Lochte, Spofforth fall short of medals on Monday

The Florida Gators came away without a notable victory on Monday for the first time in three days of action in the 2012 London Olympics, neither medaling nor having an athlete advance in their respective event.

Swimmers Ryan Lochte (United States) and Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) both had the opportunity to medal on Monday though each fell short in their respective race.

For Lochte it was the second tough blow he has been dealt in as many days. He finished fourth in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle with a time of 1:45.04, 1.90 seconds behind the gold medal winner but just 0.11 seconds out of the silver medal (which wound up being a two-way tie). It is the first time in Lochte’s career that he did not win a medal in an Olympic event in which he participated.

On Sunday he was caught from behind in the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay by France’s anchor Yannick Agnel; the Americans, which were favored to win the event, finished 0.45 seconds behind the French and earned the silver medal.

Angel also took individual gold from Lochte in the 200M Freestyle on Monday.

Spofforth competed in the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke and finished fifth in 59.20 seconds, 0.87 seconds out of the top spot. Though she did not medal, her world record time of 58.12 seconds (which she set in 2009) remained intact.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

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OGGOA Week(end) in Review: July 26-29

Considering so much has gone on over the last few days in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its third edition. (Yes, it is just covering a four-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

FOOTBALL RECRUITING / FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
» The day before Friday Night Lights was set to commence, Florida received a commitment from 2013 defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), who vaulted the program five spots from 10th to 5th in the Rivals team recruiting rankings and immediately became the Gators’ highest-rated player of the cycle.

» Florida doubled up on commitments before FNL even began as three-star defensive end Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, GA) chose UF over Georgia and committed even though he could not make it to campus for the event.

» There were rumblings all week that the Gators would receive a commitment from another highly-rated defensive prospect, but FNL came and went without him announcing his pledge. Four-star DE Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) remained in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, however, and made his verbal commitment public.

» Florida received its fourth commitment in as many days on Sunday when 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, FL), expected to be one of the top players at his position when recruiting rankings are released for his class, ended his recruitment early and decided that he wanted to play for the Gators, too.

» More rumblings on Sunday indicated that Florida could go five-for-five in commitments and bring in a talented but underrated offensive playmaker on Monday though it remains to be seen if head coach Will Muschamp will give him a commitable offer and the opportunity to join the Gators.

2012 LONDON OLYMPICS
OGGOA has been offering full coverage of the Olympics all event long on this dedicated page, which includes a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, daily schedule and direct LIVE streaming links to each event as it takes place. Below are some notes in case you have not visited it yet and want a quick refresher.

» Ryan Lochte (United States) won two medals over the weekend including a gold in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the fourth such medal of his Olympic career. Lochte also swam the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay but got caught from behind over the final 50 meters; the team finished with a silver. He will compete in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle finals on Monday afternoon.

» Junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States) took silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the first Olympic medal of her young career. She nearly won the gold but was bested over the last 150 meters.

» Thirteen other Gators (as well as one incoming freshman) competed in Olympic action over the four-day span though none of them were able to join Lochte and Beisel in bringing home medals as of yet. Striker Abby Wambach was dominant once again in soccer and got a black eye in her match on Saturday, though she scored a goal in retaliation and mocked her assailant during her celebration.

» “Gator Nation” is currently eighth in the Olympic medal standings with one gold and two silver. You can view the full medal breakdown on OGGOA‘s dedicated Olympics page.

FORMER PLAYERS SPEAK OUT
» Florida quarterback Shane Matthews praised Muschamp and the current Gators coaching staff while noting that he was frustrated with the way former head coach Urban Meyer and his staff developed play callers and recruited in his waning years.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said he definitely had more fun at Florida than QB Tim Tebow did and provided an interesting answer when he was asked how much class he attended during his junior season when he was helping the Gators win the second of their back-to-back basketball national championships.

