FOUR BITS: Tebow, Bates, Wilkerson, WBK

1 » It is no secret that the Denver Broncos’ quarterback situation received plenty of coverage in 2011. With veteran Kyle Orton, former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn all vying for the starting job, things were undoubtedly uncomfortable in Mile High. In the latest issue of GQ, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports submitted “An Oral History of Tebow Time” as told by analysts, coaches and players. Quinn was one of a number of players asked to talk about Tebow; he complied and did not hold back when it came to his true opinions. He began by noting that he was the true “second-string guy” on the roster but said Tebow got the nod over him to replace Orton for one reason in particular. “I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just ’cause they were chanting his name,” he said. “There was a big calling for him. No, I didn’t have any billboards. That would have been nice.”

Asked to explain how Tebow and Denver beat Kansas City with him only completing two passes, Quinn gave his explanation, seemingly blaming the opposing defense instead of crediting his team: “The entire game, the defensive line is chasing the quarterback around, and that wears down the pass rush. Meanwhile, the defensive backs are chasing receivers, but you only throw eight passes, so they start to feel lazy. It only takes that one play, that one big pass, for a touchdown.” Quinn later notes the obvious, that the Broncos “had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply” when it came to beating Chicago in Week 14. Just moments later though, he opines about Tebow as a person and offers a not-so-glowing opinion. “If you look at it as a whole, there’s a lot of things that just don’t seem very humble to me,” he said. “When I get that opportunity, I’ll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?”

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Quinn has since released the following statement:

The comments attributed to me in a recent magazine article are in NO WAY reflective of my opinion of Tim and the Broncos. Tim deserves a lot of credit for our success and I’m happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate. That interview was conducted three months ago, and the resulting story was a completely inaccurate portrayal of my comments. I have addressed my disappointment with the writer and have reached out to Tim to clear this up. I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our team’s or Tim’s success this season.

2 » Former Florida linebacker James Bates, a defensive captain with the Gators who has recently been working in college sports broadcasting, was recently the victim of a faulty piece of furniture. On hand to cover a college basketball game between Xavier and Dayton for CBS Sports Network, Bates’ stool collapsed live on the air. He was sent falling to the floor but kept a good disposition afterward, as you can see in the video below.

3 » The National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Friday that voting is underway for a new class to be selected out of a pool of “69 worthy candidates.” One of those candidates is none other than former Florida All-American hitter and pitcher Brad Wilkerson, a member of the 1996 and 1998 College World Series teams who was also a three-time All-SEC selection and the 1998 Collegiate Player of the Year, was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9, 2010. He played for four MLB teams and won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and still holds career records with the Gators for batting average, RBI, slugging percentage and walks.

4 » On Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Florida women’s basketball (17-10, 7-7 SEC) earned their biggest victory of the season with a 61-57 win over the No. 16/18 Georgia Bulldogs (20-7, 9-5 SEC). Junior forward Jennifer George (15 points, six rebounds) and senior guard Lanita Bartley (11 points, four boards) led the way for the Gators, which rebounded nicely after nearly defeating No. 24 Vanderbilt just a few days earlier UF will play their regular-season finale on Thursday against Mississippi State.

EXTRA BIT » Though Florida failed to prevail at the 2012 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Knoxville, TN over the weekend, the Gators did sweep one important category as sophomores Elizabeth Beisel and Marcin Cieslak were named the 2012 SEC Female and Male Swimmer of the Year, respectively. Florida won eight individual SEC titles at the event with Beisel and Marcin each taking home three. The women’s team finished second overall behind Auburn, while the men came in third behind Georgia and Tennessee.

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Three Gators invited to 2012 NFL Combine

OGGOA has learned that three former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

The three former Gators student-athletes invited to the combine include:

Running back Jeff Demps – Group: 6; Camp: RB06
Defensive tackle Jaye Howard – Group: 7; Camp: DL22
Running back Chris Rainey – Group: 6; Camp: RB24

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group: TBD; Camp: DB27) was also invited and is expected to participate in the event.

