4 BITS: Taylor retires, volleyball, Baker, Brown

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor, a 13-year NFL veteran who spent the majority of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, will sign a one-day contract with the team on Friday and officially announce his retirement. Taylor – who has rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns while catching 290 passes for 2,384 yards and eight touchdowns – was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2007 who is only one of 30 players in league history to have rushed for more than 10,000 yards. He was a three-time Southeastern Conference champion (1994-96) and one-time national champion (1996) at Florida and was named as a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC member in 1997. A member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, Taylor spent his first 10 years in the NFL with Jacksonville before playing his final two seasons with the New England Patriots. The No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, he is Jacksonville’s all-time leader in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns.

OGGOA will have more on Taylor’s retirement on Friday. Stay tuned.

2 » Looking to avenge a come-from-behind victory by the Gators in the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, No. 25 Florida State Seminoles volleyball strode into the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on a mission Tuesday evening. Fortunately for No. 9 Florida (3-0), the Gators were able to push back their opponents and sweep the Seminoles 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-22) in front of a school-record 1,901 students (total attendance: 4,631). Florida has won all nine sets in which they’ve played this season and continues to claw their way to victory each match. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy notched a triple-double in the contest with 12 kills, 10 digs and 17 assists. The trio of senior middle-back Cassandra Anderson (eight), senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (seven) and senior OH Kristy Jaeckel (six) combined for 21 kills on the evening as the Gators improved to 28-2 against FSU under head coach Mary Wise.

3 » Former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker is set to make his debut with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL on Sunday and is excited for his opportunity to get back on the field. Baker, who was signed by the Montreal Alouettes in April but traded to Saskatchewan in August, only played in three games with the former team and caught just three balls for 28 yards. He found himself on the bench with the Roughriders and now, after a teammate got injured, he will finally get back on the field. “I’ve always been a guy who’s been in a situation like this, so [waiting] really wasn’t tough at all,” Baker told The Regina Leader-Post. “It was all about being patient and that’s something that I was used to.” Baker also spoke to the paper about his uncle and fellow former Florida star Wes Chandler. “When I got drafted, he was like, ‘Hey, that’s the easy part,’” he recalled. “I thought it was the hard part. He told me the things to do to be a professional athlete. He told me to never get complacent. He also told me, ‘Watch and learn. If you see a vet do something, that doesn’t mean you can do it – especially if you know it’s wrong. [...] But if you see a vet do something like staying late watching film, pick up on that.’”

4 » Though he was released by the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, former Gators defensive end Alex Brown has already heard from at least three teams who are interested in his services this year. “I talked with my agent, and three teams have made contact,” Brown said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “We’re just trying to figure out what’s best for my family and what’s a really good situation for me to go in. I would love to go play in a 4-3, so there are a lot of teams out there that still run a 4-3 that could use a defensive end that still has a little bit left. So hopefully I can find a good place that my family and I can feel comfortable with.” One possible destination? The team that drafted him – the Chicago Bears. “It would be crazy to do another Gator Chomp in Soldier Field. That would be nuts,” he said.

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FOUR BITS: Crowder, Beal, Young, Baker, Leak

1 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, considered by many (including OGGOA) to be one of the most outspoken and honest players in the NFL, has been given his own radio show on 560 WQAM in South Florida until the lockout has concluded. During his first show on Sunday, Crowder touched on a number of topics including his pregnant wife (he’s having a boy), offseason workouts and the realization that he is not a fan favorite. “I know people hate me,” Crowder said. “When people hate on you, you’ve got to be doing something right.” However, the most interesting he said Sunday afternoon relates to quarterback Terrelle Pryor and how he got in trouble at Ohio State. Though he tried to get around admitting it outright, Crowder insinuated that he sold his Florida Gators jerseys at some point during or after his time in Gainesville, FL. “I’ll say hypothetically I don’t have any of my Florida jerseys,” he said. “There were some Jacksonville businessmen who liked my play.”

