1 » It may have taken a bit longer than others, but it appears as if Florida Gators center Chris Walker has found a home for the 2015 NBA Summer League. As first reported by FOX 26 sports director Mark Berman, Walker could join the Houston Rockets for summer league play in Las Vegas from July 10-20. OnlyGators.com has confirmed that Walker is listed on the roster the team submitted to the NBA of projected players, though we were cautioned that could change ahead of the event in two weeks if the team does not like what it sees in tryouts. A league source has also told OnlyGators.com that forward Casey Prather will be a member of the NBA D-League select team after succeeding as a member of the Bakersfield Jam last season.
1 » One day after it was reported by FOX 25 out of Boston that a Maybach Mercedes registered to New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes was found abandoned on the median of a highway, the former Florida Gators player was released by the team. According to FOX 25, The OnStar representative from the car “told state police the driver of the care reported hitting a deer.” However, while an injured deer was not found near the scene, another car called in that it was rear ended at approximately the same time as the crash involving Spikes’s car. Spikes signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Patriots (with up to $1 million in incentives), returning to the team that drafted him after spending a season with the Buffalo Bills. His original tenure did not end well in New England, despite his close relationship with owner Bob Kraft, and his return to the franchise was a surprise. If this story sounds relatively familiar that is a vehicle belonging to former Miami Dolphins LB Channing Crowder was also abandoned on a highway in January 2008.
1 » The Baltimore Ravens pulled former first-round draft choice Matt Elam out of their starting rotation after Elam began disappointing with his play on the field. Elam shifting out allowed fellow former Florida Gators safety Will Hill to fill the void and has subsequently created a high-intensity training camp competition between the two teammates.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, who stuck by Hill despite him being suspended for the first six games of the 2014 campaign due to a third NFL drug policy violation, is impressed with what he’s seen from the undrafted free agent. “I almost say [he’s] light-years ahead of where he was last year,” Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. “He has been here every single day in the offseason that I’m aware of. Heck, he brought his family in here to work out with him when he was on his own. … I just think he has really dug in to have a great season, and we’ll see how it goes for him. But right now, he looks the part.” Elam is taking the competition in stride and remains confident he will be able to regain the job. “All I can say is, I can’t wait until September. I’m ready,” Elam said.
1 » Florida Gators junior wide receiver Chris Thompson, who was excused from the team by head coach Jim McElwain while allegations of simple battery (dating violence) were flushed out, had the charge officially dropped by the state, according to Alachua County Court records. The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu spoke with State Attorney Bill Cervone, who said the alleged victim – an ex-girlfriend of Thompson – did not wish to pursue charges. Even if she had, it would have been unlikely that Thompson would have been found guilty of doing anything wrong. “He was legally entitled to make what is called ‘defense of his property,’ which in this case was his phone,” Cervone told the paper. “That’s what he was doing, and the injuries that resulted were inconsequential.” It is unknown if or when Thompson will rejoin the Florida football team.
Former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey became the NFL‘s highest-paid player at his position on Friday night when he agreed to a five-year, $45 million extension ($22 million guaranteed) with the Miami Dolphins.
The landmark deal signed by the No. 15 overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft will mark the second league-record contract secured by the Pouncey family in as many offseasons.
1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin has found his fourth NFL home, signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Buffalo Bills for the 2015 season. Harvin, who has been traded twice in the last two years and was cut by the New York Jets this offseason, follows head coach Rex Ryan to the Bills. Injuries and character concerns have derailed Harvin’s NFL success, but he is still seen as an explosive playmaker who can be a difference-maker both on offense and special teams. The one-year deal allows him to prove his value and potentially facilitate a long-term deal with a franchise in 2016.
2 » Florida football is going young. How young? Well, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the Gators recently sent offers out to a high school freshman in running back Lorenzo Lingard and an eighth-grader in wide receiver Blake Hinson. According to their head coaches, Florida’s offer is the third for each player; Lingard also heard from Georgia and Iowa, while Hinson was offered by Miami and North Carolina. How did the Gators go about offering an eighth-grader? Hinson’s coach, DJ Mayo, told the News-Journal that he showed the player’s tape to head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier on his cell phone; an offer was sent the next day.
1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel exploded on the scene last season, winning the 2014 FedEx Cup and bringing home a cool $14.8 million for his efforts. Horschel, who also had a baby girl just days after the most successful four-week stretch of his career, was apparently in a sharing mood and decided to be quite generous with his newfound wealth. In a profile by Golfweek, Horschel admits that he gave $10,000 to split among the locker-room attendants at the TOUR Championship and gifted his caddie with a $1 million bonus. He also splurged on his former Gators golf coach, Buddy Alexander.
Hours after winning the BMW Championship playoff in Denver, Horschel called Alexander. Horschel asked about tickets to the Florida-Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Alexander said he thought he could come through.
“I’ve got a little extra jingle in my pocket,” Horschel said. “If you get the tickets, I’ll get the plane.”
Horschel hired a private jet.
2 » According to the Miami Herald, Miami Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins – whose breakout 2014 campaign included him being the NFL‘s leading tackler for a portion of the season – is currently back at Florida “taking five classes” during the spring semester as he attempts to earn his degree in applied physiology and kinesiology. Jenkins left school as a redshirt junior and was largely ineffective for the Dolphins as a rookie but came on in a major way last season. He told the Herald‘s Adam Beasley that he always came back to finish his degree and has seen some familiar faces while in town but is mostly staying to himself with four of the classes he’s enrolled in taking place online. Miami’s leading tackler with 108 in 2014, Jenkins is focused on improving his consistency during organized team activities this summer.
3 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah helped produce this video, You’re Not Alone, about stopping street violence in the Illinois city and across the country.
4 » Last month, Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights had a gun pulled on him outside a San Francisco night club but was unharmed, running away when “a group of gang members” tried to steal his gold chains, according to KTVU FOX 2. Speights is having a career year for the Warriors, shooting a career-best 50.3 percent from the field and averaging a career-high 12.0 points per game. He is also bringing down 5.1 boards per contest and playing 18.1 minutes on average for the best team in the NBA at 42-9 near the midpoint in the season.
Extra BIT » Here’s Horschel chilling with Albert on Feb. 6.
— PGA TOUR Media (@PGATOURmedia) February 7, 2015
Updated Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Less than a month after hiring of defensive line coach Terrell Williams, the Florida Gators have already been forced to replace him. According to Sports Illustrated, Williams has departed for a return to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, and Florida head coach Jim McELwain has already replaced him with Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph.
Since that initial report, The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu noted that while Rumph has been offered the job with the Gators, he has yet to accept it.