Florida Gators quarterback Trey Burton has had a great freshman season so far in Gainesville, FL. It appears as if Burton’s success and happiness at the University of Florida has been noticed by at least one very important recruit – his brother.
Three-star defensive end/linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL) decommitted from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Monday in order to pledge his services to Florida, according to Scout.com.
“I’m a Gator,” Clay Burton told Scout‘s Jason Higdon. “It’s just an opportunity that I can’t pass up. I wasn’t ready a year ago, or even six months ago, but like my brother said, I’m ready now and I earned it. [...] Trey said we did it, and everything was right for me. This has to be the most selfless decision I’ll ever make.”
He originally committed to Notre Dame on June 18 and visited South Bend, IN, in late September with his mother and uncle – both of whom had approved of his choice. However, a phone call with Gators head coach Urban Meyer over the weekend quickly changed his mind.
“Meyer told me I earned [the opportunity],” Clay said. “He expects intensity and passion and that’s what I’m all about. I’ve grown as a leader and it speaks volume to the person that I am. That’s why I’m in the situation I’m in right now. I have belief in God and I trust in him and I prayed about the decision. I feel this decision is so right, and my brother is proof that if you put in the hard work you will be rewarded at Florida.”
Mother Burton is just as happy as her son.
“They offered and that was it. You want to have all of your options available to you before you make a decision, but we weren’t sure Florida was going to offer,” Cindy Burton MacFarlane told the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays. “Clay had to earn it and the only way he could do that was become a leader without Trey. At the University of Florida, those guys are hard to impress. That’s a top-notch football program and they only want the best of the best and Clay really had to earn it.”
Florida has very much become a family environment over the years with numerous siblings and relatives having donned the Orange & Blue. In addition to the duo of offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey playing to the Gators, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley‘s father and uncle both played in Gainesville and two of cornerback Joe Haden‘s brothers believed that UF was for them (safety Jordan Haden transferred to Maryland after enrolling this summer and running back Josh Haden joins the team via transfer from Boston College in Jan.).
In an offseason where individual Pro Day workouts have been the talk of the 2010 NFL Draft, the last major one is set to take place Friday when Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen (and his teammates including wide receiver Golden Tate) work out for representatives from every NFL team in South Bend, IN.
However, one head coach who consciously decided to skip the event altogether is Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, he will be in Gainesville, FL, as the featured speaker at a Florida football coaches clinic Friday; he will also stick around to workout draft-eligible players on a one-and-one basis.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Childress is set to meet with quarterback Tim Tebow, center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Brandon Spikes, wide receiver Riley Cooper, safety Major Wright and defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham during his time in Gainesville.
Childress has already gone on record in regards to his respect and admiration for Tebow. He has also had both WR Percy Harvin (whom he drafted with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft) and head coach Urban Meyer in his ear about the former Heisman Trophy winner. No wonder Childress has been seriously considering drafting Tebow.
With Brett Favre‘s NFL career in limbo (he’s coming back) and Harvin already on his roster, Childress and the Vikings may very well believe that Tebow is their quarterback of the future and worthy of their No. 30 overall first-round pick. (Especially if Pouncey is selected before they are on the clock.)
Minnesota’s vice president of player personnel, Rick Spielman, was in attendance at the Gators’ Pro Day in March, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will represent the team Friday at Notre Dame.
1 » With Eastern Carolina’s Skip Holtz looking like the top candidate for the USF Bulls head coaching gig, the Florida Gators 2010 coaching staff may be solidified after all. Assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney was thought to be in consideration for the job, but it appears like he was not even contacted. Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel spoke with co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater, who also had other opportunities but turned them all down to continue working for head coach Urban Meyer. “I have a deep respect and relationship with Urban that goes back more than 20 years,” Heater said. “I’m joined at the hip with him. It’s personal for me.” Heater also indicated that he is impressed with new defensive coordinator George Edwards and believes that Florida will indeed see 3-4 fronts.
2 » Gators four-star running back commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) will be taking official visits to Florida (1/15), Florida State (1/22) and Tennessee (1/29) according to Brown’s high school head coach Corey Jarvis via Mark Wheeler of Rivals. Brown has been silent since Gators RB coach Kenny Carter left for the Louisville Cardinals. Also looking around is four-star defensive back Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL), who will take official visits to the same schools: Tennessee (1/15), Florida State (1/22) and Florida (1/29). However, Dorsey recently upped his commitment level to “90 percent.”
3 » Two sources are reporting that Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commit Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) is seriously considering the Gators after visiting Gainesville, FL last weekend. Adam Gorney of Rivals has said that Florida is now considered the leader for Hendrix who is thinking things over with his parents while JC Shurburtt of ESPN says the decision is a “toss-up” between the two schools.
4 » The Gators have reached out to a number of the USC Trojans‘ commitments after it was learned that head coach Pete Carroll was stepping down. Along with five-star wide receiver Kyle Prater (Hillside, IL), Florida is also going after four-star QB Jesse Scroggins (Lakewood, CA). According to Shurburtt, the team is trying hard for him to take a visit across the country.
