FOUR BITS: Tebow, Smith, Donovan, Kinney

1 » Should quarterback Tim Tebow not find a new home in the NFL if or when the New York Jets finally decide to set him free, one AFL owner has made it abundantly clear that he will always have an opportunity to compete in the arena league. “Tim would certainly want to first exhaust his opportunities in the NFL, but we’d love to have him,” Orlando Predators owner Brett Bouchy told the Orlando Sentinel over the weekend. “I think he would definitely improve as a quarterback in our league. Kurt Warner told me once that when he got back to the NFL after playing in the [AFL], the NFL game was like slow motion. Everything in the [AFL] is just so much faster and quicker and predicated on accuracy. Whenever Tim is willing, we have a contract waiting for him to sign.” It would certainly be an interesting move considering QB Chris Leak is already on the Predators’ roster and “accuracy” is actually Tebow’s biggest red flag.

Yet the question remains…when are the Jets actually going to cut Tebow? The team’s owner and general manager – both of whom are in Phoenix, AZ for the NFL Owners Meeting – said on Sunday that he remains on the team and will be part of the competition at quarterback if he is still on the roster when training camp begins. Considering it is their decision whether or not he remains on the roster, the situation should be clearer than New York has made it. What is likely happening is that the duo is going to make a last-ditch effort to rid themselves of Tebow and get some form of compensation for him by making a trade at the owners meeting for a late-round pick.

2 » To say that former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith is slightly perturbed by the NFL’s newly proposed rule that would penalize rushers for lowering their heads when initiating contact would be an understatement. “If I’m a running back and I’m running into a linebacker, you’re telling me I have to keep my head up so he can take my chin off?” Smith rhetorically asked on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, TX late last week. The rule, which was proposed by the NFL’s Competition Committee but has not yet been passed, will be voted on this week at the owners meeting. Smith thinks the game would change drastically if it is adopted. “As a running back, it’s almost impossible [not to lower your head],” he continued. “The first thing you do is get behind your shoulder pads. That means you’re leaning forward and the first part of contact that’s going to take place is your head, regardless. I disagree with the rule altogether. It doesn’t make any sense for that position. It sounds like it’s been made up by people who have never played the game of football.” The league’s all-time leading rusher probably knows a thing or two about this subject.

3 » Yahoo! Sports’s Eric Adelson penned a fantastic piece about Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan “coming of age.” In the feature, which was published on Thursday, Adelson looks at Donovan coming up in the coaching ranks, his immense success at such a relatively young age, the about-face he did with the Orlando Magic and why chances are he will remain a college coach for the foreseeable future, almost certainly sticking at Florida for the vast majority of what should be a long and storied career (if not until the day he retires).

4 » Former Gators and Tennessee Titans tight end Erron Kinney, who spent six years playing in the NFL before hanging up his cleats, was named the new Fire Chief for Mt. Juliet, TN last Monday. Kinney, who has been working as a firefighter since retiring from football, has served as a Captain at two fire departments and recently completed a seven-year term with the Tennessee State Firefighting Commission (he was appointed by the state’s governor). Now he will be fire chief of an entire town, a role that Mt. Juliet public safety director Andy Garrett believes is well-deserved. “I know that Erron Kinney’s exceptional qualifications and experience make him the best fit for our city,” he said in a statement. “Chief Kinney brings with him well over 20 years of exemplary service in all aspects of fire department management, coupled with his deep roots within the Middle Tennessee community.” Kinney, who was born in Virginia but has spent much of his life in Tennessee, is excited about the opportunity to build a fire department from the ground up. “It is very humbling, an honor, and a privilege to be appointed as Mt. Juliet’s Fire Chief,” he said. “I am excited about working in one of Middle Tennessee’s best cities. I am extremely excited about the opportunities that are ahead for the city’s new fire department.”

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SIX BITS: Walker, softball, Nelson, gym, lax

1 » Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker was honored on Senior Day before Sunday’s game. Because the game aired on CBS and the broadcast began following the ceremony, most fans did not get to see Walker enter the court with his mother to a loud ovation from his fans. The entire clip, including the video highlight package of some of Walker’s best plays in orange and blue, can be viewed below courtesy of GatorVision.tv:

2 » No. 3 Florida softball improved to 19-1 on the season and extended their winning streak to nine games after winning six contests from Thursday-Sunday by a combined score of 53-1. UF defeated Eastern Michigan 2-1 in extra innings on Thursday before beginning the Lipton Invitational, which the team hosted in Gainesville, FL. The Gators again beat EMU on Friday (16-0) and followed that up with a thrashing of Gardner-Webb (9-0) in the evening. Florida beat GWU a second time on Saturday (14-0), adding a win against Tennessee State (8-0) later that afternoon and a victory over Campbell (4-0) on Sunday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (10-0) earned two wins striking out 19 batters and giving up one earned run in 17.0 innings (she also made one relief appearance). Freshmen RHPs Alyssa Bache (3-0) and Lauren Haeger (6-1) each added two victories with neither giving up a single run and the latter mowing down 15 batters in 10.0 innings. The Gators’ offense was impressive all weekend long, but two players in particular stood out for their powerful performances. Senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie went 12/20 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, 11 runs and three stolen bases over the six games, and junior catcher Kelsey Horton matched her with four dingers of her own alog with 14 RBIs, six runs and three walks. UF will play five road games this week including two against Mississippi State and three at Tennessee.

