Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His third entry comes live from Mobile, AL as Watkins is currently practicing ahead of and set to compete in the 2014 Senior Bowl on Saturday.

Since the last time I checked in here, I spent a few days getting extra treatment rather than training as hard for the combine as I had been previously. It was time to get prepared for the Senior Bowl, which I ended up leaving for on Saturday.

Saturday and Sunday we just came in, did our check in, took the Wonderlic and other tests and got weighed. It was really weird to get measured in front of so many other people. We walked up to the stairs and were suddenly in front of 300 people wearing just our compression shorts. [Laughing] If you know what those are, you will be laughing at that, too.

I took about six or seven different tests and definitely felt good going through each of them. There is not really any way to prepare for them because they’re not standardized tests like in school. The tests work you through concepts and get an idea how you learn and process information.

When we finally got on the field to practice, I had to get adjusted the first day in a helmet and pads. Some guys were only a few weeks out from playing, but I obviously had a longer time off. My first practice went really well, but my first time through warm-ups felt kind of weird. I was anxious, which is something I have not felt in a long time, but once practice got going and I went through the individual period, everything was great.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

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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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12 Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 21

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.

» The three Florida Gators participating in the 2014 Senior Bowl arrived over the weekend and got measured on Monday. Guard Jon Halapio checked in at 6’3-1/2” and 320 pounds, wide receiver Solomon Patton was the smallest player measured at 5’8-1/2” and 179 pounds, and cornerback Jaylen Watkins was listed at 5’11-3/8” and 194 pounds. Watkins will be updating OnlyGators.com on his status this Wednesday as he and his teammates prepare for the game on Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network.

» Patton, a native of Mobile, AL, was not initially invited to the all-star game played in his hometown but rather received the opportunity to participate in the Senior Bowl last Tuesday after winning an MVP award at the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl. He is not the only one excited. “It’s going to be great,” his father Solomon Patton, Sr., told AL.com. “It’s something we’ve dreamed about since he started playing football. It’s always been a dream of ours and his for him to make it back here [to play].” Patton also spoke about proving to scouts and team executives that he can play despite his relatively diminutive stature. “I might be small, but I can make big-time plays regardless of my size,” he said. “I’m just going to go in relaxed and od what I’ve been doing all year.”

» Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on Monday said wide receiver Percy Harvin should be cleared to return to practice by Wednesday and ultimately compete in Super Bowl XLVIII. Harvin was held out of Sunday’s NFC Championship game due to lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered two weekends ago. He has only played 39 total snaps in two games this season.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!

Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 21

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Preparation

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His second entry covers the impact of Florida’s coaches on his career, playing a new position as a senior and the importance of being invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl.

The Senior Bowl is next Saturday, and we are all getting some last minute training in before heading out to Mobile, AL on January 18th. [Editor’s Note: Watkins will be joined in Mobile by guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton.]

It honestly feels great to be picked for the Senior Bowl. It lets me know I was doing something right during the season and in my career with the Gators. Obviously Coach [Will] Muschamp and T-Rob [defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson] put me in a great position to showcase my skills.

Their football knowledge is beyond levels of college. Being in that defense, the standard they hold you to makes you a better player. That helped me excel. I was able to grasp so much information at once and play so many different positions. Being able to play safety, nickel, corner, it all paid off. If you listen and do what they say, you’ll definitely be a better player because they know what they’re talking about.

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SIX BITS: Patton, Moss, NFL, Bonner, Noah

1 » Florida Gators wide receiver Solomon Patton on Wednesday confirmed to OnlyGators.com that he has been invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl. Patton plans to leave for the game, which is played in his hometown of Mobile, AL, on Saturday along with cornerback Jaylen Watkins and guard Jon Halapio, both of whom will be participating in the game. Patton got on the Senior Bowl’s radar after hauling in a MVP award in the inaugural 2014 Medal of Honor Bowl over the weekend. In other news Wednesday, Halapio was announced as a signee of Paradigm Sports Management. Patton and Watkins are both being represented by agent Tom Santanello of Elevate Football.

2 » One of five former Gators back in Gainesville, FL this spring taking classes in pursuit of their college degree, defensive end Jarvis Moss saw his semester start off on the wrong foot. Moss late Monday night was arrested and charged with a felony for tampering with evidence as well as a misdemeanor for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis after he was stopped near 900 NW 7th Ave in Gainesville. He was initially pulled over for running a stop sign, but the arresting officer smelled “a strong odor of ‘fresh’ cannabis coming from the vehicle” and “observed the defendant chewing intently.” Upon asking Moss to open his mouth, he identified “large pieces of cannabis … that he was trying to swallow.” Additionally, according to the police report, Moss “denied eating cannabis” after being read his Miranda rights but “did admit to smoking cannabis earlier.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Patton, Moss, NFL, Bonner, Noah

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SIX BITS: Prather, Grier, Phillilps, Patton, Wickline

1 » The Florida Gators on Sunday announced that senior forward Casey Prather (knee) is being listed as “doubtful” for Tuesday’s home contest against the Georgia Bulldogs as he is still dealing with a bone bruise he apparently suffered last Wednesday. Prather, Florida’s leading scorer who has posted double-digit point totals in all 14 game he’s played this season, has missed three practices already.