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Lochte passed in final leg, United States takes silver in 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay

One day after taking home his, the Florida Gators’ and the United States’ first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics, Ryan Lochte was back in the pool as the anchor of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay team trying to earn a second. Unfortunately for Gators fans and the Americans, Lochte was caught from behind in the final 50 meters of the race and the United States lost the gold medal to France.

The Americans (3:10.38) took home silver in the event, finishing the relay 0.45 seconds behind the French) partially due to Lochte’s final 100 meters. He swam his leg in 47.74 seconds, the second-slowest on his team and more than a half-second behind Michael Phelps, who swam the second leg of the race.

Lochte, who competed hours earlier in the semifinals of the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle and qualified for the finals on Monday with a fifth-place finish (1:46.31, +0.70), did not swim in the preliminaries of the relay in the morning session but was added to the team for the afternoon’s final. Phelps did not swim at all in the morning session.

The silver is the second of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his eighth overall medal in the Games. He has also won four gold and two bronze medals.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Sunday though Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) qualified for the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke after finishing sixth overall in the semifinals (59.70, +0.58). She will join Lochte in competing for an individual medal on Monday.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

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Lochte takes gold, Beisel silver in 400 Meter I.M.

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) made an immediate impact on the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday, winning the first swimming gold medal of the games with a blazing 4:05.18 time in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley. He was joined on the medal stand just minutes later by current Florida junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States), who captured silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley.

The gold is the fourth of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his seventh overall medal in the Games. He won the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke in 2008 Beijing and was a member of the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay team in 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens.

Lochte won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley in 2008 Beijing. He also captured a Bronze in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley that year and won Silver in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley in 2004 Athens.

His gold medal time of 4:05.18 on Saturday beat the next-fastest competitor, Brazilian silver medalist Thiago Pereira (4:08.86), by 3.68 seconds marking the largest margin of victory in the event’s history.

Beisel was back in eighth place after the first 100 meters but found herself leading the pack through 250 meters. Unfortunately for her China’s Shiwen Ye exploded over the last 150 meters and won the gold while setting a world record (4:28.43) in the process.

The silver medal is the first of Beisel’s Olympic career. She had previously won gold in the same event at the 2011 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, China.

Also competing in a medal event and representing the Americans on Saturday afternoon was former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer. Dwyer finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle with a time of 3:46.24 (+6.25); a member of the Gator Swim Club for the last two years (and Michigan graduate Peter Vanderkaay) took Bronze in the event.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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SIX BITS: Lochte, Andrews, LaCaze, Beal, Spikes

1 » American swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps will be seeing plenty of each other in the pool during the 2012 London Olympics, but according to the Associated Press they are also sleeping under the same roof. Lochte and Phelps are two of six swimmers in one four-bedroom suite in the athletes’ village, the AP reports, with Phelps staying in the only single-bed room.

2 » FOX Sports announced Wednesday that the Fox College Football Pregame Show, set to air each Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and be hosted by Erin Andrews, will also include former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George and former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington as co-stars. The network also detailed some of Andrews’s other duties for FOX Sports. She will serve as a dugout reporter for the MLB’s National League Championship Series and World Series as well as a sideline reporter for some of the network’s top NFL games including on Thanksgiving and during the playoffs.

3 » It took an appeal to get her into the Olympics but now that she is there Australian steeplechase runner Genevieve LaCaze plans to make a name for herself – starting with competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase heats on August 4, her 23rd birthday. “I want to run in the high 9:20s and that should definitely get me to the final and I’ll be up against the top women in the world,” she told the Herald Sun. “I don’t think anything will stop me if I get to that point. How long is it – nine minutes of pain. How hard can it be?” And if she doesn’t medal in London, England? “The fact that I’ve made London 2012 is only going to make me keep going to Rio [2016],” she added.

4 » Named to the “All-Summer League Team” after posting averages of 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Washington Wizards last week in Las Vegas, NV, former Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal was still hard of himself, noting that he must improve his shooting efficiency and be more aggressive on the court (he’s right on both counts). “Honestly, if I feel as though I’m open, coach is going to tell me to shoot it. It’s times I was open and passed and coach got all on my head [telling me to shoot], so I mean, certain situations, I’m an unselfish player,” Beal told the Washington Post. “I’d rather get somebody else going. I’ll eventually get going myself. That’s just my mentality. But it’s really just staying focused and staying within the flow of the game, actually.”

