Reggie Nelson, Rex Grossman re-sign with teams

A pair of former Florida Gators football players followed in the footsteps of Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey and re-signed over the weekend with the teams they played for in 2011.

Safety Reggie Nelson turned down overtures from the New York Jets to return to the Cincinnati Bengals on a four-year contract worth $18 million including $6.5 million in the first season, and quarterback Rex Grossman agreed to rejoin the Washington Redskins for one year with the knowledge that he will not be the team’s starter.

Nelson had a career year for Cincinnati in 2011, registering 85 combined tackles, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 12 pass defenses and a pair of sacks. It was the best he had played since his rookie year in Jacksonville, and the team obviously expected his resurgence to continue in 2012 and beyond.

Grossman started off hot for Washington but reverted to his mean as the season went on. He completed a career-high 57.9 percent of his passes for 3,151 yards with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and went 5-8 as the Redskins’ starter. With Washington trading a boatload of draft picks for the opportunity to select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft, Grossman will be relegated to backup duty in 2012.

Though three Gators are now off the market, 11 other notable former Florida players are currently listed as free agents including: wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Cincinnati), linebacker Channing Crowder (DNP/retirement), LB Andra Davis (Buffalo), running back Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay), defensive end Derrick Harvey (Denver), DE Jarvis Moss (Oakland), LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta), cornerback Lito Sheppard (Oakland), offensive tackle Max Starks, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas (Denver) and DT Gerard Warren (New England).

Photo Credits: Rich Lipski/Associated Press, Cincinnati Enquirer

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp speaks, NFL free agency

1 » Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp sat down with Sporting News recently for a question-and-answer session about his first season in Gainesville, FL. Below are a few choice selections from the piece, which can be read in full here.

SN: On a scale of 1-10, what’s your excitement level going into spring practice?
MUSCHAMP: An 11. I’m more excited now than the day I was hired. We’re not building a team, we’re building a program. We recruited well last year, and we’re recruiting well again this year. We’re building our roster back as far as the line of scrimmage. This is a line of scrimmage league. If you don’t have quality depth, you’re going to struggle

SN: You were at 66 scholarship players at one point last fall. How could a program like Florida get to the point where it is nearly 20 scholarships from the NCAA minimum?
MUSCHAMP: We were short on numbers to begin with, and there have been 12 guys who left the program since we took over. We signed 19 players (in 2011), and instead of going out and signing guys just to sign the maximum, we banked them and said we’ll take it in the shorts this year. In the SEC, recruiting is different than anywhere else in the country. If you’re not on for one year, you’ve got no chance.

SN: Your best day at Florida in the last 14 months?
MUSCHAMP: Signing Day this year—Signing Day and the bowl game. They’re together. You springboard into offseason with some momentum, and then we had a great year recruiting.

SN: How hard is it for you to admit you were a soft team?
MUSCHAMP: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever said. But you go back and look at it, and we didn’t consistently stop the run and we weren’t able to run the ball. You can attribute it to multiple factors. We’ve tried to address that with our strength program, recruiting and overall numbers at multiple positions.

2 » NFL free agency is set to begin Tuesday at 4 p.m., but the Cincinnati Bengals met with safety Reggie Nelson anyway on Sunday to gauge his potential interest in resigning with the team. Nelson’s career had a resurgence in 2011 under Cincinnati defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. With Miami also expected to be looking for a safety in the offseason, Nelson may have an opportunity to reunite with Coyle in South Florida. The Bengals have more cap space than any team in the league but are not necessarily to be a front-runner for a player who is considered the No. 2 free agent available at his position.

3 » Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey also had a breakout season in 2011, setting career-highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. Like Nelson, Mincey and Jacksonville have not been engaged in serious talks and he is also expected to hit the free agent market at 4 p.m. The Buffalo Bills are one team that is expected to pursue him when the floodgates open on Tuesday.

4 » There are 12 other notable former Gators players set to reach free agency: wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Cincinnati), linebacker Channing Crowder (DNP), LB Andra Davis (Buffalo), running back Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay), quarterback Rex Grossman (Washington), defensive end Derrick Harvey (Denver), DE Jarvis Moss (Oakland), LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta), cornerback Lito Sheppard (Oakland), offensive tackle Max Starks (Pittsburgh), defensive tackle Marcus Thomas (Denver) and DT Gerard Warren (New England). It will be particulary interesting to find out where four of the players wind up if they decide to continue their careers. Crowder missed the entire 2011 season by taking a mini “retirement” after the birth of his child and release by Miami; Graham tore his Achilles and missed the final eight games of the season; Harvey was inactive for 13 of Denver’s 18 games; Peterson barely played as a reserve for Atlanta; and Starks tore his ACL in a playoff loss and was set to miss up to nine months.

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Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.

He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).

He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.

Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.

Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized?
RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”

AS: Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)?
RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”

AS: Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers?
RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”

Read the rest of our interview with Ran Carthon…after the break!
Continue Reading » Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 16

With the 2011 NFL regular season nearly complete, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 16 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 16th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Seven tackles (five solo, one for loss) [team-highs], sack, QB hit, pass defense, interception (17-yard return)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Five receptions for 65 yards [team-highs] (targets: 6, long: 36), touchdown; four carries for 39 yards (long: 31); three kickoff returns for 47 yards (long: 23)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Major Wright, Carlos Dunlap, Jeremy Mincey, Ray McDonald, Jabar Gaffney

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 16

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 14

With the 2011 NFL season in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 14 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 14th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 21/40 for 236 yards, touchdown, interception (QB rating: 68.3); 12 carries for 49 yards (long: 16), fumble [4th quarter & overtime: 18/24 for 191 yards, TD, set-up game-tying and game-winning field goals]

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 14

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 13

With the 2011 NFL season in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 13 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 13th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 10/15 for 202 yards, two touchdowns (QB rating: 149.3); four carries for 13 yards, two-point conversion [game-tying]

WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Eight receptions for 156 yards [team-highs] (targets: 9, long: 52), two touchdown; five carries for 19 yards

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Mike Peterson, Riley Cooper

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 13

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12

With the 2011 NFL season in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 12 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 12th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Eight receptions for 95 yards [team-highs] (targets: 8, long: 39), touchdown; five carries for 11 yards; kick return for 104 yards

HONORABLE MENTIONS
David Nelson, Major Wright, Reggie Nelson, Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman (see below)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 11

With the 2011 NFL season underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 11 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 11th week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 9/20 for 104 yards (QB rating: 61.2); eight rushes for 68 yards [team-high], 20-yard, game-winning rushing touchdown

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Andre Caldwell, Riley Cooper, Percy Harvin, Jabar Gaffney, Rex Grossman (see below)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL played…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 11

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