SIX BITS: Leak signed, Thomas and Wright back, Murphy in limbo, Hernandez working, Gators fed

1 » In a story first reported by the Florida Times-Union one day earlier, former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak has officially been signed by the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL to be the team’s starting signal caller this season. “I am blessed and excited to be a part of an organization that’s committed to excellence and winning championships,” Leak said in a prepared statement released after signing his contract. “This is a great opportunity to be home and closer to my family. I look forward to playing in Jacksonville with support of greatest fans in the AFL.” Now a member of the Sharks, Leak will be joining his fourth professional football league. He played one preseason game with the NFL’s Chicago Bears after being undrafted in 2007, signed with Team Florida of the AAFL (which was stopped before it started), and played for three teams over four years in the CFL. With Jacksonville, he may have finally found a long-term home. “I am very excited to add Chris to our Sharks family,” team head coach Les Moss said. “He was a player I originally targeted before our first season, but was under contract in Canada and could not join us. Chris has never played the indoor game, but his accuracy and skill sets are what attracted him to us and are the requirements to be a top quarterback in the Arena Football League.”

2 » Denver Broncos defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who missed most of the preseason and his team’s first three regular season games with an injured pectoral muscle, has begun practicing with the Broncos for the first time in seven weeks. Nevertheless, he remains questionable to play on Sunday and may need another week in practice before he’s game-ready. Also returning to practice this week is Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, who was suffering from a head/neck injury that kept him out of last week’s game.

3 » Rehabbing a sports hernia that has kept him out of both practice and game action since early in the offseason, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphyhas been missing practice again this week even though the team planned to have him back one week ago. Indications coming out of Oakland are that Murphy was improving but is now stuck in limbo. While he’s been out, the Raiders have seen some of their younger receivers step up, turning what was once a guaranteed starting job for Murphy into a fight for field time whenever he does get healthy.

4 » Speaking of recovering from injuries, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is still working to that end after missing Sunday’s game due to injury. Hernandez sprained his MCL last week against San Diego and said this week that he is “feeling pretty good,” which is not necessarily an indication of when he will return. Various reports have him out 1-2 or 4-6 weeks, but Hernandez is optimistic he’ll be back on the field sooner than later. “I just take it day by day, and work with the trainers, and try to get back as soon as possible,” he said according to ESPNBoston.com. “We’ll just try to take it day by day and see how it feels.”

5 » A feature from The Wall Street Journal this week – discussing nutrition in college football as the “last frontier” for which teams can gain an advantage – featured (in part) the Florida program and a thought from one of the Gators’ nutritionists. “It’s the last remaining edge,” Chelsea Zenner said. “Every team at the top has a coach who deserves to be there and every team has great weight rooms and strength programs. The last edge is nutrition.” According to the article, Florida’s nutrition program (which began in 2003) spends $58,000 each year “just on pre- and post-practice snacks for the football team,” which include “five types of smoothies on demand.” There are “two full-time dietitians, a pair of interns and up to a dozen volunteers, with some staffers texting the players to remind them to eat lunch.”

6 » The Florida basketball team will be holding walk-on tryouts on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m., which Gainesville Sun reporter Kevin Brockway notes are being held to fill a spot vacated in the offseason. Apparently walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan left the team after spending three years on the Gators’ bench. OGGOA learned Thursday afternoon that McClanahan left the team with no ill will and simply “had enough” of being a walk-on for three years.

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Ex-Gators the center of NFL moves this week

Updated on July 29 at 2 p.m.

One day after defensive end Jarvis Moss re-signed with the Oakland Raiders for one year and $1.25 million, a trio of former Florida Gators football players found out there would be changers to their respective NFL careers.

The flurry of happenings started early when Denver Broncos wide receiver Jabar Gaffney learned he had been traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for DE Jeremy Jarmon. Gaffney likely would have seen a reduction in field time and may even have been cut from the Denver roster had the team not found a suitor for his services.

Going into his 10th NFL season, he posted career-highs in receptions (65) and yards (875) in 2010 during his second year with the Broncos. Gaffney previously spent four seasons with Houston and three with New England.

San Francisco 49ers DE Ray McDonald, who impressed in a reserve role during the 2010 season, re-upped with the team that selected him with the No. 97 overall pick in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft to the tune of five years and $20 million. McDonald recorded 19 tackles and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown) one year ago and will move into a starting role with the ball club.

He received $7 million guaranteed in the deal after saying earlier this summer that he was tired of coming off the bench. “I know I’m an every-down player, a starter,” he said, “and that’s what I’m looking to do this year. I’m not looking to back up anybody.”

The news was not as pleasant for Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Max Starks, who was informed by the team late Wednesday that his services will no longer be needed just two years after signing a four-year, $26.3 million contract that included $10 million in guaranteed money.

