Gators undrafted free agents agree to deals

Updated July 27 at 3:30 p.m.

The end of the NFL lockout sent the league into a frenzy Monday evening as teams were officially allowed to contact and agree to contracts with undrafted free agents who were not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. With only four Florida Gators picked in the seven-round draft back in April, a number of well-known players remained available heading into one of the most questionable offseasons in pro football history.

With contracts now being signed as names continue to roll in, a number of former Gators have already been picked up to join NFL squads this year.

Everything started Monday evening as linebacker Duke Lemmens chose to stay out west and play for the Arizona Cardinals, defensive tackle Terron Sanders got a call from the Baltimore Ravens, and running back Emmanuel Moody decided to join 2010 undrafted free agent wide receiver David Nelson with the Buffalo Bills.

On Tuesday, punter Chas Henry chose to team up with wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Cornelius Ingram on the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Justin Trattou decided to play close to home with the New York Giants, and offensive lineman Carl Johnson joined up with DE Alex Brown on the New Orleans Saints.

Wednesday brought two more signings as LB A.J. Jones found a spot with the Denver Broncos and LB Brandon Hicks [unconfirmed] signed with the Bills. Jones joins quarterback Tim Tebow in Denver, while Hicks teams up with Moody and Nelson in Buffalo.

Safety Will Hill was originally reported to have agreed to a deal with the Washington Redskins; however, it surfaced Tuesday that those reports were premature and the two sides have not spoken about a contract.

OGGOA spoke with Sanders early Tuesday morning, and he related to us that former Florida defensive coordinator now Baltimore defensive backs coach Teryl Austin had a lot to do with him getting this opportunity with a top-tier franchise.

“Coach Austin, he’s up there now, and he put in a good word for me and told them that I can plug the hole and knock people back,” Sanders said. “He convinced them to take a shot at me. They called my agent, my agent called me and asked me if I’d be interested in going to Baltimore. I told them, ‘Yeah,’ and the deal is done.”

Though he has been hoping the lockout would end and has been keeping in shape, Sanders also kept himself busy with a regular job until his future was known.

“I haven’t put on a pair of shoulder pads in a while,” he said. “I’ve been working out, doing some running, and I started working at U-Haul about two weeks ago just to get some money in my pocket until this was decided.”

Other players who could be signed include WR Carl Moore and defensive lineman Brandon Antwine and Lawrence Marsh.

OGGOA will update this post as additional signings are announced.

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Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell arrested

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Reche Caldwell was arrested early Thursday morning near Tampa, FL and charged with two misdemeanors including possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

A seven-year NFL veteran, Caldwell played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers (2002-05) before spending one season each with the New England Patriots (2006) and Washington Redskins (2007).

He was released after five hours on a $750 bond, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Two former Gators selected in 2011 UFL Draft

The 2011 NFL Draft came and went last weekend with four former Florida Gators selected during the three-day event.

Center Mike Pouncey was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the first round, tackle Marcus Gilbert was picked in the second round and is headed to join Pouncey’s brother with the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety Ahmad Black had to wait until the fifth round to be selected by his childhood favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Redskins gave guard Maurice Hurt a chance in the seventh round.

The United Football League held its third draft on Monday with two former Florida players earning unique opportunities.

Cornerback Reynaldo Hill, a four-year NFL veteran (Tennessee Titans, 2005-08), was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the first round by the Omaha Nighthawks. Hill was a seventh round pick by Tennessee in 2005 but has been out of the league for years.

Defensive tackle Ian Scott, a seven-year veteran and fourth round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2003 NFL Draft, was chosen No. 30 overall in the sixth round by the Virginia Destroyers and head coach Marty Schottenheimer. After playing for Chicago (2003-06), Scott had a short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles (2007) before finishing his career with the San Diego Chargers (2008-09).

The duo join former Gators guard Tavares Washington in the UFL; Washington has played the last two seasons for the Las Vegas Locomotives.

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Florida G Maurice Hurt falls to seventh round of 2011 NFL Draft, picked No. 217 by Washington

Round 7 – No. 14 (217 overall)
Maurice Hurt, G
Washington Redskins


Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 318 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Thought to possibly fall out of the 2011 NFL Draft after it was revealed he tested positive for marijuana usage at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, Florida Gators guard Maurice Hurt ended up being selected with the 14th pick in the seventh round (No. 217 overall) by the Washington Redskins.

