Nine Florida Gators invited to 2015 NFL Combine

The official list of invitees was released by National Football Scouting on Friday, and nine former Florida Gators have officially been invited to participate in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 17-23, 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 2015 NFL Draft on April 30.

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

Linebacker Neiron Ball – Group: 9 | Camp: LB03
Offensive guard Trenton Brown – Group: 1 | Camp: OL04
Punter Kyle Christy – Group: 1 | Camp: PK03
Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.* – Group: 7 | Camp: DL20
Center Max Garcia – Group: 1 | Camp: OL20
Offensive tackle Chaz Green – Group: 2 | Camp: OL25
Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries* – Group: 2 | Camp: OL31
Running back Matt Jones^ – Group: 6 | Camp: RB25
Defensive tackle Leon Orr – Group: 8 | Camp: DL36

^ Redshirt junior | * Junior

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Gameday: 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – Florida Gators vs. East Carolina Pirates

Location: Legion Field – Birmingham, Alabama [Capacity: 70,459]
Weather: 63°F, scattered thunderstorms (45% chance of rain), winds SSE at 13 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Laura Rutledge)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
(Interim) Head Coach: D.J. Durkin Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
Record: 6-5 Record: 8-4
Conference: Southeastern Conference: American

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U 56

STATS / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida, which is bowl eligible or the first time since 2012, is 20-20 all-time in bowl games. The Gators had won four-straight before falling to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, the last of their 22-straight bowl game appearances. UF is also making its 20th appearance in a January bowl game in the last 22 seasons (since 1993), most in the nation.
» Durkin is serving as a head coach for the first time. He is Florida’s fourth interim coach all time, following Galen Hall (1984), Gary Darnell (1989) and Charlie Strong (2004).
» The Gators have not played at Legion Field since 1993. Florida is 4-2 all-time in the city of Birmingham, last playing a bowl game in town in 1988.
» UF is also 1-0 all-time against ECU with a 24-17 victory in Gainesville in 1983.
» The Gators and Pirates will play twice in a three-game span with UF hosting ECU on Sept. 12, the second week of the 2015 regular season.
» Florida is 23-7 against unranked opponents since Will Muschamp took over in 2011.
» Five of UF’s 11 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer (2-3).
» The Gators will not be ranked at any point in a full season for the first time since 1979.
» Despite its struggles, Florida’s offense has been an efficient scorer in the red zone, converting 38-of-42 opportunities (.905). That’s good for third in the SEC and 12th nationally. The Gators, however, have only converted 24 red zone touchdowns on those 42 trips (.571).
» Nearly 43 percent of opponent drives against Florida have ended in a three-and-out (66 of 155).
» Since Muschamp took over in 2011, the Gators are 23-5 when holding an opponent to 21 or fewer points, 20-3 when rushing for 150+ yards, 26-6 when outrushing an opponent, 17-7 when scoring first and 23-4 when leading at the half. Conversely, Florida is 1-8 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, 2-15 when being out-rushed by an opponent and 5-17 when tied or trailing at the half.

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

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Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

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Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

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Florida-Georgia post-game report: Gators celebrate dominant win over Bulldogs

A 38-20 win over the then-No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2 SEC), which was more dominant than the score indicates, has given the Florida Gators (4-3, 3-3 SEC) and head coach Will Muschamp new life.

Muschamp met with the media after the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Saturday to discuss Florida breaking its three-game losing streak at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Gators hoping to turn a page this season.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Despite the Gators’ victory, the Bulldogs still hold a 49-41-2 all-time advantage over their border rivals in the Florida-Georgia game. UGA also leads 43-38-1 for games played in Jacksonville. UF, however, is 19-6 against its rival since 1990.
» By locking up a victory, the Gators avoided four-straight losses to the Bulldogs, which would’ve occurred for the first time since dropping six in a row from 1978-83.
» It was the third time in the series that an unranked UF defeated a ranked UGA.
» Florida was an 11.5-point underdog entering the game despite Georgia not winning a game in the series by more than eight points since 1997.
» The victory ensured that UF’s senior class would not be the first since 1983 to go winless against UGA in their collegiate careers.
» Muschamp won his first-ever Florida-Georgia game after going 0-4 as a UGA player and starting 0-3 as a UF coach.
» The Gators had lost six-straight games against top 25 opponents before defeating the Bulldogs. UF is now 5-13 against ranked opponents under Muschamp.
» This was just Florida’s third game this season not decided by six points or fewer.
» The Gators (blue) and Bulldogs (red) each wore their respective team-color jersey. It is the first time this happened in the Florida-Georgia game since 1970.
» Treon Harris was the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for UF since 2011 (Jacoby Brissett) and the first to start a Florida-Georgia game since 2003 (Chris Leak).
» Running backs junior Matt Jones (192 yards) and sophomore Kelvin Taylor (197 yards) each set career-highs on Saturday. The rushers also had two touchdowns apiece.
» It was the first time in school history that UF had two backs each eclipse 120 yards in the same game.
» It was the first time since 2011 (Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey) that the Gators had two running backs eclipse 100 yards in the same game.
» The 418 rushing yards on Saturday were a season-high for the Gators (most since 1989) and most allowed by the Bulldogs since 1978 (second-most ever). Florida also had three runs (65 yards, 44 yards [twice]) that were the longest given up by Georgia this season. UF’s 418 rushing yards were also the most by a Muschamp team (second time over 400 in a single game).
» The Gators are 5-0 under Muschamp when rushing 50+ times and 9-0 when scoring three or more rushing touchdowns in a game.
» Florida only completed three passes in the game, its fewest in records dating back to 1996 (UF is 6-5 in 11 games with 10 or fewer completions).

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Friday Final: Players ready for Florida-Georgia

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) as they prepare to lay it all on the line against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks starting Treon Harris, fixing Florida’s numerous offensive issues during bye
Story: Gators adopt “bunker mentality” as players support coach
Story: Tim Tebow on Treon Harris: We’ll see what he’s made of
Notebok: Kurt Roper talks Harris starting, Florida’s progress on offense
Notebook: Gators defense ready to stop Bulldogs rush, more from D.J. Durkin
The Silver Lining: Florida players exuding confidence entering Georgia game

WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY

Every player on the Florida roster always has and always will get geared up for Georgia game, no matter how either team is playing entering the contest.

Head coach Will Muschamp announced Thursday that four redshirt senior Peach State natives – linebacker Neiron Ball, running back Mack Brown, center Max Garcia and LB Michael Taylor – will be captains for the game. Two of them, along with a couple other players, spoke with the media this week about what the UF-UGA game means to them.

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Muschamp, Gators adopting ‘bunker mentality’ as Florida players support embattled coach

Shielding themselves from falling bombs of criticism and ear-piercing chants for the ouster of a starting quarterback and head coach, Will Muschamp said Monday that he hand the Florida Gators have adopted a “bunker mentality” that he hopes will serve the team well through the remainder of the season.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel benched for freshman Treon Harris after Driskel turned the ball over 12 times in his last four games, one part of the call from Florida fans has been answered.

However, Muschamp still remains coach of the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) after their devastating 42-13 blowout loss to Missouri on homecoming, and fans continue to let it be known that they want athletic director Jeremy Foley to make a change and fast.

Muschamp accepts the fervor and heavy criticism because it comes with the position of head coach, explaining that he is singularly focused on Florida’s next opponent – the SEC East-leading, No. 9-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) – and not what fans think about his job status.

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