freshman catcher Mike Zunino (0-3), which advanced all runners and scored the tying run.

Florida would blank Miami in the bottom frame and move on to extra innings where Gators freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (0-5) led-off by reaching base on a misjudged fly ball by Canes right fielder Chris Pelaez. Fontana advanced to second and later to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore RF Daniel Pigott before being driven home by a RBI-double down the right field line by freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (1-5) two batters later with two outs.

UF went up 4-3 and held on to the lead as sophomore reliever Greg Larson earned his third save of the season with a strikeout in 0.2 innings. Freshman pitcher Steven Rodriguez (2-0) earned the win in relief after cleaning up the bottom of the ninth inning and earning an out in the tenth.

Both starting pitchers produced fantastic outings as Gators freshman Hudson Randall posted five strikeouts and only allowed two earned runs on three hits in 6.2 innings, and the Hurricanes’ Chris Hernandez allowed one earned run while striking out four and letting up both three hits and three walks in 8.1 innings.

Florida led 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring the first run in the fifth after two errors helped senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (1-2, three walks) cross home plate; den Dekker scored again in the seventh when freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (1-3, two RBI) hit an RBI-single to right center field with two outs.

Men were on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when head coach Kevin O’Sullivan removed Randall for closer Kevin Chapman, who immediately gave up a three-run shot to Miami OF Nathan Melendres (1-3, three RBI) to give the Hurricanes their first and only lead of the game.

Florida’s hopes of ending the best-of-three series early looked to be doomed until a string of errors erased UM’s one-run lead.

The Gators continued a 15-game home winning streak and are now 30-9 all-time at home during NCAA play with the victory Saturday. Miami still leads the all-time series 124-99-1, but Florida has mounted a 62-45-1 record in Gainesville and defeated their in-state rivals four times in five games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2, 7-2, 4-3) this season. O’Sullivan is 4-0 against the Canes all-time in NCAA action.

Photo Credits: University of Florida

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