FOUR BITS: Top 100, bracketology, SEC loss, track

1 » ESPN college football analyst Joe Schad took some time out to compile a 2010 Top 100 College Football Stars list featuring names you need to know going into next season. Among his 100, Schad listed four Florida Gators: redshirt sophomore quarterback John Brantley (19), freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (54), sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins (77) and redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey (88). Brantley was his eighth of 29 QBs, Debose was his eighth of 15 WRs, Jenkins was seventh of 10 DBs and Rainey was 19th of 21 RBs.

2 » Also from ESPN, bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has released his latest edition, and Florida remains a part of the projection. Lunardi has the Gators even after a close home loss to the No. 13/19 Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday. He lists Florida as a No. 11 seed squaring off against the No. 6-seed Baylor Bears in first-round action in Buffalo, NY.

3 » Competing in 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament first-round action Thursday, the No. 7-seed Gators women’s basketball team (14-16) fell 74-61 to the No. 10-seed Auburn Tigers (15-15). Senior guard Steffi Sorensen led the team with 14 points (12 in the first half), while senior forward Sharielle Smith contributed 11 points.

4 » Three members of Florida’s women’s track and field team were awarded end-of-season honors from the SEC Thursday. Head coach Mike Holloway was named Women’s Coach of the Year, senior jumper Shara Proctor won Women’s Field Athlete of the Year and sprinter Lanie Whittaker shared Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year. The ladies won the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship on Feb. 28.

Bubble Watch » Richmond (23-7), which beat the Gators 56-53 on Dec. 19, took down Dayton (19-10) 60-56. Dayton was on bubble and is now considered out of the running.

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SIX BITS: SEC titles, softball sweep, gymnastics

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators women’s track and field won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship Sunday, its first since the 2004 season. Scoring 110 total points, the team was led by junior Charlotte Browning and senior Shara Proctor, who were named co-winners of the Cliff Harper Trophy for the SEC’s high-points scorer. The men’s team finished second at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, AR, as the home team Arkansas Razorbacks beat them out for the men’s crown 123-119. Both the women’s and men’s teams also captured numerous individual SEC titles over the weekend.

2 » No. 3/11 Gators softball (12-1) swept the Northwestern State Lady Demons (8-5) 15-0, 5-0 and 10-1 over the weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore outfielder Michelle Moultrie powered Florida’s offense by going 5-8 (.625) with a double, triple, home run and six RBI, while junior OF Kelsey Bruder joined her with similar 5-8 performance for four runs, two homers, six RBI and 11 total bases. Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (10-1) won each game of the series, striking out a combined 13 and only allowing three walks.

Read four more BITS on gymnastics, lacrosse, men’s tennis and Senior Day…
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FOUR BITS: Women’s basketball upsets Georgia

1 » Led by a strong effort from seniors guard Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team (14-13, 7-7 SEC) achieved a 64-57 upset over the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs (20-7, 7-7 SEC) in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday. Sorensen and Smith combined for 31 points and 14 rebounds as the Gators earned their first victory against a ranked opponent in more than a year.

2 » No. 7 men’s tennis (7-2) continued its terrific play this season, taking down the South Florida Bulls (3-5) 6-1 on Sunday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The No. 10-ranked doubles duo of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix won its 20th match of 2009-10 with an 8-2 victory. Lacroix, ranked No. 17 as a singles competitor, took down No. 91 Jamal Adderley, 6-2, 6-4 for his 11th win against a ranked opponent this season.

3 » Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is one of the most famous Gators fans in professional sports. From attending games to razzing teammates who are fans of opposing teams, Pierzynski is not shy about his Florida pride. That includes wearing orange and blue shoes around MLB camp last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

4 » The Gators want three-star tight end Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) to gain weight. His high school basketball team? Not so much. “They want me to put 10 to 15 pounds of solid muscle on before I get there,” McFarland told the St. Petersburg Times. “I want to start [working out] so bad.” McFarland, at 6’6” 240 lbs., is his team’s starting center and has two weeks to go before he can begin Florida’s workout routines.

