1 » It may have taken a bit longer than others, but it appears as if Florida Gators center Chris Walker has found a home for the 2015 NBA Summer League. As first reported by FOX 26 sports director Mark Berman, Walker could join the Houston Rockets for summer league play in Las Vegas from July 10-20. OnlyGators.com has confirmed that Walker is listed on the roster the team submitted to the NBA of projected players, though we were cautioned that could change ahead of the event in two weeks if the team does not like what it sees in tryouts. A league source has also told OnlyGators.com that forward Casey Prather will be a member of the NBA D-League select team after succeeding as a member of the Bakersfield Jam last season.
1 » Florida Gators basketball was previously announced to be participating in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, but its opponent for the 2015 event was not announced until earlier this week. Florida will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second game of the event, which will be led off with a showdown between Florida State and Florida Atlantic. UF is 2-0 all-time against OSU with the schools not meeting since 2000. The Gators are 14-2 all-time in the event, which will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, on Dec. 19.
The rest of Florida’s announced 2015-16 nonconference slate includes a season opener against Navy in the 2015 Veterans Classic on Friday, Nov. 13 in Annapolis Maryland, and a spot in the 2015 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The latter event includes two home games (North Carolina A&T – Nov. 16, Vermont – Nov. 25) and two neutral-site contests (Saint Joseph’s – Nov. 21, Old Dominion/Purdue – Nov. 22). UF will also play at Miami in the second game of a home-and-home series, and it will host West Virginia on Jan. 30, 2016 in the third annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Reports out of Fort Myers have the Gators taking on FGCU on Nov. 27 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, and early offseason rumors noted that Florid and Michigan State were discussing a home-and-home series that could begin next season.
1 » Reviews of his efforts in organized team activities have not been kind to former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, but don’t tell Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly that. “I have seen an improvement from Tim since the day we got him in terms of his knowledge of what we’re doing, understanding where everybody is,” Kelly told the Delaware County Daily Times. “There’s a whole process, and for him what we have done is different than what he’s done anywhere else. So in terms of learning our terminology and how we do things, I think each week you’ve seen an incremental bump in him, so we’re excited to see where that takes him, and it’ll be a good competition as we get into August.”
1 » Massachusetts State Police announced Friday that it has been determined that the Mercedes Maybach sedan owned by former Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes was not only driven by Spikes the night it got into an accident but hit another car rather than a deer as he told the OnStar operator that responded to the crash. As such, Spikes will be charged with four courts by the state: leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, operating a motor vehicle negligently to endanger, speeding and failure to stay within marked lanes. The New England Patriots, which had signed Spikes to a one-year deal in the offseason, cut him the same day the initial report of his car being involved in an accident was released.
1 » Already the 2015 USA Softball Player of the Year (first in program history), Most Outstanding Player from the 2015 Women’s College World Series and the 2015 SEC Pitcher of the Year, Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger added to her trophy case on Wednesday by being named the 2015 Honda Sport Award winner for softball. The honor makes Haeger a finalist for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the 2015 Honda Cup. She is the second Florida softball player to win the award (Kelsey Bruder, 2011), 18th overall Gators athlete since 1978 and second this year (Kytra Hunter, gymnastics).
Haeger, the second player (Babe Ruth) with 70+ home runs and 70+ wins on either the college (baseball, softball) or professional (MLB) level, smacked 71 homers and won 73 games over her four-year career at Florida. She finished the 2015 campaign with a 32-2 record and 1.23 ERA with 25 complete games in 35 starts and 214 strikeouts in 222.1 innings pitched.
1 » One day after it was reported by FOX 25 out of Boston that a Maybach Mercedes registered to New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes was found abandoned on the median of a highway, the former Florida Gators player was released by the team. According to FOX 25, The OnStar representative from the car “told state police the driver of the care reported hitting a deer.” However, while an injured deer was not found near the scene, another car called in that it was rear ended at approximately the same time as the crash involving Spikes’s car. Spikes signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Patriots (with up to $1 million in incentives), returning to the team that drafted him after spending a season with the Buffalo Bills. His original tenure did not end well in New England, despite his close relationship with owner Bob Kraft, and his return to the franchise was a surprise. If this story sounds relatively familiar that is a vehicle belonging to former Miami Dolphins LB Channing Crowder was also abandoned on a highway in January 2008.
1 » The Baltimore Ravens pulled former first-round draft choice Matt Elam out of their starting rotation after Elam began disappointing with his play on the field. Elam shifting out allowed fellow former Florida Gators safety Will Hill to fill the void and has subsequently created a high-intensity training camp competition between the two teammates.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, who stuck by Hill despite him being suspended for the first six games of the 2014 campaign due to a third NFL drug policy violation, is impressed with what he’s seen from the undrafted free agent. “I almost say [he’s] light-years ahead of where he was last year,” Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. “He has been here every single day in the offseason that I’m aware of. Heck, he brought his family in here to work out with him when he was on his own. … I just think he has really dug in to have a great season, and we’ll see how it goes for him. But right now, he looks the part.” Elam is taking the competition in stride and remains confident he will be able to regain the job. “All I can say is, I can’t wait until September. I’m ready,” Elam said.
1 » Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Louis Murphy is already enamored with his new quarterback, Jameis Winston. How much? Murphy said on a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview that Winston reminds him of his former signal caller with the Florida Gators, Tim Tebow. “I just saw how much of a competitor he is. He competes. he doesn’t like losing. He wants to win and that’s a guy I want to play with. He’s young, kind of similar to Tim Tebow in a way, he just wants to win. He’ll do anything it takes to win. But he’s young, everyone makes mistakes … I’m just really excited to be with a guy who is passionate about playing this game.”
2 » Early observations from Philadelphia Eagles camp, at least according to the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane, are that Tebow’s throwing motion is not as improved as everyone was led to believe by his throwing coach. Here’s the report:
There have been reports that Tebow’s throwing motion and release had improved after his work with Tom House, but there didn’t appear to be much difference than how he looked two years ago,” wrote McLane. “I haven’t watched Tebow up close for his entire career, but it still takes a long time for him to cock, load and throw. There’s an unnatural dip in his windup. Tebow has never been a good practice quarterback and he’s obviously still learning a completely new offense, so there shouldn’t be too much stock taken in how he threw on one non-contact day in May. But the guess here is that it will be difficult for Tebow to beat out [Matt] Barkley for the third spot, even if you include his intangibles. He struggled to throw the ball downfield. He was working with a bunch of young receivers, but he often held the ball too long or would check down with a short pass. At one point late in practice, he had a throw tipped at the line that fell into the arms of 6-foot-9 rookie defensive end Brian Mihalik.