2 » The Independent Florida Alligator’s Adam Lichtenstein, citing an anonymous tip provided to the paper, uncovered a video posted on the Vine account of Gators four-star quarterback commit Will Grier (titled “Lax es gay”) that appears to show him using the homophobic slur beginning with “F” nine times before declaring, “[Lacrosse] is gay.” The video was posted to his account 269 days ago, exactly four months after he committed to UF. (The video linked above contains offensive language not condoned by OnlyGators.com.) As Lichtenstein correctly points out, “this is unacceptable behavior from Grier” and is something that should absolutely have been addressed by Florida. Though the school had no reason to address this publicly at that time – he was not a member of the program yet – one would think that those in charge of monitoring the social media accounts of Gators recruits would have strongly suggested he remove the video. After all, it has been hiding in plain sight for nearly nine months.

3 » According to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls, Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips is one of three men being considered by head coach Charlie Strong to serve as Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator. Phillips has spent five years in an offensive coordinator role, holding that exact position at Kentucky from 2005-08 and working as “head coach of offense” at his alma mater in 2009 when he was named Rich Brooks’s successor. Prior to that, Phillips spent 13 of 14 years coaching wide receivers and was widely considered a coach who had not been given a fair opportunity to move up in the ranks. He was head coach at UK from 2010-12 before being fired and taking over as the Gators’ wide receivers coach in 2013. Phillips is entering the second year of a two-year contract and is set to earn $265,000 this season.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Prather, Grier, Phillilps, Patton, Wickline

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SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

1 » OnlyGators.com learned Wednesday night that Florida Gators seniors cornerback Jaylen Watkins and wide receiver Solomon Patton have both signed with agent Tom Santanello of Boca Raton, FL. Santanello, who inked defensive tackle Dominique Easley in November, also represents two other former Florida players – safety Josh Evans and tight end Jordan Reed. Watkins and Patton will join Easley as he trains in Boca Raton over the next few months as all three players look to get in the best possible shape before their workouts.

2 » A late-second to early-third day pick, Watkins is hoping to raise his stock immensely before the 2014 NFL Draft and has accepted an invitation to the 2014 Senior Bowl in an effort to do just that. Many NFL personnel people already believe that Watkins has a superior skill set to junior CB Loucheiz Puriofy albeit a lower ceiling due to Purifoy’s ridiculous athleticism and penchant for highlight-making plays. Joining Watkins at the Senior Bowl (so far) is redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio. Easley was also invited but will be unable to do so as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

A source close to Easley tells OnlyGators.com that there are currently no plans for the player to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine or Pro Day at Florida. However, as he continues to heal and regain strength in his knee, anything is certainly possible. Easley does plan to at least hold a private workout prior to the draft.

Check out four more BITS on Gators in the NFL…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

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FOUR BITS: Andrades, Nixon, Saunders, baseball

1 » Preseason-ranked No. 13/17 Florida Gators baseball opened the 2013 season on Friday with its very first practice of the new campaign. For those unaware that he would be doing so, freshman wide receiver Raphael Andrades is practicing with the team as an outfielder and is on the official roster for this season. At 6’0 and 190 lbs., Andrades is an accomplished baseball player who was actually selected in the 36th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. After being drafted by the Royals, Andrades took a trip out to Kansas City to take batting practice with the team and even hit a home run while doing so. The Royals were unable to sign him to a deal, which was no surprise whatsoever, but the Gators told Andrades during his recruitment that a roster spot on the baseball team was available if he felt like he could juggle both sports. He will wear No. 18 for the team and is the first student-athlete to participate in both sports since wide receiver/outfielder Riley Cooper (2007-09).

2 » While running back Mike Gillislee is turning heads during practices for the 2013 Senior Bowl, it appears as if offensive tackle Xavier Nixon is diverting eyes away from his play. According to the National Football Post‘s Russ Lande, Nixon is one of eight players that has struggled the most over the last few days.

From the first practice it was clear that Nixon was over-matched athletically playing offensive tackle. He could not kick-slide out in time to protect the corner vs speed rushers and lacked the feet and agility to re-direct and adjust to fast pass rush moves back inside. His lack of quickness also hindered his ability to get into good run blocking position and often led to him grabbing and holding his man. Nixon slid inside and played some guard this week and was more effective there, but his struggles to bend knees and block with leverage hindered him there too. Nixon is not going to be a high draft pick, but will likely be selected late because of his size, long arms and experience starting three plus seasons at Florida.

Measurements are also in for both players from day one of Senior Bowl practices:
– Gillislee: 5’11 1/4″, 207 lbs., 8.75 in. hands, 30.75 in. arms, 74.25 in. wingspan
– Nixon: 6’5 1/2″, 311 lbs., 10.25 in. hands, 33.75 in. arms, 80.75 in. wingspan

The 2013 Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m. and air live on NFL Network.

3 » Former Florida safety De’Ante Saunders has decided to transfer to Tennessee State. According to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays, Saunders is already enrolled at TSU. He is the second UF player to move on to the program in the last 12 months as tight end A.C. Leonard chose to transfer before the season. As Tennessee State is an FCS school, Saunders (like Leonard was) is able to play immediately and does not have to sit out the NCAA-mandated redshirt season he would’ve had to if he transferred to another FBS school. Leonard had great success at TSU in 2012, leading the team in receiving with 733 yards and six touchdowns in just 10 games; he has one year of eligibility remaining while Saunders has two more seasons of college football left.

4 » Head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan met with the media on Friday to take an early look at the Gators baseball team heading into the season. Though Florida will once again have solid pitching and defense, the offense is undergoing a makeover with so many home run hitters no longer with the program. “I do feel good about our offense. It’s just there’s going to be some ups and downs,” he said. “There’s going to be a learning curve, but we certainly have the personnel to be OK. Our offense is going to be different this year. … Our personnel is different. It is what it is. It certainly can be as successful, we’re just going to have to do it a different way.”

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