Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
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TWO BITS: Stamper’s chance, soccer begins

1 » Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions, former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper was forced to leave the team due to concerns about his injured back. After working out in Detroit on July 27, Stamper was expected to sign a contract with the Lions, but he left without a deal in place. On Saturday, Detroit middle linebacker Jordon Dizon suffered a likely season-ending knee injury, leaving an open spot on at least the practice roster that could very well be filled by Stamper.

2 » With their 2010 season set to begin on Friday at home against the Miami Hurricanes, No. 11 Florida soccer participated in an exhibition match Saturday, defeating Alabama-Birmingham 3-0. Senior defender Nicky Kit (19’), sophomore midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak (23’) and sophomore MF Holly King connected for the Gators’ three goals. Florida’s game against Miami will air live on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. It is the first game of the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season.

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Kadji transfers from Gainesville to Coral Gables

Former Florida Gators sophomore center Kenny Kadji will not have a long trip ahead of him after packing up his belongings as, according to FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman, he has decided to transfer to the Miami Hurricanes.

Kadji, who was given a medical redshirt from the NCAA after only logging 45 total minutes of game time in 2009-10 before ending his season due to a nagging back injury, will be forced to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

He had back surgery in February to repair a bulging disk, a procedure similar to what former Florida forward Adrian Moss had done in 2005. Reports were that Kadji had healed nicely from the surgery; he was expected to back-up redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin next season, a job that will probably now be filled by four-star incoming freshman forward Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL).

“I want to thank my coaches and teammates for my two years at the University of Florida,” Kadji said on July 23. “While I’m sad that my time here at Florida is ending, UF will always be special to me. I have goals that I hope to reach and only a short window of my life to make those things happen.”

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was the subject of a piece by Harvey Araton of The New York Times on Monday. Lee, who has spent his whole career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him coming out of college, has a special bond with the team and has been the face of the franchise over the last few years. Read about how he went out of his way to represent the team (even after being traded to Golden State) at a funeral for longtime NBA and Madison Square Garden security official Scott Jaffer and how he will always be remembered in New York for being such an upstanding person.

» Interviewed by the NFL Network about his throwing mechanics, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went through the motions with some of the studio analysts on Monday. Because of the subject matter, Rivers was asked about Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow’s motion, and the veteran offered advice and insight into what Tebow may and may not need to do going forward.

» Florida should be excited about 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) – he could be the best player the team has signed since guard Nick Calathes. Then again, with one of the top players in the country considering his future in a different sport, there is a slight cause for concern. With his father and two brothers all having played collegiate football, Beal tells USA Today that he is “still trying to decide” which sport to play. “My brothers, especially my younger brothers, want me to play football so we can be on the same team,” Beal said. “But my mom always tells me, ‘You don’t have the body for football, so you have to stick to basketball.’” Don’t get it twisted – his future is on the court – not the field. Having a former Gators star like Lee (who also graduated from Chaminade High School) in his ear certainly helps. “We don’t have that much in common because we play different positions,” Beal said. “He came back to visit the school, and I talk to him during lunch period. He gave me input on the game.”

» While Beal is deciding what sport to play, four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) is just trying to figure out what school to end. According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, Waisome now considers his final five to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina; he plans to decide in August.

» Updating a previous item, four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) still considers the Gators to be the leader for his services, even after having Miami Hurricanes commitment four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) in his ear during the Nike 7-on-7 Championship last Saturday. “Florida is still in the lead,” Benjamin told SoFLAfootball.com. “I like Florida and what they showed me, how they would use me. I like Miami too and Florida State, so all the Florida teams, they’re really up there. But I like Florida.”

Three more BITES on Meyer, Smith and Werner…after the break!
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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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Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010

Not always up for extensive one-on-one interviews, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer granted Joe Rose of 560 WQAM in Miami, FL, 15 minutes of his time on Thursday and answered questions spanning a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.

Meyer, who makes it a point to appear on Rose’s show once or twice a year mostly due to the fact that it is popular in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida, said he would not necessarily be against Florida’s in-state rivals being added to the mix of a potentially expanded Southeastern Conference in 2012-13.

“I think that would be great for the SEC,” Meyer said. “I have not done the research, I [would need to] ask a lot of questions. […] I know one thing – our commissioner and our office, they won’t be caught by surprise because we got the best people. It’s phenomenal the job they do. That’s a natural fit – the two schools you just mentioned – we play one of them every year anyway and the other is a great rivalry as well.

“As a coach, you look at it and say, ‘Here we go, let’s go add a couple more powerhouses.’ [But then] you have to go play them.”

