TWO BITS: Harvin’s returning, Tebow’s passing

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin has become a dynamic kickoff returner for the Minnesota Vikings. Only in his second professional season, the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has three return touchdowns on his career with his latest – a 95-yarder – coming on Sunday. The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Jeremy Fowler took a look at how Harvin’s return efficiency stacks up all-time. Hint: it’s pretty good. With three touchdowns in 58 returns, Harvin is averaging one every 19.3 touches, good for second all-time to Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers’ one every 15.16 touches (six TDs in 91 returns). Harvin’s efficiency also tops others like Leon Washington (21.66), Devin Hester (25.5), Josh Cribbs (35), Deion Sanders (51.66) and Dante Hall (71).

2 » Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said his staff will “continue to tinker with” its package for former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow after the Heisman Trophy winner scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday. However, in order to make his presence on the field truly effective, Dave Krieger of The Denver Post opines that Tebow needs to throw the ball. “[Passing] is the element missing so far from the Broncos’ Tebow packages, and it’s the element that will be necessary to make him more than an NFL novelty act,” he wrote. “The package could feature more weapons if [QB Kyle] Orton came out of the game, but that can only happen if Tebow is a threat to throw it himself.” McDaniels sees both sides to the situation. “We certainly can throw the ball with him out of [the package],” he said. “We haven’t yet. We can’t do the same thing with it week after week after week. […] The defense knows if it’s a quarterback back there you certainly have to be ready to play the pass, and that would certainly be the case with Tim.”

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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Tebow, Harvin, Haden make big plays Sunday

Though OGGOA will still be posting our Florida Gators in the NFL week six recap on Monday, we wanted to take a moment to showcase the performances of three players in particular who made big plays for their respective teams on Sunday.

» Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow scoring his first career touchdown:

» Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin with his third career return TD:

» Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden with his first career interception:

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Boynton, Parsons, Spikes

1 » Breaking news Wednesday has future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss being traded from the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. One of the players his arrival in Minnesota will help most? Former Florida Gators WR Percy Harvin, who has had a slow start to the season as the team’s primary pass catcher with WR Sidney Rice out of action for more than half of the year. Harvin could flourish in intermediate routes from the slot or opposite Moss on the outside, so keep an eye out for him as the season progresses.

2 » Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was named to the John R. Wooden Preseason Watch List on Monday. The list showcases 50 collegiate basketball players who Wooden Award Committee believes are frontrunners for the group’s player of the year award at the end of the season. Left off of this year’s initial list was Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons who was unquestionably the team’s best player last season and will be an integral piece should the team make the deep NCAA Tournament run predicted for them. Discounted by the committee, Parsons was recently profiled by Dime Magazine, which called him the “leader of the best starting five in America.” Check out this interview with Parsons that covers a number of topics.

3 » Three former Florida stars turned NFL rookies – tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes – have been getting major playing time (most of the time as starters) this season with New England. Cunningham had to overcome injuries during the offseason, but Hernandez and Spikes each had to deal with a different personal matter that cast doubt about them in the eyes of fans and the media. For seemingly the first time in years, Spikes spoke with reporters and tried to clear the air. “I definitely was embarrassed,” he said about the online video released of him. Now his focus is on football, which is getting easier for him week-to-week. “It’s kind of been a big learning process, but I think it’s coming along,” Spikes said. “Every day is a step I need to take to try to get better.”

4 » It has been five years since former Alabama Crimson Tide WR Tyrone Prothro’s career was basically ended when he shattered the lower part of his leg while attempting to make a catch in the end zone at home against the Gators. The best game of Prothro’s career ended up being his last, something he will always remember as being a life-changing event. “I definitely think that if I didn’t get hurt, I’d be in the NFL right now,” Prothro told AOL FanHouse. “I’m not sure if I would have come out early or not, but I might have. I was a junior. Though he is able to walk – and run – again, Prothro’s physicality is not where it needs to be to play professionally. Now he is working as a bank teller at Regions Bank across the street from his former team’s football complex. “People don’t believe it’s me,” he said. “I’ve got a name tag and a nameplate. They look down, then they look back up, and I’m like ‘It’s me.’”

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FOUR BITS: Wright, Harvin, Demps, volleyball

1 » When former Florida Gators safety Major Wright landed with the Chicago Bears, early expectations were that he would be starting for them right away. However, as training camp went on, Wright broke his left index finger (missing almost the entire preseason) and pulled his groin (losing another week of practice). Finally healthy again, Wright was in the rotation last Sunday but went down with his third injury this year – a hamstring strain. Apparently Wright got hurt on special teams while trying to catch fellow rookie Dez Bryant’s 62-yard punt return for the Dallas Cowboys. Early reports have Wright missing at least three weeks, meaning he will have to start all over again during week six of the NFL season.