Likely a cap casualty due to his release saving the team $5.14 million in salary, Starks could rejoin the team at a reduced rate, though he may be able to sign a larger contract elsewhere. The 2004 third-round pick is a two-time Super Bowl champion who traveled to the big dance three times and started in 68 of 95 career games.

Positive news came early Thursday morning for Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, who announced via his Twitter account that he agreed to terms to return to the team. Details of his new contract are currently unknown.

Former first-round pick defensive end Derrick Harvey and linebacker Channing Crowder concluded the week by finding themselves out of work after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins, respectively. After three disappointing seasons, Harvey only racked up eight sacks in 47 games (32 starts) for Jacksonville. Crowder, who was selected in the third-round of the 2005 NFL Draft, amassed 469 tackles but only 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in six seasons with Miami.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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TWO BITS: Moss re-signs, Thompson ready

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss, who spent the conclusion of the 2010 season with the Oakland Raiders after being released by the Denver Broncos in Nov., agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million deal with his new club on Tuesday to remain in Oakland for the 2011 season. Moss, who has only registered 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble in his four-year NFL career, will be used as an end with the Raiders after being moved back-and-forth between end and linebacker in various defensive schemes with the Broncos. The former No. 17 overall pick hopes to start from scratch and pick things up in Oakland.

2 » Recounting when he and the team learned that head coach Will Muschamp tabbed Charlie Weis as the team’s offensive coordinator, redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that it came as a shock to everyone. “We were at the Outback Bowl,” he said, “and one of the receivers came in and said, ‘We’ve got Charlie!’ We were like, ‘We ain’t got no Charlie Weis.’ Then it came across the TV, and we were like, ‘Oh, man, Coach Champ is making moves already.’ Everybody was on board, and it gave us a sense of energy.” Thompson, who stated multiple times during the 2011 SEC Media Days that Weis’s goal is to keep it the offense “simple” and “fast” so everyone can pick it up quickly, believes 2011 will finally be his breakout season. “I think it’s going to happen this year,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of getting the confidence going and just getting the quarterback’s confidence going and the whole offense, and everything should fall into place.”

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Raiders WR Murphy arrested in Gainesville

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested early Sunday morning in Gainesville, FL and charged with three misdemeanors including failure to obey a police officer, possession of a drug without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence, according to The Gainesville Sun.

Per the police report, an officer attempted to pull over the Oakland Raiders star pass-catcher when he spotted him in his car with a group of people and the stereo playing at a high volume. Murphy reportedly ignored the siren, parked in a spot and walked away from the pursuing officer with the rest of his group. When the officer finally got Murphy to stop, he allegedly refused to present identification and was eventually put in handcuffs by three officers when he also refused to put his hands behind his back.

Murphy then allowed the officer to search his vehicle, where the report states that a “non-labeled prescription bottle” of Viagra was found. He told the officer that there was no label remaining on the bottle “because he did not want his girlfriend to know he had a prescription for it,” the police report states.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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Tebow scores twice in first start as Broncos fall

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow performed well in his first NFL start on Sunday. The rest of his team? Not so much.

Tebow completed 50 percent of his passes (8-of-16) for 138 yards and a touchdown and added eight carries for 78 yards and a rushing score as Denver fell 39-23 on the road to the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Both of Tebow’s touchdowns – a 40-yard QB draw on third-and-24 and 33-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd – came in the first quarter and helped the Broncos jump out to an early 14-7 lead.

Unfortunately his defense and special teams failed to get him the ball more often. When they did, miscues followed.

Running back Lance Ball dropped a perfect pass from Tebow in the end zone for one touchdown, and Denver’s offensive line failed to provide the signal caller the type of protection he needed to make a number of other throws during the game.

Tebow’s 40-yard touchdown run was the longest by a signal caller in team history, and his 78 rushing yards are the second-most by a quarterback in a single game in the Broncos’ record books.

He also became only the third player (first rookie) in NFL history to complete a touchdown pass of 30 yards or more and run 40+ yards for a score in the same game.

It is unknown whether or not Tebow will retain the starting job for Denver’s next contest, a home game against Houston on Dec. 26.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Rutgers, bowl game, Moss, offers

1 » Having last squared off on Nov. 17, 2007 in Gainesville, FL, the Florida Gators and Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball teams will once again compete – this time at the RAC in New Jersey, according to New Jersey News Room. The game will mark a homecoming for Rutgers transfer and current Florida redshirt sophomore guard Mike Rosario, who left the Scarlet Knights after last season when head coach Fred Hill was fired. Rosario will be eligible to play next year after sitting out the 2010-11 season.