The third Florida offensive lineman chosen in the draft, Hurt is the Gators’ first seventh-round pick since 2007 and the first UF player selected by Washington since wide receiver Taylor Jacobs was the No. 44 overall pick in the second round in 2003.

He projects as a reserve at the next level due to his overall lack of athleticism and questionable football IQ. Hurt will be the only former Gators player on the Redskins unless quarterback Rex Grossman is re-signed in the offseason.

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

» OGGOA’s 2011 NFL Draft Live Blog – Click here!

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Florida gains two 2012 commits Saturday night

Just five days after receiving their third commitment for the 2012 recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators nearly doubled their class when running back Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) and linebacker Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL) each announced their intention to play in The Swamp on Saturday.

Davis, the brother of former Clemson now-Washington Redskins RB James Davis, is Florida’s second running back commitment for 2012; four-star Matt Jones (Seffner, FL), considered to be the best rusher in the state of Florida, committed on Monday.

“They said that they are only going to take two running backs this year and I’m the other one they wanted, so I went ahead and made my commitment,” he told Rivals. “I know it takes more than one [running back]. I split carries last year. I don’t mind that. Florida recruited me hard and said that I am needed.”

Powell is the Gators’ second defensive commitment for 2012 and the team’s first at linebacker, a much-needed position. “This was the best experience I’ve had in my entire life man,” said Powell, according to Rivals‘ Mark Wheeler. “I went to visit USF the other day, and I felt like I was comfortable and a good fit there, but when I got here today, man, I can’t imagine going anywhere else. When I committed in coach [Will] Muschamp‘s office, it was like a dream.”

Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina and Tennessee also offered Davis, while Powell was picking from South Carolina, South Florida, Iowa State and Purdue early on. Both unrated prospects visited the Univeristy of Florida over the weekend.

The duo join four-stars defensive tackle Omari Phillips (Venice, FL) and wide receiver LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) as the Gators’ 2012 commitments.

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FOUR BITS: Addazio, baseball, lacrosse, Tebow

1 » According to OrangeBloods.com, the Texas Longhorns have decided to hire current Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as the team’s new offensive line coach. Addazio, who has struggled calling plays for Florida for the last two seasons, is a terrific offensive line coach and recruiter and should do quite well at Texas if the report is accurate. He was named ESPNU‘s recruiter of the year after helping corral the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class and served as interim head coach for Urban Meyer after he briefly stepped down and then during his recovery last offseason. It is worth noting that OrangeBloods.com previously reported that current Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had been hired to the same position at UT; however, that has neither been confirmed nor denied since it was initially mentioned two weeks ago.

Addazio was recently named one of three head coach candidates for the open Temple Owls job. He reportedly interviewed for the position on Monday.

2 » Gators baseball has earned a No. 2 ranking in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll, which the organization released on Monday. Florida is coming off a season in which they finished 47-17, won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship and participated in the 2010 College World Series in Omaha, NE. The Gators are returning eight starters, 11 pitchers and 22 total letterwinners and begin their 2011 season with a three-game series against South Florida from Feb. 18-20.

3 » Participating in its inaugural season last year, Florida lacrosse is already making national waves after being ranked No. 17 in Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason poll. The Gators, who finished the 2010 season 10-8, reached the finals of the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament and was only the sixth team in Division I history to have 10 or more wins in its first season. Inside Lacross ranked Florida’s 19-person 2010 recruiting class No. 1 in the nation; every player is returning the team this year.

4 » Denver Broncos interim head coach Eric Studesville plans to start former Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow for his team’s final two games this season, according to numerous reports. Similarly, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has decided to start former Florida signal caller Rex Grossman for his team’s two remaining games after Grossman’s strong performance on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Tricia Coyne/Gainesville Sun

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FOUR BITS: Heimerdinger, Brantley, Driskel, FSU

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receivers coach and current Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer recently, leaving the team facility on Wednesday to undergo his first round of chemotherapy. Only 58 years old, Heimerdinger has already had an exemplary NFL career and will attempt to continue doing his job during treatment. He has decided to call plays from the sidelines for Tennessee’s game on Sunday and wishes to do so the remainder of the season as long as his health allows him to. Heimerdinger, a college roommate of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, was first a Florida graduate assistant in 1980. He returned to the school to coach wide receivers from 1983-87, spending his first year under Shanahan (the offensive coordinator at the time) and his tenure under head coaches Charley Pell and Galen Hall. OGGOA sends our thoughts and prayers out to the Heimerdinger family; we hope he has a speedy and full recovery.

