FOUR BITS: Horford, Richard, Lawrence, LSU

1 » Over the last month two sources have told OGGOA that the Atlanta Hawks are working feverishly to sign former Florida Gators two-time National Championship-winning forward/center Al Horford to a long-term extension. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Horford was selected to his first NBA All-Star team last season. He averaged career-highs in points (14.2), rebounds (9.9), field goal percentage (55.1%), free throw percentage (75.3%) and minutes (35.1) while starting all of Atlanta’s games in 2009-10. Horford was named a team captain this offseason and should receive a deal for more than the five years and $60 million given to former teammate F/C Joakim Noah by the Chicago Bulls early this week.

2 » On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bulls announced Wednesday that they have waived former Gators F/C Chris Richard after re-signing him on Sept. 27. Richard filled in for Noah while he was nursing a plantar faciitis injury last season, playing in 18 games and averaging 2.1 points and 3.3 rebounds. OGGOA spoke to Richard early this summer in an exclusive interview, which you can read here.

3 » Former Florida wide receiver T.J. Lawrence, now playing for the Florida A&M Rattlers, is finally happy as he has been seeing the field and getting plenty of playing time. On Wednesday he told The Famuan that he wanted to leave the Gators a full year before he actually did. “I guess I wasn’t happy,” Lawrence said. “I wanted to leave a year earlier, but I said I’d stick it out another year. I had to make the decision to leave because I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted to.” Now Lawrence feels he is “being utilized how I want to be utilized.” He has 11 receptions for 166 yards this season, both team-highs.

4 » During the SEC conference call on Wednesday, LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles noted that starting defensive end Sam Montgomery will miss the remainder of the season after tearing ligaments in his right knee. Montgomery will likely undergo reconstructive surgery.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

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FOUR BITS: Scouts, Lawrence, Johnson, Tebow

1 » When Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban decided to close off his team’s practices to NFL scouts, there was some outrage that he may have gone too far. The Tuscaloosa News qualified the action by stating that Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer had mandated the same thing. The only problem? He didn’t. Florida associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain pointed out Wednesday that the Gators have not changed their policy and scouts will still be allowed to attend during designated periods (usually during the regular season and select two-a-days). However, as noted before, Meyer has indeed closed practice to the media and fans in an effort to keep out questionable characters or “scumbags” as he so eloquently put it.

2 » On Aug. 5, Meyer announced that redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence had requested and received a release from his University of Florida scholarship. Wednesday, Lawrence told The Lakeland Ledger that he has decided to transfer to the Florida A&M Rattlers. “It’s a big shocker because a lot of people wouldn’t expect Florida A&M University, but I’m going there to be a two-sport athlete,” Lawrence said. His main motivation for leaving UF was a lack of playing time.

3 » Interesting video from The Gainesville Sun of redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson interviewing freshman running back Mack Brown at Florida Media Day.

4 » Focus on the Family, the anti-abortion group that purchased a Super Bowl ad featuring former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam Tebow, has decided to purchase statewide television advertisements during every Denver Broncos game for the upcoming season. Though the new ads will not feature or mention Tebow, the fact that the company is based in Colorado and already has the recognition of having previously worked with Tebow certainly served as a motivating factor in this decision.

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8/5: Meyer speaks to media after fall practice

Concluding the Florida Gators‘ first day of fall practice for the 2010-11 season, head coach Urban Meyer sat with reporters for quite some time to discuss a number of topics including his outlook on the team, players leaving the program and why exactly camp has been closed to both the media and fans. OGGOA has compiled some of the key points:

PERSONNEL

» Meyer announced that seniors center Mike Pouncey and defensive end Justin Trattou are the team’s two fall captains. Senior safety Ahmad Black and redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh may be added to the group at a later date.

» Doing some housekeeping, Meyer told reporters that redshirt sophomroe wide receiver T.J. Lawrence and the team mutually agreed to part ways. More on this here.

» He also explained that redshirt freshman tight end Desmond Parks will likely be out 2-3 weeks after previously injuring his wrist and undergoing a procedure to fix the issue.

» Meyer noted that five-star linebacker transfer Chris Martin is already working with the team in camp even though he must sit out a year due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules.

QUOTES

» Explaining to reporters that his motivation for closing practice was not about restricting their access but rather curbing the distractions that agents and autograph hounds cause his players every day, Meyer touched on two subjects in particular…

On the growing concern regarding agents: “With all that agent [stuff], and I’m hearing about parties and all this, my gosh. We just want to do the best job we can. We’re going to have a lot of discussions around here and continue non-stop education because it’s an epidemic. You hear people talking about this school and this school. That’s nuts. The good thing is the other side of it [the agents] wants to help. When I say they really want to help, there are going to be some positive things come out of this. Real positive.”

On others trying to take advantage of the players’ generosity: “We’ve had a great discussion with a group of us that got together and we’re trying to make some changes. Anything from signing balls to getting them sold on the Internet to practice, where people are showing up. In the fall, we’re going to shut it down. There are people showing up, ‘Why are you here?’ We can’t control our players’ lives, but we certainly can do the best we can. You should have the right as a player to walk from here to there without being bothered. That’s my fault for five years. That’s crazy. I tell that to my colleagues, people just mauling you and bothering you and Internet people grabbing helmets and signing this and all this, and we don’t have security saying, ‘Get the heck out of here.’ You’ll see a lot of ‘get the heck out of here’ from now on and let the kids go practice and concentrate on football. Big-time rules. I’m concerned about stuff where you get NCAA violations and scumbags that are involved that shouldn’t be involved. One way to control it is, get out.”

