Media: Florida Gators to finish fifth in SEC East; three named 2015 Preseason All-SEC


The Southeastern Conference released its annual media poll on Thursday at the 2015 SEC Media Days, and the masses predicted that the Florida Gators will finish fifth in their division next season.

Florida, which actually received one vote as the 2015 SEC champion, finished behind Georgia (166), Tennessee (36), Missouri (20) and South Carolina (1), only ahead of Kentucky (1) and Vanderbilt in the SEC East.

On Friday, the Gators had three players named to the media’s 2015 Preseason All-SEC team. Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (the No. 2 vote-getter behind Georgia running back Nick Chubb) earned first team honors, while senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard was placed on the second team and senior linebacker Antonio Morrison on the third team.

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Vernon Hargreaves III primed to lead Florida Gators: ‘I’m the best corner in college football’

Vernon Hargreaves III may be the Florida Gators‘ best player. He may be the best player in the Southeastern Conference, too.

He knows he’s the best player at his position.

“I’m the best corner in college football – without a doubt,” he told Paul Finebaum on Monday evening.

What is often overlooked about Hargreaves is not his ability on the field but rather the maturity and leadership of the All-American cornerback, who has played and acted like a veteran since the day he stepped foot on campus two seasons ago.

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain was effusive in his praise of Hargreaves during the 2015 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Monday for those reasons and more.

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2015 SEC Media Days: Gators getting healthy, but Florida still has a long way to go

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain, senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard, junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and sophomore wide receiver Brandon Powell represented the team on Monday by participating in the 2015 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.

Below are highlights primarily from McElwain’s sessions with the media.

Slowly but surely

The most positive development for Florida on Monday came when McElwain provided an overall status update for multiple players that sat out spring practice with a variety of injuries.

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Florida Gators featured at 2015 SEC Media Days on Monday: What to know, how to watch

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain – and a trio of players – will take center stage in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday at the 2015 SEC Media Days.

Florida will be one of the first three teams featured in the event, joining Auburn and Vanderbilt on Monday’s schedule. Live coverage will be offered from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on SEC Network both on television and online (all times Eastern).

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Hype train rolls on for WR Demarcus Robinson

More than once this offseason – including at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Monday – Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp called this season’s roster the most talented he’s had during his tenure at the school.

While corroborating that statement before the season is difficult considering Florida has lost a ton of top-end defenders in consecutive seasons and enters the 2014 campaign with its underwhelming specialists unchanged, the Gators certainly do possess a rebuilt stable of offensive talent.

Yet while Florida’s veteran wide receiver (redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar, incoming pass-catching tight end (redshirt senior Jake McGee) and three starting-caliber running backs (sophomore Kelvin Taylor, redshirt senior Mack Brown and redshirt junior Matt Jones) were all mentioned by the contingent in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday, it was a talent who frustrated and underwhelmed as a freshman that got the most praise.

“You heard it here first. He is that good,” sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III – a third-team Associated Press All-American, unanimous first-team Freshman All-American and unanimous first-team All-SEC nominee – said of the player.

Hargreaves was speaking to FOX Sports reporter Bruce Feldman about Florida sophomore wideout Demarcus Robison, the four-star prospect who was supposed to be a game-changer and big-time playmaker for the Gators as a freshman.

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Gators bristle at “hot seat” talk for Will Muschamp

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley is not the only member of the athletic program dismissing the notion that head football coach Will Muschamp is on the proverbial “hot seat” entering the 2014 season.

Despite the fact that Muschamp is coming off a 4-8 campaign in 2013, Florida’s worst record since 1979, and has failed to put together a single dynamic offense in three seasons at the helm of the Gators, players on both sides of the ball insist that Muschamp’s job status is the furthest thing from the team’s mind.

“We don’t really listen to none of the outsiders,” explained junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. on Monday. “We’re all we got – my brothers, my coaching staff. That’s how it’s going to be here.

“Our job is to fight adversity and our job is to make the Gator Nation happy and get Florida back on top where they used to be. When we do things like that, there’s no worries about no job or no hot seat.”

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4 BITS: SEC Media Day, Driskel, softball, Tebow

1 » The Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday that Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III will join head coach Will Muschamp as the school’s contingent at the 2014 SEC Media Days next week in Hoover, Alabama. Florida is one of just two SEC teams not bringing a senior on the trip, a departure from the past when the Gators tried to ensure all three spots were taken by players in their last year of eligibility. The event is scheduled from July 14-17 with Florida set to be the third contingent to go through the process behind league commissioner Mike Slive and Auburn. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier will entertain on Tuesday, LSU’s Les Miles will follow suit on Wednesday and Alabama’s Nick Saban will kick things off on Thursday.

2 » Speaking of Driskel, UF’s school website announced that he will be working as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy from July 10-13. It is the second-straight year Driskel will be attending the event in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and he will represent the Gators as one of 40 college signal callers working as counselors. He also participated once as a camper during high school. “The few chances I did get to speak with [the Mannings at previous camps], it was really good experiences,” Driskel said. “They are down-to-earth people and I’m just fortunate enough they invited me back for another year. I’m really looking forward to going.” Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has a long history with former Ole Miss QB Eli Manning after working as his position coach, so Driskel will likely have another topic to discuss with the Mannings over the weekend.

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Florida’s new S.W.A.G. motto already being tested; Gators get three players cleared Thursday

The Florida Gators have come up with a new definition for the word “swag,” and it just so happens to be the team’s motto for the 2013-14 season.

“Strengthen – When – Adversity – Grows. We need to strengthen as adversity gets more and more in our face. We need to stay together and be connected,” explained senior center Patric Young on Thursday while in Birmingham, AL, for the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days.

Head coach Billy Donovan is in favor of the new saying and took some time to discuss the genesis of the motto after Young left the stage.

“Those guys came up with it themselves. It’s what they wanted to do. One of the things I’ve always believed in as a coach is you’ve gotta be able to handle adversity together. So they kind of came up with this thing — Strengthen When Adversity Grows — is kind of what it means,” he said.

“It’s really on them; they did it. It was up to them. I do think that for our team this year, one of the things I’m looking at is how well we can be connected. I think our guys have great relationships; they get along. But there’s a different bond and a different connectedness that they’re talking about to continually be a team that’s an elite team, and I think that’s what they’ve tried to work on.”

It would be difficult to believe that adversity could loom heavier over the Gators at any point this season than it already does just one week into fall practice.

Florida spent the first week practicing with just seven scholarship players despite having 11 on the roster. Neither senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) nor junior transfer guard Eli Carter (leg) had been cleared for contact, redshirt junior transfer C Damontre Harris is dealing with hamstring problems, and sophomore G Michael Frazier II has been bothered by a viral infection that Donovan feared was mononucleosis.

“We’re not a healthy team. We’re dealing with seven scholarship players in practice. We don’t have our full roster. I think our team, what it looked like on paper in the summertime, is not the team that we’re dealing with right now,” he said. “We’re a few weeks away from opening up. The practice with the guys we’ve had in practice has gone well. They’ve worked hard. But we have a long way to go right now.”

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