Demps, on the other hand, is unlikely to take part in the combine as he has decided to run track for the Gators and attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

The two notable names left off the invite list are those of quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Other draft-eligible Florida players include center/guard Dan Wenger and defensive end William Green.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
Continue Reading » Three Gators invited to 2012 NFL Combine

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SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

1 » According to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed for but turned down the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn, who has been at Florida for just one season, was a NFL assistant with four different teams from 2001-10.

2 » The 2011-12 season may now be in the books but that does not mean Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s name is out of the news. Tebow, who sat down for a 30-minute interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm last week, will be featured on ESPN2 in “SportsCenter Special: Face to Face with Tim Tebow” on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 10:30 p.m. Tebow’s recent ESPN rounds included an interview with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, which you can view below.

Four more BITS on Crowder, Demps, the Oh Fours and Wambach after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

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FOUR BITS: Wambach, Nike, Tebow, Powell

1 » Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach is at it again for the U.S. Women’s National Team, leading the United States to a 4-0 win over Canada in the 2012 CONCACAF championship game. Though both teams had already qualified for the 2012 London Olympics, the Americans wanted to end the event on a high note and did just that thanks to a pair of goals each by Wambach and forward Alex Morgan. Wambach also had the assist on one of Morgan’s goals, and Morgan returned the favor with a pair of assists on her scores. The 2012 World Cup star has moved into second all-time on the international scoring list with 131 goals but is still shy of tying Mia Hamm at 158.

2 » Now you can look just like the Florida basketball players will against Tennessee by owning the brand new Nike Hyper Elite Platinum jersey and shorts set from the OGGOA Store. The products, available in limited quantities, were just added to the store on Tuesday but are now for sale. Just click here to go to the store and scroll down to see the items on the front page. Get them delivered by Feb. 6 and root on the Gators while also supporting this site at the same time!

3 » In addition to being a featured guest on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will also visit ESPN2’s First Take on Friday for an interview with Skip Bayless. He will probably wind up making other appearances as well, but Tebow is set to conclude his week of spots in Indianapolis, IN by showing up for the inaugural NFL Honors post-season award show, which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

4 » Despite having concerns about his academics, four-star Florida linebacker commit Jeremi Powell does indeed plan on signing with the Gators on Wednesday and not with Marshall, the school he visited over the weekend. ESPN has posted a new feature on Powell, which focuses not on his abilities as a football player but rather the fact that he “has survived homelessness and the resulting anger that almost consumed him.”

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FOUR BITS: Every, Tebow, Dickerson, Petrick

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every, back on the PGA Tour after recovering from a broken finger and being reinstated following a three-month suspension received for being arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge (marijuana), took a two shot lead at the 2012 Sony Open on Friday thanks to him finishing his round with a 6-under 64. Every said that a “perfect storm” of bad luck led to his arrest and that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He told the Associated Press that though he did not smoke marijuana that night and still does not now, he will not stop hanging out with his friends because of one unfortunate incident. “I have great friends, man. If one of my friends likes to smoke marijuana every now and then, I’m not going to say, `Well, you can’t be my friend anymore,’” Every said. “Honestly, man, I know more people who smoke marijuana than who don’t smoke marijuana. I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say, but it’s the truth.” He added that he “feels like a rookie” playing this year and hopes to add to his lead when he tees off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ ThePostGame caught up with longtime NFL scout and executive Ken Herock, which the website describes as “the one NFL scout who believed in Tim Tebow,” to discuss the Denver Broncos quarterback and how he has performed so far in the first 15 starts of his career. “I spent five hours with him,” Herock said, “and I knew he was special.” He continued, “He’s just like a coach. He can see things. He’s not particularly fast. He’s not particularly quick. He has good vision when he runs. He sees the holes when he runs. He’s got a special gift for seeing things on the field. He has a sixth-sense vision. […] There are so many things you can do with him. There are things you can do with him that they did years ago. When Len Dawson was the quarterback at Kansas City they had the moving pocket. They could so something like that with Tebow.” Herock also said that Tebow’s arm strength is not an issue and even though his throwing motion is a concern for some, it can be worked on and tweaked.

