FOUR BITS: Bell, Sturgis, Harvin, Fedora

1 » Minutes after the Kansas Jayhawks announced that they had hired Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as their next head coach, fans and media members began pointing to Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell as a frontrunner to replace Weis at Florida. Bell spoke with The Gainesville Sun Thursday evening about the possibility. “Naturally, the University of Florida is my alma mater,” he told the paper. “It’s something I’ve always said I’d like to do. I love being a head coach. It would have to be the right place [for me to leave Jacksonville], and Florida is the right place. Will Muschamp has a personality that seems like a guy who would be great to work with. I definitely would be interested in listening. It would be great to come back.”

2 » Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was a finalist but did not win the Lou Groza Award on Thursday. However, he was named a 2011 Walter Camp All-American and was placed on the second team, following in the footsteps of former Florida punter Chas Henry who was selected for the first team one year ago.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had one of the best games of his NFL career last Sunday, posting a career-high 156 yards with two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. Harvin almost didn’t play in the game, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, after suffering “migraine-like symptoms” just one day earlier. “The symptoms were similar to Harvin’s past struggles with migraines, according to the unnamed person, including bloodshot eyes and vomiting,” the paper reported. Harvin had been without migraines all year after believing doctors found a way of preventing them in the offseason. If he did indeed suffer a migraine, Harvin may go through even more tests this offseason to try and find another solution.

4 » Former Florida offensive coordinator Larry Fedora (2002-04) was introduced as the new head football coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday. After leaving the Gators alongside then-head coach Ron Zook, Fedora worked as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 before taking the top job at Southern Mississippi in 2008. During his introductory press conference with UNC, Fedora singled out Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and thanked him for all of his help getting to this point in his career. Foley told UF senior writer Scott Carter shortly after how much he appreciated Fedora’s ability and work ethic. “I’ve always felt very highly about Larry Fedora and have followed his career closely. He did an outstanding job for us as an assistant at Florida and has had success at every stop since,” Foley said. “He is a good football coach, but even a better person and family man and I fully expect his success to continue.”

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FOUR BITS: Finley, Marotti, Tebow, Brewer

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Dee Finley confirmed to OGGOA Thursday night that he has chosen to transfer and finish his collegiate football career with the Division II North Alabama Lions. Finley, who decided to leave Florida on Oct. 12, will return to his home state and attend a school just four hours north of his hometown. Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins transferred to play for the Lions after being dismissed before the season by head coach Will Muschamp and has done very well during his time at North Alabama this year.

2 » Two former Florida players have told OGGOA over the last couple of days that Gators strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti is indeed headed to Columbus, OH to team up once again with head coach Urban Meyer at his new post with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite reports that Meyer was also after linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin, OGGOA has learned that Durkin plans to stay put and remain with Florida for 2012. However, as the Columbus Dispatch noted on Thursday, Meyer is also interested in bringing over UF wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill. Hill joined the Gators staff under Muschamp after Meyer left.

3 » Former Florida teammates quarterback Tim Tebow and wide receiver Percy Harvin will do battle this weekend when their respective teams – the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings – do battle this week on the NFL gridiron. Harvin, who obviously has plenty of experience playing with Tebow, has been helping Minnesota game plan this week for the Heisman Trophy winner. The Vikings are using backup QB Joe Webb as a Tebow clone in practice in an effort to stop the Tebow train and (5-1 as a starter this year) and lead Minnesota to just its third victory of the season. The Vikings, however, have the ninth-ranked run defense in the league, so Tebow and broncos head coach John Fox may have to use his arm to succeed this week.

4 » After bouncing around between a number of teams of last season, former Gators forward Corey Brewer hopes to have found a more permanent home with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. While head coach Rick Carlisle told Brewer that he is pleased with his effort, rebounding and ability to attack the basket, he pointed out that Brewer must improve his jump shot going forward. “We were shooting a lot trying to get my jump shot to be consistent,” Brewer said in mid-November, according to “All the other things I do well, but I need to be a consistent jump-shooter, especially in our offense. The way we pass the ball you get a lot of open shots.” Brewer may not have done much to help Dallas win last season, but he hopes to be an integral part of the team winning its second title in 2011-12. “I always felt like this was a good move for my future. We have a lot of guys that are aging and I feel like I’d get a chance to come here and help,” he added. “I was happy to be on the team last year and I helped as much as I could, but I knew I wasn’t going to get much time. But now, it’s a new year.”

