Florida Gators DE Thaddeus Bullard making his mark as WWE superstar Titus O’Neil

Former Florida Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard, a reserve member of the football team from 1997-2000, played in 44 games over the course of his career and was a true student-athlete on campus at the University of Florida.

Bullard won consecutive Goodwill Gator awards in 1998 and 1999, was the primary backup at defensive end in 1999 and 2000 and registered totals of 56 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles in his four years. He also served as UF Student Body Vice President beginning in the spring of 2000 through the summer terms.

He then played for four separate Arena Football League teams from 2003-07 before deciding to retire from the game and focus on his family. Two years later, he took up professional wrestling and soon established himself as Titus O’Neil.

O’Neil quickly rose through the ranks of the WWE and is now a featured superstar on the company’s roster and one half of the popular Prime Time Players tag team. Partnered with Darren Young, he hopes to one day become a champion and earn millions of dollars while holding a belt.

Bullard has visited Gainesville, FL twice over the past year, most recently stopping by during the first week of February. He met with the football coaching staff during National Signing Day, hung out with the basketball team and even attended Florida’s big 83-58 win over Mississippi State on Feb. 9.

Bullard sat down with OGGOA for a half hour last month to discuss his most recent stay in Gainesville, his love for the Gators and what fans can expect to see from him in the near future as he continues rise in the WWE.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What does it feel like for you when you come back to Gainesville now that you have a family to bring with you?
THADDEUS BULLARD / TITUS O’NEIL: “I’ve been back there before with them – to football games and stuff – but now at this point in my career with the WWE, being able to come back is special. I come back as a different person to many that see me, and it’s a great feeling. It’s fun for my kids, too, since they were involved in the process of me coming back as Titus O’Neil on the big stage. They obviously see their dad every week and they have to share me with the world. It’s a different life for us now going out to eat and going different places. Everyone knows dad as ‘Titus O’Neil’ whereas four years ago, daddy was just ‘daddy.’”

Read the rest of OGGOA’s exclusive interview with Thaddeus Bullard…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators DE Thaddeus Bullard making his mark as WWE superstar Titus O’Neil

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2013 P Johnny Townsend winds up at Florida

OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Two/three-star punter Johnny Townsend (Orlando, FL) has become the 30th member of the Florida Gators‘ 2013 recruiting class after sending in his National Letter of Intent to the school on Thursday afternoon.

Townsend, ranked 14th nationally by Rivals and 9th nationally by ESPN among punters, had been committed to Ohio State since June 19, 2012 but did not submit his NLI to the school as expected during National Signing Day on Wednesday.

He was supposed to sign his paper in the morning but twice delayed his press conference before ultimately choosing not to make a decision. His family told reporters that a “personal matter” had sprung up unexpectedly.

Rumors began to circulate during the day that Townsend was considering an offer from Alabama. Late Wednesday evening, Florida reportedly jumped into the picture as team he might sign with on Thursday, a move that ultimately went down when the Gators announced that they had received his signed NLI at 3:30 p.m.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Townsend received separate phone calls on Monday from Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, both of whom extended scholarship offers to the punter. It was those conversations that made him reconsider his nearly eight-month-long commitment.

Read the rest of this story and watch a video interview with Townsend…
Continue Reading » 2013 P Johnny Townsend winds up at Florida

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Gators add OL/TE Trevon Young as commit No. 29

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Less than a day after the conclusion of National Signing Day, the Florida Gators have added another prospect to their to five-ranked recruiting haul as three-star offensive tackle/tight end Trevon Young (Bradenton, FL) has decided to continue his athletic career as a football player.

Rated only by ESPN, he chose a recent scholarship offer from head coach Will Muschamp over his first love of playing basketball. He has already committed to UF and will sign with the school at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Young was planning to attend Division II school Eckerd College to play basketball before the Gators convinced him to visit campus last Saturday.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Muschamp personally offered Young a scholarship and told him that Florida would like him to start his career at tight end.

Continue Reading » Gators add OL/TE Trevon Young as commit No. 29

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FOUR BITS: Purifoy, Young, closing, quarterbacks

1 » At the conclusion of his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp told the Orlando Sentinel that sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will move to wide receiver during spring practice. Purifoy, who played sparingly at receiver during the 2012 season, is an athletic and versatile performer who was also Florida’s standout player on special teams last year. Whether or not his move to wide receiver is permanent remains to be seen, but Purifoy told the paper’s Edgar Thompson in early January that he enjoyed the time he was spending on offense during practice and games. “I feel like I’m in high school again,” he said. “I love it.” Muschamp and the Gators coaching staff have moved a number of players back-and-forth between offense and defense over the last two offseasons in order to improve position flexibility throughout the roster.

He also noted on Wednesday that UF has tried mightily to bridge the hole in its wide receiving corps and did that in part by signing five pass catchers. “When you say fill needs, you talk in terms of depth and talent. Those are the two things you’ve got to be able to address. I think we’ve taken a step forward in both situations. We’ve improved our depth, and I think we’ve improved our talent level. We’ve got some guys that can come in and compete,” Muschamp said. It will be interesting to see whether or not Purifoy sticks on offense or goes back to defense by the time summer practice begins.

2 » As National Signing Day wrapped up, news broke of Florida having an outstanding offer in the hands of in-state a three-star offensive lineman who was originally planning to continue his career as a basketball player at Division II Eckerd College. That player is Trevon Young (Bradenton, FL), someone who the Gators see as a potential playmaker at tight end given his size size (6’6″, 260 lbs.) and soft hands. Brown is currently debating between sticking with his first love (basketball) in a situation that is unlikely to result in him being a professional athlete down the line or playing his second-favorite sport at the highest level possible in college.

