FOUR BITS: Harvin, transfers, track & field, O’Day

1 » According to Mike Max of Minnesota CBS affiliate WCCO, former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin is on the Minnesota Vikings’ trading block. As was speculated previously, Max reports that “the No. 1 reason Percy Harvin left the team this season was not his injury, but it was motivated by a blowup he had with Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.” Harvin, who reportedly got in a verbal argument with former Minnesota head coach Brad Childress and once reportedly attempted to choke former Gators wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales after the two got in an argument during practice, supposedly “had an embarrassing tirade directed towards Frasier, disrespecting the coach during the season when Harvin was sidelined with an injured ankle.” Shortly thereafter, the Vikings put him on injured reserve. A MVP candidate during the 2012 season until he got injured, Harvin is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He will likely command a second-round pick with some additional compensation but not the first-round selection his talent deserves as front offices have concerns about his injury history and demeanor within a team environment. Harvin can be traded when free agency begins for the 2013 league year on March 12.

2 » Two players Florida would love to have in uniform right now while the team’s roster is under siege by injuries are transfers junior center Damontre Harris and sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith. Unfortunately for the Gators, the two are sitting out their NCAA-mandated redshirt season; fortunately for UF, the duo is forming a close bond and preparing to contribute in 2013-14. Harris, who is still recovering from surgery he had on a torn labrum, told Florida’s school website that “the worst part” of the whole situation is “put[ting] in the work everybody else puts in, but you don’t get to show or perform or demonstrate all that work.” He added, “I think about it every day…actually wearing a Gator uniform. I’ve even had dreams about it but then I wake up knowing I still have to wait ‘till next year.” Finney-Smith is equally anxious. “I just wish I’d signed with Florida out of high school,” he said. “Can’t do nothing about it now, though, but practice hard and wait for my time to get here.”

3 » Gators track and field was split up over the weekend with half of the No. 2 men’s team and No. 7 women’s team participating in the 2013 Husky Classic (Seattle, WA) and 2013 Virginia Tech Elite Meet (Blacksburg, VA). In the latter meet, sophomore Marquis Dendy posted a 7.99m/26-2.75 in the men’s long jump, becoming the new NCAA leader in the event in the process. Also making noise in Blacksburg was junior sprinter Eddie Lovett, who matched his own Florida school record with time of 7.66 in the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Dendy and Lovett had their success on Friday with Saturday being all about sophomore Taylor Burke, who participated in the same meet and broke the school record in the women’s high jump with a personal best of 1.86m/6-125. Burke, a dual-sport star who started at goalkeeper for the soccer team this season, is expected to continue her track career as a professional after graduation.

4 » Headed for arbitration with the Baltimore Orioles, right-handed pitcher Darren O’Day agreed to a two-year, $5.8 million deal with the club, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. As a reliever in Baltimore last season, O’Day went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 4.9 K/BB ratio. He was a contributor to the Orioles’ huge turnaround in 2012 and certainly a piece that management wants to have around for the foreseeable future.

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SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

1 » According to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed for but turned down the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn, who has been at Florida for just one season, was a NFL assistant with four different teams from 2001-10.

2 » The 2011-12 season may now be in the books but that does not mean Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s name is out of the news. Tebow, who sat down for a 30-minute interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm last week, will be featured on ESPN2 in “SportsCenter Special: Face to Face with Tim Tebow” on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 10:30 p.m. Tebow’s recent ESPN rounds included an interview with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, which you can view below.

Four more BITS on Crowder, Demps, the Oh Fours and Wambach after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Quinn, Tebow, Crowder, Demps, Green’s new team, Brewer’s dad, Wambach’s idea

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SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

1 » Don’t bother asking them to, because it does not look like No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (6-0, 3-0 SEC) plans to slow down anytime soon. Drawing nearly 7,000 fans to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Friday, Florida took down the previously undefeated No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 1-1 SEC) 197.55-195.45. Gators freshman Mackenzie Caquatto led the team with two event wins (uneven bars, balance beam) and took the all-around title with a score of 39.575, while senior Maranda Smith captured the vault event and sophomore Marissa King won the floor exercise. Florida will be tested once again on Saturday as they face No. 4 Georgia on the road.

2 » Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps and junior jumper Christian Taylor became the fourth and fifth members of the team, respectively, to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships after posting strong individual showings over the weekend at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet. Demps recorded a 6.57 in the men’s 60-meter dash, the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season, during his first race of the year. Taylor won the triple jump with a mark of 16.61m/54-6 for the sixth-straight time in his last six competitions. The duo join jumpers junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock and junior heptathlete Gray Horn as Florida’s current NCAA automatic-qualifiers off the No. 1 men’s track & field team.

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

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TWO BITS: Demps, Proctor and Tebow honored

1 » Florida Gators running back/sprinter Jeff Demps and jumper Shara Proctor were both named Athlete of the Week by the Southeastern Conference for their performances during the Virgina Tech Elite Meet track and field competition over the weekend. Demps, who participated in the first indoor meet of his career, placed second in the finals of the men’s 60-meter dash and was honored as SEC Male Freshman of the Week. His 6.61 time was the second-fastest time in school history and one hundredth of a second off of the NCAA automatic-qualifying standard. Proctor won both the women’s triple jump and long jump setting “automatic-qualifying marks, school-record marks, SEC-leading marks and nation-leading marks in both events,” according to the University Athletic Association.

2 » Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew will serve as Grand Marshals for the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Thursday. Consisting of two 60-lap races, the Gatorade Duel is a qualifying event for the Daytona 500. Tebow will recite the famous, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” line before the first race. So much for focusing solely on football.

Extra Bit » The No. 5/3 Florida softball team was chosen to win the SEC East Division in the annual coaches’ preseason poll. The Gators look to return to the Women’s College World Series after falling to the Washington Huskies in the 2009 championship series.

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SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

1 » The 2009 NFL Playoffs may have begun with seven but only one former Florida Gators player has made it to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. That man is New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who did not have a dominating regular season but has had quite an impact on his team’s first two playoff games. Making it a point to hit both Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre hard, McCray knocked each out of the game for a short period of time. Now he will turn his focus on NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. Keep an eye on No. 93 throughout the game on Sunday.

2 » All of the pre-2010 NFL Draft attention has been focused on former Gators QB Tim Tebow (wide receiver Riley Cooper has received a little, too), but linebacker Brandon Spikes is preparing for the biggest job interview of his career, too. Staying quiet while training and working out after a sub-par (for him) season, Spikes is doing whatever he can to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 24 to March 2. “I’m anxious to get started,” Spikes told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “Hopefully, I can go to the league and grab it by the neck.” Speaking about the future at Florida, Spikes was optimistic. “Those younger players know what we started and the legacy we have here. They just want to keep it going. I say it all the time to my younger group, the linebacker corps, those guys are talented. The sky’s the limit for those guys. If they continue to work and buy into the program, they’ll have the same success.”

Read how Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond fared in track and field action and how gymnastics and tennis performed this weekend after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

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