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FOUR BITS: Leak, Harvin, Starks, Gilbert

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak has yet to find a permanent team to play with as a professional. After playing only one preseason game in the NFL, he has spent the last four years in the CFL with three different teams. His running around in the great white north has finally coming to an end if a report from the Florida Times-Union is to be believed. According to the paper, the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL are planning to sign Leak to be the team’s new starting quarterback. The ArenaBowl XXIV Champions, Jacksonville will be losing its 41-year-old veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia to another team and is looking for someone to come in and take his place. Should Leak sign with the Sharks, he will be the third former Gators player on the team in as many years, following cornerback Dee Webb and wide receiver Dallas Baker.

2 » After missing one day of practice last week due to a stomach illness supposedly caused by the flu, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin ended up playing in his team’s game on Sunday but did not last the entire contest. After getting hit in the gut during the fourth quarter, Harvin sat out the final five minutes of regulation as well as the overtime period as he watched his team fall to Detroit. Before leaving, Harvin caught three passes for 47 yards, returned two kickoffs for 47 yards and ran the ball twice for 41 yards. He is expected to return to practice this week and should not suffer any further setbacks.

3 » Out of work all season after being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers just after the NFL lockout ended, former Florida offensive tackle Max Starks continues to look for a new team. According to 1500 ESPN Radio out of Minnesota, the Vikings met with Starks on Monday as they need to fill a reserve tackle position on their team. Starks, who recovered all offseason from a neck injury that he suffered in November, apparently had weight and conditioning issues when he reported to Steelers camp.

4 » Pittsburgh’s offensive line looked like a MASH unit Sunday evening after a bunch of starters and reserves were injured throughout the course of their game at Indianapolis. Rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who moved into a starting role with the team due to an injury to another player, hurt his shoulder during the game and was sent to the sideline. When the reserve left tackle was forced to leave the game, an injured Gilbert wound up reentering for the remainder of the contest. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Gilbert “looks like he’ll be OK” to play next week barring any setbacks. Even though the team is in need of another reserve tackle, NBC Sports reports that Starks has been ruled out as a possibility.

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FOUR BITS: Elam, Harvin, Noah, Hernandez

1 » According to the Associated Press, Florida Gators sophomore safety Matt Elam has settled the misdemeanor alcohol possession charge he was served an arrest for over the summer. Elam, who was caught by a police officer with a plastic cup containing alcohol, entered a plea of no contest on Monday. He will do 12 hours of community service, serve six months of supervised probation and pay a total of $331 in fees to settle the charge. Elam did not miss any playing time and has started all three games of the 2011 season for Florida at strong safety.

2 » Even though Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had a dynamic kickoff return in the first game of the season and has proven to be the team’s second-most explosive weapon behind running back Adrian Peterson, he is not being used as much offensively has in the past. Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Radio in Minneapolis pointed out on Monday that Harvin was only used in 44.1 percent (30-of-68) of the team’s offensive snaps in their second game of the season, which is more than 20 percent less playing time than just one week prior. The Vikings’ best receiver and deep threat, Harvin not being in the game has seriously stalled their offense, which is 31st (out of 32 teams) in the league in passing and has only scored 37 combined points in two games this season. His migraine and injury concerns are apparently a thing of the past, leaving many fans of the team to wonder why he is not being utilized more often.

3 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, aside from participating in international competitions, has been relatively quiet since his team was eliminated from the NBA Playoffs last year. Though you may not see him endorsing too many products west of the Atlantic Ocean, apparently Noah’s name is big enough in France to sell some shoes and clothing for the French sporting goods company Le Coq Sportif. Below is a video of the commercial Noah is currently appearing in for the brand.

4 » There may be some more bad news coming for New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who reportedly tore his MCL in the team’s week two contest against San Diego. Though the Boston Globe initially reported that Hernandez would be out 1-2 weeks with the sprain, Comcast SportsNet New England believes he may be out more than a month and up to six weeks due to the injury. The loss of Hernandez would be a big blow for the Patriots, who have found success recently with two pass-catching tight ends and perhaps even bigger for fantasy football owners who were counting on him to continue his dominant 2011 campaign.

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SIX BITS: Harvin’s healthy, Raymond wins, books, soccer & volleyball split, Floyd’s repayment

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin is healthy – finally. After being nagged by injuries throughout his college career and having persistent migraines limit the amount of time he could practice and play for the Minnesota Vikings during his first two years in the NFL, Harvin has finally cleared all of that up and hopes to become the dynamic playmakers his teammates, coaches and fans know he can be. He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week that he has “tremendous confidence in my ability” and proved that Sunday, taking the opening kickoff 103 yards down the field for a touchdown. Having missed fewer than two practices in the offseason (for precautionary reasons due to sore ribs), Harvin is ready and raring to go and hopes to continue the electricity he showcased over the weekend.

