Gators hire Trojans OL coach Mike Summers

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced the hiring of former USC Trojans offensive line coach Mike Summers to the same position.

Summers, who will replace Tim Davis and has 33 years of experience coaching the offensive line, previously worked under current Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips at Kentucky from 2010-12.

“I’m excited to have Coach Summers join our staff,” said Muschamp in a school release. “He has 34 years of experience, has been an offensive coordinator for 15 years and has coached in the SEC. He has a diverse background and has experience in the NFL. He will be a great addition to our staff.”

Bringing a wealth of knowledge and talent to the Gators coaching staff, Summers, 56, began his career as a graduate assistant at UK (1980-81) and Texas A&M (1982-84) before moving on to become the offensive coordinator for Northern Illinois (1985-90). He then left for Oregon State, where he worked as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator from 1991-95, prior to taking over as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at University of the South (1996-99).

Summers’s one year not coaching the offensive line came as tight ends coach at Oklahoma State. He then returned to manning the offensive line at Ohio (2001-02) before joining Bobby Petrino’s staff at Louisville (2003-06) and moving on with him to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

Continue Reading » Gators hire Trojans OL coach Mike Summers

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FOUR BITS: football, Howard, Jenkins, Shaw

1 » The Florida Gators released this week a pair of question-and-answer stories with coordinators Brent Pease (offensive) and Dan Quinn (defensive) on their thoughts following the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. Pease pointed to the improvement of the offensive line as what he was most impressed with after watching film. “We established an identity in being physical up front and being able to run the ball. I think our core kids there are very good. They are quick learners and they are very good athletes,” he said. “I think we built some depth that if we get some injuries during the season, we can rotate guys and put them in positions. We should be good there because there are good players there and there’s experience.” Quinn said that junior transfer defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and junior Jaylen Watkins stood out for him though it was the first two that took the biggest step. “[Jacobs] showed in the spring that he had power and that he could convert from run into pass rush,” he said. “Antonio Morrison continued to impress me with how it wasn’t too big for him – he got it. He’s got good instincts at the linebacker position.”

2 » Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard may not be getting as much attention as some other current and former Gators heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, but he is still doing whatever he can to prove to teams that he is worth selecting relatively early in the process. NFL.com recently released a short video interview with Howard in which he talks about getting ready for the event later this month. “[Teams are] not going to invest any money in anyone who is not conducting themselves in the right manner,” he said. “You have to carry yourself in the right way all the time. I’m going look at the coaches right in the face and square and tell them that I’m going to provide energy to the team, be a team player and try to compete to earn a spot on the team.”

3 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins’s stock continues to fall as the NFL Draft approaches. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who cites sources with three different teams, Jenkins “admitted in pre-draft interviews that he continued his drug use at North Alabama.” He had previously claimed that being dismissed from the Gators was the dose of reality he needed to stop smoking. UNA claims that Jenkins was tested while with the program as part of a “Zero tolerance behavioral contract” he signed that included random drug testing. Breer reports that “a significant number of NFL executives cast a skeptical eye toward” such a statement despite many seeing him as potentially the best cornerback in the entire crop of players available. “It’s not just his personal situation with the kids and different moms. This is a multiple offender of the drug policy in college, and it’s not like there were no character concerns at North Alabama,” an AFC personnel executive told Breer. “He had multiple opportunities to get away from it. He didn’t at Florida, and he went to North Alabama and he wasn’t clean there. You just wish the situation at North Alabama was clean, that he had a rebirth, from a personal and football character standpoint. But it was more of the same.” You can read much more about Jenkins including opinions from other executives here.

4 » Former Gators DB Joshua Shaw will be eligible to play for the USC Trojans in 2012 after being granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shaw, a California native who transferred from Florida in order to be close to home (his father and grandfather are sick), will compete for the starting job at both strong safety and cornerback.

