SIX BITS: Golf, tennis, softball, track, Harrell

1 » After three days of action, the No. 4 Florida Gators men’s golf team led the 33rd annual SunTrust Gator Invitational with a total score of 562 (283-279, +2) after 36 holes at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Senior Tyson Alexander shot a two-round 141 (71-70, +1), good for a first-place tie going into the final round. That will take place Sunday beginning at 9:10 a.m.

News on tennis, softball, track and former LB James Harrell after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Golf, tennis, softball, track, Harrell

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Urban Meyer’s e-mail to Seantrel Henderson’s dad

The New York Times‘ Thayer Evans has uncovered the following e-mail sent last month by Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer to Sean Henderson, father of five-star offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, MN). In it, Meyer says he will be unable to visit the Hendersons but hopes Seantrel can join the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class. Read the article for a contrasting e-mail from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I hope all is well and I apologize for not being able to make it up there to visit. I tried but my AD and doctor would not allow it. I know your family will be making a life-changing decision in the next few days. I want you to know that he will be taken care of here both as a student and as an athlete. The opportunity to be part of this great Gator Nation with the networking opportunities is unmatched. We have put together the #1 recruiting class in the country and Seantrel is the last missing piece. This class is similar to Tebow, Spikes, and Percy’s class where they wanted to come together to be the best and they did! If you have any questions, I would love to speak w u. Go Gators! Urban

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Hicks spurns Gators, Buckeyes for Longhorns

With National Signing Day approaching on Feb. 3, five-star linebacker recruit Jordan Hicks (West Chester, OH) decided to end the speculation and announce his college commitment a few days early in front of friends and family. Hicks took the Florida Gators, Ohio State Buckeyes and Texas Longhorns down to the wire as his three finalists but ultimately declared that he would play college football in Austin, TX, beginning next season.

Unanimously considered the top LB in the nation, Hicks is ranked No. 4 overall on the ESPNU 150 and No. 16 on the Rivals100. The Gators will now focus on gaining a commitment from five-star LB Christian Jones (Winter Park, FL).

Photo Credit: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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TWO BITS: Cooper on the NFL, Bruce on Meyer

1 » Though he has already signed a professional contract with the Texas Rangers after being selected in the 25th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Florida Gators senior wide receiver Riley Cooper has his sights set on the NFL and plans to do whatever he can to land a spot on a team. “I’m going to the NFL combine and the Senior Bowl,” Cooper said during his Sugar Bowl interview on Monday. “Hopefully [I’ll] run a good 40 [yard dash], hopefully run a 4.3 or 4.4, not that 4.52 [that scouts] are talking about. Hopefully my draft stock goes up a lot.” As to whether or not baseball is still a consideration, Cooper said, “I do think I’m definitely going to have a decision to make.”

2 » Earle Bruce, the man who gave Urban Meyer his first coaching job as a graduate assistant with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1987 and continues to be his friend and mentor to this day, spoke with Sporting News Today to provide some perspective on recent happenings involving the Florida head coach. “I was with Urban the Friday night before the Alabama game for the SEC Championship, and I could see there was something wrong,” Bruce said. “He looked withdrawn and a little bit under-weight. He looked like he wasn’t enjoying anything. I didn’t see the same passion he’s had for coaching. And then, watching the game, I don’t think he was all together with it. He’s usually a dominant factor on the sidelines, and he wasn’t in the game. He was subdued, and that’s not his way.” Bruce dives deeper into Meyer’s situation and how he can correct it and return to being “the finest football mind I know.”

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TWO BITS: Basketball still alive, Hicks to Gators?

1 » Discussing Southeastern Conference basketball in his latest column, ESPN’s Andy Katz paints the picture that the Florida Gators have a legitimate chance to overcome their recent woes. Calling the Gators the most surprising team in the SEC thus far, Katz says: “Even though Florida has struggled in its past three games (losing to South Alabama at home is rather inexcusable), the Gators are still a surprise overall in the conference. Beating Florida State wasn’t a total shock since the game was at home, but it’s still a quality win. And taking out then-No. 2 Michigan State in New Jersey was a stunner at the time. The Gators have proven that they can knock off big-time teams, and they’ll need to do that going forward in the SEC if they are to avoid a third straight NIT appearance.” Even so, Katz projects Florida as one of “at least five squads [from the SEC] in the Big Dance.”

2 » Though he is still trying to decide between the Gators, Texas Longhorns and Ohio State Buckeyes, four-star linebacker recruit Jordan Hicks (West Chester, OH), has decided to announce his college choice sometime in January instead of on National Signing Day, according to Bill Kurelic of ESPN. Hicks is believed to be favoring Texas at this point, but Kurelic predicts “Florida as the eventual winner in this tug of war. The Gators got the last official visit and Urban Meyer is assembling what some feel will be his best recruiting class ever. If in fact he can land Hicks, he will have the No. 2 prospect in the ESPNU 150 and the country’s top linebacker.”