3 » It is looking more and more like Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson will be wearing different colors in 2012. With no reports of negotiations for an extension occurring between Nelson and Cincinnati brass, the local media expects that he will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent next week. Should that occur, it is believed that the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans will make a run at him. The Dolphins in particular look like a promising landing spot for Nelson considering former Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, who helped resurrect Nelson’s career in Cincinnati, was hired as Miami’s new defensive coordinator after the season.

4 » No. 1 Florida gymnastics (10-1) earned a nail-biting victory on the road Sunday against the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2). The Gators defeated the Cornhuskers 196.95-196.825, earning two individual event victories while only winning one of the four overall events. junior Ashanée Dickerson and sophomore Alaina Johnson each won the vault with a score of 9.90, while junior Marissa King took home the balance beam victory with a 9.925 mark. Florida’s sizable win in the beam (49.325-48.950) was enough to push them past Nebraska in the overall score. UF will take on No. 7 Utah in their regular season finale on Senior Night on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m.

5 » No. 4 Gators lacrosse (4-2) dropped their second game to a top-10 ranked opponent this season, falling 12-11 in double overtime to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (2-2) at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Behind 6-4 at the half, Florida rallied over the final three minutes of the second period, scoring three-straight goals to knot the contest at 10 as the whistle sounded. SU got on the board first in overtime, but UF matched their visitors again to force a sudden death second overtime period. The Orange did not take long to make their move, scoring at 5:05 to end the game. Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell led the Gators with three goals (including the tying score in the first overtime), an assist, six draw controls and five ground balls (a season high for the team), while junior attacker Kitty Cullen had an off game with only one goal in 10 shots. Despite scoring fewer goals than their opponent, Florida had more shots than Syracuse (39-26) and committed fewer turnovers (9-20). UF is scheduled to face Georgetown on the road Wednesday before returning home to host Temple on Saturday.

6 » Both involved in close matches, No. 15 Gators women’s tennis and No. 10 Florida men’s tennis wound up with different outcomes when taking on the No. 5/6 Georgia Bulldogs’ women’s and men’s squads over the weekend. Florida’s women improved to 8-1 by taking down Georgia 4-3 on the road. The Gators won two of three matches to earn the doubles point with victories from the No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen and the No. 31 duo of junior Lauren Embree and senior Joanna Mather. No. 1 Will fell in singles action to No. 11 Chelsey Gillickson, but No. 18 Mather, No. 23 Embree and No. 39 Oyen were all victorious to earn the overall win.

Florida’s men rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to tie things up with Georgia 3-3 but simply could not complete the comeback victory. The Bulldogs won the doubles point by taking down two of the three ranked duos for the Gators. The No. 8 pairing of junior Billy Federhofer and senior Nassim Slilam won their match, but the No. 18 duo of junior Tripper Carleton and sophomore Spencer Newman and the No. 43 team of sophomore Andrew Butz and junior Bob van Overbeek both fell 8-4. Singles wins by Carleton, Slilam and sophomore Michael Alford tied the match, but No. 51 van Overbeek fell to No. 3 Wil Spencer 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-5 in a final that lasted 2:28.

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FOUR BITS: Moore, Tebow, soccer, interviews

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Kestahn Moore received some good news Thursday evening when he learned that the Tennessee Titans decided to sign him and bring him into camp as a free agent. Moore, who was signed with Kansas City in training camp a year ago and was worked out by Tennessee last November, is back with the team on a trial basis and could play as soon as Saturday against St. Louis. He told The Tennessean that he originally thought he was heading to Nashville, TN just to work out for the team. “That’s why you have to stay ready and working out,” he said. “I’ve got a chance now and I am ready.”

2 » Speaking with the Associated Press on Thursday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow found humor in the alleged $5,000 bounty placed on his head by a Miami Hurricanes booster. “I didn’t know about that,” Tebow said. “It’s funny, though.” Tebow, who said he had “good memories” from his one game against Miami, is confident that no one went after him during the game. “That’s never what you want in sports. You’re playing to win,” he said. “You go hard. I mean, it’s a violent game, people get hit, people get hurt. But to go out there and purposely try to hurt someone? I don’t believe in that at all. That’s not why we play the game. So, that’s unfortunate if some people would go [such extremes]. But I don’t think all the Miami Hurricanes went out there trying to hurt me or anything because I had quite a few friends, as well. So, I think there were a lot of good players on that team, good kids on that team.”

