FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

1 » Asked in a question and answer session about a “sleeper pro prospect coming out of Florida,” ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter was quick to name former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Anyone who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and fast usually has a chance to do some good things at the NFL level,” Schefter said. “Some scouts timed him in the high 4.4s. So he has a size/speed combo that makes him an attractive prospect. Throw in his ability to play special teams and it would seem like Cooper would benefit some team next season.”

2 » As the Butler Bulldogs prepare for a 2010 NCAA Final Four game against the Michigan State Spartans, their fans are pumped and already swarming local bookstores (both online and in person) to purchase the official tournament t-shirt. “We are going through just thousands of shirts at this point, of the Final Four style,” Follett regional manager Richard Goodpaster said. In fact, Butler fans are buying shirts at such a rapid pace that they are expected to blow past the record number of shirts purchased by Gators fans during the team’s run in 2006.

Two more BITS on a top recruit favoring UF and Charlie Strong…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, prayer, Dungy, UAA donations

1 » senior analyst Pat Kirwan takes a look at which NFL teams have former Florida Gators quarterback Tebow in their sights and where he may be able to find an ideal situation. Simultaneously, senior columnist Vic Carucci calls the Buffalo Bills a great landing spot for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

2 » Pro Football Talk reported that Tebow received from verbal harassment for asking his colleagues to pray before the Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. Tebow called the story’s author shortly after its posting to dispute the entire account. Now former Brigham Young Cougars QB Max Hall, who was in the session with Tebow, corroborates his denial. “Yeah, I heard about that report,” Hall told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It didn’t happen. I sat right next to Tim the whole time, and he didn’t say anything at all about praying. It’s totally not true. Not at all.”

NFL analyst Tony Dungy speaks on Tebow and the University Athletic Association makes a huge donation to the University of Florida…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, prayer, Dungy, UAA donations

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TWO BITS: Bills sign Jackson, Mesler to speak

1 » The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday that the team has signed former Florida Gators wide receiver Chad Jackson. A free agent after being cut by the Denver Broncos on Sept. 7, 2009, Jackson’s NFL career has been marred with injuries.

“The Bills had been looking at me for a while and I had the opportunity to come up and get a workout in and they obviously liked what they saw,” Jackson said. “I’ve heard a lot about coach Gailey and the things he can do on the offensive side of the ball. I’m looking forward to working with him. He’s the type of guy that if you can make plays he’s going to get you the ball. I’ve got a good opportunity ahead of me signing with this organization, but I have to prove myself to the coaches and coach Gailey. Once I do that I think everything will work out real well. I’ve got a lot of speed to me and a lot of size to me and I can make plays in the open field. I can make a lot of things happen.”

After forgoing his final year of eligibility with Florida and entering the 2006 NFL Draft, Jackson was though to be a potential first round pick. However, he fell to the second round, causing the New England Patriots to trade up 16 slots (from No. 52 to No. 36) in order to select him. He missed the 2006 preseason with a hamstring injury, hurt his groin during the season and finished his rookie year with 13 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots placed him on the physically unable to perform list before the 2007 season, only activating him for four games. He was cut in 2008 and signed with the Broncos on Oct. 27, 2008, once again only playing in four games.

2 » Former Gators decathlete and U.S. Olympic gold medalist bobsledder Steve Mesler has accepted an invitation to speak on campus at the University of Florida on Thurs., April 1 at 10 a.m. Mesler will speak at the College of Health and Human Performance about his experiences at the Olympics. Admission is free, and Mesler will stay afterward for photographs with fans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Florida Gators set to hold second Pro Scout Day

The Florida Gators will host their second Pro Scout Day for football players who have decided to enter the 2010 NFL Draft on Wed., April 7 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Though more than 15 players – including quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes, cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Aaron Hernandez – participated in the first Pro Day on March 17, only a handful will be present to work out for NFL team representatives this time.

Among those who will make themselves available for evaluation, according to CBS Sports, are defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis, kick returner Brandon James and linebacker Ryan Stamper.

Cunningham was unable to participate the first time around due to an injured shoulder, but teams are interested in taking a look at him in order to determine whether he would fit best as a 4-3 DE or perhaps even an outside linebacker in the 3-4.

The Swamp will once again be open and fans can enter through Gate 2. However, unless the University of Florida states otherwise, do not expect concession stands (or perhaps even restrooms) to be open or any other special things to be done on-site.

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Ray Shipman transfers from Florida basketball

Early Wednesday, The Gainesville Sun heard from Ray Shipman, Sr., father of Florida Gators sophomore guard Ray Shipman, who verified the widely held belief that his son would be transferring to another school next season.

“He’s definitely outta there. I talked to him (Tuesday) morning and I just think there were some issues with playing time,” Shipman, Sr. said. “We feel like he can play somewhere at the major Division I level.”

Hours later, the University of Florida confirmed confirmed that Shipman will transfer.

“I have truly enjoyed coaching Ray the last two seasons,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s an outstanding person and a great student. I want to wish Ray the best of luck as he pursues the things that are important to him as a player and as a student.”