Curt Bradley, Young’s football coach at Branden River High School, told InsidetheGators.com on Wednesday that the player is legitimately conflicted with his decision. “It isn’t a matter of the school, it’s the sport he chooses,” Bradley said, further implying that he would easily choose UF over an offer from South Florida if Young decides to play football. A decision may be coming as soon as Thursday.

Read two more BITS from National Signing Day…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Purifoy, Young, closing, quarterbacks

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Videos: ESPN with Muschamp, Pease, Durkin

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | “Closing”, QB situation

ESPN reporter Cara Capuano was in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday for National Signing Day, spending her day embedded with the Florida Gators as the team brought in the network’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class (No. 3 on Rivals). Below are four video interviews Capuano filmed during her day of work.

Head coach Will Muschamp

Check out the other three interviews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Videos: ESPN with Muschamp, Pease, Durkin

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Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff completed its 28-member 2013 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

Opening statement:

“I’m really proud of our staff. Today is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two-and-a-half, three years put together on a young man and you come down to signing day and you sit at the fax machine and hope that thing comes through. I hope it’s signed right and it’s dated and all that kind of good stuff. Recruiting is all about building relationships. We’ll know about this class in two or three years. It’s a developmental game. …

“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you’ve got to a have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position, which also to me was very appealing. At some positions we signed five wide receivers [for example]. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete. Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers and they’re not real sure about coming in and competing for the Gators. We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play for the University of Florida.

“This class is very balanced. It’s a high-character class with toughness, all the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed and then all of the off-the-field things we’re looking for. It’s a very committed class. A lot of these guys are guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits; there was not a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want; you want guys that are like that. …

“The coaching process is really about four things – evaluation, recruiting, developing and coaching. I think in our two years, you’ve seen on the recruiting trail – from an evaluation standpoint and a recruiting standpoint – that we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level. I’m very proud of the staff and the job that they’ve [done] and all of our support staff on campus. … There’s a true commitment level at this place for excellence, and I appreciate their support.”

» On commitments being the best recruiters: “They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day, and they want to play with other good players.”

» On if he looks at player star ratings from recruiting services: “Absolutely no consideration at all. We commit most of our guys before they ever come out, so maybe they look at our ratings.”

Read much more from Muschamp and the Florida coaching staff…after the break!
Continue Reading » Will Muschamp discusses Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class; coaches evaluate new signees

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Florida adds DT Jay-nard Bostwick on signing day

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Just over an hour into National Signing Day, the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class expanded by one name as four-star defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (Port St. Lucie, FL) decided to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.

Announcing at a ceremony at his high school, Bostwick chose Florida over Alabama and Miami and signed his National Letter of Intent on the spot in front of a crowd.

Ranked as the No. 25 defensive tackle by Rivals and the No. 286 overall player in the country (No. 27 defensive tackle) by ESPN, Bostwick spent the final weekend of the recruiting process on campus for an official visit with the Gators.

His pledge is a big one for Florida, which adds another talented player at a position of need. The Gators lost a pair of defensive tackles – junior Sharrif Floyd and redshirt senior Omar Hunter – at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

“A tremendous player. I think Jay-nard is an exceptional player. He is really talented. He’s got a great, great family who is supportive of him and wants him to do well,” said defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, according to the school’s website. “He will be a three-technique guy. … He’s strong. He’s 295 right now and 6’3″. He’s got initial quickness. He’s got explosion. He’s got finish. He’s got the different things that it takes to be successful inside. He just needs to come in and get ready to bang.”

Bostwick is the 27th overall commitment for Florida this cycle and the fourth defensive tackle to make a pledge for the Gators.

Check out OGGOA’s live coverage of National Signing Day – click here!

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Florida Gators recruits and targets to watch up to and on 2013 National Signing Day

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m.

Twenty-six members strong, the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class is hoping to expand by a few names over the next week when the vast majority of uncommitted high school football players across the country announce their decisions leading up to and on National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Be sure to visit OGGOA’s live coverage of National Signing Day beginning Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. It will feature a live chat and will be constantly updated throughout the day with every signed National Letter of Intent (NLI) and new commitment.

Below OGGOA breaks down who the Gators are still waiting to hear from, when they may learn of their decision and some of the latest insights on each player.

Special thanks to InsidetheGators.com recruiting analyst Blake Alderman for his assistance on some of the finer details below.

Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (Port St. Lucie, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 25 DT | ESPN – No. 286 overall (No. 27 DT)
Leaders: Florida, Miami
Contenders: Alabama
Skinny: Supposedly undecided between his final three schools (listed above), Bostwick spent his final weekend before signing day on campus in Gainesville, FL for an official visit. His decision is expected to come down to Florida or Miami and many recruiting analysts believe the Gators will get the nod when all is said and done.
Announcement: National Signing Day – 8 a.m.

Wide receiver James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 45 WR | ESPN – No. 49 WR
Leaders: Florida, Clemson, Ohio State
Contenders: Nebraska, Northwestern
Skinny: Clark has a tough decision to make with all three of his leaders making a major push for his services over the last few weeks. Though the Gators landed four-star WR Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) in early January, UF has stayed on top of Clark and let him know that they could very much use a sixth wide receiver in the recruiting class. He has never taken an official visit to Florida but has been on campus previously and took an official visit to the school on Saturday.
Announcement: National Signing Day – 9 a.m.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators recruits and targets to watch up to and on 2013 National Signing Day

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