3 » Just like the volleyball team, Florida soccer received plenty of praise from Southeastern Conference coaches this week. Surveyed in preseason poll, 11 of the 12 league coaches chose the Gators to win the 2011 SEC title. Additionally, two Florida soccer players – senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis and redshirt junior defender Kathryn Williamson – were named to the watch list for the 2011 Hermann Trophy, the highest individual award in NCAA soccer.

4 »

Over the last few weeks, OGGOA has conducted a number of interviews and posted them throughout the site. Due to the large amount of content posted each day, we wanted to make sure you did not miss any of them. Below are all of the the interviews that have been conducted since early July. A list of all of our exclusive interviews is available as a widget on the right sidebar of every page.

- Defensive lineman Kevin CarterPart I | Part II
The three-time SEC champion, first-team All-SEC member, first-team All-American selection, No. 6 overall draft pick, two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and UF Athletic Hall of Fame member spoke to us about his time with the Gators, extensive NFL career, charity work and new job as a television analyst while also providing some unique insight on head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

- Center/forward Al Horford8/17/11
The two-time national champion and two-time NBA All-Star, who was also a member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team caught up with OGGOA for the second time to discuss his new contract, relationship with the Oh Fours, thoughts on the NBA lockout and decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team.

- Punter Chas Henry8/12/11
Just days after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, Henry spoke with us about NFL lockout ending, his fantastic opportunity in Philadelphia, winning the Ray Guy Award and, of course, his game-winning field goal against Georgia.

- Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones7/8/11
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion and two-time Euroleague champion who is also a two-time WNBA All-Star, was a No. 4 overall draft pick and was up for inclusion on her league’s Top 15 Players of All-Time list, Milton-Jones talked with OGGOA student correspondent Nicole Boyett about her time at Florida, extensive career, desire to come back and help the lady Gators and more.

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Two former Gators selected in 2011 UFL Draft

The 2011 NFL Draft came and went last weekend with four former Florida Gators selected during the three-day event.

Center Mike Pouncey was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the first round, tackle Marcus Gilbert was picked in the second round and is headed to join Pouncey’s brother with the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Ahmad Black had to wait until the fifth round to be selected by his childhood favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Redskins gave guard Maurice Hurt a chance in the seventh round.

The United Football League held its third draft on Monday with two former Florida players earning unique opportunities.

Cornerback Reynaldo Hill, a four-year NFL veteran (Tennessee Titans, 2005-08), was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the first round by the Omaha Nighthawks. Hill was a seventh round pick by Tennessee in 2005 but has been out of the league for years.

Defensive tackle Ian Scott, a seven-year veteran and fourth round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2003 NFL Draft, was chosen No. 30 overall in the sixth round by the Virginia Destroyers and head coach Marty Schottenheimer. After playing for Chicago (2003-06), Scott had a short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles (2007) before finishing his career with the San Diego Chargers (2008-09).

The duo join former Gators guard Tavares Washington in the UFL; Washington has played the last two seasons for the Las Vegas Locomotives.

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TWO BITS: swimmers arrested, Heimerdinger fired

1 » A pair of Florida Gators women’s swimmers, juniors Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria, have been indefinitely suspended from the team after being arrested for shoplifting at Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall in Orlando, FL on Saturday. “We are extremely disappointed in the actions of two of our student-athletes this past weekend,” head coach Gregg Troy said in a statement. “Both individuals have been suspended indefinitely and will miss the 2011 SEC Swimming Championships and beyond. University of Florida student-athletes are held to a high standard of character. This was unquestionably a massive error in judgment, and our program simply cannot and will not tolerate this type of behavior.”

2 » With the Tennessee Titans hiring a new head coach, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger knew there was a chance he would not be allowed to keep his job. Heimerdinger, who is in the process of getting chemotherapy treatments for a rare form of cancer detected this year, was informed Tuesday that he had officially been fired. “It’s never easy to be fired,” said Heimerdinger, formerly a wide receivers coach with the Gators. “I appreciate my time here, but it’s never easy to be fired.” Heimerdinger delayed cancer treatments during the season in order to continue coaching the Titans but his offense was not as prolific in 2010 as it had been in years past.

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FOUR BITS: Heimerdinger, Brantley, Driskel, FSU

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receivers coach and current Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer recently, leaving the team facility on Wednesday to undergo his first round of chemotherapy. Only 58 years old, Heimerdinger has already had an exemplary NFL career and will attempt to continue doing his job during treatment. He has decided to call plays from the sidelines for Tennessee’s game on Sunday and wishes to do so the remainder of the season as long as his health allows him to. Heimerdinger, a college roommate of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, was first a Florida graduate assistant in 1980. He returned to the school to coach wide receivers from 1983-87, spending his first year under Shanahan (the offensive coordinator at the time) and his tenure under head coaches Charley Pell and Galen Hall. OGGOA sends our thoughts and prayers out to the Heimerdinger family; we hope he has a speedy and full recovery.

