FOUR BITS: Hammond, Whitson, Nixon, Alli

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. disappointed his coaches, teammates and fans with his unlawful actions over the summer, but according to WR coach Zach Azzanni, he is doing his best to make amends on the field. “He’s got a good attitude, Azzanni said, according to the Miami Herald. “It’s like I tell him, ‘You can’t walk around here with your head down all the time.’ He’s a great kid who made a bad – a bad, bad – choice and a bad decision. He knows that. He’s a good kid, and he’s just trying to make amends right now by keeping his mouth shut and playing as hard as he can.”

2 » Florida baseball got some shockingly good news late Monday evening as 2010 MLB Draft first-round pick pitcher Karsten Whitson declined to sign a rookie contract with the San Diego Padres before the league’s midnight deadline. Rather than compete as the No. 9 overall pick for approximately $2 million, Whitson has decided to take his talents (video) to Gainesville, FL, and the Gators. At 7-3 with 123 strikeouts in 55 innings last season, Whitson will not be allowed to re-enter the draft until after his junior season.

3 » Though he got some work as a starter at left tackle last season as a true freshman (five games), sophomore Xavier Nixon is currently competing with redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan for the first-team role and is doing what he can to win the job. “I see it as no different than last year,” Nixon said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Whether you’re on the blind side or the front side, the guy across from you is trying to kill you, so you better protect yourself and the quarterback.”

4 » Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson spoke out about his position-mate redshirt freshman Stephen Alli on Monday, nothing that he has really been coming along. “He’s making strides,” Thompson said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “He’s going to be a great player here in the near future. He’s getting his game down. Coach Z is one of the best things that could happen to him because he’s going to get him back to fundamentals and teaching him the game. Yeah. He’s a freak athlete. He goes up and gets the ball, too.” Azzanni agreed. “Alli needs to figure out what he can do well,” he said. “Once he figures out that his job is going over the top of people and being physical, he’s going to start blossoming some more.”

Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen, Jr./St. Petersburg Times

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Florida Gators 2010 Orange & Blue Debut Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 72°F, Sunny

Live Online Coverage: OGGOA
Live TV: N/A, all replays on Sun Sports
Replays: 04/11 (9 a.m.), 04/18 (9 a.m.), 04/21 (3 p.m.), 04/27 (11 p.m.), 05/02 (9 a.m.)
Live Online Video: GatorVision ($9.95 per month)
Live Radio: Gator Radio Network | Sirius 216 | XM 199 | Yahoo!
Spring Roster: GatorZone

ATTENDANCE INFORMATION:
» Free admission for University of Florida students (with IDs), Gator Boosters, F Club Letterwinners and Alumni Association members with membership cards.
» $5 general admission: Online | Gator Ticket Office

ORANGE & BLUE DEBUT GAME FORMAT:
» Time: Four 10-minute quarters, running clock in the second half.
» Blue: First-team offense, second-team defense, driving to south end zone
» Orange: Second-team offense, first-team defense, driving to north end zone
» Colors: Offense always wears blue, defense always wears white
» Kickoffs: None, drives start at the 35-yard line after a score
» Punts: Yes, but all are fair caught by returners

All of your 2010 Orange & Blue Debut notes and more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2010 Orange & Blue Debut Preview

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 04/05

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at the team’s practice from Mon., April 5.

Absences/Injuries:
» There was no sign of redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody at practice. Moody, who was injured for the second time this spring after hurting his right quad on Saturday, had just returned after tweaking his ankle a few days earlier.

» Wide receivers freshman Solomon Patton and redshirt freshman Stephen Alli continued working away from the team. Patton had a boot placed on his left leg to protect his ankle last week but it was no longer there Monday. Expect both to be rested for precautionary reasons.

» Freshman WR Robert Clark, who was fitted for a boot on Friday after injuring his foot, returned to action and caught a particularly nice pass from freshman quarterback Trey Burton. Clark had one of the best days of Florida’s receivers.