2 » In other injury news, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was expected to be featured Sunday as his Minnesota Vikings took on the Miami Dolphins. Instead Harvin reinjured his hip while throwing a block and was forced to sit out much of the game. Though head coach Brad Childress has noted that he is not concerned with Harvin’s hip, he did miss practice Monday and Tuesday because of it. When Wednesday rolled around, Harvin stepped on the field for a short time but had to leave as he suffered another bout of migraines. His status for Sunday is questionable.

3 » Florida junior running back Jeff Demps has been added to the 2010 Paul Hornung Award watch list, a first-year honor being given to the most versatile player in college football. In three games this season, Demps has achieved 369 yards of offense and two touchdowns as well as a total of 590 all-purpose yards. Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey is also on the watch list.

4 » On the road Wednesday, No. 3 Gators volleyball (9-1) took down the rival No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (9-2) 3-0 (25-23, 31-29, 25-21) in Tallahassee, FL, at Tully Gymnasium. With the win, Florida is now 33-16 all-time against Florida State (26-2 under head coach Mary Wise). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy once again led the way with her 19th career triple-double (11 kills, 20 assists, 11 digs for 12.5 points), while junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed 11 digs and nine kills. The Gators will next see action at home on Sunday against Ole Miss.

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

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TWO BITS: Harvin’s sleep apnea, Donovan’s 9/11

1 » Three weeks ago, former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin collapsed on the Minnesota Vikings practice field due to complications from his chronic migraine headaches along with an adverse reaction to medication. After undergoing additional tests a week later that appeared to have found the root of his problems, Harvin was diagnosed by doctors with sleep apnea. Before his team’s season opener Thursday, Harvin explained to NBC’s Andrea Kremer that doctors noticed his heart stopped beating for 10 seconds during his hospital stay in August, which prompted them to have him tested for sleep apnea. During that test, his heart stopped beating on eight different occasions; he now uses an air regulation device while sleeping and is no longer taking any medication. Doctors believe Harvin is on the road to solving his health problems but cannot rule out a reoccurrence from time-to-time.

2 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan was in the middle of a recruiting trip when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York, NY, on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, Donovan was on a plane flying into Boston, MA, when he first found out; he was subsequently grounded in Buffalo, NY, and was forced to begin a recruiting odyssey on the road after he was unable to visit his family. “It was a scary, scary time,” Donovan told UF’s Scott Carter. “In terms of country, it obviously had an incredible impact. But I think for people that grew up in New York and were born and raised on Wall Street, lower Manhattan, it’s something that will always be with us. […] When you think of lower Manhattan, if you are from New York, the two things you think of are the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center. It’s amazing, even now when you fly by lower Manhattan, [the towers] are no longer there.” Read the GatorZone.com’s feature in full right here.

Extra BIT » Former Gators forward Dan Werner, who graduated from the University of Florida in August, has signed a four-year deal with Virtus Bologna, an Italian professional basketball team in the league’s Serie A division. Italy likely granted Werner dual citizenship, something he had been trying to receive for months so a club team could acquire him without using up one of their slots reserved for Americans.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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FOUR BITS: Addazio, volleyball, soccer, Harvin

1 » When things do not always go as planned for the Florida Gators, the fan base seems to freak out. Like last year, fans’ frustrations have already been pin-pointed on offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio. But as both the Orlando Sentinel‘s George Diaz and The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley will tell you, it was only one game and Addazio may indeed deserve a break. “I wasn’t happy with some the play calls Saturday, especially the screen pass from the 1-yard line that should have been ruled a safety,” Dooley wrote in particular. “But with Addazio as coordinator, Florida is now 14-1. I think that has to count for something. Let’s see what happens the rest of the way. Off the ledge, people. Like I’ve said a million times, nobody suffers winning like Gator fans.”

2 » Facing a top-15 opponent for the third time in their first five matches of the 2010 season, No. 4/6 Florida volleyball (5-0) defeated the No. 13/15 Colorado State Rams (5-1) in four sets – 25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21. The victory, which won the Gators the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational emanating from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, featured another brilliant performance from junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy. She, along with senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe, recorded 13 of Florida’s 10 kills. One day prior, in matches that took place earlier in the invitational, volleyball swept the both the Bowling Green Falcons (25-12, 25-11, 25-16) and Albany Great Danes (25-8, 25-21, 25-14) in three sets.

The Gators will host another tournament, the Nike Big Four Classic, beginning Friday. The other three teams participating in the event are No. 1 Penn State, Texas and Stanford, and all game information is available via OGGOA’s Upcoming Schedule table at the top right of your screen.

3 » Also running through the competition this year is No. 7 Florida soccer (5-0), which had six different players score while shutting out the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-3) 6-0 on Friday at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Junior forward Lindsay Thompson (27’), junior F/midfielder Tahnai Annis (30’), freshman F/MF Maggie Rodgers (45’), redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney (50’), freshman defender Mary-Ann Krlin (80’) and sophomore F/MF Natalia Torosian (90’) all punched goals through. As a team, Florida had 30 shots on Jacksonville, 14 of which were on goal. UF is set to face Florida State next on the road Friday at 7 p.m.

