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35 posts from June 2008

June 30, 2008

Jeffrey Demps' Olympic dreams end in semis; Should he stick to track?

GAINESVILLE -- Congrats to UF incoming freshman Jeffrey Demps, who advanced to the semifinals of the 100-meter dash in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trails.Only a high school graduate and already Demps (a running back and state champion sprinter from South Lake High) is one of our country's fastest men. The U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in widely considered the world's toughest competition for sprinters.

Looks like Chris Rainey and Percy Harvin might have some competition as the fastest man on the fastest college football team in America. That is, if Jeffrey Demps still wants to play college football. Should he? With such a clearly defined future in track, should Demps risk all that to play football? The smart money is with track.

In other action from Eugene, Ore., former Florida track star Kerron Clement qualified for the Olympics in 400-meter hurdles. Clement placed second in the 400 finals with a time of 48.36. Welcome to the U.S. Olympic team, Mr. Clement.

-jo- 

June 29, 2008

Welcome to Gator Clause, Florida fans; Join in the conversations

GAINESVILLE -- Many of you are visiting Gator Clause for the first time today. First off, thanks for stopping by. Second off, bookmark this page right now.

The staff here at Gator Clause is going to be with the Gators' football team every step of the way this season. We'll bring you practice reports every day, podcasts quite frequently, player Q&A, links to my (Joe Goodman) articles in The Miami Herald, breaking news on recruiting, breaking news in general, links to other articles throughout the Web, rants on things we hate, kudos to things with love, news of the weird, ramblings, SEC cheerleaders of the week, polls, pictures, cases of free beer, a gerbil or two, pretty much anything we want.

A little about myself: I've worked for The Herald for about three and half years now. I covered high schools in South Florida before my bosses told me to pack up the Ford and drive north to Gainesville. I'm The Herald's only full-time sports reporter working from a satellite bureau. In a sense, I'm my own bureau chief. That's how much The Herald is dedicated to bringing you coverage of the Florida Gators. Enjoy!

Unlike most online sites dedicated to the Gators, this one is absolutely free. All you have to do is click on it and read. I'll promise you guys two things right off the bat: Sometimes you'll agree and sometimes you won't. That's how this thing is supposed to work.   

-jo-

Top Five Newcomers: No.1 Emmanuel Moody

If you're reading this blog for the first time today, then you've already missed our five-part blog series on the football team's top five newcomers. Don't worry. You can catch up. Just click on the names of the previous "Top Five Newcomers" right here:

NO.2 OMAR HUNTER, NO.3 CARL MOORE, NO.4 WILL HILL, NO.5 MATT PATCHAN

GAINESVILLE -- No.1 on our list of top newcomers is USC transfer running back Emmanuel Moody. We here at Gator Clause don't necessarily think Moody is the best addition to the Gators' roster, but we do believe that Moody's potential impact is greater than any newcomer.

Ncf_moody_200Why, exactly? Well, the Gators start and stop with the success and health of Tim Tebow and Moody, if he's productive, might be the guy that keeps Tebow out of the trainer's room this season and on the field. That's right. The more Moody carries the ball the less likely the Gators' superstar quarterback gets injured.

Tebow didn't miss a game last season but that doesn't mean he didn't sustain injury. Tim received shots of a painkiller in his right (none throwing) shoulder for much of the season. He then broke his non-throwing hand against Florida State.

Even more than a better defense, a healthy Tebow is what the Gators need to win a national championship. Moody, the USC transfer who redshirted last season, might be the key. Moody showed glimpses of his potential his freshman season at USC. He had several solid games before being limited by injuries.

A digression here: I'm still scratching my head as to why, exactly, Moody transferred to Florida. He says he left USC to become a featured running back but a featured back is one thing Urban Meyer's and Dan Mullen's offense does not produce. Moody might be the first, who knows? But I doubt it.

0817moody_2Moody probably should have gone to North Carolina if he wanted 20+ carries a game. Why do we mention all of this? We're wondering if Moody will become a distraction if he doesn't get the amount of carries he needs to feel like a major contributor. Moody could have stayed at USC if he wanted a chance to win a national title. He wants to run the ball and the guy isn't afraid to speak his mind, something most UF players do not do.

We'll keep an eye on Moody's morale during preseason practice and two-a-days. If you believe Urban Meyer (which I don't in this case), then the starting running back position isn't even Moody's right now. According to Meyer, Kestahn Moore is still the starter. Meyer swears by Moore. This is strange because if Meyer went back and watched at few game films from last season, then he would be swearing at the fumbles Moore coughed up in close games. Our guess: Meyer is just playing head games with Moody. Meyer got on Moody's case after he fumbled in the end zone during the spring game. It seems like flawed logic that Meyer would berate Moody publicly Si_2007for one fumble in a spring game but still allow Moore to be on the team after the costly fumbles last season. (A side note to this Moody-Moore situation. The two Texans played against each other in little league football.)

OK, digression over. Back on topic...Moody, more than any newcomer, is the key to the Gators' success in 2008. When Moody first showed up last season, all Meyer would say to him when they ran into each other in the football facility was, "I sure hope you're good." There was a reason for that.

[Check out this SI cover from 2007. That's Moody on the left. Instead of splitting time at USC last year, he decided to transfer to UF and sit out a season. Wonder if Moody will make the 2008 SI college football preview cover as a Gator this time around?]

-jo-

Demps vs. Capel today in the 100-meter semis and more UF connections at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials...

GAINESVILLE -- To go along with the post on Jeffrey Demps (the post below this one), SEVERAL former UF track stars compete tonight in finals and semifinals of the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (Not just the football player I wrote about first, as someone so kindly brought to my attention. Because, apparently, not everyone thinks about football first. There ARE some track lovers out there.)

ANYWAY, it should be exciting (for something that's not football). NBC will air coverage of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials between 7-8 p.m. The sports world is pretty slow these days, so it's at least worth mentioning.

EventlogoFormer UF track star Kerron Clement (LaPorte, Texas) has advanced to the final of the men's 400-meter hurdles, which is scheduled for 7:17 p.m. Clement placed first in his semifinals heat with a time of 48.20.

"It is very important to win your semifinals because it gets you a good lane in the finals," Clement said. "It felt really good. Everybody wants to win their heat with a good time."

The Gators have two connections in the 100-meter dash. As mentioned below, Jeffrey Demps is an incoming freshman on the UF football team. The other UF representative will be former Florida track standout John Capel (Brooksville, Fla.), who finished 11th in the qualifying round (10.16 seconds). The finals take place at 7:49 p.m. today. The semifinals (Demps vs. Capel!) take places 5:30 p.m.

Also competing this evening is former UF thrower Rachel Longfors (Erhad, Minn.). She finished eighth in the discus qualifying to advance. The discus finals begin at 6:15 p.m. today.

Another former Gator, Hazel Clark (Livingston, N.J.) competes in the final of the 800-meter run at 11:15 p.m. on Monday.

For updates on today's results from the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials click on this link. CLICK ME!

-jo-

June 28, 2008

UF incoming freshman races Sunday in Olympic Trails semis; LSU's Holliday also competes

Dempssmall_4GAINESVILLE -- Here's something to keep an eye on today (Sunday). Incoming UF freshman Jeffrey Demps (running back, Okahumpka, Fla.) competes in the 100-meter dash semifinals of the Olympic Trials at 2:30 p.m. today. The top four from each heat advance to the finals, which are scheduled for 7:49 p.m. NBC will air the finals between 7-8 p.m.

Demps, who will be one of the fastest players in college football this season, qualified for the Olympic Trails with the blazing time of 10.17 seconds during the Florida high school track championships. You might remember this. Demps set the mark at UF's track stadium while the Gators were conducting spring practice. The track championship's personal address announcer declared the mark as one of the fastest 100-meter times ever for a high school student. Urban Meyer got a big kick out of that.

JeffdempsANYWAY, Demps races today in the semis after posting a 10.01 seconds in the quarterfinals. That's a different kind of fast, folks. Demps' quarterfinal time was the seventh fastest mark among the participants. He finished second in his heat to gold medal hopefully Tyson Gay. LSU running back Trindon Holliday also qualified for the semis with a time of 10.09. Not that it matters, but Demps' quarterfinal time also edged FSU superstar Walter Dix (10.02). Demps is apparently quite a charismatic guy. He actually wore this orange and blue mullet wig when he announced he would attend Florida on ESPNU.

According to the qualifying times, Demps has a pretty good shot at competing in the finals. An Olympic berth is a long shot, though.

Here are the semifinal heats.
Event 1  Men 100 Meter Dash
===============================================================================
8 Advance:  Top 4 Each Heat plus Next 0 Best Times
Sunday 6/29/2008 - 2:30 PM
       World:   9.72  5/31/2008   Usain Bolt, JAM
    American:   9.79  6/16/1999   Maurice Greene, Nike
          OT:   9.91  7/11/2004   Maurice Greene, Nike
     Hayward:   9.88  2004        Shawn Crawford, USA
           Name                        Year Team
===============================================================================
Heat 1  Semis
  1    436 Rae Edwards                      Nike                  10.06
  2    401 Walter Dix                       Florida St.           10.02
  3    849 Rodney Martin                    Nike                   9.95
  4    505 Tyson Gay                        adidas                 9.77
  5   1369 Ivory Williams                   Nike                   9.94
  6    291 Xavier Carter                    Nike                  10.00
  7    563 Chrisdon Hargrett                adidas                10.12
  8    635 Trindon Holliday                 L S U                 10.09
Heat 2  Semis
  1   1107 Michael Rodgers                  unattached            10.07
  2    403 Leroy Dixon                      Nike                  10.02
  3    380 Jeffery Demps                    unattached            10.01
  4    998 Travis Padgett                   unattached             9.89
  5   1008 Darvis Patton                    adidas                 9.89
  6    686 Mark Jelks                       Nike                   9.99
  7    277 John Capel                       unattached            10.06
  8   1210 Wallace Spearmon                 Nike                  10.07

Preseason mags predict biggest Cocktail Party in years

OK, THE BRAIN TRUST here at Gator Clause is finally getting around to picking up the preseason college football mags. We're looking at four mags this morning -- all laid out on the floor -- and Tim Tebow is staring up from three of them. Cost me a bunch of dough. Or one Dustin Doe. (That's $32.)

GAINESVILLE -- If the prediction polls in the preseason college football magazines are correct, then the hype surrounding the annual rivalry game between Florida and Georgia will be intoxicating once November roles around.

Put it this way. If Florida at LSU (2007) was one big keg of beer (and it was, even in the press box), then the Cocktail Party in 2008 will be shots of pure grain alcohol.

Two preseason mags -- Athlon and Phil Steele's -- have the Gators No.1 in the country. The other two mags -- Lindy's and Sporting News -- have Georgia No.1. Sounds like a showdown in Jacksonville, folks. Hopefully it won't rain like last year.

A few more observations from the mags...
1. Phil Steele must be the world's loneliest man. Also, Steele ranks USF (No.8) ahead of Georgia (No.9).

2. Steele's magazine prints different covers for different parts of the country. There's thumbnail examples of nine covers on the back of the mag I'm looking at. There's apparently a Florida cover with Tebow and Percy Harvin running play-action. For some reason, I have the Alabama cover. (Two fat linemen -- Bama's Andre Smith and Auburn's Lee Ziemba -- are on the cover.) I bought this magazine in the Gainesville Books-A-Million on 13th. Go Figure.

Img003031_23. If you count Phil Steele's Florida cover and national cover, then Tiny Timmy is on five covers -- Steele's, Lindy's, Sporting News and Athlon.

4. Do Miami and Florida State even exist anymore? Not according to these preseason mags. For some reason, I don't think the 'Noles and 'Canes need any more motivation against the Gators.

5. Tebow looks about 12 years old on page 10 of Sporting News' preseason mag.

6. The best page of all four mags: There's an Altoids add on page 9 of Athlon that's making me laugh. The "curiously strong mint" apparently, "Awakens like a horse whip on the backflesh."

7. USF defensive tackle George Selvie does not get enough love. That guy might be the best college football player in all of Florida.

8. You know how they say Southerners fry just about anything. Well, these silly mags rank just about anything. Athlon actually decided to rank the new coaches of 2007 (last season). Nick Saban is ranked No.8. That seems like a pretty high ranking for a guy that makes $4 million per, went .500 in the conference, finished 7-6 on the year and lost his final four regular-season games, including one to La-Monroe.

Img0030419. There's a dancer on the cover of Lindy's that has a scarlet letter 'A' on her chest. That's a bit damning, if you ask me. Sounds like a lawsuit.

10. Something that has always killed me about Tim Tebow, the guy's got no earlobes. Seriously, his ears are just fused to his head like a bat or something. Athlon's cover gives you a good shot of this. My theory has always been that Tebow is a demigod and therefore genetically superior to the rest of us. His ears are streamlined to reduce drag. I think God made it where Tim could play football without a helmet. Here's my preseason prediction: Tim gets his helmet knocked off by an Ohio State lineman on the last play of the game of the 2008 BCS national championship game in Dolphin Stadium, but then Tebow runs for a game-winning touchdown with no helmet.

Here's the rest of the top 10s:

ATHLON
1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Georgia
6. Missouri
7. West Virginia
8. Auburn (Way overrated!)
9. LSU
10. CLEMSON

Sporting News
1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. USC
4. Oklahoma
5. LSU
6. Missouri
7. Clemson
8. West Virginia
9. Florida
10. Illinois (Question: Did the guys at Sporting News watch the Rose Bowl?)

Lindy's
1. Georgia
2. USC
3. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma
5. Missouri
6. Florida
7. LSU
8. Texas
9. Clemson
10. West Virginia

Phil Steele's
1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Clemson
6. West Virginia
7. Missouri
8. USF (Canes' and 'Noles pay attention here.)
9. Georgia
10. Penn State

-jo-

If Tim Tebow was a chicken...

GAINESVILLE -- ... he would be impeccable. [baCAULK!] OK, OK. That one's kind of old. But not these:

If Jason Watkins was a freeway, he would be impassable.

If Matt Patchan was a Hurricane, he would blow hard.

If Percy Harvin had a dog, it would be an ankle biter. (And he would teach it to heel.)

If Urban Meyer was German, he would be a Frankfurtor.

I regret the day I ever have to write that Major Wright made the wrong decision in leaving the right cornerback vulnerable.

What does Phil Trautwein drink when he eats fish?

That Frankie Hammond Jr., he's a real cut up.

OK, that's quite enough.

-jo-

June 27, 2008

Meyer returns to his roots tonight

GAINESVILLE -- A quicky here. And who doesn't like a quick blog once in awhile? ANYWAY, Urban is in his hometown of Ashtabula, Ohio, tonight to celebrate the career of his old high school baseball coach, Bill Schmidt. Meyer is a 1982 graduate of Ashtabula St. John's High.

Meyer will be the keynote speaker at a banquet recognizing high school scholar athletes. Florida's football coach will then join in others in roasting Schmidt later in the evening.

-jo-

400-pound Gator eats bloodhound near Panama City

GAINESVILLE -- An ongoing theme here at Gator Clause: If a Gator makes the news, then we write about it.

If you live in Florida, then keep your dogs away from lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks, tributaries, puddles, sewers, canals, swamps: pretty much any body of water. Why? Because that's where the gators live. This latest gator attack is a sad one for Gator Clause to report because we love dogs. A bloodhound named Datsi was eaten by a 10-foot, 400-pound gator near Panama City on Thursday. Take a moment to remember Datsi. She was five years old.

If you live in South Florida and you like to take your dogs swimming, then the best bet is the Atlantic Ocean. There are some great dog beaches up and down the coast. My favorite was just north of Fort Lauderdale. Also, a few parks have "dog lakes." My favorite while I was living in South Florida was at Snyder Park. Protect your pets from gators. Gators love to eat dogs. Here's a few links for dog lovers living in South Florida. Miami-Dade link. Broward County link.

-jo- 

June 26, 2008

Philly drafts Speights with 16th pick; Six Gators drafted in two years

GAINESVILLE -- Congrats to former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights, who was drafted by  Philadelphia tonight with the Sixers' No.16 pick in the first round. Speights is the 10th Florida Gator to be drafted in the first round and the eighth under current coach Billy Donovan.

Speights"I want to thank my family and the Gator basketball staff for helping me be in a position to be picked 16th by Philadelphia. I look forward to working extremely hard and developing into the best player I can become," Speights said. "I know this won't be easy but I am ready for the challenge."

What's more remarkable: Speights being selected in the first round or six -- That's right, SIX! -- Gators being drafted by NBA teams in the last two years?

Here's a better question. Will the streak of Gators being drafted continue next season? Like Speights, Will Nick Calathes go pro after his sophomore season? Calathes is in Athens this week trying out for the Greek Olympic basketball team. Calathes is expected to make the team but the Greeks will have a tough road to qualify for the Beijing Games. Here's request to the Greeks. Please teach Calathes how to dunk.

-jo-

Top Five Newcomers: Omar Hunter

GAINESVILLE -- He's quick, he's strong, he's 6-foot-1, he weighs about 300 pounds ... and he can freaking dunk! No.2 on our list of "Top Five Newcomers" is none other than incoming freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter.

Omar_2Florida fans have heard a lot about Omar Hunter [pictured]. He's a coach's dream, Meyer says. He's going to be an instant leader, Meyer says. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard Urban Meyer tell reporters or fans how good of a football player Omar Hunter is and will be, well, I'd have a lot of nickels. At least enough for a can of Jolt Cola.

Remember old Jolt Cola. Such a wonderfully evil marketing slogan. Remember? "Twice the caffeine. Three times the sugar Well, I like to call Meyer's incessant mentioning of Omar Hunter's prowess and potential as the Jolt Football marketing ploy. It's no coincidence that Meyer's favorite son is from Georgia. It's also no coincedence that Florida beat out Georgia for Omar's services. Why has Meyer been beating Omar Hunter into the psyche of every Florida fan. Twice the hype. Three times the bragging. Take that Georgia, Meyer is saying. Meyer's chest pounding was so loud that The Gainesville Sun actually sent a columnist to Georgia this offseason to do a profile on Hunter shortly after he signed. (What really happened: Hunter originally committed to Notre Dame before snubbing the Irish for the Gators. Hunter always wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog but UGA coach Mark Richt got involved in the recruiting process a little too late. Meyer swayed Hunter's mom, which helped sway the player.)

But Hunter isn't No.2 on Gator Clause's list solely because Meyer likes sticking it to Georgia. Hunter is No.2 because Florida is weakest along the defensive line and Hunter can make an immediate impact if he's half as good as Meyer is hoping. And if he's not, then his struggles could have an equally negative impact. After all, Florida struggled along the defensive line last season and the situation might be a little bleaker this time around. That's bad news. (Someone ANYONE! has got to stop Knowshon, right?)

One of the main reasons Knowshon carved through Florida's defensive line in the second half of last season's rivalry was the ACL injury suffered by defensive tackle Javier Estopinan. Javy tore his ACL in the first half and UF couldn't contain Moreno in the second half.

The injury was Javy's third ACL tear in five years. Javy, a Miami native, says he'll be ready for two-a-days this fall but that's no guarantee. That means Florida might need a pair of new starters at the beginning of the season.

Hunter_omar_2There are plenty of names on the roster to play defensive tackle but will any of them stand out in two-a-days? Let's look at the list candidates: Torrey Davis (Constantly in the doghouse.), Terron Sanders (Can he stay healthy?), Brandon Antwine (Will he ever play football again?), John Brown (Can he really cut it academically?), Justin Trattou (Is he really big enough to line up on the inside on rushing downs?), Lawrence Marsh (Needs to be a contributor in his sophomore season.) and Troy Epps (Coaches dogged this JUCO transfer more than anyone during the spring. Is that kind of attention good or bad?).

Is Hunter [Check out this picture. Hulk Smash!] a sure thing? Is he the Tebow of the defensive line or the Major Wright of the secondary? No, he's not a sure thing. Hunter apparently had problems with his back while in high school. An oft-injured Omar Hunter in 2008 would be a major blow for the Gators' chances of winning the SEC East. At least, that's how Meyer makes it seem. Me, personally, I've got to question whether or not a true freshman can be productive at defensive tackle in the SEC.

-jo-

Meyer draws a crowd at Atlanta Braves game

GAINESVILLE -- Urban Meyer was in Atlanta on Wednesday. He visited Georgia Tech, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and took his son to a Braves game.

Meyer palled around with former Atlanta second baseman Mark Lemke. Lemke and Meyer roomed together in the minors. Meyer, of course, was drafted by the Braves but cut his professional baseball career short to focus on coaching football. A sound decision, I'd say.

Meyer visited the clubhouse before the game and talked with Chipper Jones, one of the biggest Florida Gators fans I've ever met. Seriously, Chipper is a freak about the Gators. I interviewed him during spring training for a preseason story and when he found out I covered the Gators all he wanted to do was talk about Tebow.

AJC columnist Terance Moore chatted it up with Meyer before the game and asked Meyer about last season's emphasis Gator Stomp. Moore tried to stir up a little controversy, calling Georgia's impromptu mosh pit a "big brawl." Meyer didn't take the bait, though. "It wasn't a brawl," Meyer said to Moore. "It was...I don't know what you would call it."

Call it enough motivation to last until the next Cocktail Party.

-jo-

June 25, 2008

Gator eats drunk guy's arm

GAINESVILLE -- An ongoing theme here at Gator Clause: If a Gator makes the news, we write about it...

So, I'm sure everyone has heard about this latest story. Guy gets drunk up in Okeechobee County. Guy goes swimming in canal at 2 a.m. Guy, essentially, feeds an alligator his left arm. Well, it's a sad story, folks, and it raises a few important topics: 1. Is this animal abuse? I mean, should we really be feeding our gators morons? 2. Is the intelligence level of the human race regressing? Isn't there supposed to be some kind of instictive or primal warning system coded into our DNA that screams out, "Hey, don't swim near the gator den!" (Likely, the primal code that screams out, "Hey, impress the girls by swimming near the gator den!" trumped all other instincts.)

In any event, I sent PETA a letter expressing my concern. Here's a copy of that letter. Download dear_peta.doc Also, it should be noted by the authorities that the drunk guy did admit to poking the alligator in the eye. Isn't that like a $250 fine?

Newspapers today are reporting that the drunk guy hopes his incident leads to the slaughter of many alligators. CLICK ME, CLICK ME! This is what he said in the Treasure Coast paper, "It's a wake-up call for everyone."

As if the guy did this to service society or save the lives of other idiots. Wake-up call, people. Don't swim in canals. Look what happens. Thanks for the thoughtful sentiment, guy...Surely, all this will lead to is a one-armed man getting drunk more often.

Gator Clause is happy to report that the brave soul who gave his arm to protect us all is still alive and still fighting the good fight. The guy made a point to clarify this next point to a local TV station, "there were no drugs involved."

Note to alligator guy: Always blame the drugs.

-jo-

June 24, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: Carl Moore

Carlmoore GAINESVILLE -- Incoming freshmen reported today but the No.3 newcomer on our list has been on campus since January. Unlike our previous newcomers to make the list -- Matt Patchan and Will Hill -- Moore is expected to make an immediate impact.

A 6-4, 225-pound receiver, Moore will serve as the possession receiver the Gators lacked in 2007 and will likely replace Bubba Caldwell in the staring line-up. Receiver Percy Harvin recently told Moorecatches Gator Clause that Moore is a step slower than the Gators' returning receivers but makes up for it with size and sure hands. Harvin compares Moore to former Florida receiver Dallas Baker, who was a major contributor during the 2006 national championship season.

Moore's primary competition for playing time will be redshirt freshman receiver Deonte Thompson, one of the receiving corps hardest workers. Moore is currently quarterback Tim Tebow's third option but if Moore proves he can hold onto the ball over the middle he will challenge Harvin as the team's leading receiver.

-jo-

June 22, 2008

Highly rated Florida signee reportedly failed to qualify; Gators lose another safety

GAINESVILLE -- Florida football signee Dee Finley did not qualify academically for the University of Florida and will instead enroll at a New York prep school this fall, an Internet recruiting website is reporting. This could be a major blow for the Gators' depth at the safety position.

DeefinleyFinley [pictured], rated as one of the top defensive backs of the 2008 signing class, was scheduled to report to UF at the end of June. Instead, Finley will enroll at Milford (N.Y.) Academy, according to the website GatorBait.com. Finley, an Auburn (Ala.) High prep star, was considered an academic concern throughout the 2008 recruiting cycle. Several major programs, including Auburn, did not recruit Finley, fearing he would not qualify.

Florida's incoming freshmen are scheduled to report at the end of this month. Despite the apparent loss of Finley, the class is not devoid of a free safety. Will Hill, a New Jersey prep talent, is expected to play the position.

Florida has several talented safeties on the roster but is growing thin at the position. Jamar Hornsby was kicked off the team earlier this summer after being arrested for credit card fraud. A third possible safety, Jerimy Finch, also left the program.

South Florida natives Dorian Munroe and Major Wright will be the Gators' starting safeties when preseason practice begins. Hill, who played quarterback in high school, is expected to compete for a back-up role. Converted cornerback Ahmad Black will also be expected to earn a place high on the depth chart.

Don't be surprised if another young cornerback is forced to move to the safety position this fall. If that happens, my guess would be rising sophomore Moses Jenkins of Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson. He's tall (6-2), fast and extremely coachable.

-jo-

June 20, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: Will Hill

Hillpose GAINESVILLE -- Free safety Will Hill is No.4 on our list of top five newcomers who could receive significant playing time this fall.

A New Jersey prep sensation, Hill starred as a quarterback in high school but is making the permanent switch to defense when he arrives in Gainesville in a few weeks for Summer B. Hill's opportunity to contribute immediately improved dramatically when Florida coach Urban Meyer was forced to kick Jamar Hornsby off the team.

With the loss of Hornsby, Florida's coaching staff is already penciling in Hill as a back-up to Major Wright at free safety. Ahmad Black is another name that has emerged as a possible back-up at the position.

Hill will be an immediate starter on several of Meyer's special Hillrunningteams units. Most likely kickoff and punt coverage. A little trivia: Hill will be the second UF defensive back who starred as a quarterback in high school. Starting cornerback Joe Haden also played quarterback.

If you're looking for comparisons, Hill has the potential to be as dominating as Tennessee's Eric Berry at the free safety position. A game-changing free safety was vital to the Gators' 2006 national championship (Reggie Nelson) and Florida's coaching staff is hoping Hill turns into that type of player.

-jo-

Speights impressive in Philly, according to Sixers official

GAINESVILLE -- Former Florida center Marreese Speights received praise from Philadelphia 76ers officials after a pre-draft workout on Thursday, according to the South Jersey Courier-Post.

Sixers assistant general manager Tony DiLeo expressed interest in Speights, who played two seasons UF but only started one. DiLeo told the Courier-Post that draft projections that have Speights being drafted by Philadelphia in the first round (No.16) might be correct.

Speights was one of five power forwards who worked out for the Sixers on Thursday. The others included Ryan Anderson (Cal), David Padgett (Louisville), Callistus Eziukwu (Grand Valley State) and Kentrell Gransberry (South Florida).

Said DiLeo of Speights in the Courier-Post: "He's athletic and he can score around the basket with both hands," DiLeo said. "He can step outside and shoot the jump shot. He's a work in progress, but he's a very talented player."

-jo-

June 19, 2008

Florida the SEC's best athletics program, according to formula

GAINESVILLE -- Just wanted to pass something along this morning. The Birmingham News recently named Florida the Southeastern Conference's most successful athletics program of the league's first 75 years.

The rankings were based on a weighted formula, which awarded points for success and subtracted points for NCAA violations. Here's the link. CLICK ME! Florida is the only SEC school to compete in the College World Series, NCAA Tournament national title game and football national title game. Football, basketball and baseball, however, did not land Florida atop the SEC. The Gators' women's sports, which dominate the conference across the board, were the determining factors.

1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. LSU
4. Tennessee
5. Kentucky
6. Auburn
7. Alabama
8. Arkansas
9. South Carolina
10. Vanderbilt
11. Ole Miss
12. Mississippi State

-jo-

June 18, 2008

Tebow 7/2 odds for the 2008 Heisman; Check out the complete list

HeismanGAINESVILLE -- Our friends at Bodoglife.com like to email Gator Clause wager-related nonsense in the hopes that I'll post it on the blog. Guess it worked this time. The Internet betting house recently released early lines on the 2008 Heisman Trophy. Florida's Tim Tebow won the award last year and he's the favorite to win it this year at 7-2 odds.

Listed below is Bodoglife.com's complete Heisman Trophy field as of Wednesday morning. A few things that might be of interest to Florida fans:

1. Florida dynamo Percy Harvin is listed at 15-1 odds. Harvin, of course, is the fella Tebow has tabbed to win the 2008 Heisman. I've learned that it's always a good idea to listen to Tim Tebow. In 2007, Tebow was 10-1 odds to win the Heisman. Harvin and Tebow are the only Florida players listed.

Harvin highlights, courtesy of YouTube.

2. Players with in-state ties you can bet on:

Noel Devine (West Virginia, RB, soph.), Devine is listed at 35-1 odds, this North Fort Myers native once lived with Deion Sanders. Deion tried to be a father figure for troubled little Noel (ironical name, I agree) but Noel whadn't have'n that. He split after three days. True story: Devine once challenged Chris Rainey to a foot race in a parking lot in Lakeland, Fla., and lost by two steps. In the words of Chris Rainey, "I'm like, 'Damn. It's good to be Chris Rainey.'"

Matt Grothe (South Florida, QB, jr.) Dubbed the poor man's Tim Tebow (Boy, does old Grothe hate to hear that.), the Bull's quarterback is long shot to win the Heisman, 60-1.