Extra Bit » While reading a column by CBSSports.com’s national columnist Mike Freeman about the recent issues surrounding USC Trojans running back Joe McKnight, OGGOA came across this shot at the Gators that we found particularly disturbing and ridiculously exaggerated. Qualifying the magnitude of USC’s recent off-field issues, Freeman says, “The Trojans aren’t the Florida Gators, who are soaked in DUIs and gun toters, but it’s getting pretty bad out there in Trojanland.” Thoughts?

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Who will replace Strong as defensive coordinator?

Now that Charlie Strong is officially the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer must find someone to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator. Strong, who said Wednesday that he will stay on to coach the Gators defense in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, will likely work with his future successor in preparation for the game, similar to how former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen worked with his replacement Steve Addazio before the 2009 BCS National Championship. Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chuck Heater are currently Meyer’s leading candidates to replace Strong, though he could hire someone from the outside.

Dan McCarney
Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach

A 32-year coaching veteran, McCarney remains the longest tenured head coach in Big 12 history, leading the Iowa State Cyclones to five bowl games from 1995-2006. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004 and was responsible for the rebirth of Iowa State’s defense, which ranked among the Big 12 leaders in total defense in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Prior to his tenure with the Cyclones, McCarney, 56, was the Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator. In 1993, his defense ranked 19th nationally against the run and allowed only 16.3 points per game. Wisconsin recorded a nation’s-best 23 interceptions as well as 34 turnovers that season.

Chuck Heater
Assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach

A 33-year coaching veteran, Heater has worked with Meyer at four different programs including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Colorado State Rams and Utah Utes. He has worked with six National Coaches of the Year (Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Meyer, Bill McCartney, Bo Schembechler) and coached in 22 bowl games including six on New Year’s Day and two BCS National Championship games. Heater, 57, was the Gators’ recruiting coordinator in 2006 and 2007 for two of the team’s best recruiting classes to date. His cornerback units helped Florida lead the SEC in interceptions with 16 (2005, T-Georgia) and 21 (2006), respectively.

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UPDATE: Florida Gators Nike Pro Combat uniform

On Monday, OGGOA reported that the Florida Gators would be unveiling a special uniform for their final home game of the 2009 season against the Florida State Seminoles. Two sources close to OGGOA provided us with exclusive information regarding the Gators special uniforms, including a picture of the gloves that will be worn for the game. OGGOA has now also uncovered a picture of the uniform.

Last week, OGGOA received images of brand new Nike Pro Combat uniforms that FSU plans to wear on Nov. 21 against the Maryland Terrapins. These uniforms will be worn by the Seminoles, Gators and eight other teams to promote Nike’s new line.

Each team has its own tagline, too: Florida Gators – Finish the Mission; Florida State Seminoles – Fear the Spear; Virginia Tech Hokies – Good Guys Wear White; TCU Horned Frogs – Never Back Down; Ohio State Buckeyes – Earned; Oklahoma Sooners – Stake Our Claim; Texas Longhorns – It Only Takes Eleven; LSU Tigers – Cochon De Lait; Missouri Tigers – Beast Mode; Miami Hurricanes – The U Knows

Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms are said to be 37% lighter than current designs and utilize a four-way stretch twill that does not hold sweat or water. Additional features include Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, evaporation and cooling zones, more padding zones and improved ventilation and breathability. Players will also wear Nike Vapor Trail 2.0 gloves (see above) and Nike Zoom Air cleats that are light weight and feature better cushioning in the heel. Below you will find a more detailed picture of FSU’s uniform:

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Florida to wear special uniforms vs. Florida State

CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED STORY INCLUDING PICTURE OF FULL UNIFORM!

Rumors have been circling over the last few weeks that the Florida Gators would be unveiling a special uniform for one of their final two home games of the 2009 season. Two sources close to OGGOA have provided us with exclusive information regarding the Gators special uniforms, including a picture of the gloves that will be worn for the game.

Last week, OGGOA received images of brand new Nike Pro Combat uniforms that the Florida State Seminoles plan to wear on Nov. 21 against the Maryland Terrapins. These uniforms will be worn by the Seminoles, Gators and eight other teams to promote Nike’s new line. Each team has its own tagline, too:

Florida Gators – Finish the Mission; Florida State Seminoles – Fear the Spear; Virginia Tech Hokies – Good Guys Wear White; TCU Horned Frogs – Never Back Down; Ohio State Buckeyes – Earned; Oklahoma Sooners – Stake Our Claim; Texas Longhorns – It Only Takes Eleven; LSU Tigers – Cochon De Lait; Missouri Tigers – Beast Mode; Miami Hurricanes – The U Knows

While OGGOA has yet to come across pictures of Florida’s uniforms for the game, below you will find a picture of Florida State’s. Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms are said to be 37% lighter than current designs and utilize a four-way stretch twill that does not hold sweat or water. Additional features include Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, evaporation and cooling zones, more padding zones and improved ventilation and breathability. Players will also wear Nike Vapor Trail 2.0 gloves (see above) and Nike Zoom Air cleats that are light weight and feature better cushioning in the heel.

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