8/19: Muschamp updates injuries and defensive depth chart, discusses freshmen playmakers

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media before the team’s 20th fall practice (the third open to the media) ahead of the 2013 season.

INJURIES UPDATES POSITIVE…FOR ONCE

Sophomore running back Matt Jones remains out of action while recovering from a serious viral infection but is looking healthier than he has in quite some time and could be on his way to returning to practice if some Monday tests come back with the results that please team doctors. “Matt Jones is getting some blood work done this afternoon,” Muschamp explained. “He’s got his weight back up. He’s at about 223 [pounds]. When this happened, he was 226. So I’ll know a little bit more as we move through he week, but he’s been jogging and moving around a little bit more, which is good.”

While it is unknown when Jones will be cleared, Muschamp said the Gators have been operating with the assumption that he will miss Florida’s season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31. The good news is that Jones has a positive attitude and seems to be progressing exactly the way trainers have hoped. “I get a daily update,” he said. “He feels good. He’s doing more and more every day from a workout standpoint. That’s all I know. We’re playing it by ear.”

Beginning Thursday, the focus for the Gators turns to game week. Florida will begin additional preparation for Toledo, and Muschamp said Monday that he expects to have most of his nicked-up players back for the contest.

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee), junior fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring) and freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder) should all be ready to practice next week. Additionally, senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins (foot) returned to practice on Sunday, and senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley (shoulder) is practicing after getting dinged during practice last week.

Muschamp also expects to have redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (pectoral) back but said he is still awaiting approval from doctors, which he could get on Friday. “Right now, everything has gone extremely well [with his recovery],” he said. “They feel like the cavity has filled in where the pec was torn. They feel good about it, but I won’t know more until Friday.”

Sophomore wide receiver Raphael Andrades (turf toe) – “It’s a pretty good one.” – will miss at least 10 days.

Though UF appears to be suffering through a variety of ailments and injuries, Muschamp pointed out that the team is “probably healthier than [it was] a year ago” because most of the “setbacks have been non-football and non-contact,” including the two anterior cruciate ligament tears. “That’s been the frustrating part,” he said. “We’re healthier now than we have ever been since I’ve been at Florida, at this point in camp.”

Continue Reading » 8/19: Muschamp updates injuries and defensive depth chart, discusses freshmen playmakers

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8/14: Durkin on Morrison and McMillian, limiting Purifoy, Gators young secondary talent

For the first time this fall, new Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday to discuss some of the latest developments concerning his side of the ball and the team in general.

M&M BOYS

Sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison made a big splash for the Gators as a true freshman in 2012, starting three games in place of Jelani Jenkins and finishing the year with 34 tackles and a big sack/forced fumble in the final regular season game against Florida State. Though Morrison will miss the first two games of the 2013 campaign (as of press time) for off-the-field incidents over the summer, he returned to practice last week and is already looking like his old self.

“The guy brings great energy to practice. He’s very physical. He loves playing football. He’s very into what he does. He’s got great respect from his teammates and coaches. He’s been a pro about it since he’s been back,” Durkin said on Wednesday.

“Everyone was excited to see him back out there. He’s their guy, one of their teammates, so they were excited when he came back. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but we had a great practice the day he came back. But we’ve had several great practices, so I don’t know how much that had to do with it. But we’re all happy to see him back.”

Like Morrison a year ago, freshman LB Daniel McMillian is earning some high praise from the coaching staff for his tenacious work ethic and eye-catching athletic ability. Durkin certainly notices the similarities between the two players.

“Those guys, they really want to learn the game. They’re hungry for more. They’re not just out there practicing and then move on and don’t think about it again,” he said. “They’re both in their playbooks a lot and watching film. They don’t want to be on the field and not know what they’re supposed to do because they’re competitive. They want to be in a spot where they’re going to go succeed, so they put the time in to do it.”

He continued: “D-Mac is a guy that competes and loves football. He is in the film room all the time. He’s always trying to get better, asking questions on the field and off the field. He really wants to be great. He wants to play and contribute and he will. You mix that with the ability level he has and you have something pretty special right there. We saw that going into the recruiting process with him, and that’s what we got here.”

Continue Reading » 8/14: Durkin on Morrison and McMillian, limiting Purifoy, Gators young secondary talent

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Gators raid South Florida for trio of four-star commits, add WR Ermon Lane, CB Quincy Wilson

The Florida Gators‘ 2014 recruiting class received an enormous boost on Monday evening when a pair of four-star prospects out of South Florida – wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – joined a third local product by committing to play college football for the Gators.

Lane (6-foot-2, 172 pounds) and Wilson (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) have been planning to play together in college for quite a while and linked up to announce their collective decision during a radio broadcast on 560 WQAM.

“When Quincy’s dad took us up to Florida for the spring practice, I just felt at home when I stepped on campus, Lane said. “I was looking at the wide receivers, and I just felt like I could go in and compete and play as a true freshman.”

Added Wilson: “I felt the same way too with Loucheiz [Purifoy] and Marcus [Roberson], they’ll probably leave. I felt like I could go in there, make an impact early being that there will only be Vernon Hargreaves and three other commits – J.C. Jackson, Chris Lammons and Duke Dawson. I felt like that was going to be a good opportunity.

Listed as the No. 2 wide receiver in his recruiting class, Lane is considered the 32nd best player in the nation by Rivals and 28th overall by ESPN. Wilson is ranked No. 150 in the Rivals250 and No. 203 in the ESPN 300.

They are UF’s third- and fifth-highest ranked commitments, respectively.

