Gator Bites for Monday, July 2

By Adam Silverstein
July 2, 2012

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Former Florida Gators pitcher Darren O’Day, currently a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles after spending time with three other MLB teams, was pranked by MLB Fan Cave and his manager Buck Showalter. Watch him get chewed out and completely fall for it:

» Former Gators striker and current U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach sat down for an in-depth and informative interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts and discussed a number of topics including the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. Wambach became an extremely popular sports figure after leading the Americans to the finals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup with some incredibly clutch goals and is now the face of the sport in the United States.

» Former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte spoke with NBC‘s Bob Costas when he was done competing in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the weekend. Lochte speaks about the Olympics, his rivalry with Phelps and learning how to become a better athlete and competitor (Video).

» The Detroit Pistons did not extend a qualifying offer to former Gators forward/center Vernon Macklin over the weekend, officially making him an unrestricted free agent just one year after the team selected him with the No. 52 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Despite not being tendered, Macklin will still play with Detroit’s summer league team in hopes of being re-signed or catching the eye of another squad. He was sent down to the NBA D-League during the season but dominated the competition by averaging 14.5 points and 14.3 rebounds in the games he played. He should be picked up by a team at some point sooner than later.

Read SIX more Gator Bites on Nelson, Cooper, Hill and Beal…after the break!

» According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Grizzlies extended a $4.4 million qualifying offer to C Marreese Speights, making him a restricted free agent and giving the team the ability to match any offer made to him by another team. Memphis will likely be able to get Speights back this season after he performed quite well in 2012, averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. He started a number of contests with Zach Randolph out of action and returned to reserve duty when Randolph came back from his injuries.

» Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson spent time this offseason working alongside former Oakland pass catcher Tim Brown and told WGR 550 that it was a huge benefit to his career. “I was definitely awe-struck, I’ve been a big fan of his since I was a kid,” Nelson said. “Of course whenever you hear the name Tim Brown you automatically think of just Heisman and an all-around amazing football player. He played the slot, he played outside, he could return kicks, return punts. Just his knowledge of the game is unrivaled. He’s a really good guy and I was just trying to spend as much time as I could just absorbing whatever information he could give me.” After turning some heads in 2011, Nelson will return as Buffalo’s primary slot receiver this season.

» Continuing to make his way up the ranks within the Philadelphia Eagles organization, WR Riley Cooper has “looked faster and more fluid – by far – than in any of his previous seasons” during minicamp action this offseason and is almost certainly going to be locked in as “No. 4 on the depth chart” in terms of wide receivers, according to his team’s website. “He looked great. He is going to be an important part of the offense,” writes Dave Spadaro.

» Former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard, now Titus O’Neil in the WWE, was in Gainesville, FL late last week filming a segment with his tag team partner Darren Young that will air on the company’s programming either online or on television.

» Has former Florida safety Will Hill actually, finally turned his life around? According to Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger, he just might have. “He cut his dreads off, he was a new-looking man. That was a fresh start,” said New York Giants safeties coach David Merritt of Hill’s appearance when the two met this offseason about the player coming to tryout for the team. “As I talked to the young man, he said everything was clear now. … But you hear that from kids and really don’t know until you get them into this situation.” New York decided to give him a chance and so far everything is going smoothly in training camp. “I Know I made mistakes and I had to learn from my mistakes and that’s what the year off did,” Hill said. “I had to sit back, think and become a better person. It’s been a hard time. Many nights crying, many nights just wondering, ‘When is this going to happen?’ But people were like, ‘Will you’re a good athlete. Become a better person and everything will happen.’” Should Hill not make the main roster, he could always find a spot on the Giants’ practice squad, which would still be one step in the right direction for his career.

» New Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal spoke with Sports Illustrated prior to the 2012 NBA Draft and answered some interesting questions including who he is looking forward to going up against in the NBA and the best advice he’s received from head caoch Billy Donovan

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