1 » REMINDER: Florida Gators basketball begins 2010 Southeastern Conference play Saturday at noon on ESPN2 against the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. Just an hour later at 1 p.m., the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air live on NBC. OGGOA will have live coverage of both games.
2 » Former Florida running backs coach Kenny Carter said that, though his move to the Louisville Cardinals appears to be a lateral one, it will help advance his career. “Florida has been great to me,” Carter told the Orlando Sentinel. “I learned so much from Urban [Meyer]. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s a dream job for 95 percent of coaches. But there are a lot of factors that go into a coaching move while most people think it has something to do with the team they are leaving. I want to be a head coach one day, and in order to be a head coach, there are things involved in that process. Helping a program from the ground up and working for Charlie [Strong] really intrigued me.” Carter will also help organize special teams with Louisville.
3 » In its first meet of the 2010 season, No. 4 Gators gymnastics fell to the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners 195.275 to 196.250. Florida won the vault but lost on bars, beam and floor while competing on the road in Norman, OK.
4 » Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong officially announced Friday that former Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford has been hired as his defensive coordinator.
5 » Conflicting reports emerged that three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) received a scholarship offer from Florida earlier this week, but in the end none of them truly matter. Johnson, who claims he received an offer from the Gators to play defensive back, has reaffirmed his commitment to the Iowa State Cyclones. “They want me to play DB,” Johnson told Chris Hays of the Sentinel. “I’m a running back. I run the ball. That’s what I do.”
6 » Four-stars athlete/safety recruit Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commitment Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) will be visiting Gainesville, FL, this weekend according to Rivals.
MyValleySports.com is reporting that Stanford Cardinal defensive ends and special teams coach D.J. Durkin has been hired to coach linebackers and special teams for the Florida Gators. Durkin, who has coached at Stanford for the last three seasons, previously worked as linebackers and special teams coach with the Bowling Green Falcons from 2005-06.
A four-year starter for Bowling Green from 1997-2000, Durkin served as a graduate assistant and defensive specialist on the Falcons coaching staff while he pursued a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision. Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who led Bowling Green from 2001-2002, hired Durkin as one of his GAs during his tenure. After Meyer left, Durkin spent two years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish where he was a GA for the entire defensive staff but worked closely with defensive ends.
An interesting twist to this story is that Meyer has always coached the Gators’ special teams unit, so hiring Durkin for the job may very well indicate that he is choosing to lessen some duties or drop them all-together. OGGOA will have more on this story as additional information is made available.
ESPN spent a day with Durkin during Stanford football practice:
University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer will be stepping down after coaching the team in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Meyer, 45, who was hospitalized with chest pains after the 2009 SEC Championship, has had concerns about his health for years. A school source has told ESPN that “Meyer has been to the hospital at least twice since suffering chest pains after the SEC title game” and that “the heart problems are stress related, not congenital.” Numerous rumors state Meyer may have had a heart attack.
In 1998, while he was an assistant with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Meyer experienced head pains that led doctors to discover a non-life-threatening arachnoid cyst on his brain. Though it did not put him in immediate danger, the cyst could flare up because of stress – something that happened while he was head coach of the Utah Utes. If stress is the key component at work with Meyer’s health problems, his decision to retire becomes even more clear.
“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said in statement released to the press. “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family. After consulting with my family, [university president] Dr. [Bernie] Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family.
“I’m proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of a tremendous institution – from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I’m also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most.”
According to Pete Thamel of the New York Times, Meyer suffered severe chest pains while sleeping after the Alabama game. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, “underwent more than nine hours of testing” and was scared for his life after losing consciousness. Though he has “suffered from severe chest pains the past two years,” these were particularly frightening. Meyer continued testing after returning to Gainesville.
On Christmas Eve, Meyer told his family that he would be resigning. “I saw it as a sign from God that this was the right thing to do,” is how Meyer said he felt when his 18-year-old daughter Nicki was overjoyed to find out he was returning home. “I was worried about letting people down. I was feeling so awful and concerned about my health. That was among several other signs that said it’s time to back away.”
For now, Meyer’s focus is solely on the Sugar Bowl. “I just want to win this game for these players and make sure that the University of Florida is in good shape,” Meyer said. “I haven’t even thought about anything after that, other than I’m a Gator and I’ll always be a Gator.” Meyer also told the Times that the team cried but took the news well. “I was very concerned about that. They were awesome. They stayed 45 minutes afterward.”
Foley and Machen also made statements about Meyer’s resignation.
“Coach Meyer and I have talked this through and I realize how hard this was for him to reach this decision,” Foley said. “But, the bottom line is that Coach Meyer needed to make a choice that is in the best interest of his well being and his family. I certainly appreciate what he has meant to the University of Florida, our football program and the Gator Nation. I have never seen anyone more committed to his players, his family and his program. Above all, I appreciate our friendship.”
“Urban Meyer’s integrity, work ethic and commitment to his players are some of the reasons we asked him to become head football coach at the University of Florida,” Machen said. “As a Gator, Urban has done everything we asked of him and more. He leaves a lasting legacy on the field, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community. I am saddened that Urban is stepping down but I have deep respect for his decision.”