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SIX BITS: awards, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics

1 » Florida Gators track and field head coach Mike Holloway was honored with the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s National Men’s Indoor Head Coach of the Year award on Friday for the second-straight year. Holloway, who has led Florida to back-to-back NCAA Indoor Championships over the last two seasons, continues to rack up the national and regional awards. One of his assistants on the men’s team, Dick Booth was awarded National Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA as well.

2 » The state of Mississippi was no match for No. 2/3 Florida softball (30-1, 6-0 SEC) this week as the Gators took down the Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-14, 2-2 SEC) at home in a pair of contests during the week and swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-21, 0-6 SEC) in a three-game road series over the weekend. Florida outscored Ole Miss 37-6 over the course of the three games and made the most out of nearly every opportunity.

Senior first baseman Megan Bush set a new school record and now has a 19-game hitting streak after turning in a spectacular performance in which she combined to go 6-9 from the plate with 10 RBI, three runs and four walks. On the hill for the Gators all weekend was freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (16-1), who started all three contests and did not allow a single earned run all weekend. In 9.0 innings, Rogers only gave up five hits, three unearned runs and three walks while striking out nine batters. Also turning in stellar performances in the three-game set were senior second baseman Aja Paculba (4-10, 6 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB), freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (3-11, 5 RBI, 4 R, BB) and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (4-6, 4 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB).

3 » Continuing to excel in only their second year in existence, No. 8/10 Gators lacrosse (8-1) took down another ranked opponent by defeating the No. 11/14 Syracuse Orange (2-4) 16-11 on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns tied her career high (and school record) with six goals; she also notched an assist for a season-high total of seven points. Florida received plenty of scoring help from sophomore midfielders Kitty Cullen and Brittany Dashiell, each of whom contributed hat tricks. Since losing an overtime contest to North Carolina on Feb. 12 to start the regular season, UF is on an impressive eight-game winning streak.

4 » Competing for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship, No. 1 Florida gymnastics (17-2, 5-1 SEC) dropped a heart-breaker to the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide 197.225-196.975. The Gators won the bars and floor exercises, but the Crimson Tide used greater total margins in the vault and beam to improve their team total and capture the crown. After the event, Florida’s Rhonda Faehn was named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth overall and second-straight time, and Alaina Johnson was awarded with 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year.

5 » Failing to qualify for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Gators women’s basketball (19-14) accepted a bid to the 2011 Women’s National invitation Tournament and defeated the UMBC Retrievers (20-12) 59-47 in first-round action on Friday. Redshirt junior guard Jordan Jones scored a game-high 18 points for Florida, which will ply Florida Gulf Coast (28-3) in the second round on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

6 » No. 13 UF men’s tennis (11-5, 4-1 SEC) dropped a pair of head-to-heads over the weekend as they were defeated by the No. 3 USC Trojans (14-2) 4-3 on Thursday and Rebels (9-4, 3-2 SEC) 4-3 on Saturday. No. 6 senior Alexandre Lacroix lost all four of his events including both singles matches and both doubles matches as the No. 46 duo with teammate sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr.

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USC’s Baxter admits he “misspoke” about contact

In early June, administrators for the USC Trojans accused five schools – the Florida Gators, Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State – of illegally contacting running back Dillon Baxter about a transfer to their respective universities.

Less than a month later, USC athletic director Mike Garrett was forced to send letters to each school apologizing for the previous accusations and attempting to make amends for “any inconvenience or embarrassment” that was caused.

ESPN’s Shaun Assael has since uncovered a letter of admission from Baxter, who fessed up to misleading his university about what exactly happened in June.

“I misspoke when I said coaches had contacted me from other schools,” Baxter wrote in a letter to the school. “I am truly sorry for all of the chaos I have caused and it was not my intention to implicate other schools and their coaching staffs.”

Baxter began his letter by explaining that he spoke with friends at the implicated institutions, not coaches or administration officials. While he claims he did not understand the rules, many – including USC – appear to believe the whole situation was a hoax and that Baxter purposely misled them.