The duo chose Florida over Ohio State and South Carolina, two other schools that also had scholarship offers extended to both players.

Earlier in the day, four-star CB Chris Lammons (Plantation, FL) – a friend of Wilson’s – verbally committed to the Gators live on ESPNU.

“They’ve always been my teammates,” Lammons said of the two players. “I just know we’re going to continue balling.”

Lammons, Lane and Wilson have extended Florida’s 2014 recruiting class to 16 total commitments. The trio gives the Gators five pledges that hail from South Florida, and the quintet comprises nearly one-third of the recruiting class.

RELATED: One down: CB Chris Lammons picks Florida

Four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) committed on April 6, and four-star defensive tackle Khairi Clark (Hollywood, FL) made a verbal promise on June 22.

Gators defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, a Miami native whose recruiting territory is South Florida, was the primary recruiter for all five players.

Check out Florida’s updated 2014 recruiting class by clicking here.


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Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

Long-time OnlyGators.com reader Jennifer contacted us last week and offered to share her experience after attending the Florida Gators annual Women’s Football Clinic hosted this year on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Below is her account from the exciting evening (pictures included).

This past weekend, I was able to experience the Gator Women’s Football Clinic for the second time in the last three years. The coaching staff dubbed it “Saturday Night Lights” this year probably because the event was held at night at the Champions Club inside The Swamp rather than during the day like it was when I attended two years ago.

After checking in, we were provided with dinner and then allowed to walk around and take pictures, both inside and outside. We also met with the coaching staff; everyone was there except offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Some coaches had spots set up for autographs and others were just out and about mingling with the crowd. Even after their big Friday Night Lights event, the coaches were still excited for our night and very personable.

We got a chance to speak briefly with [wide receivers coach] Joker Phillips, and he seems like a great new addition for the program.

Offensive line coach Tim Davis became my favorite after we got the chance to interact with him. He was the most engaging when talking with us and was a very funny guy. He kept referencing his “mass kicks ass” tagline.

One thing a bunch of the coaches were having a good time joking around about was the insane line to meet with [coaching intern] Chris Leak. Until [head coach] Will Muschamp came out, Chris was the most popular among the women there. True to form, Chris was incredibly humble and expressed his excitement and appreciation for this opportunity to start his coaching career. He took time to speak with each person that came up to him, and it was awesome to have to chance to be able to meet this Florida football legend.

Read the rest of Jennifer’s story including some interesting details and cool pictures from the event…after the break!
Continue Reading » Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

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6 BITS: Speights, Hernandez, Calathes, Robinson

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights declined his 2013-14 player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will test free agency, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Speights, who would have earned $4.515 million from the Cavaliers had he exercised his option, will likely join his fourth team in six NBA seasons unless he is signed by Cleveland, Memphis or Philadelphia, which selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Speights was traded on Jan. 22 to the Cavaliers where he averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

2 » The prosecution in the State of Massachusetts’ case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is now of the belief that all three men involved in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd are now in custody, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said in a statement. Ernest Wallace, 41, turned himself into Miramar, FL, police on Friday after seeing his name on the news. Investigators are now focused on finding the murder weapon as they continue to piece together a case that is based on Hernandez being the lone shooter.

RELATED: Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » 6 BITS: Speights, Hernandez, Calathes, Robinson

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Four-star DT Khairi Clark pulls trigger for Gators

Continuing to make an impact in the South Florida recruiting scene, the Florida Gators on Saturday landed one of the top 2014 defensive tackles in the country when four-star Khairi Clark (Hollywood, FL) verbally committed to the program.

According to InsidetheGators.com’s Blake Alderman, Clark’s pledge was not expected by the Gators’ coaching staff. He first announced his commitment on Twitter.

“Just committed to the University of Florida!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he wrote.

Ranked by Rivals as the No. 139 overall player in his class, Clark chose Florida over Miami but was also offered by Alabama.

Clark (6-foot-2, 325-pounds) had not visited Gainesville, FL, until he came to town for the Gators’ final spring practice but obviously left impressed.

Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson and defensive line coach Brad Lawing were both instrumental in his recruitment, according to ITG.

The Gators’ third-highest rated pledge and 11th commitment overall, Clark is joined along the defensive line by four-star DT Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and three-star defensive end Taven Bryan (Casper, WY).

He is also listed as a four-star prospect (No. 147 overall) by ESPN but is considered a five-star player by Scout.

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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Four-star RB Dalvin Cook flips to Florida Gators

The Florida Gators football program has now flipped two offensive commitments from the Clemson Tigers in the last four months after learning Saturday following its final spring practice that four-star 2014 running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) has changed his mind and decided to play college football in Gainesville, FL.

The No. 22 player in the nation originally committed the Tigers on June 13, 2012, but has long had interest in playing for the Gators. Cook visited Florida one week ago and spent two days in Gainesville. He decided to return on Saturday for the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut and made his intentions known that evening.

“It was really great up there and I had a blast,” he told Rivals last week.

Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is Cook’s main recruiter and has apparently showed him a great time on consecutive visits. Head coach Will Muscahmp has also been gung-ho on signing the playmaker.

Cook called himself “solid” to Clemson one week ago but is now fully invested at Florida. He also has offers from Alabama, Florida State and Miami, among others.

He is the ninth member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class and the team’s second-highest rated player behind four-star quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, NC). Florida now has six Rivals250 pledges as well as five total on the offensive side of the ball and six from the state of Florida.

Cook’s flip was first reported by FOX Sports‘ Amy Campbell.

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