1 » Florida Gators senior thrower Stipe Zunic set a school record on Saturday, tossing the men’s shot put (indoors) a distance of 20.61 meters. The throw, which also broke the Croatian national’s home country record, puts Zunic in second place overall on the season behind Ryan Crouser of Texas and his 20.95. The indoor track and field teams only have one weekend of regular-season action remaining as they will compete in the Tyson Invitational and Iowa State Classic over the weekend. Then Florida will take on the SEC Indoor Championships to conclude the month (Feb. 27-28) before participating in the NCAA Indoor Championships March 13-14.
1 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is expected to miss approximately six weeks after completing successful surgery on Sunday to repair a fracture in his left wrist. Beal suffered the injury to his non-shooting wrist during a preseason game Friday night. The ailment is expected to force Beal to miss at least the first 12 games of the 2014-15 regular season, which will put him a bit behind the eight ball as he looks to improve on his impressive sophomore campaign. Beal averaged 17.1 points, 3.7 boards and 3.3 assists during his second season in the league when he shot .402 from beyond the arc and started all 73 games in which he participated. Injuries have been commonplace for Beal throughout his young NBA career, but the bourgeoning star expects to overcome this setback and help lead his team this season. “Surgery today… Big Thanks to everyone supporting me and keep me positive…Minor setback for a MAJOR COMEBACK !!” he tweeted Sunday afternoon.
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.”
1 » CBS on Tuesday announced its 14-week schedule of 16 Southeastern Conference football games for the 2014 season. The annual showdown between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air on the network for the 12th straight season, taking place this year on Nov. 1. It was one of four games announced; the other 12 will be slated as they approach, usually six-to-12 days prior to broadcast. The SEC on CBS will once again feature two doubleheaders, on Oct. 11 (noon and 3:30 p.m.) and Nov. 8 (3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.).
Florida’s potential CBS games – featuring quality opponents and open dates on the schedule – include at Alabama (Sept. 20), at Tennessee (Oct. 4), vs. LSU (Oct. 11), vs. Missouri (Oct. 18) and South Carolina (Nov. 15).
2 » The SEC made news of its own on Tuesday by announcing year-end winners for its 2014 baseball awards. Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second time (2010), and right-handed pitcher Logan Shore earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Shore is 7-2 with a team-low 1.47 ERA and 52 strikeouts in a team-high 79.2 innings pitched. Also receiving accolades were junior catcher Taylor Gushue, who joined Shore on the All-SEC First Team, sophomore outfielder Harrison Bader on the All-SEC Second Team, and first baseman Peter Alonso on the All-Freshman team with Shore.
1 » For the second time in as many days a former Florida Gators baseball has been called up to a MLB roster and will finally get his shot in the big leagues. Shortstop Cole Figueroa, who is batting .299 in 32 Southern League games with the Durham Bulls, will join the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday as a replacement for Ben Zobrist, who is headed to the disabled list with a dislocated thumb. Figueroa has played 250 games in Triple-A while waiting for his shot. Right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani got the call on Tuesday to make his first appearance in the big leagues Wednesday night as a starting hurler for the Miami Marlins. DeSclafani (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K) put together an impressive debut, leading Miami to a 13-3 win and even getting things done at the plate going 1/4 with two RBI and a run scored.
2 » There is no good reason to have a mock 2015 NFL Draft with three months to go until the start of the 2014 college football season – in fact, there are plenty of ways in which one could point out that a mock draft for next year is a terrible idea – but ESPN.com’s Todd McShay published one on Wednesday ($) and it included some high praise for a current Florida defender. Gators junior Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. was mocked by McShay as the No. 4 overall pick in next year’s draft. Unlike cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, who was projected to make big gains during his junior season and prove to be the most NFL-ready player to come out of Florida in 2014, Fowler is unanimously considered the Gators’ best draft prospect for 2015. Hopefully for Fowler, unlike Purifoy, he makes the most out of what could be his last season.
For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.
11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.
Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.
10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.
Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.
Former Florida Gators wide receiver Reche Caldwell was arrested early Thursday morning near Tampa, FL and charged with two misdemeanors including possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
A seven-year NFL veteran, Caldwell played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers (2002-05) before spending one season each with the New England Patriots (2006) and Washington Redskins (2007).
He was released after five hours on a $750 bond, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
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