5 » The New England Patriots pulled linebacker Brandon Spikes off the active/physically unable to perform list on Wednesday after he passed his physical following offseason knee surgery. Spikes missed eight regular season games in 2011 but played great in the NFL Playoffs, recording 26 tackles and sack, nabbing an interception and forcing a fumble in three postseason games.

6 » Below are player profiles for former Gators striker Abby Wambach and defender Heather Mitts, two members of the U.S. Women’s National Team competing in the Olympics. Team USA won its first game on Wednesday 4-2 over France; Wambach’s header at 19’ cut an early 2-0 deficit in half and gave the Americans the momentum they needed to pull out the come-from-behind victory.

For full coverage of Gators in the Olympics, be sure to visit and bookmark OGGOA‘s dedicated and constantly updated page.

Photo Credit: Michael Dodge/Herald Sun

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SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

1 » After weeks of posturing, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the St. Louis Rams finally came to terms Tuesday evening on a four-year rookie contract that will pay Jenkins $5 million over its duration including $3.1 million guaranteed. As first reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the contract ensures that Jenkins will be in camp on time. He will compete for a starting role immediately and could prove to be the steal of the drat that St. Louis hoped he was when the team selected him No. 39 overall.

2 » Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap has proven that he can be an effective pass rusher when he is on the field; unfortunately nagging injuries have kept him from being as consistent as either he or his team would have liked over the first two years of his career. In a recent conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer indicated that Dunlap could be dominant if he finds a way to become a tougher player. “He doesn’t know how to fight through nagging things yet,” Zimmer said of Dunlap. “In this game, you can’t be a track guy. You’ve got to be a football player. Because you’re going to have bruises and bumps and be sore, so you’ve got to fight through it. That’s a little bit of immaturity and growing up. Usually they say with defensive linemen it takes about three years before they really kind of figure it out. So this is his third year, and I’m hoping he can live up to my expectations.”

3 » The ways in which the New York Jets plan to use quarterback Tim Tebow seemingly increase by the day, which is why it should probably come as no surprise that the team is now considering using him on its kickoff coverage team. According to the New York Daily News, Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff thinks there may be a benefit to throwing a quarterback on the field for one of the roughest plays in all of sports. “There are certain situations [on kickoffs] where he might be on the field that he could be utilized possibly to block or possibly to field a ball,” Westhoff told the paper. “If a team squibs it at you or pops it at you, he might be the perfect guy to put in that could make an adjustment. If they kick it deep, he could block. If they squib it or pop it, he could be a guy that we’d have with a ball in his hands.” He went on to clarify that stance. “His role with me won’t be a paramount role,” Westhoff added. “I’m not counting on Tebow coming in and being a hardcore special teams player. That’s not what we want. We have a limited role for him, but it will be one that presents problems. That’s what Tebow is all about. He presents problems to good football teams in a lot of aspects. You have to be aware of it. If you’re not aware of it, it could jump up and smack you.”

Read three more BITS on Lochte, Florida/Georgetown and Taylor…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Starks, Pouncey, Tebow

1 » Former Florida Gators swimmer and current United States Olympian Ryan Lochte filmed a television commercial for AT&T at Broward Pool on the campus at the University of Florida in June. That commercial has since been completed and was released online Monday. Though the spot was filmed at Florida, no mentions of the Gators or school are made and it is impossible to tell where it was shot due to the fact that most of the commercial consists of animated additions. Check it out:

2 » A free agent coming off yet another devastating end-of-season injury, tackle Max Starks was unsure as to whether or not he would be re-signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers – the only NFL team he has ever played for – this year. Starks, who was unsigned heading into the 2011 season due to weight issues and a neck injury but was picked up by Pittsburgh mid-season as an injury replacement, wound up starting every game he played in. He went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the Steelers’ first and only playoff game and has spent the entire offseason undergoing rehabilitation, wondering if he would be signed again to team up with draft-mate and close friend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Starks got his wish Tuesday when he announced via Twitter that that he has re-signed with Pittsburgh. (He tweeted a picture of the top of his new contract.) The Steelers now have four Gators on their roster including center Maurkice Pouncey, left tackle Marcus Gilbert and rookie running back Chris Rainey.

