FOUR BITS: Directors’ Cup, USA, Young, Brewer

1 » The University of Florida athletic program finished no. 4 in the nation in the 2010-11 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Thirteen Florida Gators programs finished in the top 10 of their respective sport nationally including women’s tennis (No. 1), men’s indoor track & field (No. 1), baseball (No. 2), softball (No. 2), men’s outdoor track & field (No. 3), men’s basketball (No. 5), men’s swimming & diving (No. 5), lacrosse (No. 5), gymnastics (No. 7), women’s swimming & diving (No. 7), men’s tennis (No. 9), volleyball (No. 9), women’s golf (No. 10). It is the third-straight year that the Gators have finished in the top four in the Cup’s final rankings.

2 » Competing with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team, Florida center Patric Young had some difficulties in the preliminary round of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships against Egypt. Though Team USA won 115-60, Young only went 2-of-4 from the field for five points with eight rebounds in 14 minutes. Young played much better on Friday, posting 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with seven boards in 18:30 as Team USA came back to top Serbia 80-78.

3 » Speaking of Young, he and head coach Billy Donovan mentioned a few times last season that he had to overcome some attitude issues during the first half off the year; once doing so, he felt much better about himself and his spot on the team. Young opened up even more about this to ESPN’s Diamond Leung, who spoke with him recently. “When you hear it over and over … if 500 people came in and told you you’re the best writer in the world, you’re going to start believing it, right?” he said. “You’re going to be the next best thing. You’re going to be one-and-done. You should be starting over Vernon Macklin. You should play 30-35 minutes a game. People say stuff like that. I was so mentally blocked that I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong and how it was hurting my team, and coaches had to sit me down and break that down for me, and I understood from that point on forward.”

4 » Dallas Mavericks guard Corey Brewer will be making his triumphant return to Gainesville, FL…for at least three days this summer. Brewer, a member of the Gators’ back-to-back men’s basketball NCAA National Championship teams, will host The Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp powered by Five Star Basketball in Gainesville, FL, from July 26-28. Brewer will donate all proceeds to Shands Children’s Hospital at UF and the “Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund,” both benefiting the school’s medical center. “I had a great time with the kids last year. I am so fortunate to have played basketball at the University of Florida. I always like going back to give back to the community that has given me so much,” he told The Gainesville Sun.

Times: August 1-3 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants: Boys and girls ages 9-18
Activities: Basketball drills, five-on-five games, contests, educational sessions, player evaluations, lectures and much more
Extras: Lunch, T-shirt, photo with Brewer, awards, certificate, etc.
Cost: $150 per camper
More information: http://www.CoreyBrewer.com

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LB Neiron Ball released from hospital Saturday

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was released from Shands Hospital Saturday night after undergoing treatment since Monday when a blood vessel ruptured in his brain, a family member told the Orlando Sentinel.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, has been ruled out of spring practice. The severity of his condition and the amount of recovery time doctors deem necessary for him to be 100 percent healthy will determine if and when Ball can return to the field. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Admitted to the hospital late Monday, Ball was being treated in the Intensive Care Unit until Thurdsay. He will return to his hometown of Jackson, GA until Feb. 28, when he is scheduled to come back to Gainesville, FL for a follow-up appointment, his brother-in-law Daryl Myricks told the Sentinel.

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association, which disclosed on Monday that Ball was in the hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, has yet to release any additional information.

OGGOA once again sends our best wishes to Ball and his family.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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LB Neiron Ball improving but still hospitalized

Updated Feb. 18 at 12:15 a.m.

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball continues to receive treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at Shands Hospital after a blood vessel ruptured in his brain on Monday but will be moved out of ICU and into a standard hospital room on Friday, his high school coach told The Gainesville Sun.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, has been ruled out of spring practice. The severity of his condition and the amount of recovery time doctors deem necessary for him to be 100 percent healthy will determine if and when Ball can return to the field. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association, which disclosed on Monday that Ball was in the hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, has yet to release any additional information. However, the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser has been updating his condition all week and the Sun’s Robbie Andreu filed an additional report Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, the Post reported that doctors were able to stop the bleeding and have prevented his brain from swelling. Though it is currently unknown what – if any – aftereffects there may be from the health scare, Ball’s family and friends have noted that his condition has improved.

“He’s out of life-threatening mode,” Mike Parris, Ball’s former head coach at Jackson High School, told the Post. “There isn’t any imminent danger. They’re just trying to let it heal.” Parris also spoke with the Sun. “He’s doing OK. He’s having headaches. He’s scared more than anything,” Parris said. “Other than that, he’s doing pretty good. I think he’s going to be fine. The doctors told his family he is out of a life-threatening situation.”

Natalie Myricks, Ball’s older sister, is hopeful that he everything will be OK. “He’s doing fine; he’s doing better,” she said, according to the Post. “The people at Florida and Shands have been 100 percent helpful and great to us.” Myricks sent an e-mail to the Sun further praising the assistance from Shands and UF. “We appreciate the care that the doctors at Shands Hospital are providing. The support of the coaching staff at the University of Florida has been phenomenal,” she said.

“Thank you for your prayers and concern.”

A continuous stream of friends, teammates and coaches have been visiting Shands to check on Ball, OGGOA has learned from a pair of readers who work in the hospital but wish to remain nameless. It will likely be quite a while before anything definitive is known about Ball’s health one way or another. We continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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LB Neiron Ball in hospital with vascular condition

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball is currently in Shands Hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, the University of Florida’s University Athletic Association disclosed on Monday.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, was a four-star recruit coming out of high school.

The Cleveland Clinic defines vascular conditions as any that affect the circulatory system. “This ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation,” the clinic notes. Due to it being congenital in nature, the condition has existed since birth though it may not have developed until recently.

