While team falters, Florida making commitment to O’Connell Center, basketball facilities

Florida Gators basketball (12-11, 5-5 SEC) is on pace for its worst season under head coach Billy Donovan since his first two with the program. It should be no surprise, however, that with Donovan’s track record of immense success and the basketball program’s still-growing national prestige, the Gators continue to invest in the future.

Announced in June with renovations expected to begin in March 2015, the 35-year-old Stephen C. O’Connell Center is set to undergo a massive renovation that will include a “prominent main entrance,” club seating, permanent chair backs, a “center-hung, high-definition video board” with a sound system, concourses and concession stands, offices and locker rooms, and advanced “mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.”

Initially projected to cost $45 million, $10 million of which would be contributed by the University of Florida, the updated price tag is $60 million, athletic director Jeremy Foley said on Monday. UF and the University Athletic Association have contributed with the rest of the $60 million committed via donations.

Continue Reading » While team falters, Florida making commitment to O’Connell Center, basketball facilities

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SIX BITS: Zunino, Horschel, Wambach, Elam

1 » Former Florida Gators catcher Mike Zunino earned his first career MLB start on Wednesday for the Seattle Mariners, opening the game behind the plate and batting sixth. Zunino went 1/4 with a strikeout in the game, registering his first big-league hit during his second at-bat. Had Nick Franklin not held up at third base, Zunino also would have registered his first career RBI.

2 » Billy Horschel is the only former Gators golfer competing in the 2013 U.S. Open this weekend and plans to make a statement with his attire. Should Horschel make it to Sunday, which is likely considering he is fourth in the FedEx Cup standings at this time, he will don a dark pair of pants featuring octopi. Really. See here.

3 » Though no further information was provided, U.S. Women’s National Team star striker Abby Wambach on Wednesday tweeted out this picture of her hanging out with New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. “Hey @BrandonSpikes55 nice chillin’ with you. Gators nation forever. No doubt! #newpatsfan,” she wrote on Twitter.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Zunino, Horschel, Wambach, Elam

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Gators open two football practices to public

Florida Gators football fans anxious for the 2013 season will be able to get a sneak peak at the program this spring as the team has officially decided to open a pair of non-contact spring practices to the public for the second-straight year.

The University Athletic Association announced Friday that spring practices held at Sanders Football Practice Fields on Friday, March 15 (4:35-6:35 p.m.) and Saturday, March 16 (1:05-3:00 p.m.) will be open to all comers.

The Gators officially begin spring practice on March 13, one day after Florida holds its annual Pro Day for former players preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft on March 12 at 10:30 a.m. Pro Day is also open to the public and held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Fans can enter through Gates 2, 6, 15 and 18 and pick their own seats in the stands.

The 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game is scheduled for Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. A television partner has not yet been announced for the final spring practice.

Students, Gator Boosters, Alumni Association members and F Club members all receive free admission to the spring game. A limited supply of free tickets is also available at Florida Farm Bureau agents’ offices. Tickets are currently available for $5 in the Gator ticket office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or can be ordered online at GatorZone.com/tickets.

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Florida Gators athletics wins 200th SEC title

Florida Gators men’s golf captured the University of Florida’s 200th Southeastern Conference title on Sunday, setting a milestone for the school and athletic program.

Below is a portion of the official release sent out by UF’s University Athletic Association:

The Gator athletic program reached a milestone on Sunday afternoon which has been in the works since 1933. That was the year the first Southeastern Conference titles were awarded by the league which was established in December of 1932. Florida, one the 13 founding members of the SEC, waited until 1937 for the men’s swimming & diving program to claim the Gators’ first league title. When the men’s golf team title claimed the SEC title, Florida’s number of SEC team titles now stands at a league-leading 200.

“The 200th SEC title is a testament to the dedication and drive shown by Gator student-athletes and coaches over these many seasons. Every title is celebrated because winning a championship in any of the league’s sports is a truly an accomplishment because of the strength of the SEC,” UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said.