2 » Gators fans come in all ages, sexes, shapes and sizes, but it was a 10-month-old having recently undergone surgery for a heart murmur that received a special visit from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley. Named after the signal caller, Brantley Bowen had a seven-hour surgery to correct his heart problem just days after Florida lost to South Carolina. He is now resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery. With both parents huge Gators fans, Brantley spent an hour-and-a-half with the family and even brought a long a gift basket including toys and autographs that his father has prepared for the occasion. “It makes me more proud that I did name my son after him,” Brantley Bowden’s mother Maegan McGalliard told the Orlando Sentinel. “It kind of makes me proud to be a Gator.”

3 » Five/four-star Florida quarterback commit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) has almost arrived in Gainesville, FL. In just over a month, Driskel will enroll early at the University of Florida and begin his mission to become the Gators’ signal caller of the future. While some have been so impressed with Driskel’s high school performances that they already want him to supplant Brantley or any other quarterback on the team, the high school senior is taking the hype in stride and just trying to do the best he can with the opportunities he’s provided. Nevertheless, his high school head coach Nate Gierke told The Gainesville Sun that Driskel is truly something special. “He’s an unbelievable football player. He’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen,” Gierke said. “What he’s done for our team this year, it’s just remarkable. He’s got that innate talent to make things happen. He’s done that for four years for me.”

4 » When talking about Saturday’s game against the Florida State Seminoles, considering which team “needs the win more” is basically irrelevant with any regard to predicting a winner. With that being said, The Florida Times-Union covered both sides of the argument, addressing why both schools could really use a victory this weekend. A win for Florida, according to Michael DiRocco, would extend their streak over FSU to seven games, help the team get a better bowl game, quiet critics and assist in recruiting. Garry Smits, on the other hand, believes a victory for Florida State will end their difficult losing streak, earn them a state championship, get head coach Jimbo Fisher off on the right foot and send-off a senior class – that has been through a lot – the right way.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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Joe Haden has suitors lining up behind Browns

In all likelihood, the Cleveland Browns will have the first crack at selecting former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden in the 2010 NFL Draft. Positioned with the No. 7 overall pick, the Browns have been high on Haden for quite some time. The organization attended his Pro Day at Florida, met him afterward for a private workout and even flew up to Maryland to meet with him again in his home.

Haden, who is in Cleveland today visiting with the Browns according to the National Football Post, will likely have a few more trips to take before all is said and done on April 22.

Among his suitors are the Oakland Raiders (No. 8 overall), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 10 overall), San Francisco 49ers (No. 13 overall) and Tennessee Titans (No. 16 overall). “Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has talked at length with Haden and 49ers personnel had a meeting with Haden following the Gators’ Pro Day workout,” Aaron Wilson wrote.

Since running a lackluster 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, some league scouts and draft analysts have questioned whether or not Haden will be selected as high as initially projected. However, Haden proved that his slow times were a fluke at Pro Day, sending his stock back up.

Haden will be in attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY for the NFL Draft.

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FOUR BITS: Moody ready; Tebow respected; NFL

1 » Sure, he’s hard more yards. He has certainly received more carries. Yet Saturday night in Death Valley, Florida Gators junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody had his coming out party. Maybe it was the scene or maybe it was the importance of the game. In reality, it was the dominating nature at which Moody carved up the LSU Tigers defense to the tune of seven yards per carry (he’s averaging 9.6 YPC). Being unselfish, responsible and perseverant has gotten Moody to this point, and he does not plan on letting go. “It feels good just to be contributing this year,” Moody said. ” This year I feel more confident in what I’m doing, and it just feels great to be playing good ball right now.”

2 » Leadership, strength, character, talent, ability and faith are all qualities attributed to Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow. One trait that may be overlooked in regard to Tebow is his teamwork. A highly publicized and highly regarded former Heisman Trophy winner, Tebow has received plenty of criticism and doubt about his future in the NFL. Instead of using his senior season to boost his stats, show off for scouts and improve his draft stock, Tebow’s only goal is to give the Gators an undefeated season that culminates in a National Championship. “I don’t think an NFL coach or a scout is going to say, ‘Ah, you know, he did a bad job because he didn’t throw,’” Tebow said about Florida’s run-first offense this year. “No, he did what he was asked. They’ll probably look at that and say, ‘He did what he was asked to the best of his ability, and he did it OK.’”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Moody ready; Tebow respected; NFL

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