FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Tebow, Nike, Eckstein

1 » Facing his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey continued his next-level play as a youngster stuck right in the middle of a veteran team. He was excited to play so close to home and showed it with how he played all game. “It felt amazing,” Pouncey told The Lakeland Ledger of playing Tampa Bay. “I’m 20 minutes from Tampa, and pretty much all of Lakeland came up here to support me.” Also having Pouncey’s back is veteran wide receiver Hines Ward, who thinks the former Florida Gators star will truly be something special. “He’s had a lot of help from all of the veterans. Right now, he’s learning on the run,” Ward said. “When Maurkice gets three or four years into the league and finally figures this whole thing out, look for a lot of Pro Bowls. […] When the game slows down and he starts seeing the defense and making the calls, he’s going to have Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl.” As far as how the two get along? “I love everything about the kid – the tenacity, he doesn’t quit. Unfortunately, I hate him because he’s a Gator,” said Ward, a Georgia Bulldog, “but I love everything about him.”

Also… Asked by the paper about his brother, senior center Mike Pouncey‘s, snap problems earlier in the season, Maurkice had the following to say: “When I first moved over, I had the same thing. I had the horrible snaps, snaps everywhere. He is such a high profile player, everyone’s going to notice it. Even the commentator said it last night that he’s still one of the best linemen in college football. The snaps will get better. They’ve been getting better all along.” Has he given him any advice? “Nah, I’ve always thought my brother was a better player than me. Don’t tell him that, though.”

2 » For the first time in his short career, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was the team’s No. 3 quarterback and technically listed as inactive for its game Sunday. he reason? Head coach Josh McDaniels‘ game plan did not call for Tebow. “[We] didn’t have anything [in the game plan] relative to Tim being in the game and playing a role in it, and we’ll try to do that the best we can each week,” McDaniels said.

3 » Tebow may not have seen the field Sunday, but he has been hitting television screens as one of two players prominently featured in Nike‘s newest commercial. Check out this trailer where he and Detroit defensive tackle Nndamukong Suh watch a Manny Pacquiao fight while getting fitted for suits.

4 » Check out this feature story on former Gators now San Diego Padres second baseman David Eckstein put together by the Los Angeles Times on Monday. Eckstein has become an instrumental part of the resurgent Padres in his two years with the club.

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Montana, Fisher, Whitson

1 » Reports coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp have former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin back with the team – though he is, of course, being kept out of action. After spending the night in the hospital, Harvin was seen on the practice field Friday morning exchanging pleasantries with players and coaches before heading inside the facility. All word from inside camp is that he is feeling much better and on the road to recovery from his severe migraine attack Thursday.

2 » Earlier this week, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana was a guest on The Matt Minkus Show. He discussed a number of topics but, most importantly to OGGOA readers, gave an endorsement of Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow. “I think he’s going to be fine. I think one of the things that people forget – they’re so worried and concerned about changing his motion. I’m not as concerned about changing his motion as just him learning footwork. I think that’s the most difficult part for him,” Montana said. “Today, they spent more time in the shotgun than taking snaps anyway. When you look at where he played – in the SEC – he’s not a D-III player playing against teams that are obscure and players who might be obscure. [He’s] playing against pretty good teams week-in and week-out. I think he’s definitely got the ability to have a successful career. You saw him the other night – made a couple great throws. He’s physical and he’s tough and he’s going to put in the work that’s necessary for him to get better. And I think that’s probably the biggest key.”

3 » New Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, who has failed to beat Florida in his last three years as the team’s offensive coordinator, has decided to begin referring to the Gators as “that little team down the road” rather than their proper name. Cute decision, even if it is a pretty weak response to Florida head coach Urban Meyer only calling FSU the “school out west.” Also notable is that Fisher’s statement is blatantly incorrect. The University of Florida enrolls over 10,000 more students (50,691 vs. 40,225) and is more than five times the size (2,000 acres vs. 395.15 acres) of Florida State University. Oh, and by the way, UF has outscored FSU by 90 points (127-37) in Fisher’s three games with the team. OGGOA‘s universal mantra? Win – then talk.

