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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Gator Bites for Feb. 27 – NFL Combine Edition

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow stepped to the podium Friday at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine for media interviews. Though OGGOA has the full audio version, here are some individual notes from his press conference:

  • A writer handed Tebow a pad and pen as a joke, to which he signed it and gave it back to him. Apparently this was unexpected by said writer.
  • “People don’t realize there have been a lot of hurdles in my life. Scrutiny is something you have to deal with. I just have a little more motivation added on top. For so many people to care, I look at it as a blessing.”
  • Tebow once again mentioned that he only wishes to play quarterback in the NFL.
  • On changing his throwing motion at Florida; “It was something we talked about, but we had some success there the first two years. I worked on it for sure with the great coaching I had at Florida. But we were running a different system. It doesn’t correlate to what I’m doing now.”
  • “I’ll do whatever you ask me to do. And I’ll do it with all my heart. And I’ll do it over and over again.”
  • On his new throwing motion: “I’m just trying not to have that long loop in my delivery. The release point is no different. I talked to a lot of quarterback coaches, and some of them told me I should wait until after the draft or the combine. But I’m someone who is raring to go. I’m not scared about what anybody has to say.”

Much more on Tebow, Cooper, James, Pouncey and Hernandez after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Feb. 27 – NFL Combine Edition

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Kiffin kicks Tennessee to curb for USC job

Tennessee VolunteersLane Kiffin has agreed to become the next head coach of the USC Trojans, multiple sources told ESPN‘s Chris Low Tuesday night. Kiffin, whose sole season with Tennessee was shrouded in controversy both on and off the field, will bring his father Monte Kiffin along as defensive coordinator. Ed Orgeron is expected to follow and continue his role under Kiffin as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, and Norm Chow plans to return to the program as offensive coordinator.

“We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett said. “I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I’m confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect. Lane brings a lot to the table. He has a coaching background both in the pros and in the best collegiate conferences. He has a great command of the X’s and O’s. He is familiar with the Trojan landscape and will be a great representative of our university. He keeps the game fun. And, very importantly, he has proven to be one of the finest recruiters anywhere.”

An assistant with USC from 2001-06, Kiffin left to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007. He spent just over one season in Oakland, going 5-15 before being fired by owner Al Davis in September 2008. His sole season with the Volunteers ended with a 7-6 record and 37-14 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Peach Bowl.

Kiffin made it a point to become public enemy No. 1 for the Florida Gators and their fans after he claimed his team would be singing “Rocky Top all night long” after defeating UF in The Swamp. He furthered his villainous stature by not only insulting head coach Urban Meyer but also falsely accusing him of recruiting violations after nabbing wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson away from the Gators.

Ironically, Kiffin and his staff incurred six minor recruiting violations over the last year, and Richardson was dismissed from the team after committing armed robbery outside of a gas station in Knoxville, TN. Florida would go on to defeat Tennessee 23-13, leaving Meyer undefeated against Kiffin in Southeastern Conference play.

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Gator Bites for Sunday, December 6th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

– Reports were released early Sunday that Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer was hospitalized late Saturday night with chest pains. However, Meyer actually checked himself into Shands hospital in Gainesville, FL, early Sunday morning. He was treated and released for dehydration. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Meyer “worked late recruiting Saturday night after the Southeastern Conference Championship game loss to Alabama, which may have contributed to his dehydration.” ESPN has the story:

– Four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL), a recruit who was highly coveted by the Gators, committed to the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday according to Aaron Shepard, one of his high school coaches. “He said he’s been a fan since he’s been a little kid and it just felt like home since he went up there this weekend,” Shepard told The Orlando Sentinel on Sunday.

– Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong told reporters on Saturday that he has not yet spoken to the Louisville Cardinals and had no planned meeting with the school on Sunday. Sunday morning, the Cardinals spoke with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and received permission to speak with Strong about the job opening. According to ESPN’s Joe Schad on twitter, Strong and Louisville AD Tom Jurich have plans to meet Sunday night in Gainesville, FL.

– The Gators will likely face the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl. Meyer played defensive back for the Bearcats from 1983-1986.

– Former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Shaun Alexander, a close friend of senior quarterback Tim Tebow for some time, was seen consoling him late after the game in the Georgia Dome.

