1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow‘s dream of returning to the NFL has not died despite Tebow entering the world of broadcasting and refusing to either change positions or play in a lesser league (CFL, AFL) in order to get noticed by teams. According to the Boston Globe, which spoke with Tebow’s throwing coach of the last two years, the player may be considering entering the first-ever NFL Veteran Combine on March 22. “[Trainer Tom] House told us on Friday that he isn’t sure if Tebow will be attending the combine, but ‘he went from being a little inaccurate and didn’t throw a whole lot of spirals, to throwing very accurate and real good at spinning the ball.'” OnlyGators.com has spoken with the NFL’s regional combine officials on multiple occasions over the last few weeks but was told that an official roster would not be released either at all or at least until much closer to the event.
Updated on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.
Already 21 members strong, the Florida Gators’ 2014 recruiting class has space to expand and head coach Will Muschamp is looking to do just that over the next few days leading up to and on National Signing Day when the vast majority of uncommitted high school football players across the country announce their decisions.
Be sure to visit OnlyGators.com’s live coverage of National Signing Day beginning Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. It will feature a live chat and be constantly updated throughout the day with every signed National Letter of Intent (NLI) and new commitment.
For now, OnlyGators.com breaks down which players the Gators are still waiting to hear from and when they may learn of their respective decisions while providing some of the latest information and insights on each player.
Special thanks to InsidetheGators.com recruiting analyst Blake Alderman for his assistance with some of the finer details below.
Offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, MD)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 20 overall (No. 2 OT) | ESPN – No. 26 overall (No. 3 OT)
Leaders: Florida, Maryland
Skinny: Prince’s recruitment has heated up as of late. He cut his top three to a final two (removing Penn State) and moved up his announcement date nine days to Feb. 5. Though staying home is a strong consideration in his mind, three big factors have Prince seriously considering – and possibly leaning towards – committing to Florida. His good friend, five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, DC), enrolled early at UF; Prince is a fan of new Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers; and he used his final official visit to travel to Gainesville, FL over the weekend, reportedly coming away impressed. Nevertheless, home is often where the heart is…and Prince may not be leaving.
Announcement: National Signing Day – 10:00 a.m. on ESPNU
Prediction: Maryland | Confidence: 70%
From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.
» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.
» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.
Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19
For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2012 (check out Sunday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 On the Field Moments of the Year.
12 » MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH
If there was a theme to Gators athletics in the spring it was Florida teams falling short of their goals. In addition to men’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and men’s swimming & diving all just coming up just short of winning major titles, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse and softball all gave valiant efforts but faced immense disappointment in the end. It all started with the Gators basketball team, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year and once again choked away a late lead and failed to advance to the Final Four. Up 11 points with 8:14 left in the game, Florida was outscored 18-3 down the stretch by Louisville, which held on for the 72-68 victory. The Gators hit just 1-of-12 shots over the final 8:14 while also going 1-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and 0-for-9 from downtown over the final 20 minutes. Gymnastics did just about everything it could during the 2012 NCAA Super Six in late April but came just short of earning the first national title in program history, falling 197.850-197.775 to Alabama and losing by 0.075 points. Next up was softball, which looked primed to return to the championship game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series for the third time in the last four years. Instead, Florida got upended 10-1 by eventual national champion Alabama in the finals of the 2012 SEC Tournament and was eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2012 NCAA Tournament due in part to suspensions levied against three key players. It was the first time since 2006 that UF did not at least advance to the Super Regional. A controversial finish led to another tough loss for lacrosse (see No. 9), leaving one sport to provide the ultimate disappointment to Gators fans in 2012.
Perhaps most heartbreaking for Gators fans was seeing a baseball team that was the national title favorite from the very start of the season fall fast and finish the campaign without a single title. Cruising along in the SEC Tournament with a one-run lead and three outs to go in the championship game, Florida baseball collapsed against Vanderbilt, allowing its opponents to score five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth and hold on for the title. Junior closer Austin Maddox imploded after coming on to get the final three outs, giving up a lead-off double to right and eventually allowing Vandy to tie the game after a sacrifice bunt, hit batter and suicide squeeze. It only got worse from there. The Commodores accomplished a double steal, hit an infield single, loaded the bases (intentional walk, double steal, intentional walk) and then pulled off a triple steal to score their third run of the inning. A two-run single put the nail in the coffin as the Gators allowed more stolen bases in a single frame (seven) than had ever been given up in an entire SEC Tournament game in the history of the event. With horrible memories of the SEC Tournament behind them and the NCAA Tournament upcoming, Florida hoped to use the experience to improve as a team. The Gators did advance to the College World Series but were swept right out of it with consecutive losses. Florida fell 7-3 to South Carolina in its first game before allowing an unranked Kent State team to register a 5-4 upset victory in the second game. The Gators coughed up four unearned runs, committed two errors and failed to plate runs despite having numerous opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position. With so much talent on the roster and a track record of success – the team got to the championship series just one year earlier – Florida baseball legitimately blew a great national title chance.
