FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title over the weekend when he won the 2014 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took home a winning share of $954,000. Villegas, who had not won an event since finishing first at the 2010 Honda Classic four years ago, edged Bill Hass and Freddie Jackson by a single stroke with a -17 on the tournament. He opened and closed the event by shooting 63 on Thursday and Sunday. Villegas jumped up to 37th in the new FedExCup standings, moving up 68 spots from No. 105. He is the second former Gators golfer to win on tour this year as Matt Every picked up a victory in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational back on March 23. Every is currently ranked 35th in the FedExCup.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

The 2014 NFL preseason kicked off with 45 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 37 players that saw action along with select updates on a number of Gators during the first week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DB JAYLEN WATKINS*, Philadelphia Eagles: Two solo tackles, interception (one yard), pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

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SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Beisel, Dwyer, Watkins

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker is quickly making his way around Europe, announcing Monday that he has signed with JDA Dijon Basket of the ProA league in France. It is the third professional team Walker has played for since leaving Florida. He first signed with Veroli Basket out of Italy’s Legadue in the summer of 2012, averaging 17.9 points and 3.6 assists in 20 games with the club. He then inked a deal to play in Poland with Basket Zielona Góra but only lasted about three months with the team. During his stay, he averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists in 28 games spread between the EuroCup, Euroleague and Polish League. Walker finished out the 2013-14 season with Elan Chalon out of the LNB Pro A league in France where he saw 19.2 minutes per game, posting 9.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Beisel, Dwyer, Watkins

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Eagles sign CB Jaylen Watkins to rookie contract

Round 4 – No. 101
Jaylen Watkins, CB
Philadelphia Eagles


Height: 5’11” – Weight: 194 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

The first player selected on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft, Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins signed a four-year, $2.72 million contract on Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles, which picked him in the fourth round at No. 101 overall.

One of the most underrated and overlooked players in the draft, Watkins brings a lot to the table for the Philadelphia with his versatility, which will allow him to play corner, nickel or safety as an NFL rookie. He has fluid hips and great change-of-direction and even learned to become a better tackler in 2013 when starting at safety for Florida, checking in third on the team with 52 takedowns.

Watkins ascension began with his play in Senior Bowl practices (he missed the game due to an Achilles injury), continued at the NFL Combine when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, and reached its peak during team interviews as he impressed scouts, coaches and general managers with his high football IQ, tremendous character and obvious maturity.

OnlyGators.com learned the details of Watkins’s contract on Thursday. He will earn $544,257 as a rookie in 2014, including a $420,000 base salary and one-quarter of his $497,028 signing bonus, which will be paid out over the duration of his contract. His annual average salary is $679,257, and his deal maxes out at $809,757 in 2017.

Watkins, who started 28 of the 48 games he played but saw starter’s time in most other contests in 2013, pinpointed the Eagles as an ideal landing spot. He wrote in his OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blog that he feels like their system fits him very well.

The first Gators cornerback selected since Joe Haden in 2010, Watkins is the 13th UF player chosen by the Eagles since 1954 and the first since wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2010. Watkins will be two former Florida players in Philadelphia – Cooper and rookie tight end Trey Burton, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent.

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FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Pouncey, Colbert

1 » Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jaylen Watkins and New England Patriots guard Jon Halapio, both third-day selections in the 2014 NFL Draft, signed rookie contracts with their respective teams on Monday. There is already talk that Watkins may be able to push for a starting cornerback job at some point this season, though Philadelphia’s plan right now is to work him out at corner, nickel and safety in order to figure out how he can contribute the most from the get-go. Halapio is expected to start out as a reserve in New England, which is trying to strengthen its offensive line this offseason. OnlyGators.com will post full stories on each signing once it is able to obtain the detailed contract information for the players.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Pouncey, Colbert

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FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

1 » Teams understandably praise the players they draft, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly went above and beyond simply sharing the standard compliments when discussing Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins, his fourth-round pick, after making the selection. “Extremely high football intelligence,” he said of Watkins. “He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you’re drafting guys, you’re trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level. He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially [on day three]. He’s one of those guys that we were really excited about [Friday] night, where if we didn’t get a great offer then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen [with the first pick of the fourth round].” Watkins will start out at cornerback for the Eagles, according to general manager Howie Roseman (a Florida alumnus), but could play safety down the road as he develops and potentially adds more weight to his frame.

2 » The New England Patriots jumped at the opportunity to draft Gators guard Jon Halapio in the sixth round on Saturday with head coach Bill Bellichick “a little surprised to see him where he was” still available that late in the draft. While Halapio should make the team and could eventually develop into a starter in New England, he will also help the team’s first-round pick, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, with his transition to the NFL. “It’s good to have people [here] I’ve been around four years in college,” Easley said in his team press conference. “It makes it real comfortable.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

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