2 » Gators fans come in all ages, sexes, shapes and sizes, but it was a 10-month-old having recently undergone surgery for a heart murmur that received a special visit from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley. Named after the signal caller, Brantley Bowen had a seven-hour surgery to correct his heart problem just days after Florida lost to South Carolina. He is now resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery. With both parents huge Gators fans, Brantley spent an hour-and-a-half with the family and even brought a long a gift basket including toys and autographs that his father has prepared for the occasion. “It makes me more proud that I did name my son after him,” Brantley Bowden’s mother Maegan McGalliard told the Orlando Sentinel. “It kind of makes me proud to be a Gator.”

3 » Five/four-star Florida quarterback commit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) has almost arrived in Gainesville, FL. In just over a month, Driskel will enroll early at the University of Florida and begin his mission to become the Gators’ signal caller of the future. While some have been so impressed with Driskel’s high school performances that they already want him to supplant Brantley or any other quarterback on the team, the high school senior is taking the hype in stride and just trying to do the best he can with the opportunities he’s provided. Nevertheless, his high school head coach Nate Gierke told The Gainesville Sun that Driskel is truly something special. “He’s an unbelievable football player. He’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen,” Gierke said. “What he’s done for our team this year, it’s just remarkable. He’s got that innate talent to make things happen. He’s done that for four years for me.”

4 » When talking about Saturday’s game against the Florida State Seminoles, considering which team “needs the win more” is basically irrelevant with any regard to predicting a winner. With that being said, The Florida Times-Union covered both sides of the argument, addressing why both schools could really use a victory this weekend. A win for Florida, according to Michael DiRocco, would extend their streak over FSU to seven games, help the team get a better bowl game, quiet critics and assist in recruiting. Garry Smits, on the other hand, believes a victory for Florida State will end their difficult losing streak, earn them a state championship, get head coach Jimbo Fisher off on the right foot and send-off a senior class – that has been through a lot – the right way.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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FOUR BITS: volleyball, Harvin, Grossman, Richt

1 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (20-1, 13-0 SEC) looks unstoppable these days, especially if you ask their opponents. Take the Ole Miss Rebels (16-6, 10-3 SEC) for example, who were trounced 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-17) by the Gators at home on Friday in Oxford, MS. Florida junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy achieved her nation-high sixth triple-double on the season with 10 kills on .562 hitting, a team high 16 assists and a match-high 10 digs. The Gators have seven matches left in the regular season, which ends for them on Fri., Nov. 26.

2 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has suffered his fair share of injuries both at the University of Florida and already in the NFL, but one that hit him pretty hard on Sunday may be bothering him for quite some time. In the first quarter of the Vikings’ game on the road against the New England Patriots, Harvin significantly hurt his left ankle and was unable to get off the field without help from two medical staffers. After sitting out a number of plays, Harvin’s ankle was taped and he reentered the game where he ended up registering team-highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (104) along with a spectacular two-point conversion catch later in the game. Even so, he had a severe limp in the locker room after the contest and claimed that “adrenaline got me through” the game.

3 » Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman saw his first action of the season on Sunday, and it came at the tail end of his team’s game against the Detroit Lions when he was substituted for a healthy Donovan McNabb because he apparently knows the two-minute offense better than the Pro Bowler. While that may be the case, head coach (and former Florida offensive coordinator) Mike Shanahan’s decision-making was certainly questionable considering, on Grossman’s first play from scrimmage, he was sacked and fumbled the ball which was returned by Detroit for a touchdown.

4 » Since we here at OGGOA also have a strong following on Twitter, we figured it was a good idea to share with you a link that has come our way almost a dozen times this morning. While ESPN picked up a five-year-old website calling for head football coach Urban Meyer‘s firing two weeks ago, we present to you a more creative site – one that supports retaining Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt: KeepMarkRicht.com.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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