2 » Former Florida tennis player Lisa Raymond has always seemed to excel in doubles action, where she is 700-251 all-time as a professional and has been a part of 71 title-winning duos (she was even half of the No. 1 pair in the world back in 2000). Raymond, with four Grand Slam doubles titles to her name this century, was looking to win her first this decade, teaming with Liezel Huber at the 2011 U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Entering the tournament as the No. 4 seed, Raymond and Huber made it all the way to the finals where they defeated No. 3 seed Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) to win Raymond’s fifth Grand Slam and earn her the world No. 1 ranking she has been looking to recapture for nearly 11 years. At 38-years-old, Raymond would be considered by most to be a relic of professional tennis, but she told The New York Times that her age was an advantage going into the event. “I think that’s probably one of our biggest assets as a team is our experience,” she said after the victory. “We have years and years and years of being in finals of Slams, winning the championships, being down breaks in the third set to win or lose a Slam.”

3 » Two former Gators in the team’s Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame – running back Emmitt Smith and linebacker Jack Youngblood – are releasing brand new books chronicling their lives. Smith’s is titled Game On: Find Your Purpose – Pursue Your Dream “outlines the principles that helped him become a winner on and off the football field.” Youngblood’s – Because It Was Sunday – The Legend of Jack Youngblood – gives “readers and football fans an unprecedented, candid account of [his] remarkable life journey.” He will be at the University of Florida’s Alumni Hall promoting the book on Oct. 1, the day it is scheduled to be released.

4 » No. 9 Florida soccer (5-2) split a pair of games over the weekend, dropping a heartbreaker 3-2 to the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles on Friday before soundly defeating the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 5-0 on Sunday. UF and FSU went back-and-forth Friday with the Seminoles scoring at 4’ and 55’ and the Gators knocking goals in at 45’ (junior midfielder Erika Tymrak) and 68’ (junior MF Holly King). With the match tied 2-2, Florida State’s Tiffany McCarthy scored her second goal of the evening and fifth of the season at 72’ to push her team to victory. Florida rebounded Sunday with a shutout victory including goals from freshman forward Tessa Andujar, Tymrak (16’), freshman defender Lauren Silver (24’), sophomore MF Caroline Triglia (43’) and senior F Lindsay Thompson (58’).

5 » Competing in the Nike Big Four Classic in Palo Alto, CA, No. 7 Gators volleyball (7-2) also split their weekend matches. Florida defeated the No. 10 Texas Longhorns in five sets (25-22, 20-25, 25-13, 21-25, 15-12) on Friday prior to being beat in similar fashion by the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal (17-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 13-15) on Sunday. Senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel led the way for the Gators with a total of 35 kills and 33 digs in back-to-back double-doubles, and senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy followed suit with 26 kills and 59 assists in two double-double performances of her own.

6 » Gators sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, as part of his punishment by the NCAA, is required to make arrangements to repay $2,700 to a charity of his choosing in addition to having already sat out the first two games of the 2011 season. Many OGGOA readers have asked via e-mail, comments and Twitter how Floyd will come up with the money before the Tennessee game on Saturday. The answer is simple: he doesn’t have to. According to a NCAA compliance expert who spoke with us over the weekend, Floyd – in conjunction with the University of Florida – only must submit to the NCAA his decision on how and over what period of time he plans to make payments. Further details on what Floyd chooses to do will likely be unavailable going forward, but the concern over him being able to pay the money prior to playing should be squashed in the interim.

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Reed, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey had a great rookie year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Earning the starting job from day one, Pouncey helped his team advance all the way to the Super Bowl, which he ended up missing due to injury. He had another unique opportunity this past Saturday as he and 12 of his Pittsburgh teammates worked as actors for the third installment of the new group of Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises. Pouncey and the rest of the Steelers were cast as football players and went through some motions on Heinz Field while surrounded by thousands of extras in the stands as fans. They are on the field against a Gotham team coached by Bill Cowher. “From what I’ve heard, it’s going to be like a pregame, warming-up type thing,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before the filming. “I don’t know the whole concept. There’s a Gotham team, a football game. We’ll be wearing uniforms. It will be fun.”

2 » A standout performer at Minnesota Vikings training camp thus far, wide receiver Percy Harvin is also becoming more of a leader. “I’ll tell you there is no way that I would have predicted over this lockout that Percy would have come back taking a leadership role that he has,” head coach Leslie Frazier told the Associated Press. “From the moment the lockout was lifted and we could contact players, it’s been refreshing just talking to him and just seeing his attitude about this season. The fact that he’s leading, he’s talking to other players, explaining to them what needs to be done, how things are done.” Not only is Harvin stepping up, he is also feeling much better after being plagued with migraines throughout his entire football career. Free from them for the last seven months and confident that doctors have finally found a solution, Harvin could be poised for a breakout season even though he’s already won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and scored a ton of touchdowns in his young career.