He also noted that the SEC’s recent dominance is likely the cause for the immediate need for conference expansion across the country.

“As far as interest on a national level, as far as quality of play, right now the SEC is the best,” he opined. “The television contracts, the interest level that’s taking place in the SEC is forcing some of these other conferences to react. It’s going to be interesting. The one thing you can rest assured though, commissioner Mike Slive – the guy’s phenomenal. He has got his hand on some buttons if we have to do what we have to do.”

One facet in which adding Miami and/or Florida State to the conference could potentially impact the Gators is in recruiting. When it comes down to it though, Meyer is more than confident about the prowess of his program in that area.

“Our best recruiters are our players,” Meyer said. “I didn’t even go on the road the last three weeks because I was not allowed to do that. The fact that we have the facilities in place now, we have the players in place, we have an excellent coaching staff. I don’t want to say it recruits itself, because it doesn’t, but the best salesmen you have are the people that are involved in your team. Our current team right now is very close. Our team has had success in the classroom and on the field.”

That success is one of the reasons why Florida had to deny four-star athlete Travon Van admittance to the school. Van winding up with former Gators assistant coach Doc Holliday and the Marshall Thundering Heard was no coincidence – the two coaches remain close. In fact, Meyer took a bit of offense to Rose questioning if any dirty recruiting was involved on Holliday’s part.

“Doc’s a great friend – so [the decision] was nothing behind the scenes. That was in the forefront. The person that we’re talking about – I’m not even sure I’m allowed to mention it – but that was all done in conjunction,” he said. “There was no shady play or something like that. There was going to be an admission issue at Florida. Guys like Doc Holliday –he’s great for college football, he’s a great man and he’s a great friend. The most important thing is making sure the student-athlete has a place to go to school.”

Regarding 2010 recruit Kevin Nelson accusing his coaches of dirty recruiting, Meyer said he didn’t hear about those comments and that Florida worries “about its own business.” Nevertheless, he touched on the subject of how bad ugly recruiting can get.

“It’s a little bit like Tim Tebow. Tim, when he first came to Florida, he was The Chosen One. And then I’ve never seen a young man go through the scrutiny [he did and] just get picked apart,” he lamented. “I don’t think it’s necessarily me…maybe it is….but I think people just want to take a shot at something that’s doing OK. We’re very proud of our program here.”

When it comes to the Gators’ latest group of incoming freshman, Meyer once gain praised five-star safety Matt Elam and said he is looking forward to getting all of his players on the field as soon as possible this summer.

“Matt Elam is going to play. It’s done,” Meyer said emphatically. “He had a heck of a spring, he’s a heck of a kid, comes from a great family, we’ve known about him forever. We feel very good about our freshman class. Our [defensive line] – those kids are going to play. We don’t redshirt here at Florida – you go play. That’s why we recruit them and that’s why they’re here. We need some help because we lost a lot of really good players. I’m about as excited for [summer to begin on] June 24th as I’ve ever been.”

The most telling statement Meyer made during his conversation with Rose was his response to being questioned about how difficult it is to recruit nationally. Contrary to popular belief, it is an absolute non-issue for the program.

“We don’t want to recruit national. That’s one of the big sales why I wanted to come coach at Florida, because it’s a regional recruiting school,” he noted. “I have no interest in getting on a plane and flying across the country. We don’t recruit nationally, what we do is we cherry pick a little bit. If there is some kind of draw or some kind of interest – one of the best players in the country – we’ll go and make a run at them. Because of our brand, lately, we’re getting involved in that. That’s not what we do. What we do is try to do the best job we can in South Florida and Georgia and obviously the rest of the state of Florida, and then we’ll go cherry pick a little bit. This has been a unique year for out-of-state kids to jump all over it. They are some great players. I would like to, out of 25, have 18 in-state-ers or [from] south Georgia and in-state.”

Meyer also spoke on a variety of other topics, which you can read…after the break:
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2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional Gameday: No. 4 Florida Gators vs. No. 11 Miami Hurricanes

Location: McKethan Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 5,500]
Game Times: [1] Fri. – 7 p.m. (EST); [2] Sat. – 7 p.m.; [3] Sun. (if nec.) – 7 p.m.