4 » Though he missed most of training camp grieving two deaths and suffering from another severe bout of migraine headaches, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin says he is “ready to play ball” for the Minnesota Vikings beginning Thursday night in the NFL’s 2010-11 season opener against the New Orleans Saints (including former Florida defensive end Alex Brown and running back DeShawn Wynn). Harvin, who will be on of quarterback Brett Favre’s primary pass catchers along with the team’s kick returner, believes he is finally getting his migraines under control with the help of numerous doctors. “There’s no miracle solution for them,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “The people I talked to had them for 40-plus years. My mom had them for 35 years and is just now growing out of them. It’s just something you got to hope to maintain. [...] I think we have a great plan.”

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FOUR BITS: Harvin hopeful, Miami (FL / OH) notes

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin returned to the field Saturday, catching two balls for 30 yards for the Minnesota Vikings. After the game, he told reporters that he was hopeful doctors have finally found what has been causing him severe migraine headaches for most of his life. “I did a test [Friday] night. They found some things that we think is the main cause of it,” Harvin said. “I know we said that a couple times, but I think this time we found what the main cause was. I’m not saying I won’t ever get a headache again, but hopefully we can slow it down a little bit.” He also spoke about the upcoming season. “I’ve got a lot of work to do as far as condition-wise,” he said, “but otherwise, it just felt good to get out there [Saturday] and have something to base my performance off of.”

2 » A new book named The Real U: 2001 to 2010: Inside the Eye of the Hurricane, which may be released in December, will allege that the University of Miami Hurricanes football team is guilty of numerous NCAA violations, according to the Miami Herald. The book is the work of Nevin Shapiro, a Miami booster who is “facing years in prison for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme,” reports the paper. Shapiro, who calls the publication “a tell-all book from the fan and booster perspective,” says it is aimed at making “the average fan aware of what really exists under [the Hurricanes] uniform. They might be great players, but they’re certainly not great people. I’m speaking of no less than 100 former players.” The book appears to be a revenge piece for Shapiro, who feels that players turned their back on him once they became professionals. The Herald lists linebacker Jon Beason, WR Devin Hester, safeties Antrel Rolle and Randy Phillips, and quarterbacks Robert Marve and Kyle Wright specifically as players who were close with Shapiro. Read the Herald’s entire story here.

3 » Interesting note about the Gators’ 2010 season opener: The Miami (OH) RedHawks were scheduled by request of former Florida head coach Ron Zook, who attended the school and hoped to play his alma mater in the future. According to the Palm Beach Post, the contract for the game was finalized in 2004, the year after Miami (OH) had just completed a 13-1 season and just a few months before Zook would be fired. “At the time the game was scheduled, Miami was looked at as a team that was headed in the same direction as Boise State,” head coach Mike Haywood said. “They were accepting all comers at that time. Unfortunately, things changed and took a different course. We’re trying to build it back to where it was at that time.”

4 » Gators sophomore running back Mike Gillislee may be third on the team’s depth chart behind junior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody, but RB coach Stan Drayton believes that he is easily the most powerful of the bunch and will be able to earn snaps this season. “When you’re talking about playing through contact – not necessarily making people miss – but playing through contact, Gillislee is probably the best of my group,” Drayton said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s Mike’s M.O. […] I can see him being used anywhere on the field, including the goal line. He’s not going to be solely a goal line back. He’s got to be a back that’s competitive in all situations for us.”

Photo Credit: Unknown

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TWO BITS: Powell, Easley, GameDay, returns

1 » Rumors are running rampant throughout the Florida Gators program Wednesday that five-star freshmen defensive end Ronald Powell and defensive tackle Dominique Easley have skipped either one or multiple practices recently due to anger over how they have been treated by veterans on the team – assumingly the starting offensive line. Further rumors emerged that the duo cleaned out their respective lockers and may even be considering transferring. Though the former information (missing practice) appears to be the most concrete, the latter seems to be a bit of a reach at this point.

The latest reports – from the Miami Herald and The Gainesville Sun, respectively – have Powell’s and Easley’s high school coaches unaware that there is anything wrong. Powell’s coach, Pete Duffy, told the Sun that his former player is “happy and very excited” at Florida; he had not heard about him missing practice. Easley’s coach, Pete Gambardella, told the Herald that Easley neither seemed upset, disgruntled nor angry when speaking to his former player Wednesday morning.

UPDATE: Powell and Easley are both practicing with the team.

2 » In a press release Wednesday, ESPN announced that College GameDay will return to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, for the Gators’ game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Feb. 5. The show’s first time visiting the basketball team since 2008 will also include former Florida dazzler and network reporter Erin Andrews, who told OGGOA that she will be in attendance as well, likely for her duties of hosting the first hour of GameDay at 10 a.m. on ESPNU.

Extra BIT » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs) and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (migraines) each returned to practice with their respective team on Wednesday after missing a number of days due to injury. Tebow had missed two practice and the Broncos’ last preseason game; Harvin had been sidelined after collapsing during practice on Aug. 19.

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