– Prior to the Miami Dolphins game on Sunday, former middle linebacker Channing Crowder ran out of the tunnel and gave a huge Gator Chomp to the crowd (which received a surprising ovation). Crowder was responsible for the game-clinching interception with 0:35 left in the fourth quarter as the Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots.

– Also a huge day for former Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy with the Oakland Raiders. Murphy caught four balls for 128 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers to give his team a 27-24 win.

– Competing in the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game are the following Florida commitments: Joshua Shaw (CB; Palmdale, CA), Jonathan Dowling (S; Southeast, FL), Demar Dorsey (S; Boyd Anderson, FL), Solomon Patton (WR; Murphy, AL), Leon Orr (DT; Gulf, FL), Mack Brown (RB; Martin Luther King, GA), Ian Silberman (OT; Fleming Island, FL). These recruiting prospects (among others) will also be playing in the game: Chris Dunkley (WR; Pahokee, FL), Kadron Boone (WR; Trinity Catholic, FL), Lamarcus Joyner (CB; St. Thomas Aquinas, FL), Cody Riggs (CB; St. Thomas Aquinas, FL), Chaz Green (OT; Tampa Catholic, FL), Devin Gardner (QB; Inkster, MI), Eric Mack (OG; Calhoun County, SC). For the star ratings of the Gators commits found in this list, visit OGGOA‘s recruiting page.

OGGOA will continue to update you with news throughout the day, so stay tuned.

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Florida breezes by Vanderbilt 27-3 in The Swamp

Looking to rebound from a week full of criticism and questions, the No. 1 Florida Gators (9-0, 6-0 SEC) did little to quiet their critics even though they rolled to a 27-3 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-8, 0-6 SEC) Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida extended its winning streak to a nation-high 19 games but continued to struggle on offense even through all of their personnel were healthy and active.

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow scored the 52nd rushing touchdown of his career in the third quarter and threw one that was tipped by senior wide receiver Riley Cooper to redshirt senior David Nelson with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Tebow ran 16 times for only 27 yards and went 15-for-20 for 208 yards through the air, including a 64-yard catch-and-run by sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter. The Gators also scored on a 25-yard run by sophomore Jeff Demps in the first quarter and two field goals by sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis of 27 and 45 yards in the first half.

Florida’s defense did not lose a step without senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, giving up only 199 yards of total offense to the Commodores. Redshirt senior linebacker Ryan Stamper grabbed an interception in Spikes’ stead. The special teams, however, did allow Vanderbilt’s senior punt returner Alex Washington to gain the first return yards on junior punter Chas Henry all season.

One week after finally showing signs of life by putting up 41 points on the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gators offense once again looked anemic, just as it did four of the five weeks prior. Along with Spikes, Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin and Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy watched from the sideline as both are on their team’s respective bye weeks.

Florida goes on the road to Columbia, SC, next week for its final Southeastern Conference regular season game this year against the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 14. Full coverage will be available throughout the week here on OGGOA.

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FOUR BITS: SEC referees; no-huddle offense; Florida WRs in NFL; Kiffin can’t shut up

1 » The work of Southeastern Conference referees has been shaky at best this season, especially that of the crew who was responsible for horrible calls both in last week’s Florida Gators vs. Arkansas Razorbacks game and the previous week’s LSU Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs game. Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated contends that these calls are nothing for Arkansas fans or college football fans to be crying about. “Obviously, they were bad calls,” Mandel said. “You know what else they were? The type of bad calls that take place in almost every single football game. Egregious as they were, those calls did not cost Arkansas the game. They happened with nine minutes left. The Razorbacks still had their chance to kick a go-ahead field goal and/or stop the Gators’ own game-winning drive.” He’s right.

2 » The newly installed “Banzai” offensive package, taken in part from the Oklahoma Sooners‘ hurry-up offense, worked well for the Gators at the beginning of the season. As defenses have gotten tougher and more confusing, senior quarterback Tim Tebow has been taking audibles from offensive coordinator Steve Addazio on the sideline, slowing down the offense. Both Addazio and head coach Urban Meyer don’t want the offense to “stand there so long watching” and lose momentum in the process. Beginning again Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, expect Florida to employ a more rapid-fire approach, capitalizing on their talent, athleticism and conditioning.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: SEC referees; no-huddle offense; Florida WRs in NFL; Kiffin can’t shut up

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