3 » Gators redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed finally feels like he is coming into his own at his new position. Moved to tight end from quarterback heading into 2010, Reed was forced to move back behind center in order to help run Florida’s offense. A year later, he is once again prepared to try his hand at blocking and catching. “I’m excited about being the tight end,” Reed told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “It’s been a lot easier on me than last year, knowing that I’ve just got to worry about one position.” To help with his transition, he has sought out assistance from former Gators TE Aaron Hernandez. “We still talk all the time,” he said. “He tells me to watch film and learn the defense and coverages and it will be easier for me.”

4 » Florida senior running back Jeff Demps was named to the watch list for the 2011 Paul Hornung Award on Monday. The award, presented to the nation’s most versatile college football player at the end of the year, was given for the first time in 2010. Demps and redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey were on last season’s watch list but neither ended up being one of the three finalists. The former has also been named to the 2011 Doak Walker Award watch list for the country’s top running back.

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Eleven Gator Bites for Monday, July 25th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» With the NFL lockout now in the books, the Florida Gators four selections in the 2011 NFL Draft will be reporting to work for the first time on Thursday. Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (first round, No. 15), Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert (second round, No. 63), Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Ahmad Black (fifth round, No. 151 and Washington Redskins guard Maurice Hurt (seventh round, No. 217 are all on teams who will be eligible to workout immediately.

» While that foursome is ready and raring to go, Florida also has a number of undrafted free agents hoping to be picked up by teams looking to supplement their roster. Among those available are defensive linemen Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou, running back Emmanuel Moody and wide receiver Carl Moore. OGGOA will update you if and when these players are picked up by teams.

» The WNBA held its 2011 All-Star game over the weekend and also announced its Top 15 Players of All Time at the event. Though she was nominated and up for selection to the list, former Gators forward DeLisha Milton-Jones was not picked by fans for the honor. The six-time champion (two Olympic gold medals, two WNBA titles, two Euroleague titles) is currently averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Sparks.

There are 11 more Gator Bites including updates on Calathes, UF-FSU, Beal, Alvarez, Wambach, LeCount, ultimate Frisbee and Bostic…after the break!
Continue Reading » Eleven Gator Bites for Monday, July 25th

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, LaPorta, Macklin, facilities

1 » Hobbled by migraine headaches throughout his life, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin believes that – finally – the nagging issue is behind him. “This is the best I’ve felt, probably, since I’ve been in kindergarten,” he told Ed Miller of The Virginian-Pilot. “I met a couple of doctors. There were a couple of things they found in my neck that I won’t get into – some things they found and fixed, along with diet and the rest of the things that can cause them. It’s been great, and knock on wood, it’ll continue.” Harvin, who had a scary episode during practice in Minnesota last year, has visited dozens of doctors and specialists and received even more explanations and treatments the migraines than he can count. He believes it has been five or six months since he last experienced one and hopes this streak continues permanently.

2 » Cleveland Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta, one of the best baseball players ever to wear a Florida Gators uniform, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the club on Saturday after he severely sprained his ankle on Friday while caught in a rundown. LaPorta is currently hitting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBI.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with Dime Magazine, Florida center Vernon Macklin touches on a number of topics including his workouts leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft, decision to transfer to the Gators, opinion of how he can succeed in the pros, and plans for draft day. Here are a few choice selections from the interview, which can be read in full right here.

Dime: Are you happy with the decision you made to come to Florida for two years after spending your first two at Georgetown?
VM: I’m pretty happy about it. I think Coach (Billy Donovan) took a great risk in taking me, transferring from a school and not playing as much. But I think I went in there and played hard for him for the two years. And I sat out a year, I learned a lot from him and a lot of guys. So I think it was a great fit.

Dime: How did it feel to make such a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?
VM: It was good. I’m happy we made the run. It’s been a while for Florida to be back and playing good basketball. So us making a run to the Elite Eight and being able to compete every single game in the tournament was great for us. It was also great for Coach Donovan and the whole program.

4 » Some more improvements are going to be made to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – both inside and out – in the next two-to-three years. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabble, Florida is looking to upgrade some of the Gators’ facilities in ways that will benefit both student-athletes and fans.

The board also approved a variety of renovation projects, some using $2.8 million in reserves and the rest using $15 million in bonds planned to be issued. Reserves will be spent on projects that include the resurfacing of the Percy Beard Track and the conversion of staff and JV locker rooms in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to football meeting rooms and a player lounge.

The bonds, which still must be approved by the Florida Board of Governors, would be spent on projects that include renovations to the gymnastics studio in the O’Connell Center and the baseball and softball stadium scoreboards. Renovations would be made to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that include changes to concession stands and bathrooms, [athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

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