» In addition to most of the starting offensive line sitting out, sophomore cornerback Josh Evans (still in a cast and on crutches) and redshirt freshman defensive end Kedric Johnson (with a boot on his right foot) were notable absences.

Scrimmage happenings:
» The big news of Monday’s practice was redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose competing in actual drills. He began the day working mostly in non-contact drills but took some bumps during seven-on-seven competition (wide receivers vs. defensive backs). Up until this point, the most Debose had done while recovering from a torn hamstring last year was jog. He caught a few passes, showed little limitation or trepidation with his legs and even fought with freshman safety Jordan Haden for a pass that was broken up. This is by no means an indication that he is 100 percent, but Debose has certainly come a long way with his healing – good news for Gators fans.

» Joining Clark and Debose with solid performances were pass catchers redshirt junior Deonte Thompson, redshirt senior Carl Moore and sophomore Omarius Hines. Each has continued to show improvement.

» Junior S Will Hill and sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic both came close to grabbing interceptions at points during the day’s drills.

Other notes:
» Five-star 2010 DE commitment Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA) was in attendance at practice hanging out with head coach Urban Meyer.

» Former Heisman Trophy winner and ESPN analyst Desmond Howard was on the sidelines watching practice. He was not with a crew.

Interesting quotes:
» Redshirt junior QB John Brantley on Debose: “He’s a heck of a player. He’s fast as can be. I’m just happy to see him back out there running around. […] He looked good. It can only get better from here. He’s only going to get faster so that’s a plus. He’s been telling me all spring that he wanted to get back out there. He was very happy today. […] I’m hoping for big things from him.”

» Redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins on trying to win a starting job: “Right now, we’re all just playing to get a linebacker spot. I don’t even know how they’re going to do the positions, but we’re all rotating. I’ll play [weak side] and sometimes I’ll play [middle]. I think we’re all playing a few different positions and [coaches are] just planning on putting the three best linebackers out there.”

» Freshman offensive lineman Ian Silberman on enrolling early: “It is going to help tremendously, because I have an advantage from knowing the system. I’m getting the repetitions. It’s helping big time. [Compared to] someone who is coming in over the summer, I’ll have that experience and the weight training edge.”

» Co-defensive coordinator and safety coach Chuck Heater on Dee Finley‘s transition to LB: “It’s a bit uncomfortable to him probably, but it’s the best spot for him physically. He recognizes it’s his best opportunity. […] Hopefully he’ll keep getting better. […] He’ll be a special teams player for us and eventually graduate from there.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun for some of the above quotes.

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 04/02

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at team practice from Fri., April 2.

Absences/Injuries:
» After missing two consecutive days of practice due to “personal issues,” redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore was one of the first players on the field Friday and practiced in full. He worked mostly with the second team but did have some nice receptions.

»Junior running back Jeff Demps attended practice but did not participate. Earlier in the day, he ran a 2010 world record 10.11-second 100-meter dash at the Pepsi Florida Relays. He has already won the 60-meter indoor National Championship.

» Freshman WR Solomon Patton and redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli both worked away from the team, appearing to be hobbled to injury. Patton had a boot on his left leg to protect his ankle. Both should be fine and were likely sitting out as a precaution.

» Fellow Freshman WR Robert Clark was fitted for a boot after injuring his foot in practice. He will have X-rays to determine the injury’s seriousness.

» Junior defensive end Lerentee McCray was not in pads Friday.

Check out more practice news, notes and interesting quotes…after the break!
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Gators spring scrimmage news and notes – 03/27

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at a team scrimmage from Sat., March 27.

Absences/Injuries:
» Senior offensive linemen Mike Pouncey, Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt all sat out, leaving the line thin and easy to attack for the defense. It should be no surprise that the defensive unit “won” the scrimmage.

» Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins continues to work opposite junior Janoris Jenkins as redshirt sophomore Adrian Bushell sits out on a team-mandated suspension. He will join the rest of the team in practice when he gets his grades up and meets head coach Urban Meyer’s specifications. In his stead, redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown is the one fighting with M. Jenkins for the starting job.

