TWO BITS: Johnson coaching, Lewis’s journey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive back Todd Johnson was hired Wednesday as the new head football coach of Riverview High School in Sarasota, FL. In the works for a year, Johnson’s hiring came after 30-year coaching veteran John Sprague announced his retirement in March. Johnson, who played seven years in the NFL for Chicago and St. Louis, was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference player who helped Florida win the 2000 SEC Championship. He attended and played for Riverview as a youngster and hopes to continue taking the football program to new heights.

2 » It took Gators tight ends coach Derek Lewis a long time to get from his hometown of New Orleans, LA to Gainesville, FL. He played college football for Texas, spent two seasons in the NFL, went back home to drive a city bus, returned to his alma mater as an intern, took a coaching job with Minnesota and eventually caught head coach Will Muschamp’s eye. University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter caught up with Lewis for a feature on the coach’s journey.

Q: What makes an ideal tight end in your view?
A: A guy who is willing to give up tags. I get overly concerned with guys who only want to be a pass-catching tight end or only want to be a run-blocking tight end. We gave you a title from the beginning: tight end. It’s encompassing. You’ve got to combine the beauty and grace of a wideout with the meanness and nastiness and toughness of an offensive lineman. You try to become Beauty and the Beast. So the first thing I would say is the mentality. You have to be willing to put everything out there. You’ve got to be willing to do all those things at a high level and not box yourself in.

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Major upgrade for Bears as Wright is only Gators’ player taken in third round of 2010 NFL Draft

Round 3 – No. 75
Major Wright, S
Chicago Bears


Height: 5’11” – Weight: 206 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Junior

The Chicago Bears waited patiently for almost two full days before making their first selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, using the No. 75 overall pick in the third round to select former Florida Gators safety Major Wright.

He was the first Florida player at his position to be drafted since Reggie Nelson (No. 21, Jacksonville Jaguars – 2007) and goes to a team which hopes he can step in and play right away.

“You hate to talk about rookies being one of the starters right away,” Chicago head coach Lovie Smith said when discussing Wright, “but […] he’s our first pick. We’re expecting big things from him.”

Wright was explosive for the Gators in 2008 but experienced reduced playing time in 2009 when the team decided to utilize three safeties. His decision to declare for the draft was seen as a mistake by many in Gator Nation, but his stock rose with each passing event as he was impressive at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and Florida’s Pro Day.

He is the first Gators player to be selected by the Bears since the team took three former University of Florida student-athletes in 2003: quarterback Rex Grossman (first round), defensive tackle Ian Scott and safety Todd Johnson (both fourth round).

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OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

The 2000s were quite a decade for University of Florida athletics. Florida Gators football and basketball were especially exceptional, combining for four National Championships (five appearances) and five Southeastern Conference Championships (six appearances) while earning five BCS bowl game and eight NCAA Tournament berths, respectively, over the last ten years. To end this decade of champions, OGGOA has compiled our own Gators All-Decade Team for each sport.

Continue Reading » OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

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