SIX BITS: Tebow, Cooper, Jenkins, Angus

1 » The exploits of some of his former Florida Gators have kept New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow off the front page, but the spotlight is back on Tebow now that training camp has begun and some practices are open to the media. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was at Patriots practice recently, saw Tebow play first hand and offered this opinion on his weekly MMQB column.

Take this for what it’s worth: Tim Tebow made three beautiful downfield throws that I saw, completions thrown 25 yards or more hitting receivers in stride. Tebow was also the personal protector on punts (kudos to you, Mike Westhoff, for getting him started on that last summer) and ran down on punts with energy. I bet the Patriots keep three quarterbacks, knowing they’re able to use Tebow as a utility player. Not necessarily a guy they’d have active every week, but a guy they could use in certain matchup situations against some teams.

2 » Former New England signal caller Doug Flutie spoke out about Tebow, telling ESPNBoston.com that he believes Tebow is in a good situation but hopes he gets an opportunity to contribute. “If he’s just going to be the No. 3 quarterback and run the scout team, you want a guy who is going to be giving his heart and soul in every practice and running scout team to the fullest, hoping he can get better and doing everything he can,” Flutie said. “I think legitimately, Bill [Belichick] brought him in to be a quarterback, a No. 3 guy, that if they get down to their No. 3 they can be competitive with Tebow on the field, running a specified style of offense that is going to cater to his skills. A lot of teams can’t say that if they are down to their No. 3. I see that as a developmental thing for Tebow.”

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper returned to practice on Tuesday after missing a couple of days while undergoing team-sponsored counseling following the release of a video that shows him uttering one of the ugliest words in the English language. Also in King’s MMQB column, he takes a look at Eagles head coach Chip Keilly and why, following the reinstatement and rejuvenation of Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount, he is more apt to give Cooper a second chance than some others in the league. “Chip could have kicked Blount to the curb. He chose to believe in him. And it worked out,” former NFL head coach Tony Dungy told King. “With Riley Cooper, this kid made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. The big issue, too, is the alcohol. That has to be dealt with. But Chip will make the right decision. He doesn’t care what the popular opinion. He cares about what’s right.”

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Cooper, Jenkins, Angus

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FOUR BITS: bball, Cooper, Hernandez, Murphy

1 » Florida Gators rising senior center Patric Young has received plenty of attention over the last two offseasons by posting videos of strongman workouts with the team’s strength & conditioning staff. This year, Florida taped all of the players participating in the impressively difficult workouts and compiled their efforts in the video below.

2 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and running back Mike Gillislee are the first former Florida teammates to speak out in defense of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who blurted out a racial slur at a concert that was caught on video and has since begun a – what appears to be quite sincere – apology tour. “I think Riley is a great guy,” Pouncey told FOX Sports Florida. “I think obviously he made a mistake. I just feel bad for him because he’s a good friend.” Pouncey also said he never had an inkling that Cooper would have those thoughts in his head and plans to lend his former teammate his support soon. “When the time’s right, I will,” he said. “But right now I know he’s going through a tough time and I just hope for nothing but the best for him.” Gillislee called Cooper a “great person” and someone that “doesn’t have a bad character.” He said he doesn’t think much of him making the comment and hopes people can move on from the unfortunate incident.

UPDATE: On Friday, Cooper was suspended from all team activities while he undergoes counseling. He released the following statement through the team:

“The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me. My actions were inexcusable. The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better.

“Right now, I think it’s important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I’ve done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time.

“During this time I’m going to be speaking with a variety of professionals to help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone. As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I’m going to try to make this right.”

Speaking of Cooper, here are some other links to stories, columns and videos relating to the situation. NFL.com: Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks | ESPN.com‘s Ashley Fox: Riley Cooper won’t be an Eagle for long | Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel: Most deserving of apology from Riley Cooper: the security guard doing his job

3 » Jailed former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez professed his innocence for the first time…in a handwritten letter sent to a fan that wrote him a letter of support. TMZ obtained the letter, which includes a line at the end with Hernandez requesting it not be leaked to social media. “The world just makes things out of false accusations … and it will all die down, especially when they say NOT GUILTY,” Hernandez wrote in part. “All the people who turned on me will feel like crap. … [I] can’t wait to sign [autographs] again when I’m playing again [and] prove all the haters WRONG.”

4 » Chicago Bulls rookie Erik Murphy turned around his life and career in his final two seasons playing under head coach Billy Donovan at Florida, so much so that his much younger brother – 2017 forward Tomas Murphy – is seriously considering playing for the Gators…in four years. The younger Murphy was officially offered a scholarship by Florida this week, though he is likely quite a while away from making his decision. His brother Erik told OnlyGators.com last month that Tomas has UF and Duke (where his other brother, redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy, is playing) ahead of the pack early in the process. Tomas also has offers from Boston College, Maryland and Rhode Island, among others. “He’s a monster,” a college coach told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello. “At this stage, he’s better than both [his brothers].”