That is part of the reason that he has been suspended for the team’s opener against Hawaii on Sept. 2. “I’ve done a couple things, and things happen, and I made a mistake,” Baxter told reporters last week. “But I’m going to move on from here on out.”

USC head coach Lane Kiffin called Baxter’s one-game opening-season punishment “an extremely strong message and a very severe punishment for a player that may potentially be the most skilled player on our whole roster.”

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was the subject of a piece by Harvey Araton of The New York Times on Monday. Lee, who has spent his whole career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him coming out of college, has a special bond with the team and has been the face of the franchise over the last few years. Read about how he went out of his way to represent the team (even after being traded to Golden State) at a funeral for longtime NBA and Madison Square Garden security official Scott Jaffer and how he will always be remembered in New York for being such an upstanding person.

» Interviewed by the NFL Network about his throwing mechanics, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went through the motions with some of the studio analysts on Monday. Because of the subject matter, Rivers was asked about Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow’s motion, and the veteran offered advice and insight into what Tebow may and may not need to do going forward.

» Florida should be excited about 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) – he could be the best player the team has signed since guard Nick Calathes. Then again, with one of the top players in the country considering his future in a different sport, there is a slight cause for concern. With his father and two brothers all having played collegiate football, Beal tells USA Today that he is “still trying to decide” which sport to play. “My brothers, especially my younger brothers, want me to play football so we can be on the same team,” Beal said. “But my mom always tells me, ‘You don’t have the body for football, so you have to stick to basketball.’” Don’t get it twisted – his future is on the court – not the field. Having a former Gators star like Lee (who also graduated from Chaminade High School) in his ear certainly helps. “We don’t have that much in common because we play different positions,” Beal said. “He came back to visit the school, and I talk to him during lunch period. He gave me input on the game.”

» While Beal is deciding what sport to play, four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) is just trying to figure out what school to end. According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, Waisome now considers his final five to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina; he plans to decide in August.

» Updating a previous item, four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) still considers the Gators to be the leader for his services, even after having Miami Hurricanes commitment four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) in his ear during the Nike 7-on-7 Championship last Saturday. “Florida is still in the lead,” Benjamin told SoFLAfootball.com. “I like Florida and what they showed me, how they would use me. I like Miami too and Florida State, so all the Florida teams, they’re really up there. But I like Florida.”

Three more BITES on Meyer, Smith and Werner…after the break!
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USC to Florida: Hope we didn’t embarass you…

On June 11, USC Trojans and director of compliance Matt Billings contacted Pac-10 associate commissioner for governance and enforcement Ron Barker and accused five programs – including the Florida Gators – of illegally contacting sophomore running back Dillon Baxter about transferring from Southern California after the school was hit with a variety of program-wide penalties by the NCAA.

Less than a month later, the New York Times’ Pete Thamel reports that Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett sent a letter to the Gators apologizing for the previous accusations. Specifically, Garrett tried to make amends for “any inconvenience or embarrassment” the allegations caused Florida, admitting that Baxter told him he did not speak to UF.

USC had also previously slandered Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State.

The Mobile Press-Register is also reporting that the Crimson Tide received a the same apology letter from Garrett, dated July 1. ESPN has learned that the Huskies and Ducks have also been sent letters. The generic message sent to each respective athletic director read as follows:

This comes after the school sent an e-mail to the Pac-10 last month.

“I just met with (Baxter) and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions (June 10th),” Billings originally wrote to Barker. “All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring [from] USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?”

When asked for proof the communications took place, Baxter told Billings he had lost his cell phone and was unable to provide further specifics or documentation.

Florida associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain immediately denied the accusation in early June, as did representatives from Alabama and Oregon.

UPDATE: The Orlando Sentinel spoke with the Gators’ own senior associate athletic director of compliance – Jamie McCloskey, who told the paper that coaches “knew the rules,” insinuating that “normally the process would not be through the media.”