11 » FLORIDA SWEEPS FSU IN FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, BASEBALL
For the first time in school history, the Gators swept the Seminoles in football, basketball and baseball (5-0) in a calendar year. Florida State having a historically successful baseball team has stood in the way of Florida’s ability to accomplish this feat in the past, but Gators baseball completed its first regular-season sweep of the Seminoles since 1958 by earning a 9-2 victory in Gainesville, FL, 4-1 victory in Jacksonville, FL and a 6-3 win on the road in Tallahassee, FL. Florida football bounced back from consecutive losses to FSU with a 37-26 beat down in Tallahassee, and UF basketball matched the football team’s intensity with a 72-47 rout on the road.
A dual-sport star and the only man or woman in the history of the Florida Gators athletic program to win national championships in two sports (football, track & field), Jeff Demps is one of the most accomplished athletes to come out of the University of Florida and has only added to his resume this past year.
As a football player, Demps played running back and took 367 carries for 2,470 yards (6.73 yards per carry) while registering 23 touchdowns over four seasons. He also had a 99-yard kick return touchdown in his senior season against Georgia. Demps started the 2009 BCS National Championship as a freshman and won both a national title and Southeastern Conference title as part of the football program.
As a track star, he was a five-time All-American who won four individual national championships, five individual SEC championships and was part of a men’s track program that dominated both national and conference meets, winning multiple titles in both indoor and outdoor competitions.
Demps decided to concentrate on track after college and participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He fell short of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics but earned a spot as an injury replacement and brought home a silver medal.
After returning to the United States, he signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent but missed the entire season with a leg injury. Demps is expected to play his rookie season in 2013.
He has spent the last few months working as an ambassador for the Special Olympics and sat down with OGGOA recently for a wide-ranging interview.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s jump back to the beginning and start with your recruitment. I remember a lot of people always thought you would end up at Florida but what was it in the end that made you decide to go to UF over Tennessee?
JEFF DEMPS: “Florida just felt like home. I didn’t really want to go too far from home. Tennessee came down to recruit me, and I liked what they were talking about, but at the end of the day I knew I was always going to end up at Florida.”
AS: You got into the mix right away, scoring in the SEC Championship and starting at running back in the national title game. What was it like being a freshman and getting thrown into the lineup on a team that was having so much success?
JD: “It was fun. I knew coming in that, if I worked hard enough and learned the plays, I would have some kind of role on the offense as a freshman. That’s what I did and I was able to do those things like start in the championship and score in the SEC Championship and things like that.”
AS: Your sophomore season was something special as the Gators were looking to win back-to-back titles. How much pressure would you say the team felt each game to live up to the hype and deliver on winning another championship?
JD: “We had a lot of pressure. We were coming back and expected to win the championship. I’d say everybody wanted to see us hold up to the standard. We knew each team was going to bring their ‘A’ game and play us like we were the most important opponent on their schedule. It was really tough.”
Read the rest of OGGOA’s exclusive interview with Jeff Demps…after the break!
Continue Reading » RB Jeff Demps: “I tried to do the best that I could.”
Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes and 35 current and former Florida swimmers participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, OR and Omaha, NE over the last two weeks.
In all seven Gators – four track & field athletes, three swimmers – qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after competing in the two events. Joining these current and former student-athletes are Mike Holloway, an assistant coach on Team USA for sprinters and hurdlers, and Gregg Troy, the Americans’ head swimming coach for these Olympic games.
OGGOA will offer comprehensive coverage of the 2012 London Olympics including a dedicated page, numerous widgets and daily updates. Below is the final update for the track & field and swimming team trials, which concluded on Monday.
EVENT RESULTS – JULY 2
WOMEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE
Dara Torres – 4th – 24.82 – Did not qualify
» Torres’s Olympic career ends with 12 medals (four golds) over five games.
Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump
Kerron Clement – Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke
(Additional relays that McQuay, Clement, Lochte, Dwyer and Beisel may compete in have yet to be determined or announced.)
Track & Field
Senior Gray Horn – Men’s Decathalon – finished third, did not qualify
Junior Dwight Barbiasz – Men’s High Jump – advanced to finals
Wes Stockbarger – Men’s Discus Throw – advanced to finals
Senior Jeff Demps – Men’s 100 Meter Dash – advanced to finals
Freshman Marquis Dendy – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Mason Cathey – Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase – advanced to finals
Calvin Smith – Men’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey – Women’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Freshman Dedric Dukes – Men’s 200 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Eddie Lovett – Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles – advanced to semifinals
Junior Jeremy Postin – Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Cory McGee – Women’s 1,500 Meter Run
Men: Rex Tullius (finals), Matthew Norton, Mike Joyce, Alex Martin, junior Cameron Martin, junior Jason Taylor, sophomore Connor Signorin, sophomore Bradley deBorde, freshman Matt Elliott (finals), freshman Austin Ringquist, freshman Matthew Curby, freshman Carlos Omana, freshman James Turner, freshman Austin Manganiello, freshman Ricky Munch, freshman Nicholas Caldwell, freshman Colin Hamilton, freshman Billy Silva
Women: Dara Torres (finals), senior Teresa Crippen (finals – 2), junior Jamie Bohunicky, junior Sharla Milne, sophomore Kaitlin Frehling, sophomore Trish Regan, sophomore Alicia Mathieu, sophomore Julia Treible, sophomore Alana Pazevic, freshman Rebecca Rainer, freshman Molly Dubrasky, freshman Jordan Smith, freshman Savannah Napier, freshman Lauren Neidigh,
From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» A rough senior season at the center position made many Florida Gators fans skeptical that Mike Pouncey could play the position as well as his twin brother. But after one year as the starting center for the Miami Dolphins, those questions no longer exist as Pouncey has proven that he can perform at a Pro Bowl level (though he did not make it to the game in 2011). Now he is focused on getting even better and told the Sun-Sentinel it all starts with eating better. “I can get away with [eating fast food], but I changed it up this year just trying to eat more leaner stuff,” he said. “I hired a chef, so it’s been working well for me.” Pouncey also feels the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins will be employing in 2012 and beyond will benefit him and the offense; he expects a breakout season for himself. “They say your second year is supposed to be your best year,” he said. “I’m hoping for big things. I’m coming out as hard as I can. I want to take on more of a leadership role this year.”
» Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan has been working with the United States U18 National Team over the last few weeks and began action in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with his squad on Saturday. Donovan’s young squad is already 2-0 in international competition with a 105-42 victory over the Virgin Islands on Saturday and a 110-59 win over Mexico on Sunday. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Monday to conclude first-round action with the semifinals taking place Tuesday and the championship being held on Wednesday. Donovan’s squad needs to place in the top four teams at the end of the event in order to advance to the 2013 FIBA World Championship next summer. “I told them there are three things we want to accomplish. First and foremost, win a gold medal. Second, we’ve got a lot of guys on our team going into college and we want them to get maybe a bit more prepared than some other incoming freshmen for what they’re going to face in college. And third, we want to help them get better as players,” Donovan told the Sporting News before leaving for Brazil.
» Gators linebacker Neiron Ball, who missed the entire 2011 season after a blood vessel burst in his brain and he was diagnosed with a hereditary vascular condition, was officially cleared to participate in all football activities by team doctors on Friday. Ball had previously announced on March 1 that he had medical clearance from doctors to return to action, but head coach Will Muschamp cautioned in April and May that while he had returned to work out with the team that he was not a full participant and was still awaiting an additional clearance. Now that Ball is good to go, he will compete for immediate playing time at Buck linebacker, a position with a major depth issue now that junior Ronald Powell is out until at least mid-October with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
» Florida track & field coach Mike Holloway was awarded his first Coach of the Year honor for the outdoor season by the USTFCCCA on Thursday. He had previously won the award in consecutive years for the indoor season (2010-11). Holloway’s men’s team swept the 2012 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships this season.
Read six more Gator Bites…after the break!
It came down to the wire for Florida Gators men’s track and field at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, IA on Saturday but an outstanding finish in the event-ending 1,600-meter relay propelled the team to victory and the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championship. The national outdoor title is the first in program history for either the men’s or women’s team and gives the Gators a sweep of the men’s national titles in 2012 as UF also captured the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championship in March.
Down two points to LSU heading into the final event, Florida used a 2012 world-leading finish (3:00.02) by freshmen Dedrick Dukes and Hugh Graham, Jr., juniors Leonardo Seymore and junior Tony McQuay to win the individual national title in the 4×400-meter relay (also the first in program history) and clinch the championship.
UF (50 points) edged LSU (48) and Texas A&M (40) for the title and became the first team since Arkansas in 2003 to sweep the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the same season.
The Gators also brought home two other individual national titles on Friday as McQuay and junior Omar Craddock won their respective events. McQuay posted a time of 44.58 seconds in the men’s 400 meters to win the event for the first time in school history, and Craddock took home the men’s triple jump title with a distance of 16.92m/55-6.25 (+2.9). Both men also won the indoor title in their respective events to sweep them for the year, and Craddock’s victory marked the third-straight outdoor triple jump title for UF as well as the team’s sixth-straight overall triple jump title (indoor and outdoor 2010-12).
Neither senior sprinter Jeff Demps nor senior decathlete Gray Horn competed in their respective events this week. Demps, the reigning three-time 60-meter dash champion for indoor competition, missed the 100-meter dash as he continues to prepare for the U.S. Olympic Trials and 2012 London Olympics. Horn, one of the most accomplished student-athletes on the team, was still serving a suspension.
“We lost our best sprinter, we lost our best decathlete and our 4×100 didn’t qualify,” head coach Mike Holloway said after the victory. “A lot of people would have given up hope, but our group of guys didn’t. I sat them down after Regionals and I said ‘We are still the best team in the country, as long as you believe it,’ and our guys believed it.”
Holloway won the fourth national title of his career as the Gators men’s team has also captured three-straight NCAA Indoor Championships.
It is the first time in school history that Florida has won three national titles in the same season with the women’s tennis team winning their second-straight championship in May. Saturday’s national championship is the 29th in school history and 20th since athletic director Jeremy Foley took over the program.
Photo Credit: PrettySporty