Shipman met with Donovan Wednesday in Gainesville, FL.

“I appreciate the opportunity that the University of Florida gave me,” Shipman said. “I want to thank Coach Donovan, the staff, and my teammates for the last two years and I wish the University of Florida the best in the future moving forward. I’m looking forward to making a decision to go somewhere with an opportunity for a bigger role.”

The Sun points out that, in addition to his struggles defensively, Shipman was a poor perimeter shooter and had a tendency to turn the ball over – factors that led to his lack of playing time even though the Gators had depth issues in the backcourt. He averaged 12.4 minutes per game this season while only contributing 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds.

In the last two years, Florida has seen five players (including Shipman) transfer: Jai Lucas (Texas), Jonathan Mitchell (Rutgers), Allan Chaney (Virginia Tech) and Eloy Vargas* (Miami Dade College). In all, the team has lost 14 scholarship players since winning the 2007 NCAA Championship.

*Vargas transferred due to academic issues.

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Gators women’s swimming & diving team takes 2010 NCAA Championship, first since 1982

Pulling out a 2.5-point victory over second-place Stanford, the Florida Gators women’s swimming and diving team captured the 2010 NCAA Championship at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, IN, on Saturday. The team’s first national title since winning the inaugural NCAA Championships in 1982, Florida also brought home individual event national titles in the 200-yard free relay and 100-yard backstroke.

2010 National Titles
(1) 200-yard free relay (Stafford, Spofforth, Napier, Bateman): 1:27.79
(2) 100-yard backstroke: Gemma Spofforth, 50.92

Head coach Greg Troy, who was named the 2010 NCAA Women’s Coach of the Year, was ecstatic about the hard-fought, come-from-behind victory. “This was really a team effort and there was no room for error,” he said.

In all, 12 Gators were named All-Americans and five school records were set in the competition. Additionally, Florida’s title is the second National Championship the school has won in as many weeks, with the men’s track and field team bringing home the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship last weekend.

The University of Florida has now won 24 National Championships.

ESPN2 will air a truncated version of the 2010 Women’s NCAA Championships at 1:30 p.m. on Tues., April 6. Expect to see plenty of the Gators during the 90-minute show.

For more information on the Gators’ title win, visit GatorZone.

Photo Credit: Walt Middleton

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FOUR BITS: Townsend, Munroe, Iditarod, honors

1 » 2011 linebacker recruit Lateek Townsend recently told his hometown newspaper, The State, that he is strongly considering leaving home and playing for the Florida Gators after his senior season of high school. “I’m thinking Florida highly,” he said. “That’s a winning program, so things must be done right. I’m going down there soon for an unofficial visit. I’ve not seen the campus yet. I put them up there with Clemson [his leader] and South Carolina.”

2 » Mark Wheeler of Rivals is reporting that Gators redshirt senior safety Dorian Munroe was denied a sixth year of eligibility and a medical redshirt by the NCAA last week. Munroe, who has suffered with injuries throughout his college career, was hoping to get a redshirt exception after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time. Munroe has appeared in 28 games in his Florida career, collecting 43 total tackles while playing a role on defense and special teams. He had a career-high six tackles in the SEC Championship against the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2006. He will appeal the ruling.

3 » University of Florida alumnus Tom Thurston is competing in the Iditarod this year, and The Gainesville Sun put together a nice profile piece on the former student. Thurston hopes for a top-30 finish in the annual event.

4 » Gators senior outfielder Francesca Enea was the recipient of SEC Player of the Week honors Monday. Smacking four home runs (three grand slams) this week, Enea is now second all-time in the SEC record book with 51 homers. Also honored this week is Florida freshman lacrosse player Ashley Bruns, who brought home the American Lacrosse Conference‘s Rookie of the Week for scoring five goals in one half of competition. It is the second-straight week a Gators lacrosse player has won the honor. Last but not least, the 2009 SEC Champion UF women’s cross country team was named the USTFCAAA All-Academic Team of the year with a combined 3.56 GPA.

Bubble Watch » The unranked Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-5, 11-3 WCC) defeated the No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-6, 12-2 WCC) 81-62 Monday to earn the WCC Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Two teams are now guaranteed to represent the WCC instead of one (Gonzaga), taking away an at-large bid.

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Gators avoid trouble as Bulls K Kloss arrested

Three-star kicker Marvin Kloss (Naples, FL), denied admission to the University of Florida a month ago when trying to earn a spot as a walk-on for the Florida Gators, ended up accepting a preferred walk-on offer from the South Florida Bulls on Feb. 18. Little did Florida know that it avoided another problem football player – Kloss was arrested Friday on a felony charge of grand theft, according to the Naples Daily News.

Naples police say Kloss, 18, and a friend stole almost $8,200 worth of property during a house party. Considering the Bulls have a surplus of kickers on the roster, it is expected that head coach Skip Holtz will likely remove Kloss from consideration for a spot on the team.

Photo Credit: David Albers/Naples Daily News

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