Meyer leaves Florida with a 56-10 record (32-8 SEC), a school-record 22-game winning streak, two BCS National Championships and two SEC Championships. His .841 career winning percentage (95-18) is the highest among active coaches with at least five years experience, and he is the only current coach to win two BCS titles.
“I love Coach Meyer,” senior quarterback Tim Tebow said in a statement released Saturday evening. “The past four years he has been my dad away from home. We will always have a father-son relationship for the rest of our lives. Coach loves the university, his players and the fans. I believe he has made the right decision for him and his family. He will always be loved by me and the Gator faithful.”
Meyer will host a press conference in New Orleans, LA, at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Florida sports information director Steve McClain has said that Meyer will not only stay on in a non-coaching role for the Gators, but that he will also be heavily involved in the hiring of his successor.
- McClain also said that reports of Meyer having a defective heart muscle and an unreported heart attack are incorrect.
- ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Foley was aware of Meyer’s thoughts about resigning for a week.
- Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Gators tried to keep Meyer by offering him time off.
- ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit says Meyer sounded “devastated” when the two spoke earlier.
- In a completely unconfirmed report, WKMG television in Orlando, FL, is reporting that Meyer suffered a heart attack during the season. Station sports director David Pingalore also is also reporting that Meyer did not inform anyone about the issue.
- OGGOA source: Meyer may have had a heart attack upon his return to Gainesville after the SEC Championship.
- A source has told Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun that Meyer “just doesn’t have anything left in the tank” and “had been considering leaving coaching for more than a week, going back and forth on the decision.”
- Dooley said players were brought to tears when Meyer gathered the team.
- ESPN’s Pat Forde: Former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who was just recently hired as the Louisville Cardinals head coach, has only signed a term sheet with the University of Louisville and not yet a contract. The school’s media relations director, Rocco Gasparro, has confirmed this fact.
OGGOA will update this breaking news story as more is made available.
1 » One day after advancing to the finals of the Gator Holiday Classic with a dominating 62-35 win over the Southern Jaguars, Florida Gators women’s basketball (5-6) fell to the High Point Panthers (5-6) 75-68 at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with a team-high 11 points for the fifth double-double of her career (11 rebounds).
2 » Though they lost head coach Brian Kelly to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their interim coach, Jeff Quinn, accepted the head job with the Buffalo Bulls, the Cincinnati Bearcats are playing better than ever, according to quarterback Tony Pike. “I think this has been our best week of practice this season,” Pike said. “It’s been a relief to get back on the field. The success we’ve had this season had been overshadowed by the other stuff.” The Bearcats and Gators will both descend on New Orleans, LA, on Saturday to begin practice for the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
3 » A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton has already delighted fans with his exciting play and aggressive style. His shot selection, however, leaves much to be desired. Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Suntook a closer look at Boynton’s struggles – the freshman sensation is shooting only 37 percent from the floor and a measly 21.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the Gators’ loss last Saturday against the Richmond Spiders, Boynton was 0-6 from three-point range, some of which were simply bad shots. “Kenny may have taken some bad shots, but I think the same thing can be said of the rest of our team,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “Guys are going to have ups and downs. He’s got to have the freedom to take good shots, to take unchallenged shots.” While his shot selection may be questionable, one key to Boynton’s success in the backcourt is his penchant to hold onto the ball; he has a sterling 2.25 assist-to-turnover ratio.
4 » Though Donovan and his players are certainly not making excuses, one of the reason’s for Florida’s recent struggles on the court (aside from the high quality of opponents faced) are their injuries. Only six of the team’s 11 scholarship players are healthy, with the frontcourt being especially banged up. Junior forward Chandler Parsons (torn leg muscle), redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin (pulled gluteus muscle) and sophomore C Kenny Kadji (back) will all likely be good-to-go Tuesday. Freshman F Erik Murphy (shoulder), on the other hand, may sit and rest. “Those kind of injuries that we have right now are similar to a lot of teams and what they go through,” Donovan said. “But there’s no question [that other teams] have a lot more depth than we do right now.”
1 » The Florida Gators baseball team has been ranked No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason top 40 poll released Sunday. 2009 SEC Eastern Division Champions, the Gators were 42-22 overall in 2009 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional in the postseason. The only SEC team ranked higher in the poll is the LSU Tigers at No. 2.
2 » Florida women’s basketball (5-5) defeated the Southern Jaguars (6-3) 62-35 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday in the first round of the Gator Holiday Classic. Sophomore center Azania Stewart scored a career-high 18 points as she led the Gators to victory. Florida will take on the High Point Panthers for the tournament title at 7 p.m. on Monday.
3 » Further fleecing the Cincinnati Bearcats staff, the Buffalo Bulls have hired Jeff Quinn (Cincinnati’s interim coach after Brian Kelly left for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish) as its new head coach. Though Quinn will not start until after the 2010 Sugar Bowl, his hiring spells relief for Gators fans who were hoping neither cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford nor quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler would be hired away for the job.
4 » Seniors quarterback Tim Tebow and softball pitcher Stacey Nelson, along with 28 other Florida student-athletes, graduated on Saturday. Here are two pictures: