FOUR BITS: Soccer opens SEC, Haden for Thorpe, Hunter coming on, cross country honors

By Adam Silverstein
November 4, 2009

1 » The 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament begins Wednesday as one-seed Florida Gators soccer (14-4-2, 8-1-2 SEC) faces the eight-seed Tennessee Volunteers (8-8-3, 4-5-2 SEC) at 6:00 p.m. in Orange Beach, AL. Meeting earlier this season in Knoxville, TN, Florida and Tennessee tied 2-2 after two overtimes. The game may be heard live on 850AM in Gainesville, FL, and online HERE.

2 » Junior cornerback Joe Haden has been named as one of 12 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award given annually to the nation’s best college defensive back. Three finalists will be named on Nov. 23 and invited to the ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Dec. 10 when a winner will be announced.

Two more BITS after the jump…

3 » Ranked as a five-star recruit and the second-best defensive tackle in the nation coming out of high school, Gators redshirt freshman Omar Hunter was the crown jewel of the 2008 incoming class. A serious back injury, weight issues and high expectations slowed Hunter’s development, but he is finally making strides and having an impact on Florida’s defense. Among those helping Hunter were quarterback Tim Tebow and DTs Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders. “He’s a guy that came in with high expectations and he was a major disappointment, more to himself than to anybody else,” defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. “And he wanted to make sure that everybody knew that he was going to help this program, that it was the right decision to bring him here. Earning trust and respect from everyone around the program is important and he’s doing that right now, every week, and doing a heck of a job. I’m really proud of him.”

4 » Also pulling in awards Wednesday are two members of the women’s cross country team, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe and coach Todd Morgan. Lowe was named SEC Cross Country Athlete of the Year, while Morgan took home SEC Coach of the Year for bringing the Gators to No. 3 in the nation going into the NCAA South Region Championships in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Nov. 14.

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