Sport# of SEC TitlesYears Titles Won
M. S&D331937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957,
1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966,
1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984,
1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
W. Tennis251980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001,
2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Volleyball191991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
W. S&D171981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009
M. Golf151955, 1956, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1991,
1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2011
Baseball111952, 1956, 1962, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988,
1996, 1998, 2005, 2010
Soccer111996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
M. Tennis91950, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2005
Football81991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008
W. Golf81981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2008
Gymnastics71982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2007, 2010
M. Indoor T&F61975, 1976, 1987, 1988, 2004, 2011
W. Indoor T&F61990, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2010
M. Basketball51989, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2011
W. Cross Country51984, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010
W. Outdoor T&F51992, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2009
M. Outdoor T&F41953, 1956, 1987, 2010
M. Cross Country31955, 1986, 1987
Softball31998, 2008, 2009

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LB Neiron Ball released from hospital Saturday

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was released from Shands Hospital Saturday night after undergoing treatment since Monday when a blood vessel ruptured in his brain, a family member told the Orlando Sentinel.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, has been ruled out of spring practice. The severity of his condition and the amount of recovery time doctors deem necessary for him to be 100 percent healthy will determine if and when Ball can return to the field. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Admitted to the hospital late Monday, Ball was being treated in the Intensive Care Unit until Thurdsay. He will return to his hometown of Jackson, GA until Feb. 28, when he is scheduled to come back to Gainesville, FL for a follow-up appointment, his brother-in-law Daryl Myricks told the Sentinel.

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association, which disclosed on Monday that Ball was in the hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, has yet to release any additional information.

OGGOA once again sends our best wishes to Ball and his family.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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LB Neiron Ball improving but still hospitalized

Updated Feb. 18 at 12:15 a.m.

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball continues to receive treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at Shands Hospital after a blood vessel ruptured in his brain on Monday but will be moved out of ICU and into a standard hospital room on Friday, his high school coach told The Gainesville Sun.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, has been ruled out of spring practice. The severity of his condition and the amount of recovery time doctors deem necessary for him to be 100 percent healthy will determine if and when Ball can return to the field. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association, which disclosed on Monday that Ball was in the hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, has yet to release any additional information. However, the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser has been updating his condition all week and the Sun’s Robbie Andreu filed an additional report Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, the Post reported that doctors were able to stop the bleeding and have prevented his brain from swelling. Though it is currently unknown what – if any – aftereffects there may be from the health scare, Ball’s family and friends have noted that his condition has improved.

“He’s out of life-threatening mode,” Mike Parris, Ball’s former head coach at Jackson High School, told the Post. “There isn’t any imminent danger. They’re just trying to let it heal.” Parris also spoke with the Sun. “He’s doing OK. He’s having headaches. He’s scared more than anything,” Parris said. “Other than that, he’s doing pretty good. I think he’s going to be fine. The doctors told his family he is out of a life-threatening situation.”

Natalie Myricks, Ball’s older sister, is hopeful that he everything will be OK. “He’s doing fine; he’s doing better,” she said, according to the Post. “The people at Florida and Shands have been 100 percent helpful and great to us.” Myricks sent an e-mail to the Sun further praising the assistance from Shands and UF. “We appreciate the care that the doctors at Shands Hospital are providing. The support of the coaching staff at the University of Florida has been phenomenal,” she said.

“Thank you for your prayers and concern.”

A continuous stream of friends, teammates and coaches have been visiting Shands to check on Ball, OGGOA has learned from a pair of readers who work in the hospital but wish to remain nameless. It will likely be quite a while before anything definitive is known about Ball’s health one way or another. We continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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LB Neiron Ball in hospital with vascular condition

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball is currently in Shands Hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, the University of Florida’s University Athletic Association disclosed on Monday.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, was a four-star recruit coming out of high school.

The Cleveland Clinic defines vascular conditions as any that affect the circulatory system. “This ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation,” the clinic notes. Due to it being congenital in nature, the condition has existed since birth though it may not have developed until recently.

