Florida brings in baseball, volleyball commitments

Selected in the 44th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, right handed pitcher Frank DeJiulio (Ocala, FL) turned down a professional contract and decided to return to school. This week during the NCAA’s early signing period, DeJiulio officially accepted his scholarship and committed to the Florida Gators. Standing 6’3″, DeJiulio played one season for Daytona State College after high school and could be used as a starter or closer with the Gators.

Also signing national letters of intent with the Gators this week are setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, AZ) and libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, IN). The two women, standing 5’9″ and 5’7″ respectively, are elite-level players who are both expected to compete as freshmen beginning in 2010. “In Chanel and Taylor, we have signed two elite athletes that bring both high-level skills and a lot of energy to the court,” volleyball head coach Mary Wise said. “Gator fans are going to enjoy watching them play throughout their careers.”

[UPDATE:] Apparently women’s basketball wanted to get in on the action too, signing four high school recruits to 2010 letters of intent on Wednesday. Forward Deaundra Young and guards Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, FL), Kayla Lewis (Decatur, GA) and Brittany Shine (Sacramento, CA) all committed to head coach Amanda Butler, who could not have been more pleased to accept each of them. “There is not another group of players I would want to coach and I cannot wait to begin working with them,” Butler said. “These four players understand how special it is to be a Gator and that’s very important to me. They have great personalities, are super talented and each has a tremendous work-ethic.” Young, 6’2”, is the prize recruit of the class and is rated the nation’s 48th-best player (No. 8 forward) according to ESPN HoopGurlz. She is the niece of LaShawnda Jackson, a former letterwinner with the Florida track and field team. ESPN also ranks Lewis as the No. 16 small forward, Shine as the No. 25 guard and Bonds as the No. 32 shooting guard.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow’s protection, margin of victory, volleyball sweeps (again), Lacroix wins

1 » One reason for senior quarterback Tim Tebow’s struggles? A porous Florida Gators offensive line. Tebow has taken 21 sacks on the season, eight more than he did in 2007 and six more than 2008…and he still has five games left to play. Some of that can be blamed on Tebow holding on to the ball too long, but the majority of the fault falls on the men supposed to be protecting the Heisman Trophy winner. “We don’t take pride in giving up sacks,” redshirt junior left tackle Carl Johnson said. “We try our best to protect him, try our best to make sure he has time in the pocket. Teams are just blitzing a lot – sometimes they bring more than we actually can protect.” Could offensive line coach and new offensive coordinator Steve Addazio be in over his head? It is a common theme going around, even if players and coaches don’t admit it.

2 » While everyone is going seemingly off the deep end about Florida’s offensive struggles, I took a minute and checked out the nine wins so far this season. Here are the margins of victory: 59, 50, 10, 34, 10, 3, 10, 34, 24. Now look at the numbers through the first nine games in 2006: 27, 42, 1, 19, 15, 13, -10, 7, 6. Not counting the preseason non-conference games, the Gators are averaging a 17.4-point margin of victory in 2009 compared to 7.3 in 2006. Now obviously one team is coming off a National Championship season while another was trying to find its footing for much of the year. But in comparing the two teams, which has been done defensively all season, you see a group that has won by double digits in every game they have played except for the squeaker against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Not bad.

3 » No. 9/11 Florida volleyball (20-3, 14-2 SEC) continues to roll in Southeastern Conference play, sweeping the Auburn Tigers (14-12, 6-9 SEC) 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-13) on Sunday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Sophomore outside hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Colleen Ward combined for 22 kills and 15 digs as the Gators went on to score their 20th win of the season. It has swept eight straight SEC opponents and next faces the LSU Tigers on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The match will air on Sun Sports.

4 » Gators tennis had a busy weekend, but nobody played better than junior Alexandre Lacroix, who won the singles consolation final at the ITA National Indoor Championships on Sunday. Lacroix, the No. 23 player in the nation, defeated No. 46 Ed Corrie of the Texas Longhorns in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Now that the fall season is complete, tennis will next play in mid-January at the SEC Indoors.

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Soccer, tennis fall; Volleyball sweeps Georgia

Friday was a tale of two outcomes for University of Florida sports teams, with soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball all in action across the country. The most important game of the day was No. 8 Florida Gators soccer (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) taking on No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks (17-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament in Orange Beach, AL.

After winning the regular season and defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round, the Gators fell 1-0 to the Gamecocks. Ironically enough, Florida defeated South Carolina 3-0 one week ago in Gainesville, FL, to clinch the SEC regular season title. The Gamecocks scored their lone deciding goal off of a penalty kick at 10:36 in the first half, the first to be successfully scored against the Gators all season.

Also in action were players from the school’s tennis teams. Freshman Allie Will dropped a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision to Pichittra Thongbach of the Boise State Broncos in the round of 16 at the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships. Considered the second leg of the collegiate Grand Slam, Will was the lone Florida female to earn a spot in the event and now holds a 20-3 singles record and 13-3 doubles mark on the season. The men’s doubles team of junior Alexandre Lacroix and redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau, who were previously undefeated, lost an ITA quarterfinal match 8-6 to Tennessee’s Boris Koncic and Rhyne Williams. Lacroix, who was also competing in singles consolation action, won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Patricio Alvarado of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Last but certainly not least on the evening was No. 9/11 Gators volleyball (19-3, 13-2 SEC), who earned their seventh consecutive sweep of a league opponent by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs (14-11, 5-9 SEC) 25-16, 25-20, 25-14. Four Florida players hit better than .500 and sophomore hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy combined for 23 kills on the night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Volleyball will be back in action on Sunday against the Auburn Tigers in Gainesville at 1:30 p.m. The match will air live on Sun Sports.