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WR Riley Cooper drops racial slur at concert

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, expected to play an integral role for his team this season after teammate Jeremy Maclin went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament early in training camp, was caught on camera recently dropping the a racial slur (the N-word) at a Kenny Chesney concert.

WARNING: Explicit and disgusting language.

Deadspin.com first posted the video Tuesday afternoon, and Cooper was quick to address his racist remark head-on.

“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself,” he said in a statement. “I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, Jeffrey Lurie, and Howie Roseman, and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie subsequently released a statement of his own: “We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words. This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.“

The NFL league office soon followed suit: “The NFL stands for diversity and inclusion. Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.”

The fine assessed to Cooper appears to have been substantial as he told the media it was for a “good amount of money…but that’s really not important. The situation should not have [gone down] the way I dealt with it.”

Cooper explained that he was drunk during the concert and made the remark at an African-American security guard after an altercation, though he noted that being under the influence of alcohol was “no excuse for what I said and what I did.” He also said the N-word is not a term he normally uses and that he had never uttered it before.

Continue Reading » WR Riley Cooper drops racial slur at concert

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

The 2013 NFL season is just one week away from beginning with preseason action kicking off on Sunday, Aug. 4.

More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.

Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the first full week of training camp from July 21-27.

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: His first full practice with his new team generated its fair share of excitement with some fans in attendance occasionally chanting his name. Though he is listed as the third-string quarterback – and therefore worked behind center in 11-on-11 drills during practice – Tebow also participated in drills where he caught the ball and attempted to break a tackle. In other words, New England may have more planned for him than head coach Bill Belichick wanted to admit initially. “I just do what I’m told and work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job I can with whatever I’m asked to do,” he said.

Comcast SportsNet‘s Patriots beat writer Tom E. Curran described Tebow’s practice as, in one word, “horrendous.”

After practice, Tebow was swarmed by the media and questioned about former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez. “It’s just heartbreaking and sad, and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved,” he said. “I understand why you [the media] have to ask all the questions; that’s part of doing your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction, and we’ve been told not to talk about it.”

Tebow was happy to defend former Gators head coach Urban Meyer, however. “I feel like Coach Meyer is a great man, one of the best I’ve had the privilege of being around,” he said. “He is someone that not only tries to win football games, he’s someone that tries to invest in young men’s lives and help young men grow. He cares very deeply about that. That’s one of the reasons I’m so close to him and why I’m proud of him.”

Read updates on more than a dozen other former Gators…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

The 2013 NFL Draft is set to take place from April 25-27, and Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans has kept you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft over the last three months via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s second-to-last entry covers his final week as an amateur, which included another meeting with a prominent NFL franchise, multiple conversations with teams and the final preparations before he, his family and friends celebrate the conclusion of his journey either Friday or Saturday. Be sure to check back next week for Evans’s final entry as his Path to the Draft finally comes to a close.

Last week after my last entry, I met with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and Friday over here in New Jersey. Secondary coach Ed Donatell and I first met on Thursday night, went to dinner and had a nice conversation. We then went back to the hotel he was staying at in order to go over defensive schemes. They asked me to learn their personnel and philosophy of how they run things there. And then on Friday, when they worked me out, it was pretty much just a simulation of communicating and running the signals that we discussed on Thursday. It was almost like I had to take homework home and study my notes, learn a whole new scheme. Some of it was similar but some of it was different as far as what they called things. I had to learn it their way and then recite it back to them while showing what I could do on the field.

I have not had any more meetings since the one with San Francisco but did have a webcam interview this Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator [Bill Davis] and defensive backs coach [John Lovett]. We discussed what I have been up to recently, where I have been training and how I was feeling physically. We also went over their schemes and how they see me fitting into their system.

Aside from San Francisco and Philadelphia, other teams I spoke to within the last week include the Dallas, Minnesota, Seattle, Jacksonville and the New York Jets. I had conversations with all of those teams but also received calls from others that were making sure they had the correct draft day information for me – my birthday, what number they can reach me at, where I will be watching the draft.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

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FOUR BITS: Henry, Whitson, Harvin, Wambach

1 » The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday announced that former Florida Gators punter Chas Henry has received a one-year contract. Henry, signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2011 season, remained the team’s starter heading into 2012 but was replaced at the start of the season with Mat McBriar. He tried out with other teams throughout the year but was not able to find a new job when all was said and done. In Tampa Bay, Henry will start out as training camp competition for incumbent starter Michael Koenen, who is signed through 2016. Henry averaged 44.0 yards per punt during his time with the Eagles; Koenen averaged 45.3 yards per punt during the 2012 season and also handles the Bucs’ kickoff duties.

2 » Florida junior right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson, expected to enter the 2013 season as the team’s No. 2 starter, will be sidelined indefinitely with shoulder fatigue, the school announced. Whitson, who has missed significant time with multiple injuries during his sophomore season with the Gators, is a power pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider. He went 8-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 2011 but pitched just 33.1 innings in 2012 and went 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA. His shoulder has long been an issue, however, and Baseball America reported on Wednesday that he met with Dr. James Andrews for a consultation. As of press time, the results of that meeting are unknown. Whitson originally joined Florida rather than signing a $2.1 million offer from the San Diego Padres, which selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. “We knew there was a possibility he might not pitch the first two weekends,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We were kind of prepared for this, so it hasn’t really changed a whole lot in regards to this weekend.”

