FOUR BITS: Easley, Purifoy, Haslem, Young

1 » Florida Gators defensive lineman Dominique Easley has looked outstanding through his team’s first two games but is he actually the “most dominant defensive player in college football through the first two weeks” of the season? That’s what ESPN analyst Todd McShay believes. McShay ranked Easley 29th on his list of the top 32 draft-eligible prospects available ($), noting that his “ability to penetrate and disrupt opposing backfields is really improving.” Easley is not the only Florida defender on McShay’s list, however, as junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy checked in at No. 20, dropping 12 spots from No. 8 because he looked ‘inconsistent” against Miami and “whether he can develop as a cornerback and refine his cover skills and technique at the position” is yet to be determined. Like Easley, junior CB Marcus Roberson jumped onto the list after being unranked, checking in at No. 32. Mel Kiper, Jr. has Purifoy ranked 10th on his Big Board but does not have Easley or Roberson listed.

2 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem got married to the love of his life, Faith Rein, in late August in a wedding ceremony that was 14 years in the making. The New York Times’ Linda Marx profiled the love affair between the two, which took a while to get started and included a number of obstacles including an abortion, Haslem playing basketball in Europe – “she said we would have lived forever in Europe if that was our fate” – and the two working in Florida and New York, respectively, after Haslem returned to the states. Following Rein moving to South Florida and berthing two children, the death of Haslem’s mother and permission from Rein’s father, he asked and she said yes. Read the entire heart-warming story by clicking here.

Check out two Florida Gators VIDEO BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Easley, Purifoy, Haslem, Young

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FOUR BITS: Cunningham, Gilbert, volley, Quinn

1 » New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating its performance-enhancing substances policy. The substance Cunningham used was not disclosed and it is currently unknown if he already filed or plans to file an appeal. Cunningham is the fourth former Florida Gators defender to receive a four-game suspension for PEDs since 2010. New England linebacker Brandon Spikes (2010), Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (2012) and New York Giants safety Will Hill (2012) have missed four games each. All three claimed their positive tests resulted from an ingredient contained in ADHD medication like Adderall. Cunningham would be eligible to return in the playoffs.

2 » Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert is one of four former Gators on his team and one of three Florida offensive linemen that got injured this season. Unfortunately for Gilbert, while center Maurkice Pouncey and left tackle Max Starks were able to return to action, he has been sidelined since Week 6 with an ankle injury and was officially placed on the team’s injured reserve on Monday. He is the third former Gators player to be knocked out for the season with an injury, joining Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (ACL) and Patriots running back Jeff Demps (leg).

3 » Following in the footsteps of the soccer program, which cleaned up at the Southeastern Conference‘s annual awards announcement, Florida volleyball matched the program with three major awards and a number of placement on the All-SEC teams. Junior middle back Chloe Mann captured SEC Player of the Year honors, outside hitter Ziva Recek brought home SEC Freshman of the Year honors and Mary Wise was named SEC Coach of the Year for the 13th time. The Gators note that “this is the first time since 2000 and second time in program history for Florida” to win all three awards. Mann is the 17th player in team history to win Player of the Year, and Recek is the fourth UF freshman to be honored by the league in that capacity. Also honored Monday were junior setter Taylor Brauneis and senior right-side Tangerine Wiggs, who joined Mann and Recek on the All-SEC first team; senior MB Betsey Smith on the All-SEC second team; and Recek again on the All-Freshman team.

4 » Three members of the Gators football team have been named finalists for yearly national awards. Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis is one of three finalists (Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins, Tulane’s Cairo Santos) for the 2012 Lou Groza Award and sophomore punter Kyle Christy is one of three finalists (Louisiana Tech’s Ray Allen, Ball State’s Scott Kovanda) for the Ray Guy Award, both of which will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. live on ESPN.

Joining them is defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is one of five finalists for the 2012 Broyles Award, which is presented to the top assistant college football coach in the nation. The other finalists are Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Notre Dame DC Bob Diaco, Texas A&M OC Kliff Kingsbury and Stanford DC Derek Mason. Quinn has UF’s defense ranked top-15 in the nation in pass efficiency defense (No. 1), scoring defense (No. 3), yards per play (No. 3), yards per attempt (No. 4), third-down defense (No. 5), rush defense (No. 6), interceptions (No. 6), yards per rush (No. 7), red zone touchdowns (No. 13) and red zone defense (No. 15).

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