12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs continued this week with six former Florida Gators spread out over all four of the teams that participated in NFL Championship round action.

Three former Gators were listed as active. Each of the four teams that played – and therefore both that advanced to Super Bowl XLVIII – had at least one former Florida player on its roster.

A former Gators player is guaranteed to be on the roster of a Super Bowl winner for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It will be the 12th consecutive season that a former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team and the ninth time in the last 15 seasons that a former Gators player will be on the rosters of both Super Bowl teams.

Below are game statistics for all three active Florida players that participated in the third round of the playoffs. Check out how they performed…after the break!

Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL Playoffs: Championship (2013) – four advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

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Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Divisional (2013)

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs continued this week with eight former Florida Gators spread out over five of the eight teams that participated in NFL Divisional round action.

Five former Gators were listed as active. Each of the four teams that advanced has at least one former Florida player on its roster.

Therefore, a former Gators player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl winner for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It will be the 12th consecutive season that a former Florida player will be on the roster of a Super Bowl team and the ninth time in the last 15 seasons that a former Gators player will be on the rosters of both Super Bowl teams.

Below are game statistics for all five active Florida players that participated in the second round of the playoffs. Check out how they performed…after the break!

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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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SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

1 » Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach, star of the U.S. Women’s National Team, married her long-time girlfriend and current teammate with the Western New York Flash, Sarah Huffman, over the weekend in Hawaii. “Sarah and I wanted to thank everyone for all the love and support,” Wambach said in a tweet sent Wednesday. “We couldn’t be happier. What an amazing week it’s been. #honeymoon”

2 » Former Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy, currently under contract with the New York Giants, surprised the Lakewood High School football team by donating $5,000 in mid-September to upgrade the players’ helmets. “We knew that he was going to do something, but we didn’t know it was going to be this year,” Necole Tunsil, the associate athletic director at Murphy’s alma mater, told the Tampa Bay Times. The NFL was kind enough to match Murphy’s donation, giving the school even more money to upgrade the team’s football equipment.

3 » Gators freshman forward Savannah Jordan has put together a sensational season already for Florida, scoring 12 goals in her first 13 games, a mark that surpasses even Wambach’s total goals through the same number of contests during her freshman season. Jordan has played so well, in fact, that the USWNT has added her to its under-18 roster for a training camp that takes place from Oct. 13-19 in Lakeland Ranch, FL. She is the only collegiate player invited to participate on the team. Should Jordan take advantage of the opportunity, she would likely miss UF’s game on Oct. 18 at home against Kentucky. The contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but the USWNT has a scrimmage set for 2 p.m. that day against the under-17 team.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

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FOUR BITS: NFL, Donovan, Mooney, Parsons

1 » The names of a few former Florida Gators popped up on the NFL transaction wire this week. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver David Nelson were signed by the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets, respectively, on Tuesday. Cunningham was released by the New England Patriots after never even suiting up for the team during the offseason, and Nelson was cut by the Cleveland Browns after his knee flared up during the preseason.

On the other side of the coin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived safety Ahmad Black (who started for them this season), and the St. Louis Rams cut offensive tackle Max Starks, who was signed just two weeks ago.

2 » ESPN’s Andy Kats noted on Wednesday that Gators head coach Billy Donovan has decided not to take advantage of the NCAA pushing up the start of basketball practice and will instead begin Florida workouts on Friday, Oct. 11. He opines that the move is being made to give senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin extra time to get back in the team’s good graces. Though that may have an ounce of truth to it, the actuality is Donovan would prefer to have his team practice more in a shorter period of time rather than three total hours per week over an additional month. “[He] likes to hold double sessions over weekends and you only have 30 practices over 42 days before [the] season opener,” correctly noted The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway.

3 » Grabbing a recruit three years before he graduates high school is a risky proposition, but it sounds like the Gators’ latest basketball pledge is in for the long haul. 2016 power forward John Mooney (Altamonte Springs, FL) committed to Florida on Saturday, the school he has always wanted to attend. “I don’t see this being an Austin Rivers situation at all,” Mooney’s head coach at Lake Brantley High School, Mike Cuff, told Brockway. Cuff also said Mooney averaged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman on varsity despite only taking 6-7 shots per game. Brockway also spoke with Mooney’s Nike Team Florida coach Tom Topping, who noted that the player “projects as one of the better basketball players in his class,” something that is “not just my opinion.”

4 » Grantland.com’s Juliet Litman takes a closer look at Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and his incredibly busy summer, which she concludes is an “aggressive attempt to become a famous athlete/fashion icon,” something she personally finds “strangely endearing.” OnlyGators.com will be speaking with Parsons prior to the start of the 2013-14 NBA season.

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

The 2013 NFL Draft is set to take place from April 25-27, and Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans has kept you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft over the last three months via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s second-to-last entry covers his final week as an amateur, which included another meeting with a prominent NFL franchise, multiple conversations with teams and the final preparations before he, his family and friends celebrate the conclusion of his journey either Friday or Saturday. Be sure to check back next week for Evans’s final entry as his Path to the Draft finally comes to a close.

Last week after my last entry, I met with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and Friday over here in New Jersey. Secondary coach Ed Donatell and I first met on Thursday night, went to dinner and had a nice conversation. We then went back to the hotel he was staying at in order to go over defensive schemes. They asked me to learn their personnel and philosophy of how they run things there. And then on Friday, when they worked me out, it was pretty much just a simulation of communicating and running the signals that we discussed on Thursday. It was almost like I had to take homework home and study my notes, learn a whole new scheme. Some of it was similar but some of it was different as far as what they called things. I had to learn it their way and then recite it back to them while showing what I could do on the field.

I have not had any more meetings since the one with San Francisco but did have a webcam interview this Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator [Bill Davis] and defensive backs coach [John Lovett]. We discussed what I have been up to recently, where I have been training and how I was feeling physically. We also went over their schemes and how they see me fitting into their system.

Aside from San Francisco and Philadelphia, other teams I spoke to within the last week include the Dallas, Minnesota, Seattle, Jacksonville and the New York Jets. I had conversations with all of those teams but also received calls from others that were making sure they had the correct draft day information for me – my birthday, what number they can reach me at, where I will be watching the draft.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

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