FOUR BITS: Hill, Parsons, Pro Bowl, Haden

1 » For the second time in the last 14 months, former Florida Gators safety Will Hill is a wanted man. According to The Baltimore Sun, a warrant is out for Hill’s arrest in his home state of New Jersey as he allegedly owes $16,588.18 in back-due child support. Hill, then a member of the New York Giants, was arrested on the same charge in Dec. 2013. After not being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, he spent an entire season out of the league while he tried to clean up his act and was picked up by the Giants in 2012; he remained on the team for two seasons despite being suspended twice for violating NFL drug policies. New York stood by him after his 2013 arrest but cut him on June 2, 2014, four days after the league handed down a third drug suspension. The Baltimore Ravens took a shot on Hill, who once again claimed to be reformed, and it paid off. Hill missed the first six games of the 2014 season but started most of the Ravens’ remaining contests, earning $368,824 for the duration of the campaign. For his career, Hill has made $1.03 million but lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his three suspensions (14 missed games). His one-year deal with Baltimore expired; whether he gets another opportunity in the NFL remains to be seen.

“Will Hill, he has a lot of talent,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh in his last press conference of the season. “It’s something that we always knew. He also has a great love for the game. He learned our defense throughout the course of the season, which it’s not easy to do that. We have a tough defense. We do a lot of good stuff back there. But he was running the show pretty well back there toward the end of the year.”

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Conference Championship – one advances to Super Bowl

The 2014-15 NFL Playoffs continued this week with the Conference Championship round and three former Florida Gators spread out over two of the four teams remaining in the postseason.

Two Gators were eliminated from the NFL Playoffs this week with Super Bowl XLIX set with the New England Patriots taking on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1.

A former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team for the 13th consecutive season. Should New England defeat Seattle, a former Gators player would be a Super Bowl champion for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Overall, UF has 24 Super Bowl rings won by 17 different players over 18 Super Bowls.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
C Jonotthan Harrison*: Inactive
OT Xavier Nixon: Inactive

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DT Dominique Easley: Injured reserve – season

NOTES
» Harrison and Nixon were inactive for the second-straight week. Harrison’s play declined throughout the season, earning him a spot on the bench and then pushing him off the Colts’ game day roster. Nixon played as a reserve most of the year but was inactive last week and missed the Indianapolis team flight; he did not join the team.
» Former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn works for the Seahawks in the same position. In his second year as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Quinn is helping lead the team to its second-straight Super Bowl appearance as he looks for his second ring.
» Former Gators defensive back Marquand Manuel is in his third year as a coach with the Seahawks. He served as an assistant special teams coach in 2012 and moved into a defensive assistant role in 2013. Like Quinn, he is hoping to win his second Super Bowl in as many seasons.

* Rookie

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Passion, family made DL coach Terrell Williams leave the NFL – and California – for Florida

More Florida Gators assistant features: Randy Shannon | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

Playing, coaching and talking about the defensive line is what life is about for new Florida Gators assistant Terrell Williams. Well, that and his family, with those two passions combining into a perfect storm that led him to Gainesville, Florida this week.

Williams, a Los Angeles, California, native who has spent the last three years of his career coaching with the Oakland Raiders, turned down the chance to sign a new contract to remain with the Raiders – “I was offered a contract to stay. I had a couple more opportunities.” – to move across the country with his family.

“I’ve had opportunities to leave for college before at a couple different powerhouse school, but I just felt like Florida was a great opportunity for me and my family right now,” he said on Thursday.

“My wife is from Fernandina Beach, Florida. She went to Florida A&M. Both her parents are Gators; they have engineering degrees from here. I just felt like it was a great opportunity. … You don’t just leave the NFL to go coach at any college; I felt like this was a special opportunity for me at this time.”

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McElwain: pleased with Gators, gave players assignments, confident in hiring receivers coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain sat down with the media on Wednesday for the first time since his introductory press conference nearly a month ago.

The 40-minute back-and-forth saw McElwain touched on a number of topics that will be broken down here on OnlyGators.com over the next couple of days.

Though McElwain was surprisingly close to the vest on a number of issues, which are outlined below, he also discussed at length his initial thoughts on the Gators football team and plan for hiring a wide receivers coach, the last open position on his coaching staff.

SO FAR, SO GOOD

McElwain plans to make a number of organizational changes over the next 18 months but some of the first evaluations he was able to make were on the team. As a bystander during practices leading up to the 2015 Birmingham Bowl – and during the game itself, of course – McElwain was pleased to see a group of young men giving top-notch effort despite all of the circumstances surrounding the situation.

“Man, I just love the way our team played in that bowl game,” he said to open his press conference. “[I appreciated] the guys that held that thing together. The character in which they played with, the energy they played with, they made plays when they needed against a very, very good football team. …

“Just to see the competitive nature was great. Having an opportunity to get out in the parking lot before the game, I didn’t know it was like that. there’s some good people out there, man, that was awesome. I really enjoyed that. I was really proud of our guys.”

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Gators LB Morrison returning for senior season

Junior linebacker Antonio Morrison has decided to return to the Florida Gators for his senior season.

Morrison, Florida’s first defender to register 100+ tackles since Ahmad Black in 2010, received an evaluation for the 2015 NFL Draft but will chose to remain in school.

“I’m returning to Florida and I will be getting my degree in 2015. That plays a big role in why I’m returning,” Morrison said in a statement released by the school. “And as a leader of this team, I want to lead my team to Atlanta and possibly a national championship. Coach [Jim] McElwain has put together a great staff and I’m looking forward to working with them this year.”

Morrison is the second Gators player in as many days to pick Florida and its new coaching staff over the NFL. Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard announced Monday that he will return to UF for the 2015 season.

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Florida Gators football odds and ends: injuries, departures and more

The Florida Gators (7-5) concluded their 2014 season on Saturday, earning a 28-20 win over the East Carolina Pirates in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, a victory which marked the end of the four-year Will Muschamp era in Gainesville, Florida.

While the Gators have since announced a coaching staff and are prepared to move on under new head coach Jim McElwain, there are still some odds and ends to wrap up from the end of the 2014 campaign.

Bowl game injuries

A number of Florida players were hurt during the Birmingham Bowl but most appeared to be relatively minor injuries. That was not the case for junior linebacker Antonio Morrison, the first player since Ahmad Black in 2010 to record more than 100 tackles in a single season.

Morrison, who was considering leaving for the 2015 NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining, was on the field screaming in pain with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. He was carted off the field, and UF interim coach D.J. Durkin could offer nothing more than a general statement about Morrison’s injury after the game.

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: 2014 Wild Card

The 2014 NFL Playoffs began this week with the Wild Card round and 13 former Florida Gators spread out over seven of the 12 competing in the postseason.

Four Gators were eliminated from the postseason. The Divisional Round will include eight former Florida players on five teams including all four in the AFC.

Below are full game statistics for all eight players (five starters) that saw action during the Wild Card round.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Dallas Cowboys: Started | four tackles (three solo, one for loss), sack, QB hit, pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!

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Florida DL Bullard to return for senior season

Florida Gators junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard announced Monday that he will not join four teammates who chose to forgo their final season of eligibility and declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead, Bullard will return to the Gators for his senior campaign despite the coaching staff being completely overhauled.

“I wasn’t projected to go where I want to go,” Bullard said in a statement released by the school. “I want to leave a bigger mark on the Florida program than what I have.”

Bullard promised to keep a level head when making his decision, noting that he would consult former Florida head coach Will Muschamp after receiving his evaluation back from the NFL. Muschamp has long held that he would only recommend players to declare early if they are projected to be first-round selections.

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