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Recruiting visits for Vandy, update on Knight

Four-star cornerback John Fulton (Manning, SC) will be taking a trip to the University of Florida for an official visit this Saturday when the Florida Gators take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Fulton is currently favoring his hometown South Carolina Gamecocks and Alabama Crimson Tide. With Florida already having a plethora of cornerback commitments, he may just be doing his due diligence.

More football, basketball and volleyball recruiting news after the jump…
Continue Reading » Recruiting visits for Vandy, update on Knight

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Basketball wins, four athletes take SEC honors

The University of Florida‘s men’s basketball team began their 2009-10 season Monday night, defeating Saint Leo 95-46 in an exhibition game at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Gators freshman guard Kenny Boynton led the team with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting while going 5/9 from three-point range. Boynton also contributed six rebounds, two assists and three steals and appeared to tweak his knee at some point in the second half. The extent of the injury is not known, though it did not look serious to those in attendance and it is believed he will be fine to play in Florida’s next exhibition game.

Junior forward Alex Tyus recorded a team-high nine rebounds and added 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while sophomore point guard Erving Walker was good for 16 points and led the way with nine assists. Redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin grabbed four rebounds and seven points. Also of note is that Israeli freshman PG Nimrod Tishman wants to be known as “Rod” (good choice) during his Gators career.

Football’s sophmore kicker Caleb Sturgis, volleyball’s senior libero Elyse Cusack and soccer players Lauren Hyde and McKenzie Barney all took home individual awards from the Southeastern Conference on Monday. Sturgis was named Special Teams Player of the Week, Cusack and Hyde both earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for their respective sports and Barney won Freshman of the Week. Sturgis kicked a 56-yard and 44-yard field goal in the Gators win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

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Volleyball sweeps again, soccer earns No. 1 seed

Sweeping their sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference opponent, the No. 10/12 Florida Gators volleyball team (18-3, 12-2 SEC) took down the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-19, 2-13 SEC) 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-22) on the road Sunday in Starkville, MS. Florida sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her seventh triple-double of the season with 11 kills, 25 assists and 10 digs. Murphy’s triple-double was the 13th of her career, a Gators record.

The Florida volleyball team will return home to host the Georgia Bulldogs (14-10, 5-8 SEC) next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

In soccer news… The Gators (14-4-2, 8-1-2 SEC) have earned the top seed in the SEC Championship Tournament and will face the defending champion No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers (8-8-3, 4-5-2 SEC) on Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Orange Beach, AL. Meeting earlier this season in Knoxville, TN, Florida and Tennessee tied 2-2 after two overtimes.

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Women’s cross country wins SEC Championship

No. 5 Florida Gators women’s cross country won the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship meet on Saturday, the team’s first conference title since 1997. With all five scoring runners placing in the top 10, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe took first place. Lowe’s victory (20:57.35) was the first time that Florida has had an individual champion since Becki Wells won back-to-back titles in 1995-96. It was also the ninth-best SEC Championship time in school history.

“This title means a lot to us,” Lowe said. “It’s been a long time coming for the Gators and we are proud to bring a championship back to Gainesville. It was also a step forward for us as we look toward Regionals and Nationals. It’s so amazing to win both the individual and team titles today.”

The Gators have advanced to the NCAA South Region Championships where a first- or second-place finish will earn them an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Florida will have a week off before heading to Tuscaloosa, AL, for the meet.

In other Gators news… Men’s cross country fell short of the SEC title, finishing in fourth place … No. 10/12 Florida volleyball (17-3, 11-2 SEC) notched another win Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-22, 33-31) of Alabama Crimson Tide (6-17, 4-9 SEC). Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy had her sixth triple-double of the season while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel recorded a match-high 16 kills.

Image courtesy of GatorZone.com.

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FOUR BITS: Soccer rolls; Volleyball wins; Swimming dominates; Tennis in finals

1 » Volleyball (16-3, 10-2 SEC) continues to roll through the SEC as the No. 10/11 Florida Gators swept the Ole Miss Rebels (8-14, 2-10 SEC) in straight sets (25-18, 25-13, 25-16) on Sunday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy continues her stellar play and recorded a match-high 14 kills. Florida goes on the road to Tuscaloosa, AL, to square off against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.

2 » The No. 12 Florida soccer team (13-4-2, 7-1-2 SEC) defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-6-4, 2-6-2 SEC) Sunday afternoon on the road at Razorback Field by a 1-0 margin. The victory puts Florida in first place in the conference heading into its final match of the regular season Friday, Oct. 30 against No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks.

3 » The Gators women’s swimming and diving team won the 2009 SMU Classic in Dallas, TX, on Saturday, finishing in first-place with 353 points ahead of the Louisville Cardinals, Wisconsin Badgers, Southern Methodist Perunas, Florida State Seminoles and Rice Owls. The rest of the team that did not compete in that event were also victorious on the weekend, taking down both Arkansas and the Kansas Jayhawks in double-dual on the road in Fayetteville, AK.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Soccer rolls; Volleyball wins; Swimming dominates; Tennis in finals

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