SIX BITS: Meyer, Fricke, Murphy, James, Patriots

1 » On the heels of FOX Sports’ piece about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday comes another from the New York Times’ Pete Thamel, who notes that Meyer has a new perspective on his coaching career these days. In fact, it even led him to discard his Blackberry for a time being in place of an “older model with no Internet connection. He programmed seven numbers in it – for his four immediate family members, his two sisters and his father. No one else knew the number.” His wife, Shelley Meyer, is happy with his progress and health now. “As scary and hard as it was on the family and the team, so much good has come out of it,” she said. “The way he is now, he could go 10 more years.” Even strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti noticed something wrong with Meyer’s weight – by looking at his butt. “When he’d walk, his pants would sag halfway down,” Marotti said. “He looked like one of our players. He completely lost his entire rear end.”

2 » A university spokesperson announced Thursday that senior Florida basketball guard Hudson Fricke has decided to transfer to Milligan College. A walk-on who only played 22 minutes in three years, Fricke’s only points came on four free throws during the 2007-08 season. OGGOA wishes him the best of luck with his new team.

3 » Recapping what coaches learned during Oakland Raiders training camp this offseason, Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times notes that former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy “is far and away the Raiders’ best and most dangerous receiver” even though he “still drops too many passes for a real level of comfort. Murphy, who caught 34 balls for 521 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, was the team’s best WR and second-leading pass catcher in 2009-10.

4 » Tough night for former Florida kick returner Brandon James on Thursday. While returning a punt for the Indianapolis Colts, James muffed the catch, allowing the Green Bay to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. Additionally, rookie cornerback Ray Fisher returned a kickoff 58 yards for a TD. With Devin Moore likely to be the team’s primary returner, there is a chance James loses his opportunity with the Colts.

5 » No. 9 Gators soccer (2-0) looks to stay undefeated Friday night as they take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1) at 6 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

6 » Conspicuous by their absences Thursday night were New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, neither of whom participated in the team’s third preseason game. Hernandez missed practice this week with an undisclosed injury, and Cunningham has yet to participate in a single NFL down this season. Both, however, are expected to see major playing time this year. Florida rookie LB Brandon Spikes, who did play, recorded seven tackles (five solo) and a quarterback hit.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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TWO BITS: Wright injured, Villegas sponsored

1 » After straining his groin muscle Monday, Chicago Bears safety Major Wright became the fourth former Florida Gators player (and third rookie) to get injured in the opening days of 2010-11 training camp. According to ESPNChicago.com, Wright hurt himself while “attempting to change direction and locate a deflected Jay Cutler pass during a full team drill.” He “appeared to lose his footing and almost ended up doing the splits. He then gingerly jogged off the field to receive treatment from the teams’ training staff and remained out the rest of the workout.” Bears head coach Lovie Smith was optimistic after practice, indicating that the trainers believe he will be fine. “I like the way he’s played football,” Smith said. “he’s been around the ball quite a bit. He has good hands and is eager and excited about being here. He’s a good football player. But we need to get him out on the football field because there’s good competition at the safety position.”

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was carted off the field after tweaking his ankle over the weekend; both Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap suffered concussions.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is not the only one making major sponsorship news. CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports that former Gators golfer Camilo Villegas has signed a brand new sponsorship deal with TaylorMade. Formerly with Cobra (Puma), Villegas will now sport a TaylorMade-adidas bag, equipment and attire during matches. “Camilo is a winner, a gentleman, and a fan favorite,” company president and CEO Mark King told Rovell. “Cameras tend to find him because he has presence and magnetism that’s impressive and rare. Camilo also shares the same values with our brand and our people, including a burning desire to improve and reach his potential. We very much want to help him do that, which is why believe this is a great fit.” In March, Villegas won the 2010 Honda Classic.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

1 » Held out of action with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy continues to struggle to recover from a concussion he suffered during camp on Friday when he got kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah. He complained of a bad headache Sunday and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Murphy remains out of action and is now having trouble with sunlight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vittorio Tafur. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests…something that looks to be at least a few days away.

2 » After tweaking his ankle earlier in the day, former Gators WR Percy Harvin returned to Minnesota Vikings practice on Saturday without a noticeable limp. Unfortunately, Harvin missed practice Sunday and will be absent Monday as well after learning of a death in his family. OGGOA‘s thoughts go out to Harvin during this difficult time.

3 » Florida juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill were named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list on Monday – two of only 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs to be selected. Conspicuous by his absence once again is senior safety Ahmad Black. There is a long way to go and plenty of players will be added and removed to this list as the season progresses.

Three more BITS on Reggie Nelson, Brad Beal and Joe Haden…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

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Harvin carted off field, Murphy concussed at camp

Going into their sophomore NFL training camps each as one of the most dynamic players on their respective teams, former Florida Gators wide receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy both suffered health-related setbacks Saturday.

Harvin, the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was carted off of the field during Minnesota Vikings practice according to reports out of the camp, while Murphy was held out of action with the Oakland Raiders with a concussion.

The extent of Harvin’s injury is not currently known, but many of his team’s coaches and players were unaware that it even occurred. This may speak to the severity of the injury being minor or simply the fact that no one saw exactly what happened.

UPDATE: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Harvin has returned to the field and is participating in Minnesota’s evening practice.

Murphy, on the other hand, suffered a concussion after getting kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah during camp on Friday. He complained of a bad headache and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests.