3 » The Nationwide Tour, the developmental arm of the PGA, recently published a list of the top 20 players to watch in 2012 and one former Florida golfer, Bubba Dickerson found his way on the list at No. 17. Dickerson jumped 68 spots on the Nationwide money list from 2010 to 2011 and finished 46th last year while posting three top 10 showings in his first six tournaments. However, “he missed 11 of 12 cuts [at the end of the year] to take himself out of a position to get a PGA Tour card for 2012,” according to tour. “I’m looking forward to being able to plan my schedule because last year I started out with conditional status so in that respect I think things should go a little better for me,” he said. “I just need to be more consistent on my chipping and putting.”

4 » Former Gators runner Sara Petrick, who has continued competing since leaving Florida, has qualified for the women’s trails for the 2012 London Olympics but must shave 23 minutes off of her marathon time in order to earn a spot on the team. Though she knows the chances are slim, Petrick is just happy to be “competing against the best” runners in the country. Petrick is looking to run the marathon on Saturday in a total time of 2:45.28, which is just over six minutes per mile. “To give you an idea of how fast that pace is, you have to turn the speed on a treadmill to 9.7 and run 26 miles at that speed to reach that time,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. Petirck considers herself “just a novice when it comes to marathon running” but that does not mean she’s not happy with what she’s been able to accomplish up to this point. “One of my proudest moments was knowing I had a qualifying time to compete in the trails,” Petrick said.

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Demps chooses different path, will go pro in track

Senior running back Jeff Demps almost decided not to return to the Florida Gators football team for his fourth and final season of eligibility. Also a track and field star at Florida, he had an opportunity to turn pro and was weighing a decision to sign a lucrative offer from Nike or come back and play football for one more year.

Demps had made his decision days earlier, but head coach Will Muschamp officially announced on July 26 that one of the team’s most explosive players would come back to play and report with the rest of the squad at the beginning of August.

“When I came to Florida I wanted to compete at a very high level in both sports and I’ve done that,” Demps said in a school release at the time. “Football has been my first love but I also love running track. All of my coaches have been supportive and I’ve always been able to concentrate on whatever sport I’m competing in during that season. I concentrated on track this past spring and summer and I’m now ready to concentrate on football. I’m looking forward to getting back together with my football teammates and having a great senior season.”

After suffering through injuries in 2010 that saw him gain career-lows in yards, rushing average and touchdowns, he hoped to regain his primary role in 2011 under a new regime. Instead, a healthy Demps took somewhat of a backseat to redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey and got just six more carries than he did in his injury-plagued season, running for 569 yards while finding the end zone six times.

On Thursday, the University of Florida announced that Demps has decided to forego the 2012 NFL Draft and rejoin the Gators track and field program as he attempts to earn a spot with the United States in the 2012 London Olympics.

“Once I got done with the Gator Bowl, I kind of already had my mind made up, it was just when was I going to tell everyone,” Demps said Thursday in the release. “I enjoy track and it’s something I love to do. When I’m out here, I’m enjoying myself and having fun with the guys. I wanted to come back and run. It’s somewhat of an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport. You win championships as a team.”

A four-time national champion, Demps has the 60 meters indoors and 100 meters outdoors for Florida. He has won back-to-back titles in the former event for the Gators, helping lead Florida to consecutive national championships in the NCAA Indoors.

Gators track and field coach Mike Holloway, who was named in Feb. 2011 as an assistant for the sprinters and hurdlers on the U.S. Olympic Team, is excited to have one of his best athletes back in the fold.

“The biggest thing for me – and Jeff and I have talked about this a lot since last summer – I just wanted Jeff to be happy,” Holloway said. “Jeff has never really been a full-time track guy. He has always been a guy that played football and ran track. For him to have accomplished the things he has accomplished is phenomenal. I’m ecstatic. Obviously it’s big for our program. Jeff brings a different kind of energy to the track. When the other guys see him out there working as hard as he does, it gets them to step their game up a bit. We are a big family out here and he’s a member of the family.”

