Silver Lining for May 20: Updates on Florida Gators in the NFL; farewell to David Letterman

Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Three weeks have passed since the 2015 NFL Draft and Florida Gators have spent the time signing rich contracts to play professional football.

The most notable deal struck to this point was that between No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the defensive end suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his very first NFL practice and signing an injury waiver, the Jaguars did not force offset language into his contract and still inked him to a four-year, $23.5 million fully-guaranteed deal with a $15.3 million signing bonus. Fowler will bring home $4.27 million this season without stepping foot on the field.

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Evaluating Florida Gators ahead of 2015 NFL Draft

Despite being incredibly busy during the week of the 2015 NFL Draft, longtime analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net sat down with OnlyGators.com on Sunday afternoon for a wide-ranging look at the Florida Gators who could be selected Thursday-Saturday at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

Pauline evaluated most of the 22 Florida players available in the draft and even provided projections for each prospect including many who may not be selected from April 30-May 2 but rather picked up as undrafted free agents.

“The talent Florida is showcasing in this draft is a bit top-heavy but there are plenty of players who could make NFL rosters and succeed in the league, which really points to how bad the coaching and quarterback play was in Gainesville,” Pauline said of the overall crop of prospects. “I think the Gators have a solid class, and the fans that wanted the coach fired, this just adds fuel to their argument.”

Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.
Projection: Round 1, Picks 3-6
Analysis: “He’s a top-six player, likely to Washington, maybe to the Jets, possibly to Jacksonville. He’s a great pass rusher; he’s a terrific athlete. He’s an intense, very explosive and sudden player. I like the fact that even though he is undersized, he was never overwhelmed at the point of attack. He struggled against the run at times but when you’re a shorter, smaller defensive end, that’s going to happen. I think he’ll be fine as a 3-4 outside linebacker, maybe a one-gap end, although he’s going to have to learn to protect himself better and to defend the run at the next level. I love his intensity. He’s not just a guy who is a natural-ability guy. He got by on natural ability but also never stopped coming.”

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Former Florida Gators participate in 2015 Pro Day

Twenty-two former Florida Gators are scheduled to participate in 2015 Pro Day on Tuesday morning at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Leading the pack are a pair of potential first-round draft picks in defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries.

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Readers’ Choice: Lacking production at tight end remains an issue for Florida Gators

For five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the fifth of five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

Portions of this post originally appeared on OnlyGators.com on June 4, 2014.

For a team that relied heavily on production from its tight ends over an seven-year stretch from 2006-12, the Gators’ offensive woes in 2013, which lasted into 2014, were only made more apparent by the fact that it did not have a single player who could effectively make plays, gain chunk yardage or score touchdowns out of that position.

In fact, 2013 marked the least productive season in school history for tight ends dating back to the first year the position appeared on Florida’s roster in 1966. Gators tight ends combined for four receptions (fewest ever, six in 1986 and 2010), 42 yards (fewest ever, 45 in 1986) and no touchdowns (sixth time).

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Nine Florida Gators invited to 2015 NFL Combine

The official list of invitees was released by National Football Scouting on Friday, and nine former Florida Gators have officially been invited to participate in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 17-23, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2015 NFL Draft on April 30.

The nine former Gators student-athletes invited to the NFL Combine include:

Linebacker Neiron Ball – Group: 9 | Camp: LB03
Offensive guard Trenton Brown – Group: 1 | Camp: OL04
Punter Kyle Christy – Group: 1 | Camp: PK03
Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.* – Group: 7 | Camp: DL20
Center Max Garcia – Group: 1 | Camp: OL20
Offensive tackle Chaz Green – Group: 2 | Camp: OL25
Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries* – Group: 2 | Camp: OL31
Running back Matt Jones^ – Group: 6 | Camp: RB25
Defensive tackle Leon Orr – Group: 8 | Camp: DL36

^ Redshirt junior | * Junior

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11/29: Florida-FSU post-game report – it’s over; bowl game up next for Gators

The Florida Gators (6-5) failed to get it done on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida, falling 24-19 to the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (12-0) despite being given plenty of opportunities to win throughout the contest.

Florida’s loss also marked the last game of head coach Will Muschamp‘s tenure with the program. The Gators will now wait at least a month until they play in a yet-to-be determined bowl game, the team’s first since 2012.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We had our opportunities, certainly early in the game, especially. The start of the game, [we played] extremely well defensively. [We] had a hard time generating much run game, especially early in the game. In those situations when you get the turnovers early in the game, you got to capitalize on them. You can’t kick field goals. We had to kick field goals in those situations. [We] had a hard time getting the ball down the field in some situations. But extremely proud of how we played defensively. …

“You give up 17 points to an offense like that – give Jimbo [Fisher] and those guys credit, they do a great job – you deserve to be in a situation to win the game. I was proud of how we played on third down. The turnovers were outstanding. Offensively, we hit some explosives. We hit [Demarcus Robinson] down the sideline, we hit Brandon Powell early in the game on the stutter in the slot. Silly penalty there with Latroy [Pittman], knocked us out of field goal range. …

“Our guys, that was a good football team, fought hard, we had our opportunities, and we didn’t get it done. You credit that other football team. They did the things they needed to do to win the game and that’s why they’re sitting where they are.”

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Miscues doom Florida as No. 3 FSU prevails 24-19

Miscues, penalties and questionable coaching decisions doomed the Florida Gators, which failed to take advantage of a career-high four interceptions and career-low 125 yards thrown by No. 3 Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston and ultimately fell 24-19 on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.

Florida State (12-0) won its 28th consecutive game, going undefeated in back-to-back regular seasons for the first time in school history; the Seminoles will next play in the ACC Championship Game and then possibly the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Florida (6-5), which is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012, will play in its postseason game without head coach Will Muschamp, who was dismissed two weeks ago and coached his last game with the Gators on Saturday.

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Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

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