“Our coaches understood the process and who to contact,” he added. “They were upset that someone would make that allegation and feel that they have to respond to it.”

Image of the letter courtesy of ESPN affiliate Gator Country.

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REPORT: Harvin unnamed recruit in USC report

As part of the NCAA’s report on infractions surrounding the USC Trojans that led to a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins for the program, former USC now New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was barred from communicating with the program or assisting it financially.

One of the main reasons the Trojans received such heavy sanctions, Bush has been accused of taking $300,000 in improper benefits from sports marketing agent Lloyd Lake, something that the team’s assistant football coach at the time, Todd McNair, allegedly knew but did nothing about.

In the NCAA’s report, one of the most notable contacts between the two parties occurred when Bush was set to host the nation’s top high school recruit following the Oct. 29, 2005, game between USC and Washington State.

McNair, who attempted to contact Bush throughout the night after he abandoned said recruit in his hotel room rather than taking him out, also called Lake’s phone to find out where Bush was and why he skipped out on the meeting.

Though he was not named in NCAA documents, former Florida Gators now Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been identified as that very recruit, according to two independent sources who confirmed this to SPORTSbyBROOKS.

In the past 24 hours, a L.A. media source and NCAA source have independently confirmed to me that Percy Harvin was that recruit.

Harvin that year was the top high school football prospect in the country and McNair had been assigned by coach Pete Carroll as his primary recruiter for the Trojans.

Because McNair was charged with recruiting Harvin – and found out through Harvin that Bush was not with him but rather with a sports marketing agent – his knowledge of Bush’s association with Lake is proven, and his lie to the NCAA about not having such information was exposed.

It should be noted that Harvin did nothing wrong in this scenario as presented; he was simply a recruit on a visit waiting to be taken out by the team’s top player. However, it is a very interesting wrinkle considering: (a) how his being neglected ended up aiding the NCAA investigation and (b) he did not join the Trojans and ended up committing to the Gators less than two months later.

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TWO BITS: Young, Gardner, eye black, Henderson

1 » Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) is drawing rave reviews from coaches and fellow players as he works with the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team in preparation for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-30. “He’s playing really, really well,” team assistant and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt told ESPN‘s Andy Katz earlier this week. “He’s making plays, rebounding and running the floor well. Offensively, he’s looking good. He gives tremendous effort every time – great effort –and he’ll help Florida even if he doesn’t score a ton of buckets. He’s going to help them. He’ll defend, set screens and do all those things without scoring points.”

2 » After a career including 13 NCAA Tournament berths coming as a player, graduate assistant and coach, Gators women’s basketball assistant Susie Gardner is expected to be named the head coach of the Mercer Bears at a 3 p.m. press conference Thursday. Gardner, who has spent the last three seasons with Florida, has been in the Southeastern Conference for 13 years of her 24-year coaching career including stints as head coach at Arkansas and as an assistant and player at Georgia.

3 » With the statues of former Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier going up outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium next year, fans have been asking one relatively interesting question: Will Tebow’s statue feature a signature eye black message? The Gainesville Sun attempted to get this question definitively answered but found a non-committal response instead. The statue’s artist, W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor, has already completed Tebow’s statue – which includes blank eye black. However, his business manager said that he would be happy to add a message if the University of Florida requested it. Associate athletics director Chip Howard was a bit more clear, saying he was “not sure if [a message] will show up well so you can read [it], but we continue to work on the statue […] to make [it] as real as possible.”

4 » Five-star offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (Minneapolis, MN), the top recruit in the country in 2010 who committed to the USC Trojans on National Signing Day, is apparently mulling his future with the team, according to reports. Henderson, who chose USC over Miami, Ohio State, Florida and Minnesota, was allegedly promised by Kiffin that the Trojans would not suffer any major sanctions from the NCAA. USC coaches (including Kiffin) flew out in a private jet to visit Henderson last week with hopes to keep his commitment, but he recently told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he didn’t “want to talk about that,” when asked whether or not he was remaining with the program.

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