OGGOA will keep you updated on the latest developments…

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FOUR BITS: Patriots, Donovan, Murphy, Bowden

1 » Though the New England Patriots three draft selections garnered the most attention from Florida Gators fans, the team actually added four University of Florida products in the offseason after signing former Gators defensive tackle and 10-year NFL veteran Gerard Warren. Warren, who is backing up Vince Wilfork, recounted to ESPN that new Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes, along with tight end Aaron Hernandez, were all doing the Gator Chomp during rookie camp on Thursday. “Hey man, it’s Gator Nation,” Warren said.

2 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun early this week, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan said he is “always concerned” about agents and their runners contacting his players. “The solution for it is the NCAA and the [NBA] players association are going to have to somehow get on the same level,” Donovan said. “Because we have more rules and restrictions against us as coaches in terms of communication and what we can do than the agents do.” He also touched on a number of other topics including the upcoming season. “I’m excited about our depth,” he said. “I think we’ll obviously have size now. I think we add a little depth with Scottie [Wilbekin] in the backcourt. But I’m anxious to work with this guys.”

3 » Former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy struggled to progress much during his first NFL season, mostly because the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback situation was unresolved the whole year. With former Auburn QB Jason Campbell now in the fold, Murphy thinks he is just what the team needed. “I see a lot of similarities between Jason Campbell and Tim Tebow,” Murphy said. “They’re both really driven.”

4 » No longer on the sidelines with the Florida State Seminoles, Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden has been taking part in a number of speaking engagements. During one Friday in Elkhart, FL, Bowden said that he will not miss having to deal with Florida every year. “They’re pretty good, but I don’t worry about them anymore,” Bowden said. “They’re not my problem anymore.”

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

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FOUR BITS: Tebow and NFL, Haden, Dunlap, Elam

1 » Just keeping you informed: The NFL released Monday a list of 16 players who have confirmed invitations to the 2010 NFL Draft on April 22. Among them were Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden but not quarterback Tim Tebow – who has yet to decide either way and has not provided the league with an answer as of press time. Tebow told OGGOA on March 27 that his family’s presence may be a deciding factor. “I don’t want to just celebrate that with people that I don’t really know and haven’t really been around just to be there in New York,” he said. “I want to be around my close friends and my family.”

2 » Speaking of Haden and Tebow, the latter’s presence at Florida certainly shaped the former’s college career and professional future – as the story goes. Because Tebow was cemented as the team’s quarterback, head coach Urban Meyer chose to move Haden to defense upon his arrival as a freshman. “At first, I just wanted to play,” Haden said. “I enrolled in the spring, so I had a lot of time to adjust. He moved me to corner, something I never did before, but I had coach [Chuck] Heater, and he said, ‘As long as you go hard, as long as you run as fast as you can, just tackle, toughness, you’ll be able to play.’ That’s what I did, and they let me start as a freshman.”

Where might Carlos Dunlap end up and is Matt Elam ready for major playing time?
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow and NFL, Haden, Dunlap, Elam

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FOUR BITS: Baker, The Bowerman, Tebow, Nike

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker, most recently waived/injured by the NFL‘s Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 6, 2009, has signed on with the Jacksonville Sharks of the newly revamped AFL. The Sharks are one of two new franchises being introduced to the league this year, and Baker joins fellow Gators cornerback Dee Webb on the team. The Sharks are 1-0 already this season with a 54-38 victory over the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz last week.

2 » Each year, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association hands out The Bowerman award which recognizes the most outstanding collegiate men’s and women’s track & field athlete. Three current Florida student-athletes are on The Bowerman’s watch list as of April 7: women’s senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili, men’s freshman sprinter Jeff Demps (new addition) and men’s sophomore jumper Christian Taylor. The Gators also boast women’s senior jumper Shara Proctor and women’s junior/senior distance runner Charlotte Browning as honorable mentions at this time. The award will not be handed out until December.

3 » Sourcing NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt, Jerry McDoanld of InsideBayArea.com says the Oakland Raiders have a high level of interest in former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. According to Brandt’s story, Tebow was asked by the Raiders’ coaching staff to break down a play. He replied, “This is how it’s called with Florida, this is how it’s called with your organization and this is how it’s called with West coast teams.” Brandt went on to say, “I think that when you get a quarterback and he reacts that quickly, you know that the guy is not only pretty smart, but he does have that mental quickness to adjust very fast.”

4 » Apparel and shoe company Nike has officially announced its partnership with Tebow. Click the link below to read the full press release.
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baker, The Bowerman, Tebow, Nike

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Joe Haden has suitors lining up behind Browns

In all likelihood, the Cleveland Browns will have the first crack at selecting former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden in the 2010 NFL Draft. Positioned with the No. 7 overall pick, the Browns have been high on Haden for quite some time. The organization attended his Pro Day at Florida, met him afterward for a private workout and even flew up to Maryland to meet with him again in his home.

Haden, who is in Cleveland today visiting with the Browns according to the National Football Post, will likely have a few more trips to take before all is said and done on April 22.

Among his suitors are the Oakland Raiders (No. 8 overall), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 10 overall), San Francisco 49ers (No. 13 overall) and Tennessee Titans (No. 16 overall). “Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has talked at length with Haden and 49ers personnel had a meeting with Haden following the Gators’ Pro Day workout,” Aaron Wilson wrote.

Since running a lackluster 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, some league scouts and draft analysts have questioned whether or not Haden will be selected as high as initially projected. However, Haden proved that his slow times were a fluke at Pro Day, sending his stock back up.

Haden will be in attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY for the NFL Draft.

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