3 » As the 2013 NFL league season gets closer to starting (March 12), reports about wide receiver Percy Harvin and the Minnesota Vikings continue to swirl. Now that it is out in the open that Minnesota is almost definitely trading Harvin before the season begins, reports are noting Harvin is looking for a new contract similar to what top-tier wideouts Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald have received (eight years, $130-150 million with $50-60 million guaranteed) and will holdout from minicamp and training camp if he does not receive one. And while the Vikings are looking to trade Harvin due to a combination of cost and questionable off-the-field demeanor, running back Adrian Peterson – who won the league’s most valuable player award this past season – does not want the only other playmaker on his team going anywhere. “To be honest with you, I don’t know if we will or not. But me, individually, and giving you my opinion, I wouldn’t trade him for nothing,” he said on KFAN-FM in Minneapolis, MN. Harvin was garnering MVP consideration during the first half of the season and still led Minnesota in receptions (62) and receiving yards (677) despite playing just nine games (leaving the last one early after injuring his ankle).

4 » U.S. Women’s National Team captain and former Gators striker Abby Wambach played in her 200th international match on Wednesday, scoring a goal at 51’ and helping lead the United States past Scotland 3-1. Now the eighth American to play at least 200 games as a member of the USWNT, Wambach is also inching closer to former teammate Mia Hamm’s world-record international goals mark. Her shot into the net on Wednesday marked the 153rd of her career (63rd on a header), moving her within five goals of Hamm’s record of 158.

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“Strong possibility” Dan Quinn leaves for Seattle

UPDATE: Dan Quinn leaves Florida for Seattle Seahawks

Could the Florida Gators be in line for their sixth new coordinator in five seasons?

On Thursday, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was hired as the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Immediately thereafter, Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s name popped up both as a potential replacement for Bradley in Seattle or as his hire for defensive coordinator in Jacksonville.

According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, “there is a ‘strong possibility’” that Quinn “will return to Seattle to replace Gus Bradley.” He also noted via Twitter that the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Quinn.

One year ago, after a season in which he led the Gators to a top-10 defense in his first year at the helm, Quinn reportedly turned down an offer to coordinate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ defense after Greg Schiano was hired as head coach.

Continue Reading » “Strong possibility” Dan Quinn leaves for Seattle

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TWO BITS: Coaching hires = spots for Tebow?

1 » On Monday, OGGOA opined via Twitter that the Chicago Bears potentially hiring Montreal Alouettes (CFL) head coach Marc Trestman could open up another potential destination for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow (as a reserve). Two days later, in the wee hours of the morning, Trestman’s hiring was announced. So what exactly is the connection between these two? Not only did Trestman work as Tebow’s quarterback coach and consultant in his training before joining the NFL as a rookie, the coach adamantly defended the player on numerous occasions and propped up his ability to transform into a solid signal caller at the next level.

“I believe, in the right environment, Tim Tebow will figure this out,” he told The Morning Journal in April 2010. “He doesn’t have explosive arm strength, but he has more than adequate arm strength to throw the ball in the NFL and make all the throws. I saw him do something totally different in seven or eight days. I can only imagine what he’s going to do in one year or two years, because he’s going to outwork everybody else and find a way to figure it out.”

He continued, “If you’re a coach and you love coaching quarterbacks, you’d love the opportunity to develop Tim Tebow. That’s going to be the question. Guys are going to be asking themselves, ‘Wouldn’t I love to go to work every day and coach this kid? Is there enough there I can work with to make this happen in our system?’ When I go into that room with him he’s going to demand of me all the help I could give him, and he’s going to want me to demand of him everything he can give us. It’s a beautiful thing, because it all begins in the quarterback room.”

Whether or not Trestman will consider bringing Tebow in as a second- or third-string developmental quarterback during his first year as a NFL head coach remains to be seen. Tebow has become toxic to some in league circles because of the pressure his fan base levies against a team and how the New York Jets handled him this season. But a strong coach who is willing to say up front that Tebow is being added as a developmental player could succeed with him long-term.

2 » “Read option” is the phrase of the year in the NFL and with so many teams having success with mobile quarterbacks that use their legs nearly as often as their arms, Tebow may very well find a home somewhere as a backup in one of those situations. Another potential landing spot that will be using some form of the spread offense in 2013 is the Philadelphia Eagles, which just hired Oregon head coach Chip Kelly on Wednesday. The team already has Michael Vick under contract through 2015 and will likely be drafting a young, mobile signal caller to back him up but might still have a spot for a player like Tebow on the roster. Just weeks after it looked like Tebow may no longer have a home in the NFL, some interesting opportunities have most certainly opened up. Whether any of them have legitimate interest in the former Heisman Trophy winner is another story altogether.

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