The Palm Beach Post reported on Wednesday that, according to Ball’s older sister Natalie Myricks, his hospitalization occurred after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured. Though doctors have stabilized him, he is currently in the Intensive Care Unit being monitored. His family is hopeful Ball will make a full recovery with Myricks saying in an e-mail to the Post that “he should be in the clear in three days.”

OGGOA will update you when more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Florida Gators 2011 National Signing Day notes

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEE BIOS

Mike Blakely • Running back
5-9 • 205
Bradenton • Manatee H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect rated the No. 6 running back in the nation and the No. 10 overall prospect in the state of Florida and No. 40 in the country according to Rivals.com… Also rated No. 74 in the ESPNU 150 class… Finished his junior season with 1,400 yards rushing and 227 yards on kick and punt returns with a total of 23 touchdowns… Added another 1,000-yard season as a senior, with 19 touchdowns on the ground… Was a first-team all-state running back in 2009… Participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2011… Chose Florida over Auburn, Clemson, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and USC… Coached by Joe Kinnan.

Clay Burton • Defensive Line
6-4 • 245
Venice • Venice H.S.
Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A three-star prospect rated the No. 35 linebacker according to Rivals.com… Ranked the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country by Rivals.com… Finished his junior season with 80 tackles and 13 sacks… Participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl… Chose Florida over LSU, Mississippi, Tennessee, Notre Dame and West Virginia among others… Coached by John Peacock.

Kyle Christy • Punter
6-1 • 185
Brownsburg, Ind. • Brownsburg H.S.
Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A three-star prospect rated the No. 2 punter nationally according to Scout.com… Completed 31 of 37 extra points and five of eight field goals with a long of 45 yards his junior year… Participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in 2010… Named AP Indiana 5A All-State Honorable Mention… Chose Florida over LSU… Coached by Brett Comer.

Jeff Driskel • Quarterback
6-4 • 238
Oviedo • Hagerty H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year… Gatorade Florida Player of the Year… Rated the No. 1 quarterback nationally according to Scout.com and Rivals.com… Threw for a career 4,844 passing yards and 36 touchdowns and helped lead the Huskies to their first winning season in their fourth year as a varsity program… Had 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns passing, 1,333 rushing yards with 20 touchdowns and caught two touchdown passes his senior year… Threw for 1,427 yards with 11 touchdowns and ran for 170 yards with five touchdowns his junior year… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game in 2011… Chose Florida over Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Mississippi and Clemson, among others… Coached by Nate Gierke.

A.C. Leonard • Tight End
6-3 ● 245
Jacksonville ● University Christian H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect and No. 5 tight end nationally according to Rivals.com… Member of the ESPNU 150 class and Rivals100 class… Averaged 20 yards-per-catch as a tight end… On defense, he recorded 21 sacks and 60 tackles with 10 for a loss… Also had two blocked punts, one blocked extra point, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game… Chose Florida over Alabama, Miami, Nebraska, UCF and FIU… Coached by Heath Nivens.

Javares McRoy • Wide Receiver
5-8 ● 170
Lakeland ● Lakeland H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A four-star prospect according to Scout.com… First-team All-State wide receiver for 5A classification in his junior year… Averaged 20 yards-per-catch… Listed as the No. 28 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com… In his sophomore year, he posted a 10.65 100-meter time at the FHSAA 4A Regional Track meet… Chose Florida over Auburn, California, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas Tech… Coached by Bill Castle.

De’Ante “Pop” Saunders • Defensive Back
5-8 ● 173
DeLand ● DeLand H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2011… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Rated a three-star prospect according to Scout.com and Rivals.com… In 2010, the 6A Florida Athletic Coaches Association Player of the Year for Seminole and Volusia counties… In his junior year, ran for 1,634 yards and 23 touchdowns… As a kick returner, had 580 yards and three touchdowns and led the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball to 6A state title game in his junior year… First-team All-State defensive back for 6A classification and named All-Central Florida Defensive Player of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel in 2009… Participated in the Under Armour High School All-American Game in 2011… Chose Florida over South Carolina, Mississippi, Clemson, Cincinnati, USF and FIU… Coached by Kevin Pettis.

SIGNEE BIOS (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2011 National Signing Day notes

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