2 » With the 2011 NBA Draft now in the books, ESPN’s Chad Ford has already released his top 100 for 2012 and two familiar names are at the top of his list. Gators five-star freshman guard Brad Beal comes in at No. 6 on Ford’s list, while sophomore center Patric Young ranks No. 11 out of all NBA Draft prospects who could be available a year from now. Though Beal has made no indications one way or another about his college plans, Young has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to stay three-to-four years and graduate before playing in the NBA. Speaking of Young, he competed with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team in an exhibition contest against Lithuania’s U20 team on Sunday, a game that his squad lost 101-72. Young played 25 minutes (third-most on the team) and went 2-for-7 with five points, six boards, an assist and a steal.

3 » Competing in what was basically a tryout during an exhibition game up in Canada, former Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker earned a roster spot with the Montreal Alouettes. Baker, who is ready to continue working hard now that he’s made the team, will play boundary receiver for one of the CFL’s best squads. “This means a lot, but I can’t stop working,” Baker told the Montreal Gazette. “I’ve been in this situation before, where I made the team and got cut.”

4 » On the other end of the spectrum, former Gators quarterback Chris Leak was cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders when their final dismissals were decided over the weekend. Leak, who spent a few years with Montreal, is on the radar of the Calgary Stampeders, which have already reached out to him.

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FOUR BITS: Larson, Pryor, Leak, Demps, lax

1 » Florida Gators redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson has officially entered a not guilty plea on reduced charges of misdemeanor criminal trespassing. The Gainesville Sun reports that junior F Erik Murphy, the other player cited in the incident, has yet to enter a plea. Both men, along with student manager Josh Adel were arrested on felony burglary charges in April after they were caught allegedly forcing their way into a vehicle. Charges against Adel (for accessory to burglary) were thrown out; those for Larson and Murphy were reduced to misdemeanors.

2 » With former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor leaving his school in the dust, his next career move becomes just as (if not more) interesting as that of former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Pryor has similar options to Jenkins but has seemingly decided to leave college altogether. Though he could enter the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft in July, it is looking more and more like he will play professionally in another league in 2011 with the CFL (Canadian Football League) and UFL (United Football League) leading the charge for his services. The Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, according to the Associated Press, own Pryor’s negotiation rights within the league and could bring him aboard if he chooses to enter their league. Theoretically, that could spell doom for former Gators QB Chris Leak, who signed with the team as a free agent on May 5 and is fighting for the No. 2 job on the team. UPDATE: Pryor’s attorney said Thursday that he will not entertain offers from the CFL.

3 » Florida senior running back Jeff Demps, widely considered the fastest man in college football and one of the fastest overall in the entire country, failed to qualify for the finals of the 100-meter dash at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday. Demps turned in a 14th place performance of 10.40 seconds. He won the title last year with a time of 9.96 seconds.

4 » After another stellar season in which they were continuously ranked in the top five teams in the country, beat what ended up becoming the 2011 NCAA Champions and had a chance to qualify for the national championship game, Gators lacrosse was awarded the No. 5 ranking in the final standings released by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. No. 5 is the highest a second-year program has ever been slotted to end the season, just another in a long list of accomplishments for the young Florida team and head coach Amanda O’Leary.

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QB Chris Leak signs with CFL’s Roughriders

After three successful seasons as a back-up with the Montreal Alouettes including back-to-back Grey Cup championships, former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak was cut by the team in February. He did not last long as a free agent, signing a two-year contract by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday.

Saskatchewan, which was defeated by Montreal in the two Grey Cups Leak won, had an open spot on its roster and felt they could use Leak as a back-up behind starter Darian Durant. Leak could come in as either the No. 2 or No. 3 signal caller.

Since not being selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, he has bounced around looking for an opportunity to play. Leak first signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears but was cut before the regular season. He then planned to play in the never-formed All-American Football League and tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs but, once again, did not make the roster.

His CFL career began with a six-day stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2008; he was waived and claimed by Montreal, which kept him for almost three full seasons.

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