15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Haslem, Wright, Hodskins

1 » His behavior in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal taken into consideration, former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey remains in the Miami Dolphins future plans, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who reported Friday that the team is “committed” to Pouncey and plans in May to pick up a team option to keep him in Miami for a fifth season in 2015. Pouncey is set to earn $1.63 million in 2014 and will likely want to renegotiate his contract after the Dolphins pick up their option. This in theory would give the team a full season to evaluate Pouncey’s behavior off of the field and give them more data to decide whether or not signing him to a huge deal would be a wise long-term investment. “Pouncey is an excellent player,” new Miami general manager Dennis Hickey said on the radio Thursday. “I’ve had good conversations with him in the last month. I’m excited about the future.”

2 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem is playing the fewest minutes of his career, shooting career-lows from the field and charity stripe and barely making an impact on the court for the defending champions, but his selflessness, relationship with the franchise and impact in the locker room all kept him off the trading block this season. According to Dan LeBatard, Miami rejected a trade offer from Philadelphia that included Evan Turner even though Turner would have been able to give the Heat an extra scorer off the bench, help their title chances this season and save the team $4.62 million against the luxury cap next season. By doing so, Miami is showing considerable loyalty to Haslem, who sacrificed more than $10 million in salary as a free agent in 2010 to sign with his hometown team (where he has played since 2003) rather than move elsewhere. The undrafted free agent out of Florida is a three-time NBA champion with the Heat (2006, 2012-13) and Miami’s all-time leading rebounder.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah played the second-most minutes of any reserve in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, his second-straight appearance in the midseason contest, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. Noah saw extensive time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference, which outscored the Western Conference 87-66 in the second half to pull out a 163-155 victory in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. After the win, Miami guard Dwyane Wade referred to Noah as “one of the best competitors I’ve ever played against,” noting that his defense played a major part in the East’s success. “In the locker room,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “we talked about having fun and enjoying it, but [Noah] was serious. He wanted to win. You could see it in his face. … I’m glad he was on our side.”

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Mike Pouncey named in Ted Wells probe into Jonathan Martin’s harassment with Dolphins

Former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey, a third-year player named to his first NFL Pro Bowl this season, was named on Friday in Ted Wells’s independent investigation into harassment claims leveled against the Miami Dolphins and its players by tackle Jonathan Martin as a key contributor to the player’s issues.

Pouncey is named often in the 148-page report, which lists him as one of three players who “engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Martin” but also two other employees including a young unnamed offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.

Pouncey is described as a one who tended to follow the lead of Richie Incognito, the primary instigator, and likely would not have taken things as far had Incognito not been present in the locker room.

“The evidence establishes that persistent harassment by Incognito, [John] Jerry and Pouncey contributed to Martin’s decision to leave the team,” wrote Wells. “Nevertheless, although Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey verbally harassed Martin, we find that they did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury.”

The following are among the accusations levied against Pouncey (often with other players) based on evidence found by Wells through interviews, text messages, first-hand accounts and other forms of communication:

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Florida Gators compete in Pro Bowl, Senior Bowl

Four former Florida Gators participated in all-star games over the weekend with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey headlining as participants in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on Sunday evening.

The 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl, both played in the game for the first time in their respective careers.

Haden was the sixth player drafted and played for Team (Jerry) Rice. He intercepted quarterback Cam Newton and also registered one solo tackle and one pass defense.

Pouncey was the first center selected but did not start for Team (Deion) Sanders. He did see plenty of action throughout the game, however.

On Saturday, guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Land-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.

Halapio started at right guard for the South, but Patton saw limited action in the contest. He was targeted only once in the game but did not catch a pass. Patton did his most work as a returner, bringing back a kickoff for 27 yards and a punt for 15 yards.

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins, OnlyGators.com’s 2014 Path to the Draft blogger, suffered an Achilles injury Wednesday and was unable to compete on Saturday. He is expected to be able to participate in all upcoming pre-draft events.

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

1 » Joining a bevy of national analysts to come to the defenses of Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who has missed nine games this spring without receiving clearance or any information as to when a decision ill be reached on his eligibility by the NCAA, is ESPN‘s Jay Bilas. On Wednesday, Bilas sent the following tweet: “Dear NCAA: Chris Walker and Florida have waited long enough. The DMV now believes you are slow and inefficient.” He expanded on that thought Thursday in a conversation with Florida Today. “One, I don’t think it’s any of the NCAA’s business,” Bilas said. “But even if it is, it’s taken way too long. At some point you have to say, ‘You know what? We don’t have it. And until we do, the kid can play.’ They’ve got a clock ticking and the NCAA kind of tends to look at from their own perspective in that, we don’t want somebody else to run out the clock while we investigate. … At some point you’ve got to say, you know what the delay is unreasonable. It’s hurt the kid, it’s hurt the school and it’s just wrong.”

2 » Due to the Seattle Seahawks remaining in contention throughout the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs and ultimately earning a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been unavailable for head coaching job interviews despite the fact that three teams – Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland – reportedly had him as a frontrunner for their vacancies. Quinn told the media Thursday that he is not frustrated about the situation because it ultimately means his team has the chance to play for a title. “None. No, certainly not,” he said. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of this and moving forward here keeping the focus on our team, which it is.” Quinn had never even held a coordinator job until Gators head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011. After just four seasons (assuming he remains in his current position with Seattle in 2014), his dream of leading a team could finally come true next offseason.

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
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NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

13 » OFFSEASON GARBAGE
The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

12 » LACROSSE AND VOLLEYBALL COME UP SHORT
With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

11 » SAME TEAM!
The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.


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