The Palm Beach Post reported on Wednesday that, according to Ball’s older sister Natalie Myricks, his hospitalization occurred after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured. Though doctors have stabilized him, he is currently in the Intensive Care Unit being monitored. His family is hopeful Ball will make a full recovery with Myricks saying in an e-mail to the Post that “he should be in the clear in three days.”

OGGOA will update you when more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Lockwood’s fight with cancer comes to an end

If you look at the Florida Gators player roster or ledger of support staff, you will not find the name Ian Lockwood. Check the history books and box scores and you will come up empty. But in head coach Urban Meyer and senior safety Ahmad Black’s final season with the team, Lockwood stood as an inspirational figure who the Gators rallied behind.

With the season now over, the 2011 Outback Bowl game ball (the one Black intercepted to seal the game) in his possession and cancer haven taking over his body, Lockwood passed away Friday evening at the all too young age of 18.

A patient at Shands Hospital in Gainesville FL, Lockwood was receiving treatments for brain cancer and underwent a second procedure shortly before the Outback Bowl. He was a passionate high school football player who had to stop playing suddenly on Oct. 8 due to an aggressive brain cancer that doctors tried to thwart and Lockwood himself attempted to fight to the best of his ability.

That fight ended Friday, a day his family, friends and extended University of Florida family prayed would never come. Survived by his mother, father and sister, Lockwood spent the last few months of his life cheering on Florida and hoping the team would find success in what was otherwise a down season.

“The young man, his love and passion for football is second-to-none,” Meyer said during his Outback Bowl press conference. “We became very good friends. He had football taken away from him. He’s been with our team a bunch; we spent a lot of time together.”

Black, who befriended Lockwood while visiting Shands, immediately became enthralled with his fight and passion and was touched by his perseverance. “I love the fight he has. A lot of people would have given up, but he’s still fighting,” Black told the Pensacola News Journal earlier this week.

“RIP Ian Lockwood. He was a great brother, friend and son,” Black wrote via his Twitter account Friday evening. “I’ll forever miss u bro and I thank god that u impacted my life.”

Lockwood, given a chance to speak when he was handed the game ball, was thankful for the honor and support that Florida showed him in his time of greatest need.

“This means a lot to me. Coming into Shands for treatments, [they were] always there from the beginning,” he said. “Football is definitely life to me. It is good to always have an organization there for you to support you whenever you need it.”

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Lockwood family.

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Westbrook, Stewart, Shands

1 » Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey was found to have a broken bone in his left ankle in addition to a high ankle sprain and is unlikely to play in Super Bowl XLV, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Though the Steelers refuse to completely rule out his participation in the game, chances are Pouncey will be watching from the sidelines along with fellow former Gator left tackle Max Starks, who was placed on injured reserve earlier this season with a neck injury. In the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pouncey had started each of Pittsburgh’s 18 games this season.

2 » While Florida awaits commitments or denials from a number of top recruits, head coach Will Muschamp is making the rounds and getting in the ears of plenty of other players. Muschamp was in South Florida on Thursday meeting with three-star defensive end Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek, FL), who plans to make a decision Monday, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Westbrook is also considering South Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina and Purdue but will be in Gainesville, FL for an official visit this weekend.

3 » The Hartford Courant is reporting that the Gators are also after four-star linebacker Graham Stewart (Middletown, CT), a current Boston College commitment. Apparently “Florida has made a late push” for Stewart, and Muschamp is expected to fly up for an in-home visit on Friday. “It’s a hard situation but also a good situation,” Stewart told the paper Thursday. “I took two unofficial visits to Florida this summer. I have an offer from them. It’s a great honor that they believe you can play for them.”

4 » What did Gators redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus do after arriving back in Gainesville following a double-overtime victory against the Georgia Bulldogs? They headed over to Shands Children’s Hospital and visited 19-year-old cancer patient Victor Wheeler, who is constantly undergoing chemotherapy for a recurring form of cancer known as rhabdomyoscarcoma. For more pictures of their visit, check out this Facebook link.

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TWO BITS: Hammond ticketed, Shands Chomps

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., whose DUI case came to a close Wednesday after he reached a resolution with Alachua County court, was ticketed for a traffic violation on Aug. 31, according to court records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. Per the records, Hammond was late for an appointment with a therapist he was seeing to meet the conditions of his DUI case and, after his planned ride fell through, hopped on a moped or motorcycle to make it on time. Police cited him for not wearing headgear during the ride, which he took with a suspended license. Hammond’s original punishment – a year of probation, 50 hours of community service (and a $500 fine) – has been adjusted to a year of probation and 20 work-crew days, as Hammond has already completed 15 community service hours.

2 » Shands at the University of Florida is currently running a Chompetition for Gators fans to get their very own music video on the scoreboard at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the team’s last home football game of the season on Nov. 20. Listen to the song below and Do the Chomp with instructions found here!

Do the Chomp!

And here is the latest Shands commercial featuring the Gator Chomp:

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has already had a few eventful days in Florida in the month of July. On Saturday – teaming up with Florida’s Blood Centers, the Van Duzer Foundation and Palm Beach Autographs – the former Florida Gators star headlined a 12-hour blood drive in Fort Pierce, FL. Between meeting with fans, signing a ton of autographs (some of which can be purchased here) and speaking about his charities, Tebow entertained the crowd and kept fans wanting more. His First and 15 Foundation was also a featured part of a brand new playroom addition to Shands Children’s Hospital‘s pediatric cancer facility; the organization donated $156,000 used to buy high definition televisions, video game consoles and the like.

Five more BITS on John Brantley, golfer Billy Horschel and more…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Brantley, Horschel, volleyball

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