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.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Preparation

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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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Jaylen Watkins to chronicle Path to the Draft as part of expanded coverage on OnlyGators.com

With a number of former Florida Gators football players in the process of training and preparing for the 2014 NFL Combine and upcoming 2014 NFL Draft in May, OnlyGators.com is pleased to announce an significant expansion to its annual comprehensive coverage leading up to and during the event.

Continuing the tradition of OnlyGators.com‘s Path to the Draft blog in 2014 will be four-year defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who has agreed to join the website and chronicle his process from now through the big day. Watkins will check in regularly to discuss the quest to raise his stock and continue his football-playing career on the professional level.

Readers will be able to tag along as Watkins participates in the 2014 Senior Bowl, trains for the combine, meets with teams interested in selecting him and is eventually drafted at some point during the three-day event from May 8-10.

A versatile member of Florida’s secondary, Watkins played cornerback during his first three seasons with the team but added assignments at safety to his plate during his senior year. He started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

Watkins registered three interceptions and broke up eight passes as a cornerback in 2011. This past season, he picked up seven pass defenses (second-most on the team) and was third on the Gators with 52 total tackles (two for lost yardage).

The fourth Florida student-athlete to participate as the featured player in OnlyGators.com’s Path to the Draft series – following Chandler Parsons, Josh Evans and Erik Murphy – Watkins will have company on the website over the next few months.

OnlyGators.com will also be presenting a four-part series on defensive tackle Dominique Easley, chronicling his rehabilitation from the serious knee injury he suffered on Sept. 24 up until the day he is drafted, and has plans in the works to check in with a number of other former Gators including wide receiver Solomon Patton.

Watkins will be the eighth former Florida player to guest blog for OnlyGators.com. Former offensive lineman Shannon Snell, forward Adam Allen and catcher Teddy Foster are currently on staff writing about football, basketball and baseball, respectively. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel was the website’s first contributor in 2010.

You can also follow Jaylen Watkins on Twitter by clicking here.

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TWO BITS: Gators team awards, game-winners

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2013 award winners along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Michael McNeely
* Second-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jaylen Watkins, Mark Herndon and Darrin Kitchens
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Solomon Patton
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Solomon Patton, Damien Jacobs, Jon Halapio, Neiron Ball and Ronald Powell
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Powell each won the award.
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Antonio Riles, Tim Clark, Caleb Brantley | Defensive: Case Harrison, Adam Lane, Cameron Dillard | Special Teams: Chris Thompson, Ryan Parrish

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Michael Taylor
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Harrison won the award for offense.
Most Valuable Player Offense: Solomon Patton | Defense: Dante Fowler, Jr. Special Teams: Jarrad Davis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Halapio and Dominique Easley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Solomon Patton
* Third-straight year that a senior offensive player won the award.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jeremy Brown, Kyle Koehne and Darrin Kitchens
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio was named a team captain.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Gators team awards, game-winners

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Four Florida Gators named to 2013 All-SEC teams

Four Florida Gators football players were voted onto 2013 All-SEC teams on Monday and Tuesday, as chosen by the Associated Press and league’s own coaches.

Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III received All-SEC First Team honors from the AP and coaches for his stellar play this season. He was the only Florida player to achieve that status.

The Gators also had junior CB Loucheiz Purifoy and sophomore BUCK linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. chosen for the All-SEC Second Team by AP voters and senior wide receiver Solomon Patton picked for the Second Team by the coaches for his work as a return specialist.

Individual honors will be announced by the SEC on Wednesday with the All-Freshman team being revealed on Thursday. Hargreaves will be the only Florida player with a chance to bring home an individual honor as a potential SEC Freshman of the Year.

Florida tied Arkansas and Tennessee for the third-fewest AP All-SEC selections with three each. Kentucky (two) and Mississippi State (one) rounded out the bottom of the pack. UF only had two players selected as All-SEC by the coaches. Only Kentucky and Ole Miss (one each) had fewer players chosen.

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OGGOA Week in Review Updates: Offensive coordinator, point guards, Tim Tebow

Though Florida Gators football saw its season come to an end last Saturday and Florida basketball does not have a game until Tuesday, there has nevertheless been plenty of Gators news to cover this week.

A number of the stories covered by OnlyGators.com deserve updates now that the week has come to a conclusion, hence this special edition of OGGOA Week in Review. Some updates can be found below while others are in the appropriately linked stories.

SEARCH FOR AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CONTINUES

When offensive coordinator Brent Pease was released on Sunday, OnlyGators.com published an early look at some candidates to replace him. That list has been updated throughout the week and once again on Saturday. Check out the original post – Replacing Brent Pease as offensive coordinator – for the latest information.

POINT GUARDS HEALTHIER THAN ADVERTISED

Sources close to the program and players told OnlyGators.com multiple times over the last week to expect both of the Gators’ point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – to play on Tuesday at home against Kansas. This was information strongly hinted at during a post earlier in the week.

Florida announced on Tuesday that Wilbekin, who left Monday’s game at UConn with an ankle injury, had suffered a high-ankle sprain despite the fact that the player reportedly left the arena that night under his own power without the use of crutches or a boot. On Saturday, the Gators released a long post on their own website detailing the rehabilitation that Wilbekin has been undergoing. Hidden within the piece, Wilbekin was suddenly listed as “questionable” for Tuesday’s game despite there previously having been “no timetable” for his recovery.

Saturday evening at 6 p.m., UF relented and finally announced that Wilbekin not only practiced in the afternoon but has already been cleared to play on Tuesday. The school is now referring to his injury only as an “ankle sprain.”

Hill, on the other hand, legitimately suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago, and the one-month recovery timetable provided by Florida was indeed accurate. However, he has been working extremely hard at his rehabilitation and is also expected to suit up for the Gators on Tuesday as long as he can stand the discomfort. Hill is unlikely to be at 100 percent for the game but would instead spell Wilbekin at point guard for a couple minutes each half. He is legitimately questionable.

Continue Reading » OGGOA Week in Review Updates: Offensive coordinator, point guards, Tim Tebow

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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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