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41 posts from December 2008

December 30, 2008

Percy Harvin still not practicing but ahead of schedule, according to UF

GAINESVILLE -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin hasn't practiced with the Gators since his ankle sprain against Florida State but UF coach Urban Meyer said on Tuesday that Harvin is ahead of schedule and is probable for the national championship game on Jan.8.

Harvin, who remained in Gainesville over the holidays to receive treatment for his injury, tested his ankle on Tuesday during individual receiving drills. Meyer has been impressed with Harvin's dedication over the holidays. Florida is off on Wednesday but Harvin will once again be in the training room working to prepare for the national championship game.

"I'm not sure I've seen a guy do what he has done as far as commitment," Meyer said. "He's as competitive a guy as I have been around and it's showing up right now."

DOUBE DUTY FOR ADDAZIO
Recently promoted to offensive coordinator, UF assistant Steve Addazio said on Tuesday that he will call plays from the sidelines during the national championship game. Addazio is also the team's offensive line coach. Former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen will communicate with quarterback Tim Tebow from the press box.

"When you coach the offensive line, too, you want to be able to be there," said Addazio, who in 2004 doubled as Indiana University's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. "In my previous stint doing this, I did it from the sideline. I really like looking in people's eyes. Everybody has got differing opinions about that -- the pros and the cons."

-jo-

Robert Marve to UF?; Not so fast...

GAINESVILLE -- As expected, redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Marve requested and was granted his release to transfer today from the University of Miami. Marve would like to transfer to Florida, Tennessee or LSU, according to sources.

Here's the $1 million question: What needs to happen for Marve to wind up at Florida next season? 1. Marve must win an appeal with the University of Miami regarding his transfer, which states he cannot play for an in-state team or a team in the ACC or SEC. Seems a touch personal on UM's part.

2. The return of Tim Tebow. Marve will be ineligible next season. If Tebow returns to UF, then that will give Marve a year to prepare for competition with current UF back-up quarterback John Brantley and incoming freshman Jordan Reed of Connecticut. Reed is verbally committed to UF. Of course, that could change if Marve transfers to UF.

My opinion: Assuming the SEC ban is lifted from UM's transfer stipulations, Tennessee seems like the best fit for Marve, who was suspended twice this season by UM coach Randy Shannon for breaking team rules. Tennessee's offense was awful this season.

Something else to think about: Why would UF welcome one quarterback with a checkered past after the incident involving Cam Newton, who was arrested recently for allegedly stealing a laptop computer from another UF student? Seems a bit hypocritical. The same goes for LSU, which parted ways with former quarterback Ryan Perrilloux before the 2008 season.

-jo-   

Gators recruiting TV Guide for prep all-star games

GAINESVILLE -- Further contributing to the exploitation of America's youth, the TV guys (NBC, Fox and ESPN) will air their national high school all-star football games this weekend. Naturally, the biggest game of all is sponsored by the United States Army.

In this blog post, we will contribute to the degeneration. Consider this the Gators' TV Guide to the all-star showcase weekend. There are three high school all-star games: Fox Sports' Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Friday, NBC's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday and ESPN's Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando on Sunday. Players committed to UF and players who might commit to UF play in each game.

As much as we hate it, the editorial board at Gator Clause realizes that college-football recruiting is to football fans what the soap opera The Young and the Restless is to, well, everyone else: day-time crack-tra-vision. Or, put another way, recruiting "is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

For example: On Saturday, a young man named William Campbell of Detroit (five-star general!) will stand in front of a television camera wearing a football jersey advertising the U.S. Army and tell the good viewers of NBC where he would like to play football for the next three to five years and perhaps major in family sciences or general studies but most likely X-Box 360. Campbell has received scholarship offers from countless universities but he says he is only interested in three: Florida, Miami and LSU. (Florida, on account of its world-renowned family sciences major, might have the edge.)

Middle-aged men in Cleawater or Kendall or Baton Rouge, La., will listen to Campbell announce his choice with an unbreakable concentration of dorkness that can only be compared to a Klingon tractor beam in deep space. Campbell, a 6-5, 315-pound defensive tackle, will then have exactly one month and one day (or maybe longer, see also Terrelle Pryor) to change his mind as many times as he likes (National Signing Day is Feb.4). The red flag on Campbell: He originally committed to Michigan, a home-state school, but apparently is no longer considering the Wolverines on account of Michigan's lack of family sciences. Is this true that Campbell has in fact "de-committed" from Michigan, or is it all just a ploy by NBC producers to boost their ratings? Tune in to NBC at 1 p.m. on Saturday to find out!

