Top 13 for 2013: Florida’s best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2013 (see the Not Top 13 for 2013), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to earning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2013. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 13 for 2013.

13 » A NEW TRADITION
Florida’s football program did not get much right in 2013, but instituting a new pre-game tradition – a “celebrity” serving as Mr. Two Bits in honor of the original, George Edmondson – was absolutely a bright spot. The Gators also picked the perfect person to kick off the new tradition with former running back Errict Rhett performing as if he was made for the role. Others had trouble stepping up to the high benchmark set by Rhett, but the honorary Mr. Two Bits was nevertheless a great sight for fans all season long…even if the team was not. OnlyGators.com sat down with Rhett after his appearance for an extensive interview about the experience and his career.

12 » 15-INNING MARATHON
In the fourth-longest game ever played at the Women’s College Series (longest since 1992), Florida softball prevailed 9-8 over Nebraska in a night game that lasted 15 innings and more than five hours, spanning into the early morning of the next day. The Gators lost two separate leads in the contest before rallying to score two runs in the top of the 15th; UF conceded a run in the latter half of the inning but held on for the victory. Unfortunately for Florida, it had to suit up just hours later for an elimination game against Texas at 1 p.m., one it lost 3-0. The Gators were ranked No. 2 entering the 2013 NCAA Tournament but fell short of a title.

11 » ALL HE WANTED WAS A CHANCE


Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy waited patiently as he got overlooked time and time again, most recently by head coach Will Muschamp and his offensive coordinators in favor of younger players with higher ratings coming out of high school. When junior QB Jeff Driskel went down with a fractured fibula against Tennessee, Murphy finally got his shot and made the most of it. Over a three-game stretch including games on Sept. 21, Sept. 28 (at Kentucky) and Oct. 5 (vs. Arkansas), Murphy completed 39-of-54 passes (72.2 percent) for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. (He also gained 135 yards and picked up two more scores with his legs.) Unfortunately for him, Murphy injured his shoulder on Oct. 12 against LSU and was simply not the same player as he took the field in more pain than he or the coaching staff decided to admit publicly. Murphy missed the final three games of the season due to that injury and ultimately transferred, feeling Muschamp would not give him a fair chance to win the starting job in 2014.

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NBAers Al Horford, Bradley Beal injured this week

Updated on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

On consecutive days, Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford (pectoral) and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (knee) suffered serious in-game injuries that may significantly affect their ability to participate in the 2013-14 NBA season.

For the second time in the last three seasons, Horford will miss a significant amount of time with a torn pectoral muscle. Horford, who tore his left pectoral on Jan. 11, 2012, subsequently missed 58 games (55 in the regular season) and only played in 17 total contests that year (three in the postseason).

On Thursday, Horford suffered a complete tear of his right pectoral muscle while trying to deflect an inbounds pass. The injury will sideline him indefinitely and most likely for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign.

Horford was in the midst of the best season of his career, one which likely would have resulted in his third NBA All-Star nod in the last four years. He was averaging career-highs of 18.6 points and 1.5 blocks while shooting a career-best 56.7 percent from the field. Horford is currently one of just six NBA players leading his respective team in both points and rebounding (8.4 per game).

Continue Reading » NBAers Al Horford, Bradley Beal injured this week

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TWO BITS: QBs praise Roper, Parsons good deed

1 » Two very important Florida Gators players have already conveyed their excitement about the team hiring Kurt Roper as its new offensive coordinator. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel on Thursday congratulated Roper via his Twitter account and said he is “excited to get to work with him.” Incoming freshman QB Will Grier expressed a similar sentiment. “Coach Roper is a great fit,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will learn a lot from him and Chris Leak. It is an amazing opportunity to play for such a great staff.”

Grier (Davidson, NC) has actually met and practiced under Roper before. According to The Gainesville Sun, Grier met him one-on-one during a visit to Duke in the spring, has attended two Duke summer camps (as a freshman and sophomore in high school) and even worked out for Roper during one of his Davidson Day High School football practices. “Coach Roper has a great reputation for developing quarterbacks,” said Grier’s father Chad Grier. “Will’s got a very high opinion of Coach Roper, his track record and what he’s done at Duke and everywhere else. We’re excited to have him in place at Florida, and Will is ready to go to work.”

