Gator Bites for Thursday, September 27

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In his second contribution to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah discusses helping host a basketball tournament that featured members of different local gangs all playing together “to promote peace and bring some positivity into the neighborhood.” Noah, through his Noah’s Arc Foundation, helps “children develop a stronger sense of self” in order to help fulfill their dreams.

What I witnessed was different gangs, different religions and different kinds of people joining forces to address the problems that affect a community they all share. I felt we accomplished our goal on a micro-level for that one day, and hopefully the effects will stretch far beyond.

» Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal recently sat down for some interviews as he prepares to begin his first NBA season. Beal spoke to a member of the Wizards’ staff about going through his first media day as a professional (Video) and The Wall Street Journal (video below) about being a young man suddenly coming into money as a professional basketball player.

Check out 10 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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Gators RB Jeff Demps set to sign with Patriots

Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is set to sign with the New England Patriots on Friday, ending his three-day run as an NFL undrafted free agent.

Demps, who decided on Jan. 12 to give up football in order to concentrate on his career as a sprinter, filed paperwork this week to become a free agent and was able to sign with any team he wished after not being selected in the 2012 NFL Draft back in April.

Though a dozen teams were seriously interested in Demps’s services, he and agent Daniel Rose narrowed down the player’s list to a handful of teams on Wednesday. Demps visited New England on Thursday and flew back to Orlando, FL on Friday to officially sign his contract.

Demps was technically considered an undrafted free agent under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement so the parameters of his rookie contract will be limited. He can sign for up to three years though the monetary terms of his deal were not necessarily as important finding the overall best fit, his agent told OGGOA late Wednesday.

“Every team has a different idea of how to use him and basically every team has given us an idea of what they want to do with him,” he explained. “We’re going to look at what teams have, what they want to do with him and take all of that into consideration. We’ve really done our homework.

“Just because a team offers him the most money does not mean they will be the team that gets him. Obviously money is great – and we’ll definitely get a nice deal – but it’s not like a team can come in, offer ‘X’ and all of a sudden they’re the right fit.”

Demps reportedly has been planning to make this move after failing to initially qualify for the 2012 London Olympics in July. He wound up being selected as an injury replacement and won a silver medal as part of the first round team for the United States in the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay, delaying his football plans by a few weeks.

Rose also told OGGOA on Wednesday that Demps will join his new team as soon as possible as is very much behind the eight ball at this point in time. Training camp began two weeks ago and playbooks were handed out months ago.

Demps will be the sixth former Gators player on the Patriots’ current roster, joining linebacker Brandon Spikes, tight end Aaron Hernandez, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, defensive tackle Gerard Warren and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney.

Tampa Bay and the New York Jets were also in serious contention for his services.

Demps’s decision was first reported by FOX 13 out of Tampa, FL and confirmed to OGGOA shortly thereafter by his agent.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Gators RB Jeff Demps expected to sign Thursday

Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps expects to sign with an NFL team on Thursday and join that team immediately, agent Daniel Rose of Gridiron Sports confirmed to OGGOA late Wednesday evening over the phone.

“Within the next 24 hours we’re going to wrap this up,” he said.

Demps, who decided on Jan. 12 to give up football in order to concentrate on his career as a sprinter, filed paperwork this week to become a NFL free agent. He is able to sign with any team he chooses after not being selected in the seven-round 2012 NFL Draft.

Rose, who spoke with all 32 teams about Demps, told OGGOA that a dozen teams are seriously interested in the player’s services though only a handful have made the final cut and will be involved in Thursday’s decision-making process.

Demps is technically considered an undrafted free agent under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement so the parameters of his rookie contract will be somewhat limited. He can sign for up to three years though the monetary terms of his deal are not necessarily as important as the opportunity a specific team might provide him, Rose said.

“Every team has a different idea of how to use him and basically every team has given us an idea of what they want to do with him,” he explained. “We’re going to look at what teams have, what they want to do with him and take all of that into consideration. We’ve really done our homework.

“Just because a team offers him the most money does not mean they will be the team that gets him. Obviously money is great – and we’ll definitely get a nice deal – but it’s not like a team can come in, offer ‘X’ and all of a sudden they’re the right fit.”

Demps reportedly has been planning to make this move after failing to initially qualify for the 2012 London Olympics in July. Demps wound up being selected as an injury replacement and won a silver medal as part of the first round team for the United States in the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay, delaying his football plans by a few weeks.