While Rainey, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley and other players will pursue professional football careers this year, Demps said that track was “always something in the back of my mind” but that he wanted to be there for Florida football and his teammates during the program’s transition period.

Now he will have a chance to shine at what many believe he is the best at – running straight ahead as fast as possible. And when the Olympics are over, whether or not Demps brings home a medal, his playing experience with the Gators could always afford him an opportunity at one day playing in the NFL.

Photo Credit: Jim Burgess

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FOUR BITS: Dunlap qualifies, Cosby on Tebow, Donovan’s adjustments, Reynolds commits

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Scott Dunlap earned his PGA Tour card on Monday by finishing Qualifying School tied for 18th with a final score of -10 (422). Dunlap, 48, has earned $2.7 million playing in 184 events in his PGA career. He’s made 96 cuts, finished in the top 25 a total of 33 times, finished in the top 10 on 13 occasions and has never finished an event higher than third place (three times).

2 » Comedian Billy Cosby, who will be in Denver, CO for a comedy show on New Year’s Eve, released a YouTube message Monday promoting the event while complementing the Denver Broncos and quarterback Tim Tebow. You can check it out below:

3 » Florida basketball is getting it done from long range so far this season, and junior guard Kenny Boynton is leading the way. However, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner, the Gators may not be able to continue with this philosophy throughout the remainder of the season. “Gone, too, appears to be the offensive approach from last season, where Florida took almost 70 percent of its field goal attempts from two-point range,” he writes. “Now with five shooters in their primary seven-man rotation, the Gators have thus far been one of the nation’s most three-point-dependent teams, taking 43.5 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Of their top six shot-takers, only [Patric] Young has taken fewer threes than twos. Everyone else is letting it fly.”

He continues, “Seven games into a campaign is far too early to draw any concrete conclusions about a team and its style of play, but what Florida has served up thus far — whether against Stetson or Syracuse — seems like a short-term salve rather than season-long salvation. The Gators certainly have the talent to make it to New Orleans, but they’re probably going to have to find a slightly different route by which to get there.”

4 » Florida track and field added another dynamic athlete this week as sprinter Robin Reynolds has committed to play for the Gators beginning next season. Reynolds, who hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, currently runs for Miami Jackson Senior High School and “owns the most state championships of any Miami-Dade County female track and field athlete [of] all-time,” the Miami Herald reports. Both of Reynolds’s parents went to Florida, and she chose to follow in their footsteps. “I wanted to go somewhere close enough to them, but still far enough to go away to school,” she said. “I grew up a Gator fan, and I bleed orange and blue. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop at the next level and I felt [Florida] gave me the best chance of doing that.”

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Lochte sets world record, tops Phelps again

Soon after defeating 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps by 0:00.35 to win the 200-meter freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in China, former Florida Gators standout Ryan Lochte continued his efforts to become the face of USA Swimming with a world record performance on Thursday.

Previously the owner of four world records, Lochte added a fifth by topping Phelps for the second-straight race and finishing the 200-meter individual medley with a world-best time of 1:54.00 in Shanghai, China.

Lochte shaved 0:00.10 off his previous best and set the first world record since high-tech bodysuits were banned at the beginning of last year.

“I wanted to do something that everyone thought was impossible,” he said after the race. “Since they banned those suits, everyone thought a world record would never get touched again. I just wanted to show everyone that can happen. That’s why we have records — they’re meant to get broken. Hopefully everyone now can start realizing that, ‘Hey it’s possible,’ so hopefully a lot more records will fall.”

Last December, Lochte set two world records and won seven medals at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The two world records were the only ones set during the entire year.

With two more races to go and a pair of gold medals to potentially be won, Lochte is not nearly done at the championships. He hopes to continue improving his technique as he looks ahead to the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: USA Swimming

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