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TWO BITS: Gators team awards, game-winners

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2013 award winners along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Mike McNeely
* Second-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jaylen Watkins, Mark Herndon and Darrin Kitchens
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Solomon Patton
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Solomon Patton, Damien Jacobs, Jon Halapio, Neiron Ball and Ronald Powell
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Powell each won the award.
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Antonio Riles, Tim Clark, Caleb Brantley | Defensive: Case Harrison, Adam Lane, Cameron Dillard | Special Teams: Chris Thompson, Ryan Parrish

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Michael Taylor
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Harrison won the award for offense.
Most Valuable Player Offense: Solomon Patton | Defense: Dante Fowler, Jr. Special Teams: Jarrad Davis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Halapio and Dominique Easley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Solomon Patton
* Third-straight year that a senior offensive player won the award.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jeremy Brown, Kyle Koehne and Darrin Kitchens
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio was named a team captain.

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SIX BITS: Noah, Murphy, Delta, volleyball, Tebow

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has long held up former South African president Nelson Mandela as one of his idols. So for Noah to easily have his best game of the 2013-14 season on the day of Mandela’s passing was certainly no surprise. On Thursday, Noah posted his second-straight double-double with 17 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and a season-high 15 rebounds in a 107-87 win over Miami. After the contest, he was interviewed by TNT’s Craig Sager and ended the conversation like this:

2 » The Florida Gators are expected to have major frontcourt troubles next season with big-bodied seniors – center Patric Young and forwards Casey Prather and Will Yeguete – all scheduled to graduate. One of its other big men is on shaky ground and a fifth, who has yet to enroll, could be a one-and-done player. Facing a potential roster that would have its two tallest players – current redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith and five-star incoming F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) listed as 6-foot-8 – the Gators may have found some help in the form of current Duke redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy. The brother of Erik Murphy, Alex has decided to leave the Blue Devils at the end of the fall 2013 semester and may very well be headed to Gainesville, FL. He would have to sit out two semesters per NCAA rules and would not be eligible until next spring, but Alex Murphy would nevertheless be a much-needed addition for UF. OnlyGators.com is still working to confirm his transfer destination as of press time.

3 » Florida found another way to disappoint its fans this week. In a story overlooked for the last few days by OnlyGators.com, UF’s basketball team made headlines by displacing 50 passengers on an Atlanta, GA-bound Sunday flight when Delta decided to help the Gators by chartering a new plane for the team to Storrs, CT for its showdown with UConn. According to The Gainesville Sun, a maintenance delay grounded the plane that the team usually charters, so Delta stepped in to help at the expense of customers that had already purchased tickets on the flight. “Passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and given vouchers valid for use through Delta for future trips,” a spokesman told the paper. Florida has gone above and beyond to try and deflect any blame heading its way. The Gators have claimed ignorance regarding Delta’s decision, which he company took completely on its own shoulders.

Check out the statement and three more BITS…after the break!

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SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Tebow, Tymrak, Easley

1 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal scored a career-high 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting on Sunday night during a 106-105 overtime loss to Oklahoma City. Beal played a team-high 42 minutes in the contest, draining 6-of-8 threes and grabbing six rebounds to boot. Beal has scored 63 points in his last two games after posting 29 against Brooklyn on Friday including two while posterizing Paul Pierce.

2 » It was reported over the weekend by SportsBusiness Journal that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had dumped William Morris Agency, which was handling his entertainment industry interests, and turned over all of his representation responsibilities to Creative Arts Agency. He was already being represented by CAA’s Jimmy Sexton for his football playing career but has now also hired CAA’s broadcast agent Nick Khan, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Khan has a long client list and represents a number of well-known ESPN personalities. Tebow is reportedly interested in contributing to college football broadcasts, likely as an in-studio analyst. ESPN, which has been in the Tebow business for years, sounds like the obvious choice, especially considering it will be running the SEC Network, which launches in August 2014.

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SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

1 » Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed revealed in a feature written by The Washington Post’s Kent Babb that he nearly quit football – and the Florida Gators – during spring practice ahead of the 2012 season. Having seen little opportunity to be successful on the field and dealing with lingering shoulder and knee injuries, Reed had enough. “I thought my body was going to stay hurting like that,” he explained, “and it wasn’t going to get better and I had no future. And I felt like I was putting all this hard work in and nothing was coming from it.” Reed had decided to find a full-time job and support his family but eventually changed his mind, returned to school and wound up playing well enough to get selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

2 » Former Gators and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder appeared on CNN‘s Piers Morgan Live on Monday to discuss the situation in Miami surrounding left guard Richie Incognito supposedly bullying right tackle Jonathan Martin. It is only a portion of Crowder’s segment, which will hopefully be posted in full later in the day.

3 » The Houston Rockets dropped their first game of the 2013-14 season on Monday, but starting forward Chandler Parsons played well in the contest by picking up 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go along with four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block. Two of his 14 points came on this massive dunk.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Reed, Crowder, Parsons, Taylor

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