2 » Though general opinion right now has the Gators football team headed to the 2010 Gator Bowl, Garry Smits of The Florida Times-Union believes Florida still has a shot at earning a berth to the 2010 Outback Bowl. According to Smits, the Outback Bowl committee – which has certainly played to their own tune over the years – “might like the Florida vs. Penn State game that most observes thought would be the Gator Bowl match-up. The Outback might covet that game for the same reason the Gator Bowl did: strong national TV ratings for a pair of 7-5 teams that still would be a big draw from coast-to-coast.” The Gators would theoretically be chosen over the Mississippi State Bulldogs if they played in the Outback Bowl, a team they lost to at home this season.

3 » As we reported previously on OGGOA, the Oakland Raiders recently signed former first-round pick defensive end Jarvis Moss who was cut by the Denver Broncos just a few weeks ago. In an interview with FOX affiliate KDVR 31 in Denver, Moss recounts his time with the Broncos. “Off and on I felt like I had my chances, but things didn’t always work out,” he said. There were days when I thought to myself, ‘Man I wish I was out there.’ I tried my best, and I really wanted to turn things around and do better, but my number was called when it was. From the day that you come into this league they’re looking to replace you. You’re always looking over your shoulder. I got that feeling when things weren’t going as well in Denver as they should have. You kind of get to thinking maybe they might make a move or shift a guy around. But that was out of my control.”

Moss was moved to outside linebacker when defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (who has since left) took over the Broncos’ defense, but now he is back to playing his natural position with the Raiders. “Everyone has been positive. I am going to play D-end and have my hand down again,” he said. “I’m just trying to get everything on the fly. I thought outside linebacker was a good opportunity, but obviously it didn’t work out in Denver.”

4 » Though only a junior in high school, 2012 defensive end recruit Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) has earned his third college scholarship offer – this one from Florida. Considered Jefferson High School’s top player next year, McCord received a visit and offer from Gators recruiting coordinator and running back coach Stan Drayton on Thursday. At 6’4” and 220 lbs., McCord registered 54 tackles and 14 sacks last season and only hopes to improve on those numbers next year. The St. Petersburg Times also reports that Florida is interested in one of Jefferson’s seniors – linebacker Ramik Wilson (Tampa, FL). “[Drayton] said he wondered why [the Gators] hadn’t offered him yet,” head coach Mike Fenton said of Wilson, who registered 68 tackles, 15 sacks and six forced fumbles last year and was also visited by Drayton on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss’ career with the Denver Broncos was uneventful with the former first round pick totaling only 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in under four full seasons with the team. Cut by Denver on Nov. 17, Moss cleared waivers and signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday. Moved to outside linebacker his last two seasons with the Broncos, Moss will return to his natural defensive end position with the Raiders and is set to back-up second-year player Matt Shaughnessy. He could play as soon as Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

2 » Speaking of Denver, their season appears to be getting worse and worse with each passing week. Even though head coach Josh McDaniels may be in danger of losing his job if he does not show some signs improvement over the next few weeks, he does not believe the time is right to try playing former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow more. “I don’t know. Not willing to go there,” he said, according to The Denver Post. “That’s not the case right now, so we’ll think about that when that happens.” McDaniels has had opportunities to get Tebow some playing time at the end of blowout losses this season but has declined on at least two occasions. “We haven’t had too many situations like that, but there’s a lot that could go into it,” he said. “I think each game is different. I think we’ve had the one game against Kansas City where you felt like there was a situation there but there are some other things that played into that. We’re not adverse to [putting him in late], we just haven’t had many opportunities to do that this year.”

3 » Former Florida swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year during the 2010 USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggle Awards on Monday. Lochte once again had a dominant summer in the pool, nearly breaking the 200-meter individual medley world record in a winning performance at the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Three more BITS including FSU already declaring victory…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

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SIX BITS: 12-0, Murphy, Tebow, Crowder, Harvey

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators volleyball (19-1, 12-0 SEC) kept its host streak alive Wednesday with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) sweep of the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-17, 2-10 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers dominated the contest with a match-high 11 kills and a career-high-tying four service aces. She also contributed five digs and a .524 hitting efficiency for a total of 15 points. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy backed up Rivers with her seventh-straight double-double to the tune of 11 kills and12 assists. Having completed a five-game homestand, Florida will hit the road for two three-game stretches over their final eight games of the regular season, which concludes on Nov. 26.

2 » Leaving during the third quarter with an injury as the Oakland Raiders dominated the Denver Broncos last week, it has been determined that former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy suffered a bruised lung and will miss several weeks of action. The Raiders’ No. 1 receiver, Murphy got off to a fast start this season but has floundered in recent weeks while dealing with injuries and constant quarterback changes.

Four more BITS on Tebow, Crowder, Harvey and how you can own a Gators ring…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: 12-0, Murphy, Tebow, Crowder, Harvey

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