4 » The following was written for OGGOA by Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog.com

The much talked about and debated NCAA “no-agent” rule could end up hurting an incoming Florida baseball player who is recognized as one of the best pitching prospects in the country. Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, recently decided that he would not sign with the San Diego Padres and would instead play at least three years for the Gators. Unfortunately, his student-athlete status may be at risk after a couple of articles mentioned that his advisor might have been negotiating directly with the Padres. The no-agent rule specifically states that a player may not have his advisor speak directly to a team on his behalf or even be in the presence of the team when the player is negotiating his deal. There is no word yet as to whether the NCAA is investigating this matter.

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Cooper, Whitson, Demps

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, speaking at the 40th annual UF Joint Civic Club Luncheon alongside president Bernie Machen, paid tribute to longtime Gainesville, FL, police officer Johnny Hornes who died last week of cancer at 67. Speaking about Hornes, Meyer noted that he helped change his players’ perceptions of law enforcement and even taught redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey how to tie a neck tie. During the tribute, Machen happened to say something of note regarding Meyer’s future. “And after [the Meyers] finish working, they’re going to stay in Gainesville as members of the community. So they’ve chosen this as their home, and they’ve chosen you as their friends and neighbors, and I think we’re all better for that.”

2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News, former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper has firmly taken control of the Philadelphia Eagles’ No. 4 receiving role from veteran Hank Baskett. He has been a standout during training camp and has performed well while some of the team’s starters have been out with a variety of injuries.

Three more BITS including thoughts from baseball star Whitson, an honor for Demps and a photo spread featuring a Florida cheerleader…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Meyer, Cooper, Whitson, Demps

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FOUR BITS: Hammond, Whitson, Nixon, Alli

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. disappointed his coaches, teammates and fans with his unlawful actions over the summer, but according to WR coach Zach Azzanni, he is doing his best to make amends on the field. “He’s got a good attitude, Azzanni said, according to the Miami Herald. “It’s like I tell him, ‘You can’t walk around here with your head down all the time.’ He’s a great kid who made a bad – a bad, bad – choice and a bad decision. He knows that. He’s a good kid, and he’s just trying to make amends right now by keeping his mouth shut and playing as hard as he can.”

2 » Florida baseball got some shockingly good news late Monday evening as 2010 MLB Draft first-round pick pitcher Karsten Whitson declined to sign a rookie contract with the San Diego Padres before the league’s midnight deadline. Rather than compete as the No. 9 overall pick for approximately $2 million, Whitson has decided to take his talents (video) to Gainesville, FL, and the Gators. At 7-3 with 123 strikeouts in 55 innings last season, Whitson will not be allowed to re-enter the draft until after his junior season.

3 » Though he got some work as a starter at left tackle last season as a true freshman (five games), sophomore Xavier Nixon is currently competing with redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan for the first-team role and is doing what he can to win the job. “I see it as no different than last year,” Nixon said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Whether you’re on the blind side or the front side, the guy across from you is trying to kill you, so you better protect yourself and the quarterback.”

4 » Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson spoke out about his position-mate redshirt freshman Stephen Alli on Monday, nothing that he has really been coming along. “He’s making strides,” Thompson said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “He’s going to be a great player here in the near future. He’s getting his game down. Coach Z is one of the best things that could happen to him because he’s going to get him back to fundamentals and teaching him the game. Yeah. He’s a freak athlete. He goes up and gets the ball, too.” Azzanni agreed. “Alli needs to figure out what he can do well,” he said. “Once he figures out that his job is going over the top of people and being physical, he’s going to start blossoming some more.”

Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen, Jr./St. Petersburg Times

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

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FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey has been underwhelming since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Having only compiled 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the league, he is taking the coaching staff’s belief in him to heart by shedding some weight and becoming a more athletic player. “I thought bigger was better,” Harvey told the Florida Times-Union. “Speed is better. You’ve got to be rushing all day, and you can’t be 280 [pounds] rushing in this heat. […] It’s all on me. I’ve got to perform.” General manager Gene Smith agrees. “I think a couple of things are evident out there,” he said. “He’s probably in the best shape of his life, and he’s lighter this year, so I think you’re seeing some quickness off the snap. And he has better bend coming off the corner. He has shown better flexibility, better quickness and has been better at getting to the quarterback than in any OTAs since he’s been here.

Three more BITS on Thaddeus Bullard’s debut on WWE NXT, 2010 baseball signees picked in the MLB Draft and Tim Tebow…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Harvey, Bullard on NXT, Tebow

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