Scrimmage happenings:
» Redshirt junior John Brantley and freshman Trey Burton were the quarterbacks for the scrimmage – each was hurried and out of rhythm, rushing passes and feeling the pressure of the defense.

» Freshman safety Matt Elam picked off and returned a pass from Brantley for a touchdown as he got a lot of time with the first-team defense. It was his most impressive day of practice thus far.

» Matching Elam’s performance and also working with him on the first team was freshman CB Jaylen Watkins, who intercepted a pass from Burton that went through redshirt freshman wide receiver Stephen Alli’s hands.

» Alli continues to shine out wide and could see significant playing time this season even though he has a handful of veterans in front of him, including five who are scheduled to get the most game action.

» One of those five, redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey, is said to be picking up the receiving portion of the playbook quite well even though some were worried about his ability to get it all down. Rainey is becoming a reliable target for Brantley and could impact this team more significantly than some initially expected this season.

» Redshirt freshman QB Jordan Reed got the start at tight end with the first team.

Interesting quotes:
» Brantley on his group of wide receivers: “I know how a lot of these guys run. I trust all of them, right now. They’re doing a great job, getting better every day, and we just keep improving. [Rainey’s] a fast dude. He’s starting to learn all of the routes, and he’s going to be a big playmaker for us this year.”

» Brantley on not having a true backup right now and senior punter Chas Henry getting some work as a passer (from Friday): “Chas isn’t bad. I know he played QB in high school. He hasn’t lost too much of his throwing agility. He can spin it. It does [show] that I need to stay healthy. But the young guy behind me, Trey, is doing very well for a freshman. He’s attaining a lot of knowledge. He’s making progress every day and that’s what you want to see out of your young guys.”

» Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio on Burton’s play (from Friday): “Trey is a really good runner and I think that Wildcat package is realistic for him kind of like we did for Tim [Tebow] when Tim broke in here. He’s working real hard at that. That gives us that package we like to run – the read option, the quarterback runs. I think he’s really done a nice job throwing it, too. He’s really progressing. I think Trey has done a good job of picking things up. I’m really encouraged, honestly. He’s ahead of where we thought he’d be right now. He’s obviously a sharp guy and football is really important to him. He’s a real conscientious guy. Watching him out there, I think he’s going to be a heck of a football player, I really do.”

» Addazio on quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler saying he throws a good ball (from Friday): “Loeffler thinks he throws it better than [Henry]. That Loeffler is an awful athlete.”

» Addazio on how the offense will change this year: “It’s going to be different. We were an option football team a lot last year. We’ll still run option football, but you’ll see those Tim carries will be divided up amongst tailback carries and throws, so that makes you different for sure. […] I know what the offensive line will be. I’m not worried about the offensive line. […] It’s a matter of getting a good working package together. Can we throw it? Heck yeah. Can we run block? Heck yeah. Do we have good tailbacks? Yes. I think we’ve got to find that package, and then we’ve got to find that tight end. That’s not a little piece, that’s a big piece right there.”

» Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater on Brown’s play since his recovery: “You wouldn’t know he had a [back] problem, which is great. That’s the way you like it, but it was a significant issue for him for a couple years, so we just keep hoping that it’s not going to be an issue and he keeps playing the way he’s playing because he’s really done a nice job.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and the Palm Beach Post for the above quotes.

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/26

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at spring practice from Fri., March 26.

Absences/Injuries:
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley returned to practice after missing it Wednesday with what the school said was a sore throat and the flu. He also has a bruised left knee and has been (and likely will continue) wearing a brace.

» Wide receivers redshirt freshman Andre Debose and redshirt junior Chris Rainey each saw limited action Friday. The Gators will be cautious with both players and not work them too hard until summer practice begins.

» Redshirt sophomore WR T.J. Lawrence visited Shands Hospital to undergo tests Wednesday before practice. Friday, the school explained Lawrence had an issue with low blood sugar. He also returned to action.

» Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody, who left the field on crutches after injuring his ankle Wednesday, was back with the team but noticeably limping. He had minor surgery on the ankle last January and has had injury issues throughout his career.

» Sitting out for the remainder of spring practice are sophomore defensive back Josh Evans (left knee) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Kyle Koehne (elbow). Many of the offensive linemen continue to sit nursing injuries, and junior RB Jeff Demps remains out due to his participation in the outdoor track and field season.

Check out many more practice, notes and interesting quotes…after the break!
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Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/24

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at spring practice from Wed., March 24.

Absences/Injuries:
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley missed practice with a high fever and what is believed to be strep throat. Brantley is also having some issues with his knee, which the team believes is just bruised.

» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence was sent to Shands Hospital before practice to undergo tests, according to UF. It is neither known what those tests are for nor if something specific landed him in the hospital.

» Again? Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody left the field on crutches after injuring his ankle during practice. He had minor surgery on the ankle last January and has had injury issues throughout his career.

» Florida announced that sophomore safety Josh Evans (knee) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Kyle Koehne (elbow) are out for the remainder of spring practice. Other players (especially some of the linemen) are sitting out mostly due to precaution or other interests (Jeff Demps – track and field).

Practice happenings:
» Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins got some work in with the first team on Wednesday. He took advantage of struggling frosh QB Trey Burton by picking off one of his passes. Jenkins is competing for a starting job but will likely be relegated to the second-team on the outside.

» Redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli continues to impress with his size and hands. He could very well be one of the breakout stars of the spring. Also showing grit was sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., who made a great catch but landed awkwardly on his back, earning a gasp from the crowd. He’s OK.

Other notes:
» Former Gators LB Brandon Spikes, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, LB Ryan Stamper, CB Wondy Pierre-Louis and S Dorian Munroe all attended practice.

» Players and coaches are off-limits to the media right now and for the foreseeable future. However, that will not last and the silence will end sooner than later.

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More notes from first week of spring practice

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2010 season last Wednesday, there was plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a weekend practice wrap-up.

» Be sure to read over 1,000 words on the return of head coach Urban Meyer and the start of spring practice in OGGOA‘s first post on the subject.

More notes from the first weekend of spring practice:
» As we mentioned Friday, redshirt sophomore cornerback Adrian Bushell – who was expected to supplant Joe Haden next to junior Janoris Jenkins – is still being held out of spring practice as punishment. Senior [we are looking into why his redshirt has not registered] Moses Jenkins is filling in next to J. Jenkins in the interim.

» Backing up J. Jenkins and already turning heads is impressive four-star frosh CB Jaylen Watkins. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown is second behind M. Jenkins.

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley is continuing to turn heads with his impressive arm and ability to hit receivers in stride. His pass catchers, notably redshirt freshman Stephen Alli, redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. and frosh Solomon Patton are all really impressing.

» Frosh QB Trey Burton, dazzling coaches with his legs and toughness, has plenty of work to do as a passer. He was also lit-up by coaches for trotting into the end zone on a naked bootleg, something he made up for with good effort the rest of practice.

» Injury: sophomore safety Josh Evans injured his left knee during a one-on-one drill and had to be helped off the field.

» Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic is getting every opportunity to start alongside senior Brandon Hicks and redshirt senior A.J. Jones. Also competing with him is redshirt sophomore Brendan Beal. Though redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins and sophomore converted S Dee Finley will also be competing for playing time.

» OGGOA previously reported that S Dorian Munroe was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA but is in the process of appealing that ruling. Munroe believes his career is now over after numerous knee injuries and will try his hand at coaching when the hammer comes down. Meyer offered Munroe a chance to work with the coaching staff this season, one he will certainly accept.

» JuCo defensive tackle Edwin Herbert has been released from his scholarship due to his lack of ability, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Thanks to The Gainesville Sun and Miami Herald for some of the details in this post.

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