» On the team’s goal for the 2010-11 season: “This is a year of accountability and development. If that happens, we’ll have a good team.”

» When told about redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey‘s “prima donna” comments in the morning, Meyer quipped that it was the team’s “fault for letting him speak” while noting that Rainey’s comments were “absolutely wrong.” “Rainey said that? Chris Rainey won’t speak to the media again this year,” Meyer added in a joke-serious tone.

“I can name some other things he said to the media that were absolutely inappropriate, and that goes in the same category, believe it or not. So, take that for nothing. Inappropriate, wrong, non-thought out, which he does quite often. I love Chris Rainey, but when I ask him a question, I give him a whole day to think about it and write it down 100 times.”

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

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Gators WR Lawrence set to transfer, Meyer says

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence has decided to transfer, according to head coach Urban Meyer.

A four-star recruit out of Lakeland, FL, Lawrence did not see action until 2009 when he mostly participated in special teams plays. He never caught a pass at Florida and is the third member of his recruiting class to transfer this season.

“He tried to move on last year and we talked him into [staying] because he’s a good kid and all that,” Meyer said. “I think he just wants to move on to get some playing time.”

Fellow redshirt sophomores cornerback Adrian Bushell and linebacker Brendan Beal each left the team in the middle of May.

Lawrence cited playing time as his primary concern and has yet to pick a destination.

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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!
Continue Reading » Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/26

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FOUR BITS: Alex Brown, Chris DiMarco, Evans

1 » When the Chicago Bears signed defensive end Julius Peppers, former Florida Gators DE Alex Brown welcomed him to the team. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are showing Brown the door precisely due to their acquisition of Peppers. Head coach Lovie Smith, at the NFL owners meeting this week, informed reporters that Israel Idonije would be moving to DE, basically forcing Brown out of the way. The team is now trying to actively trade the nine-year veteran and 2009 captain but could release him if a deal is not struck.

2 » Currently tied for ninth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, former Gators golfer Chris DiMarco is playing better than he has in quite some time. Attempting to regain full exempt status on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2008, DiMarco is steadily progressing. “”I really feel like I’ve gotten back to the old swing, the old consistency” he told The Florida Times-Union after Thursday’s round. “It’s been baby steps. The confidence is back and the rhythm is back.”

3 » Sophomore cornerback Josh Evans appears to be out for the remainder of spring practice, according to The Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman. There are no reports of the injury being serious of regular season-threatening, but obviously Florida would like him back as soon as possible. OGGOA is still waiting to hear word on what happened to redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence.

4 » Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel speaks with ESPN‘s Brian Kenny:

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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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Week 8: No. 1 Florida Gators at Miss. St. Bulldogs

Location: Davis Wade Stadium – Starkville, MS [Capacity: 55,082]
Time: 7:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 52°F – Clear skies

TV: ESPN
Online: Live for FREE at ESPN 360.
Sirius: 121; XM: 141

Florida Gators Mississippi State Bulldogs
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Dan Mullen
Record: 6-0 (4-0) Record: 3-4 (1-2)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -22.5, O/U 49.5
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow…who is currently second all-time to former Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in Southeastern Conference rushing touchdowns with 48. He needs one more to tie Walker’s record. Tebow has also thrown a touchdown pass in 32 of his 33 career starts.
– The UF secondary…which had its streak of grabbing an interception in 17 straight games snapped last week. It will be interesting to see if the unit, especially cornerback Janoris Jenkins, rebounds from last week.
– Florida’ Urban Meyer…who can become the first Gators head coach since Galen Hall in 1985 to win in Starkville.
Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Anthony Dixon…who set a new school record in career rushing yardage last week when he eclipsed 3,299 yards.
– Head coach Dan Mullen, offensive line coach John Hevesy, strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis and graduate assistant Angelo Mirando…all of whom previously worked for the Gators but are now on the Mississippi State coaching staff.
– Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez…who had career highs in receptions (seven) and yards (92) last week vs. Arkansas Razorbacks. He has led Florida in receptions four times this season.
– Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis…who made three of four field goals last Saturday including a 51-yarder and game-winning 27-yard shot with nine seconds left.

STREAKS:
– The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 16 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the longest in the SEC since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94 .
– With a win Saturday, Florida will go 3-0 in the SEC West for the first time since 1998.
– Florida is on an 8-0 road game winning streak, dating back to 2007. Their two best played games this season – against the Kentucky Wildcats and LSU Tigers – were both on the road.
– Florida leads the all-time series vs. Mississippi State 32-18-2, though the Bulldogs lead the series at their home 7-3.
– The Gators lead the SEC in total offense (470.5), rushing offense (259.8), scoring offense (36.3) and third-down efficiency (.514).
– Florida has converted 48.6% of its offensive drives into points in 2009, best in the SEC.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. Mississippi State preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 8: No. 1 Florida Gators at Miss. St. Bulldogs

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