TV: [1] ESPN/ESPNHD; [2-3] ESPN2/ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 4 Florida Gators No. 11 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Jim Morris
Record: 45-15 Record: 43-18
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY:
» Miami leads the all-time series 124-97-1 over Florida but has a losing record in Gainesville, FL, with UF leading 60-45-1.
» The Gators are making their fourth Super Regional appearance in school history – all have been within the last seven years. The Hurricanes will play their 10th Super Regional, last beating the Orange & Blue in the event with a two-game sweep in 2004.
» Florida is 28-9 (.757) at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play, sweeping the Gainesville Regional two years in a row and knocking Miami off in 2009.
» The Canes have won the head-to-head NCAA match-up 12 of 17 times, ending the Gators’ season on eight different occasions.
» Florida faced Miami in a three-game regular season series in Coral Gables, FL, earlier in 2010, winning two of three games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2) for the first time since 2007.
» Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 5-6 against the Hurricanes all-time, 3-6 during the regular season and 2-0 in NCAA play.
» Strength of schedule: Florida’s was third in the country, trailing Miami and Alabama.

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers…sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97) are a combined 16-2 (.889) with a 2.40 ERA at McKethan Stadium in 2010.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (68), multiple-RBI games (20), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker…who leads Florida in batting average (.375, 15-40) over the last 10 games with eight RBI, five runs and five extra-base hits (two homers). He also is tops on the team with 16 doubles on the year.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-29 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 65 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.361), runs (62) and hits (84).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.28 ERA (42.1 innings) in 29 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 17 saves are one shy of the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 16-2 with 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 240 innings, while its starters are a combined 29-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 289 innings.
» The ACC Player of the Year…junior catcher Yasmani Grandal leads Miami (and the ACC) in batting average (.411) slugging percentage (.729) and on-base percentage (.538). He is also tops on the Hurricanes in hits (88) and total bases (156), and second in home runs (14) and RBI (58).
» UM’s junior starter Chris Hernandez (10-3)…who is the team’s most dominant pitcher and a flame thrower, leads the ACC in ERA (2.77) and wins.

STREAKS:
» The Gators’ 45 wins so far in 2010 is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 NCAA College World Series runner-up team finished 48-23.
» Florida is currently riding a 13-game home winning streak.
» The Gators have outscored opponents 420-266 in 2010, are 34-4 (.895) when scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. Florida is 33-3 (.917) when out-hitting opponents and 9-12 (.429) the other way around. UF is also 9-3 (.750) in one-run games, 39-0 when leading after six innings, 43-0 aver seven and 42-0 after eight.
» Florida has committed an SEC-low 50 errors in 60 games and boast a .978 fielding percentage – good for tops in the conference and seventh nationally.
» The Gators’ season totals of 107 doubles and 80 home runs are the most since the 2005 team (113 and 85, respectively).
» Florida is batting .311 against left-handers and .299 against righties.

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FOUR BITS: UM recruit blasts UF; Demar Dorsey

1 » Speaking about the Florida Gators coaching staff to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Miami Hurricanes three-star freshman linebacker Kevin Nelson (Gainesville, FL) decided to rip his hometown team. “Grimy, two-faced and disrespectful,” Nelson called the coaches. He also accused them of what some might call dirty recruiting by saying the coaches told him that “Miami hasn’t won any ACC championship[s] since going to the ACC, and that [head coach] Randy Shannon is going to leave after this year, and that I might not get any playing time.” Nelson claims he rejected an offer from Florida (many believe it was pulled), but also says he has always been a Miami fan.

2 » Canes three-star freshman cornerback Devont’a Davis (Gainesville, FL) added that the Gators disrespected him because they did not extend an offer to him – a hometown player and fan of the team. “It offended me that they didn’t make an offer because I’m the best cornerback in Florida and live down the street,” he said. This follows-up what he told Rivals on Sept. 21. “I’m real disappointed in Florida,” Nelson said of not having an offer at the time. “They didn’t even invite me to the Tennessee game, so that was very disappointing to me. So even if they do offer me, I’m out.”

3 » A former Florida commitment, five-star safety Demar Dorsey left the program just before National Signing Day, though the specifics of that split are still hazy. Dorsey claimed he decommitted, but it is widely believed that the Gators stopped recruiting him due to a variety of concerns (juvenile arrests) not including academics. He was expected to sign with either the Florida State Seminoles or Michigan Wolverines and eventually chose the latter. New reports out of Ann Arbour, MI, state Dorsey is out as a member of the incoming class even though he qualified academically with the NCAA. ESPN called him “in limbo.” Dorsey would have the choice to go to another program with an open scholarship (the Seminoles are rumored) or sign with a junior college.

4 » Former Florida guard Orien Greene has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for tamping with urine samples he submitted for a drug test while playing professional basketball in Amsterdam. Greene allegedly used another person’s urine when providing his sample. However, he only has a year of suspension remaining because he was initially suspended on March 12, 2009. Greene started his college career with the Gators before transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette. He played for Sacramento, Indiana and Boston in the NBA before playing in Europe.

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