FOUR BITS: All-Americans, Tebowmania, Hillier

1 » Five Florida Gators baseball players were named to the 2012 NCBWA Pro-Line Athletic Preseason All-American Team on Wednesday. Juniors catcher Mike Zunino and pitcher/first baseman Brian Johnson earned first team recognition, while senior infielder/outfielder Preston Tucker and junior P Austin Maddox were named to the second team. Sophomore P Karsten Whitson, coming off of a stellar freshman season (8-1, 2.40 ERA), was given a third-team nod.

2 » A pair of Florida senior volleyball players – right-side/setter Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel were named Wednesday to the 2011 AVCA All-American Team. Murphy, who according to UF “started every match and set of her career,” earned first-team recognition; her cohort Jaeckel was named to the second team. Murphy and Jaeckel led the Gators to the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament this year.

3 » If you were thinking Tebowmania was going to slow down any time soon, then you were obviously kidding yourself. According to the Denver Post, Bonfire Brewing in Eagle, CO will be releasing a brand new beer inspired by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow called the Tebrew Sunday Sipper. The company explains that the beer will be made available to the masses once the signature 10 oz. glasses it ordered arrive. It is expected to sold locally only, so chances are that you’ll have to contact Bonfire directly if interested in sampling some of their brew.

In other Tebow-related news, Fathead on Tuesday released a “Tebowing” edition of their signature product, which quickly became the site’s No. 1 seller. The No. 2 Fathead sold Tuesday? The normal version of Tebow.

4 » Florida midfielder Janine Hillier, the lacrosse team’s fourth leading scorer one year ago, has decided to transfer to Stony Brook for her junior season. Hiller, a part of the Gators’ inaugural recruiting class, scored 34 goals along with six assists in 2011. She chose to transfer due to “personal reasons,” as cited by Inside Lacrosse, which notes that Stony Brook is “closer to Hillier’s hometown and her sister, Kim Hillier” is an assistant coach on the team.

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FOUR BITS: Whitson, Calipari, Pittman, Schintzius

1 » The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Monday announced that Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson has been named a first-team Freshman All-American. One of 16 standouts to earn the distinction, Whitson is also in line for the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday. With an 8-0 record, 2.45 ERA and 83 strikeouts on the season, he the only player on the first team representing the Southeastern Conference.

2 » Remember when the Kentucky Wildcats and head basketball coach John Calipari defeated Florida in Lexington, KY and the school held a mini 500th victory celebration? Well, according to the NCAA, that should never have happened, and the organization is now taking steps to ensure that Kentucky does what they can to make that information public. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari’s 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK’s statement “must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release.”

Because the NCAA forced Massachusetts and Memphis to vacate a total of 42 victories achieved under Calipari due to a variety of transgressions, the governing body insists that his victory total was only 458 on that day and now stands at 467 for his career. For more on the matter, click here.

3 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun after a recent visit to Gainesville, FL for a football camp, Gators four-star 2012 wide receiver commit LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) discussed his experience. “It felt great just getting out there, getting a feel for Coach [Aubrey] Hill, how he coaches and how he sees me,” he said. “As far as hands-on and doing drills, that was the first time I really got to see how he would coach me.” Pittman, Florida’s first commit of the 2012 cycle, plans to return for Friday Night Lights.

4 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators C Dwayne Schintzius made his first major public appearance during a Florida basketball game on Feb. 24 and was in great spirits. Last week he attended a fundraiser for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission with the belief that he would be supporting his father, Ken, who was going to be handed an award from the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s alumni association. Schintzius was instead surprised to learn that he was being honored with a special award for courage. “He wouldn’t have wanted to come to the dinner but after I told him the award was for me, he said he’d come,” Ken told Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune. “It worked. We got him. We played it right to the hilt.” Though he has been praised extensively for his strength in fighting his disease, Schintzius wanted the praise to go where it belongs. “People are giving me an award, I guess, for fighting for my life,” he said. “I don’t deserve the award. The people at Moffitt [Cancer Center] are the ones who are the true heroes. They saved my life.” Click here to read more about Schintzius’s battle and the events of the night.

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TWO BITS: All-Americans for volleyball, baseball

1 » Florida Gators junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named a first-team All-American by the AVCA on Wednesday. Three of her teammates – middle back Lauren Bledsoe, outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and OH Callie Rivers – were given honorable mention recognition by the AVCA. Murphy was also the 2010 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. She, Bledsoe and Rivers earned 2010 All-SEC first-team honors, while Jaeckel was selected to the second team.

2 » Three Gators baseball players – sophomore third baseman/designated hitter Austin Maddox, junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis and junior first baseman Preston Tucker were named to the 2011 NCBWA and Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Teams on Friday. Maddox earned second-team honors from the NCBWA and third-team honors from Louisville Slugger. Panteliodis and Tucker were awarded third-team honors by the NCBWA but were placed on the second and third team, respectively, by Louisville Slugger. Florida’s 2011 baseball season begins with a three-game home stand against South Florida from Feb. 18-20.

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TWO BITS: Holliday to Marshall, volleyball awards

1 » West Virginia Mountaineers associate head coach Doc Holliday will become the next head coach of the Marshall Thundering Herd, according to a report from The Reigster Herald. Holliday, who was an associate head coach, safeties coach and recruiting coordinator during his time with the Florida Gators from 2005-07, will be accepting his first head job after almost three decades as an assistant coach. Holliday’s contract is said to be a five-year deal worth $650,000 (plus incentives) annually.

2 » Volleyball’s sophomore right-side setter Kelly Murphy and senior libero Elyse Cusack have earned 2009 All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Murphy, already a second-team All-SEC selection for 2009 and AVCA National Freshman of the Year in 2008, was named a second-team All-American while Cusack earned an All-American honorable mention for the third straight season. The Gators volleyball team finished the 2009 season 25-6, losing to the No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2009 NCAA Tournament round of 16.

Extra Bit » Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker was named to the 2010 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pro-Line Athletic Preseason All-America Team on Wednesday. Tucker, who batted .364 with 15 home runs and 85 RBI as a freshman to capture the Gators’ Triple Crown, is the first player in University of Florida history to win the NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year Award. He was also co-SEC Freshman of the Year, a unanimous selection to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team, invited to the 2009 USA Baseball National Team trials and was selected as a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, Rivals and the NCBWA. He also led the Florida baseball team with a .628 slugging percentage, 152 total bases, 27 multi-hit games and 23 multiple-RBI outings. His 85 RBI broke the single-season school record.

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Gators baseball recruiting class ranked No. 1

Already ranked the No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball in September, the Florida Gators 2010 baseball recruiting class earned the same respect from Baseball America on Tuesday. This is the second consecutive top-five class for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who is in his third season with the Gators.

In 2009, O’Sullivan coached Florida to a 42-22 record and a SEC East title – their first since 2005 when the Gators made the College World Series. UF finished the season with a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals and rankings of No. 12 (Baseball America), No. 13 (Collegiate Baseball & USA Today/ESPN) and No. 14 (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association – NCBWA).

Continue Reading » Gators baseball recruiting class ranked No. 1

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