Extra BIT » High school junior Lindsey Cooper, the younger sister of former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper, recently made unofficial visits to Florida and Florida State as she decides where to attend college on a soccer scholarship. A standout at Clearwater Central Catholic High School, Cooper hopes to sprint for a university’s track and field team as well.

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FOUR BITS: McCray’s ring, Sunday sports wrap

1 » On Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray became the 13th former Florida Gators football player to win a Super Bowl as his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami, FL. The Saints’ starting defensive end, McCray totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry during Super Bowl XLIV. He is the first former Gators defensive player to win a ring since DE Kevin Carter did it with the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (Super Bowl XXXIV).

2 » While most of the country was focused on the Super Bowl, the Florida women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 SEC) was in Gainesville, FL, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-9, 6-5 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators kept it close all game, eventually pulling out a hard-earned 80-78 double-overtime victory. Senior guard Lonnika Thompson scored all of her 11 points in overtime while classmates G Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith each recorded double-doubles. Redshirt sophomore G Jordon Jones was responsible for the game-winning free throws with only 2.7 seconds left to lift Florida for the win.

3 » Following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, the No. 7 Gators women’s tennis team (5-0) completed a sweep at home over the weekend. The Florida women took on and defeated the Troy Trojans 7-0 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. No. 13-ranked freshman Allie Will and No. 81-ranked senior Marrit Boonstra each won their singles matches and combined as the No. 26 doubles duo to take the event’s first doubles match 8-1.

4 » The Florida club cycling team took home the annual Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday. Called “one of the most dominant teams in the nation,” by The Gainesville Sun, the Gators group seemingly dominated the event from start-to-finish. For more, read Ray FItzGerald’s report here.

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SIX BITS: 2010 class, Tebow, Smith, awards

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer spoke candidly with The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley after National Signing Day on Wednesday. He was surprised there was not a worse reaction to his temporary resignation but actually had fun dispelling numerous rumors about his next job. “[Five-star defensive end Ronald Powell called me at 3 a.m. and] wanted to know if I was going to ESPN to replace Lee Corso,” Meyer said. That’s what he had been hearing. I just laughed.” Four-star offensive lineman Chaz Green, Florida’s last commitment, had the same question. In the end, for a man dealing with stress, his 2010 recruiting class gave him the best gift of all: relaxation. “I left my phone on (Tuesday) night but I went to sleep,” he said. “I got up, no messages. What is that? That’s the first time since I have been married I wasn’t on the phone at midnight the day before Signing Day. And we were done with the faxes by noon.”

Five more BITS including Tim Tebow’s new organization, Emmitt Smith’s upcoming honor, the women’s basketball team’s loss and much more after the jump!
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SIX BITS: Dungy on Tebow, Jaguars, weekend

1 » Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current NFL analyst for NBC Tony Dungy continues to stand behind former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and believes he will succeed at the next level. “I know a lot of people are saying he will play another position and he might, but I think he’s going to be a great leader, a winner, and I think some team is going to take him and tailor their offense to the special qualities he has,” Dungy told George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel. “I think he’s going to be a fantastic player in the NFL. If I am a coach, I say to myself: ‘I’ve got a special, unique talent and I am going to structure my team a little differently to take advantage of that.’ People are starting to do that. Tennessee did that with Vince Young and was very successful. I think somebody is going to do it. [...] Tim won a lot of games in high school, a lot of games at the University of Florida and my belief is that he will win if he gets with the right team in the NFL.”

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told The Florida Times-Union that his team’s experiment with the 3-4 defense is over. Part of the reason for the change is a belief of Smith in former Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey, who only had two sacks in 2009. “The third year is usually a defining year for what you’re going to become,” Smith said as he indicated that Harvey will begin camp as the starting left end. Former Florida safety Reggie Nelson, who had an outstanding rookie campaign but has since floundered with the Jaguars, may be cut if he does not show significant improvement throughout training camp.

