Will Hill to forgo senior season, enter NFL Draft

Florida Gators junior safety Will Hill has decided to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility and plans to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, a source close to the team and a separate source close to the player confirmed to OGGOA on Wednesday.

Hill – a five-star recruit and PARADE All-American who was a consensus top-five high school football player in the country in 2007 – totaled 132 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack in three seasons at Florida.

He was chosen to the SEC All-Freshmen Team in 2008 after leading the Gators with 22 special team tackles including three in the 2009 BCS National Championship. Hill made five starts at safety in 2009 and once again led UF in special teams tackles (13).

As a junior in 2010, Hill caught two interceptions against Georgia including one in overtime that helped lead Florida to victory. (He also grabbed another on a two-point conversion attempt in the same contest.) He was suspended for the first two games of the season (disciplinary reasons) and sat out the beginning of the 2011 Outback Bowl.

OGGOA first reported following the bowl game that Hill left the field immediately after the final whistle and did not celebrate with his teammates or outgoing coaches. Most around the program did not expect him to remain with the team in 2011.

Projected to be a top junior NFL prospect before the season began, Hill was named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list but failed to live up to the expectations of both draft analysts and fans. ESPN grades Hill as a 68 in its “draftable defensive backs” projections, eight points below teammate and senior S Ahmad Black (76). His rating could improve significantly with a nice showing at the combine.

Fellow junior, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, is also expected to declare for the draft. The University of Florida will release statements when each player makes his intention to pursue a professional football career official.

UPDATE (1/10/11 at 5 p.m.): Since we first reported this story, Jenkins has decided to remain at UF and will not be entering the draft.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

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Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2010 (check out our post tomorrow), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players signing huge contracts to current team members being a part of some of the biggest news stories in sports this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

10 » FIVE BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2010 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon and suddenly in all but one case. Lamar Abel (21), a walk-on defensive lineman, suffered cardiac arrest while volunteering at a roadside cleanup event with his fraternity in Gainesville, FL. Former safety John Curtis (24) committed suicide in Bellvue, WA. Hall of fame safety Jarvis Williams (45) passed away after an acute asthma attack. Former Gators basketball player and friend to the program Augie Greiner (76) died in his home. And long-time donor and Bull Gator George Steinbrenner (80), most famously known as the owner of the New York Yankees, passed away in a Tampa, FL, hospital. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

9 » ERIN ANDREWS GETS JUSTICE, STARS ON TV, RE-SIGNS WITH ESPN

Former Florida dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews had a much better go of it in 2010. Though her stalker plead guilty to his charges in court in December 2009, she spent a good portion of 2010 making sure he was brought to justice (27-month prison term) while also spreading word across the country that violence against women from sexual predators cannot and should not be tolerated. Simultaneously, Andrews participated in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and even dropped a few Gator Chomps along the way. She ended up finishing third in the competition but parlayed her talent on the sidelines into an enhanced gig with the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Andrews signed a new two-year deal with ESPN, which included a role hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU, appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and more of a presence on the family of networks. She also spoke with OGGOA on two occasions, first in a wide-ranging interview that received significant publicity and later to share her thoughts on the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Florida Gators 2010 National Signing Day notes

Courtesy of the University of Florida’s University Athletic Association:

» The University of Florida football team had 11 student-athletes enroll in January 2010, the highest number in school history.
» The 2010 signing class includes nine players from the South Florida area (Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties). In the previous five signing classes combined (2005-09), UF totaled 11 signees from the same area.
» The Gators continued to be a factor on the national stage, signing 12 players from out of state in 2010. Players in the 2010 class are from Alabama, California (3), Connecticut, Georgia (3), Maryland (2), New York and Pennsylvania.
» For the fourth straight year, UF signed a player from the state of California and for the third straight year the Gators signed a player from Alabama. It marked the second-straight year a player from Maryland and Connecticut signed with Florida.
» Of the 12 high school players rated as five-star recruits by ESPN, Florida has signed four. The Gators signed 11 of the top 50 players according to ESPN. Overall, the Gators signed 17 players from the ESPNU 150 list of players.

Check out notes on individual players in the class after the jump…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2010 National Signing Day notes

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SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks has been named as a participant in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Though OGGOA is quite pleased with Horford’s accomplishment, we would be remiss if we did not speak out for fellow former Gators F/C David Lee. Lee, who has played with the New York Knicks his entire career, was snubbed by voters after averaging an impressive 19.4 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game thus far. To his credit, Horford is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.

2 » The following commits to Florida’s 2010 recruiting class have been named PARADE All-Americans: five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw.

3 » One aside from the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl is that players from the Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing together on the South team – and they’re having a good time doing it. “We’re getting along really well,” former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “They’re good guys. We’ve had fun, trash-talking back and forth and giving each other a hard time. It’s been a lot of fun. When we break down (after a play), they say, ‘Go Alabama.’ They’ve been trying to get me to say that, but I haven’t yet. It’s been fun.”

Three more BITS including a Florida Gators bobsledder after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

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