Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

Watkins’s 10th entry on his long journey covers his recent travels, brother Sammy Watkins and final preparations as the process nears an end.

I’m back in Gainesville after a busy couple of weeks and finally have some time to catch everyone up on my Path to the Draft.

The past two weeks have been much of the same – working out, training and rehabilitating my Achilles, which is almost back at 100 percent. I’m very close.

I was actually planning on heading home Monday, but I had to stay in Gainesville this week because one more team wants to work me out and interview me before the draft.

So instead of going home, I’ve been hanging out with some of my teammates here and will leave on Saturday. First, I’ll stop in Orlando to see my dad, brother and sisters, and then I’ll head home to Cape Coral from there.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Visits

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His ninth entry covers his continued recovery from an Achilles injury, two NFC East visits and thoughts on Florida spring practice coming to an end.

My Achilles is coming along really good right now. I’d say I’m about 90-95 percent. I can do most things on it. It’s all kind of working out for me even though it’s taking a bit longer than expected to get back to 100 percent.

If I had to go play in a game, I could definitely play and be fine afterward, but there is just more healing to do before it feels completely back to normal.

Since the week of the Pro Day, I’ve gone on two more visits to see the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Visits

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15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

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Eagles ink Riley Cooper to five-year, $25M deal

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, locking up the team’s second-leading pass catcher before he was eligible to hit free agency.

Cooper, who was paid $2.11 million over the four years of his rookie deal, will earn $10 million guaranteed with the fifth year serving as a team option.

After reeling in 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores during his first three NFL seasons, Cooper bested all those numbers in 2013 alone with 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

He was heavily featured in head coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense and was obviously an important piece that Philadelphia was worried about losing.

Just seven months ago, Cooper was embroiled in controversy when a video of him yelling an obscene racial slur at a bouncer who was working at a Kenny Chesney concert leaked online. He took full responsibility and apologized profusely but had the incident hanging over him throughout the offseason.

Thanks to support from his teammates, Cooper was able to overcome the obstacle and have a career year. Many believed the incident would keep another team from bringing him into their locker room, but the Eagles obviously believed there was enough interest to pay Cooper, the No. 159 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, well in order to keep him from reaching free agency.

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports

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FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

1 » Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who just completed his rookie season, returned to Gainesville, FL recently in order to take classes in hopes of completing his degree program. While in town, the former Florida Gators star has also decided to take a job at FinishLine. According to his team’s website, Elam wanted to experience working in retail because he would like to open a sports merchandise store of his own someday. Elam has been working 20 hours per week at Oaks Mall since January. “I didn’t realize there was so much organization, so much planning. I didn’t realize there was so much to it,” he told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I just thought you’d say you want a shoe, so then you’d go back and grab a shoe. There’s way more to it. You have number coding. You have color coding, all of that. I just realized that there’s more to it than I thought.” Elam also said he has been recognized quite often but has no problem with the attention.

2 » Contrary to a weekend report that stated the Philadelphia Eagles had prioritized signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin over Riley Cooper, ProFootballTalk.com reports that Cooper is by far the preferred potential signee. “We’d previously heard that the market for Cooper is expected to be active,” wrote Mike Florio. “Which means that, if the Eagles plan to keep him, they need to match or beat whatever Cooper could get as a free agent.” Cooper only earned $2.11 million during his four-year rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had his best season – by far – in 2013, hauling in 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. In his previous three seasons, Cooper had just 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores.

Late Wednesday, The Philadelphia News reported that the Eagles and Cooper are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal that could be announced by the end of the week.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah played the second-most minutes of any reserve in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, his second-straight appearance in the midseason contest, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. Noah saw extensive time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference, which outscored the Western Conference 87-66 in the second half to pull out a 163-155 victory in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. After the win, Miami guard Dwyane Wade referred to Noah as “one of the best competitors I’ve ever played against,” noting that his defense played a major part in the East’s success. “In the locker room,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “we talked about having fun and enjoying it, but [Noah] was serious. He wanted to win. You could see it in his face. … I’m glad he was on our side.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

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Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs began this week with 12 former Florida Gators spread out over eight teams.

Six former Gators were listed as active for Wild Card action with eight total players (on five of eight remaining teams) advancing to the Divisional round next weekend.

Below are game statistics for all six active Florida players that were capable of participating in the opening round of the playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Started | six receptions for 68 yards (targets: 8, long: 22) [team-highs], touchdown
» New Orleans eliminated Philadelphia with a 26-24 win on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

13 » OFFSEASON GARBAGE
The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

12 » LACROSSE AND VOLLEYBALL COME UP SHORT
With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

11 » SAME TEAM!
The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.


Continue Reading » NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

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