Now that he is eligible to sign with a team, it makes sense that he would do so as soon as possible. NFL training camp began two weeks ago (playbooks were handed out months ago) and Demps will be behind no matter which team picks him up.

Though a dozen organizations have expressed high levels of interest in Demps according to his agent, two that have been specifically named by other media outlets over the last two days are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets.

Tampa is reportedly “seriously interested” in signing Demps and initially contacted him in July. New York, which is looking to add playmakers to its lacking roster, reached out to Demps and his agent more recently, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Demps will have a lot thrown at him quickly no matter where he signs.

He will not only be weeks behind in learning the team’s playbook and familiarizing himself with its procedures but will also have to change his body again, adding muscle mass that he lost over the last six months for the purpose of become a more proficient sprinter.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Florida RB Jeff Demps files paperwork with NFL

Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps, who decided on Jan. 12 to give up football in order to concentrate on his career as a sprinter, has “signed a standard representation agreement for football” and filed the necessary paperwork to play in the NFL according to NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport.

Just days after winning a silver medal as part of the first round team for the United States the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay in the 2012 London Olympics, Demps has decided to go back to the sport that he once called his first love.

Demps, who was invited but did not choose to attend the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, was not selected in the 2012 NFL Draft even as a flier at the end of the third day. Due to these circumstances, he immediately becomes a free agent who can be signed by any team in the league that is interested in his services.

Though his size has always been an issue at 5’8” and 190 lbs., Demps’s straight-line speed is something that undoubtedly has teams drooling about his potential even if they decide he can only be used as a returner and occasional offensive player.

That is why his decision to give the NFL a shot is not much of a surprise, especially because he would always have enough time to change his mind again and get back into track shape a year or two before the 2016 Rio Olympics are set to begin.

As OGGOA wrote on Jan. 12:

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.

TAMPA BAY THE EARLY LEADER?

According to PewterReport.com, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are “seriously interested” in signing Demps and were in contact with him before he was named as an injury replacement for Team USA in the Olympics.

In fact, the Bucs came close to signing Demps this summer when he failed to qualify for the Olympics. […] Instead of signing with the Bucs in July, Demps wanted to focus on racing in the Olympics and then concentrate on football in August.

The site also reports that Demps, if signed by Tampa Bay, would be used “as a slot receiver and a running back on offense and as a kick returner on special teams.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics concluded on Sunday with the Florida Gators bringing home 16 event medals including four gold, six silver and six bronze over the course of 19 days worth of action across the pond.

In an effort to highlight the Gators’ praiseworthy accomplishments while simultaneously recapping over two weeks worth of athletic action, OGGOA presents this wrap up of the presence that Florida’s athletes made at the Olympics. Below you will find facts, figures and highlights of what the Gators accomplished from July 25 through Aug. 12.

You can check out the Olympic results as they happened as well as the official Gator Nation vs. The World medal count and plenty of other information by checking out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

FACTS AND FIGURES

» If Gator Nation was its own country, it would have been ranked 17th overall in the final Olympic medal both in weighted and grand total calculations. The Gators won as many gold medals (four) as Jamaica and Czech Republic and captured one more than Spain, Brazil and South Africa (among others).

» Twelve Florida athletes won a grand total of 18 individual medals (16 event medals) for three countries. Fourteen of the 16 medals won were captured for the United States.

» 35.3 percent of the Gators that competed in the Olympics (12-of-34) won at least one medal. 50 percent (17-of-34) at least reached a final or competed for a medal.

» Ryan Lochte (swimming, United States) led the way with five medals including two golds (one shared in a relay with Conor Dwyer), two silvers and a bronze. Following Lochte with two each were Elizabeth Beisel (swimming, United States) and Will Claye (athletics, United States), who both brought home a silver and a bronze.

» Three other Florida athletes won gold including Christian Taylor (athletics, United States), Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts (football, United States). The rest of the medals included a silver each from Tony McQuay and Jeff Demps (athletics, United States) as well as a bronze each from Lisa Raymond (tennis, United States), Melanie Booth (football, Canada) and Novlene Williams-Mills (athletics, Jamaica).

» Beisel is the only current UF student-athlete that medaled in the Olympics. She will be entering her junior year in 2012.