Women’s basketball, lacrosse and men’s & women’s tennis after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Dungy on Tebow, Jaguars, weekend

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TWO BITS: Gators earn 26th commit, QB Murphy

1 » Two-star dual-threat quarterback/athlete Tyler Murphy (Wethersfield, CT) is the newest member of the Florida Gators unanimously ranked No. 1 2010 recruiting class. Courted by QB coach Scot Loeffler and interim head coach Steve Addazio, Murphy took an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend and committed on the spot. Murphy was previously committed to the Temple Owls, but as soon as the Gators offered him, it became apparent that he would end up in the Orange & Blue. “It’s been very exciting,” he told ‘Mark Wheeler of Rivals. “Just to know where everything falls into place and that all the hard work pays off. It’s very exciting and I’m very happy to be able to come down [to Florida].”

»» Rivals is also reporting that the Gators and 2010 three-star tight end commitment Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) have agreed to have him grayshirt the 2010 season and enroll with the 2011 recruiting class. McFarland was reluctant at first, out of pride, but realized that this move would benefit him in the long run. Grayshirts usually wait until the second semester to enroll in school instead of in the fall. This move would open up an additional scholarship for Florida to fill before National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

2 » Florida women’s basketball and No. 8 tennis were in action on Sunday, both taking home victories. Basketball (11-9, 4-3 SEC) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (10-9, 3-4 SEC) 59-56 while tennis swept the North Texas Mean Green 7-0. Senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 11 points while freshman F Jennifer George grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Photo Credit: Mike Orazzi

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Walker leads Gators past Razorbacks, women lose

Sophomore point guard Erving Walker turned in a career-high 27 points to lead the Florida Gators (13-5, 2-2 SEC) over the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-10, 1-2 SEC) 71-66 on the road at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR. Walker began the game by hitting his first five shots (four from downtown) and finished 7-of-12 (5-of-6) on the night.

Junior forward Alex Tyus started 0-for-5 but finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his career. Tyus hit the boards hard in the second half, as did fellow junior F Chandler Parsons who left with 11 rebounds but only six points on 1-of-8 shooting after initially going 0-for-7. Razorbacks’ guard Courtney Fortson completed a double-double of his own with 14 points and 11 assists, while G Rotnei Clarke led Arkansas with 17 points shooting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

The Gators started the game 2-of-12 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown until Walker made a three to tie it up at 11. He finished the half with 15 points while the rest of the team was only 4-of-25 from the field and 0-for-6 from three for 11 total points. Walker continued his dominance in the second half with an opening trey, a shot that gave him Florida’s last 10 points on both sides of the break.

A 10-2 run by the Razorbacks would tie the game, and a three-point play by Fortson gave Arkansas the lead back for the first time in the second half. Clarke would go on to score 11-straight points for the Razorbacks including a three that put Arkansas back up 56-55 with 6:40 remaining. However, the Gators countered with a 9-0 run, would eventually take a game-high nine-point lead and were able to hold on from there.

Freshman G Kenny Boynton contributed 13 points but was only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Senior F Dan Werner and freshman F Erik Murphy were a combined 0-for-7 from the field; Werner was ineffective throughout the contest while Murphy was tentative in the paint and missed a number of easy layups and put-backs.

Florida was able to out-rebound Arkansas 42-29. The Gators only shot 35.5 percent from the field compared to 44.2 percent by the home team, but made 21-of-26 free throws against Arkansas’ 12-of-17 from the charity stripe.

The Gators return home to face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.
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The Florida women’s basketball team (10-9, 3-3 SEC) lost 82-58 on the road in Tuscaloosa, AL, to the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-10, 1-5 SEC) at the Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide were previously winless in conference play before absolutely throttling the Gators Thursday night. Florida’s 24-point loss was their worst this season. Tierney Jenkins led Alabama with a double-double on 28 points and 12 rebounds while Celiscia Farmer and Ericka Russell added 19 and 18 points, respectively. Senior forward Sharielle Smith was the Gators’ most productive player with nine points and nine rebounds.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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