Ncf_us_spiller_195Here's a pretty good bet. Clemson running back C.J. Spiller (pictured) is listed at 60-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy. The Lake Butler native snubbed Florida for Tommy Bowden's Tigers but almost transferred to Gainesville after his freshman year. (Why a running back would transfer to Florida -- Hello, Manny Moody! -- with Tebow behind center is beyond me.) Luckily for Spiller he stayed at Clemson and is now poised to have an incredible season in 2008.

3. Surprisingly, there aren't any Miami Hurricanes or Florida State Seminoles listed. One would think FSU receiver Preston Parker would have a better chance to win a Heisman than Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis (70-1). So many Miami quarterbacks have won Heisman Trophies that Robert Marve should be listed by default.

Berry_24. Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry intercepted Tim Tebow last season and returned it for a touchdown. Now Berry is listed at 80-1 odds to win the Heisman. Berry will be playing safety this season for the Vols.

Berry chose Tennessee over Florida, among other schools. The sophomore is considered the best defensive back in the Southeastern Conference this season by some preseason mags.

5. Other than Tebow, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno (10-1 odds) is probably the best bet to win Heisman. If both teams are undefeated when they meet in Jacksonville, then the head-to-head performances of Moreno and Tebow might be a determining factor for many voters.

IN WAGER-RELATED NEWS: Florida and Georgia are both 6-1 odds to win the national championship. USC (3-1) is the favorite. Miami is 35-1, FSU is 50-1 and USF is 100-1.

<>
Eric Berry (Tenn)
Todd Boeckman (OhioSt.)
Sam Bradford (Okl)
Rudy Carpenter (ASU)
Jimmy Clausen (ND)
Michael Crabtree (TTech)
Chase Daniel (Missouri)
James Davis (Clem)
Noel Devine (WVU)
Armanti Edwards (App. State)
Arian Foster (Tenn)
Matt Grothe (USF)
Max Hall (BYU)
Cullen Harper (Clem)
Percy Harvin (FL)
Graham Harrell (TTech)
P.J. Hill (Wisc)
Ian Johnson (Boise St.)
Jeremiah Johnson (Ore)
James Laurinaitis (Ohio St.)
Dan LeFevour (C. Mich)
Kellen Lewis (Ind)
Jake Locker (Wash)
Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)
LeSean McCoy (Pitt)
Colt McCoy (Tex)
Stephen McGee (Tex A&M)
Joe McKnight (USC)
Knowshon Moreno (UGA)
DeMarco Murray (Okla)
Curtis Painter (Purdue)
Terrelle Pryor (Ohio St.)
Todd Reesing (Kan)
Javon Ringer (Mich St.)
Zac Robinson (Ok. State)
Mark Sanchez (USC)
C.J. Spiller (Clem)
Matthew Stafford (UGA)
Tyrod Taylor (V. Tech)
Tim Tebow (FL)
Willie Tuitama (Arz)
Chris Wells (Ohio St.)
Pat White (WVU)
Juice Williams (ILL)
John Parker Wilson (Ala)
40/1
Field  10/1

-jo-

June 17, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: Matt Patchan

For the next week or so Gator Clause will focus on five newcomers expected to make an immediate impact this fall...or, put another way, five newcomers who need to help out immediately.

NO.5 MATT PATCHAN

GAINESVILLE -- Matt Patchan has made more news than any other UF newcomer. He first received headlines when he criticized the University of Miami football team's effort in the 'Canes embarrassing loss to Virginia.

PatchanPatchan then chose the Gators over Miami even though his father and uncle played for the 'Canes. Patchan graduated from Seffner Armwood in December and enrolled at UF for the spring semester. Despite arriving at Florida underweight for an offensive lineman, Patchan thrived during spring practice and impressed UF coaches enough to get a serious look along the defensive line.

Patchan played offensive and defensive line during the Gators' Orange & Blue Game and was singled out by UF coach Urban Meyer as being one of the Gators' top newcomers of spring practice.

It didn't take long before Patchan was in the news again. This time, it was for all the wrong reasons. Patchan was shot in the arm this summer while he was visiting friends in Tampa. Patchan was apparently caught in the crossfire of a random shooting at a Tampa-area park.

Florida doctors believe Patchan will be back to full health in time for fall practice. Coaches expect Patchan to add immediate depth along the defensive line, freeing Mike Pouncey to move back to offense. Coaches love Patchan's intensity and work ethic on the practice field and he is quickly building a reputation as one of the Gators' hardest workers.

Expect Patchan to receive playing time next fall as a back-up defensive lineman. He is also expected to contribute on special teams.

-jo-


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