3 » Reflecting on his first season as a professional football player, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey told his team’s website that he is ready to take what he learned and infuse it into an even better sophomore campaign. “It went by fast and I still can’t believe how fast it went by,” Pouncey said. “Going through one year in the NFL it just already feels like I learned so much and I just can’t wait to go out there and see how I do this year. I know it’s going to be a huge improvement from last year.” Concluding the season as a Pro Bowl alternate, he did not make his way to Hawaii for the game but certainly earned the respect of his veteran teammates. “He’s a straight athlete, a center at 6-foot-5 that can move,” said nine-year veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby. “He makes me better, period. I try to make him better as much as I possibly can and he tries to do the same. We always compete every chance we get and it’s a great give and take with a guy like that that’s so talented. He’s almost like a tight end at center.” Pouncey also said he is trying to step up as a “vocal leader” in the locker room for the Dolphins.

4 » The New York Jets are set to open training camp at SUNY-Cortland in late July and as many would expect quarterback Tim Tebow is going to be the main attraction. What Cortland, NY did not expect, however, was how much interest there would be on a national level from Christian groups hoping to take something of a pilgrimage to watch him scrimmage. “A couple months ago, I got a call from a church group, then another and I thought it was interesting, not groups we normally get calls from,” Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman Jim Dempsey told The New York Times. “Right now, we have no way of knowing how many more groups will come because of Tim Tebow. But we expect a lot.”

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Bell, Parker, football on TV

1 » The 2012 London Olympics are just two weeks away and more than two dozen current and former Florida Gators student-athletes and coaches will be participating in the games. Swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will have multiple opportunities to bring home gold medals for the United States, recently participated in an ESPN The Magazine story about the “real games” that take place in the Olympic Village. Lochte estimates that 70-75 percent of Olympians have sex with fellow Olympians in the Village: “Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.” He also said he hopes to take advantage of the opportunities presented by living in the Olympic Village this time around (he had a steady girlfriend in 2008 and was faithful to her while in Beijing, China). “Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited,” he said.

2 » Three-star defensive back Tre Bell, who committed to play for Florida in April, put on a show at a camp held by Nike in Oregon last week. As you can see below in the video from FOXSports.com, he was all over the field making plays and even threw in a few Gator Chomps for good measure. Bell is not listed on either the Rivals250 or ESPN 300 as of press time but that may change soon if he continues to play at a high level.

3 » A five-star forward and the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2013, Jabari Parker (Chicago, IL) recently released his top 10 on Twitter and included Florida in that list though he did mention that it was in no particular order. Also in his top 10 are Brigham Young, DePaul, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Stanford. Landing Parker will be difficult for the Gators and head coach Billy Donovan though it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Florida’s primary target continues to be five-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL), the No. 6 player in the 2013 class, who the Gators hope to team up with five-star point guard commit Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL).

4 » Florida announced Friday that “an exclusive off-season special” on Gators football (featuring an interview with head coach Will Muschamp and “exclusive all-access footage from spring practice) will air Sunday, July 15 at 9:30 a.m. on Sun Sports. Also on television Sunday (at 3 p.m. – check your local listings) will be an episode of Havoline Football Saturdays in the South featuring former Florida wide receiver Chris Doering. Replays for the Gators football offseason special are as follows: July 16 at 4 p.m., July 18 at 10:30 a.m., July 19 at 6 p.m., July 25 at 5 p.m., July 29 at noon, Aug. 2 at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 16 at 11 a.m., Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. (all on Sun Sports).

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