» Seventeen countries were represented by Gators including the United States (11), Great Britain (6), Cayman Islands and Iceland (two each) and Australia, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia (one each). Florida athletes also competed in five sports categories including swimming (19), athletics (10), football (three), basketball and tennis (one each).

Read the rest of “Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics” after the break…

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Demps, Williams capture medals on Saturday

On the final day of competition for former Florida Gators in the 2012 London Olympics, two more medals were added to Gator Nation’s impressive haul due to runner-up finishes in track & field competition.

Former Gators running back and sprinter Jeff Demps, a member of the United States’ Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay team, was awarded a silver medal when the Americans finished second in the finals of the event on Saturday.

Demps ran for the United States in the first round of the event but was not chosen for the final foursome. Jamaica won the race and set a new world record of 36.84 seconds with the U.S. finishing second in 37.04 seconds. That mark tied the previous world record and set a new American record.

Just minutes before the men ran, Novlene Williams-Mills joined Jamaica on the track as the anchor for the Women’s 4×400 Meter Relay.

The U.S. blew past the field in the event, finishing in 3:16.87, but Williams-Mills ran the second-fastest leg of the race (49.46 seconds) and led her country to a bronze medal.

In total, 12 former Florida athletes earned 16 medal placements over the course of the Olympics. Gator Nation as its own country would be ranked 15th overall in the international medal count though dozens of medals have yet to be awarded. OGGOA will provide a full wrap-up following the conclusion of the Olympics on Sunday.

For a recap of Saturday’s events and the entire Olympics as well as a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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McQuay adds a silver to Gators’ medal haul

Just 24 hours after former Florida Gators put together arguably the most accomplished day in school Olympic history, runner Tony McQuay (United States) added another silver medal to the team’s collection by running the third leg of the Men’s 4×400 Meter Relay for the second-place Americans at the 2012 London Olympics on Friday.

McQuay’s silver is the fifth won by the Gators in these Olympics as well as Florida’s 14th overall medal. It is also the fourth in track & field events after Christian Taylor brought home gold in the Men’s Triple Jump on Thursday and Will Claye grabbed silver in that event as well as bronze in the Men’s Long Jump.

As a member of the U.S. relay team that competed in the first round of the event, McQuay ran a 43.65 split, the fastest of any of the 64 runners that competed in that round. He topped that mark with a 43.41 split in the finals, faster than any of the 36 men in the race. McQuay left the Americans in first place before handing off the baton.

Two more Gators could compete in Olympic track action in the final day of competition.

Jeff Demps (United States) ran the first leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Relay for the Americans on Friday. The U.S. finished first overall with a national record time of 37.38. Though Demps may not be chosen to join the final foursome competing in the finals of the event, he will still be eligible for a medal due to his participation in the first round.

Novlene Williams-Mills (Jamaica) did not run for her country in the Women’s 4×400 Meter Relay on Friday but is expected to be added to the team for the event finals. Jamaica ran a seasonal best 3:25.13 but finished fourth overall in their first round race.

For a recap of Friday’s events with stats, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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Gators Christian Taylor, Will Claye take home gold and silver for United States in Triple Jump

Former Florida Gators Christian Taylor and Will Claye dominated the finals of the Men’s Triple Jump at the 2012 London Olympics on Thursday, finishing first and second in the event, respectively, to take home gold and silver for the United States.

Taylor, 22, the reigning world champion and gold medal favorite going into the event, became the youngest jumper in 100 years to win Olympic gold in the Triple Jump.

He almost did not have the opportunity to be the first American since 1996 to capture gold in the event, however, after committing fouls on his first two introductory jumps.

Taylor hit a mark of 17.15m on his third attempt to cement his place in the top eight and qualify for three more jumps. He wasted little time showcasing his dominance, hitting a seasonal best of 17.81m on his fourth attempt, a mark that would win him the gold medal.

Claye, the world indoor champion in the event who already took home bronze on Saturday in the Men’s Long Jump, won silver with a mark of 17.62m on his fourth jump. He led through the first three jumps with a second attempt of 17.54m, a mark which only he and Taylor eclipsed over the duration of the event.

The medals won by Taylor and Claye mark the 11th and 12th by former Gators in these Olympics. Representatives of Florida now have three golds, four silvers and five bronzes over the course of the games with a handful of events remaining.

Taylor’s medal is also the first individual track & field gold in program history. Taylor and Claye’s medals are just the second and third field medals in school history.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

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