WHO TO WATCH
U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL, 1 p.m. Sat., San Antonio, NBC
FLORIDA COMMITS: 6-7, 245-pound DE Nick Kasa of Broomfield, Colo. Kasa is a four-star general and chose UF over his hometown Colorado Buffaloes; 6-4, 280-pound OT Nick Alajajian of Naples. Alajajian is a four-star general, according to his service record on Rivals.com. 
OTHER RECRUITS OF INTEREST (a few of these guys might commit to UF): DT William Campbell of Detroit, DE Ryne Giddins of Seffner Armwood, OL Xavier Nixon of Fayetteville, N.C., TE Orson Charles of Tampa, LB Jarvis Jones of Columbus, Ga., LB Jon Bostic of Wellington.

UNDER ARMOUR HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICAN GAME, 8 p.m. Sun., Orlando, ESPN
FLORIDA COMMITS: 5-11, 160-pound Nu'Keese Richardson of Pahokee, an athletic wide receiver with the ability to turn short passes into long gains; 5-9, 175-pound Greg Reid of Valdosta, Ga., named Georgia's best prep football player by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, will likely play cornerback for the Gators, an excellent return specialist, returned two punts for touchdowns during the Georgia high school all-star game; 6-3, 275-pound Gary Brown of Quincy West Gadsden, a defensive tackle with a quick first step and a solid body.
OTHER RECRUITS OF INTEREST: WR Andre Debose of Sanford Seminole, S Ray Ray Armstrong of Sanford Seminole, LB Jelani Jenkins of Wheaton, Md., LB Frankie Telfort of Miami Gulliver Prep,

OFFENSE-DEFENSE ALL-AMERICAN BOWL, 5 p.m. Fri., Myrtle Beach, S.C., FOX SPORTS
FLORIDA COMMITS: 6-4, 290-pound Jonotthan Harrison of Groveland South Lake. An offensive guard, Harrison will enroll at UF in January and begin school after the winter break. Harrison is a former high school teammate of UF freshman running back Jeffery Demps. 6-4, 218-pound Desmond Parks of Greer, S.C. Greer had 19 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns this season. Like Harrison, Greer graduated a semester early from high school and will begin taking classes at UF in January.

-jo-

December 27, 2008

Gators promote Steve Addazio to offensive coordinator

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Saturday that assistant Steve Addazio has been promoted to offensive coordinator. The position was vacated earlier this month when Dan Mullen left UF for Mississippi State.

Addazio, who coached offensive line this season, could be walking into one of the most challenging positions in the country next season if UF quarterback Tim Tebow turns pro. Mullen, who doubled as the Gators' quarterbacks' coach, will help coach the Gators on Jan. 8 in the national championship game against Oklahoma, according to UF.

"We will still run the same type of offense," Meyer said. "We will continue to put the ball in the hands of our best players, spread the field and try to take advantage of the best match ups. Billy Gonzales, Kenny Carter and John Hevesy will continue to be involved in the offensive game planning and play calling as they have all year."

Gonzales (receivers' coach) has been mentioned as a possible offensive coordinator for Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.

-jo-

RECRUITING: UF likely to sign just one RB recruit

GAINESVILLE -- There was a time not too terribly long ago when rival coaches of the Florida Gators could convince big-name running back recruits that UF coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense wasn't designed for a consistent ground attack.

That argument isn't valid anymore, but just because UF was a run-first team this season doesn't mean the Gators will sign a wealth of talented running backs on National Signing Day in February. The Gators lose just one running back, senior Kestahn Moore, after this season and UF returns its three leading running backs: redshirt freshman Chris Rainey, freshman Jeffery Demps and redshirt sophomore Emmanuel Moody. Junior Brandon James also returns.

The crowded backfield has led to just one running back commitment for the Gators (Mike Gillislee of Deland). Ranked eighth nationally among all-purpose backs by Rivals, Gillislee is a talented player who could compete for playing time as a true freshman.

UF is still recruiting Pensacola Escambia running back Trent Richardson, a five-star recruit, but Richardson is committed to Alabama. Like Florida, Alabama returns several running backs next season, so there's still an outside possibility the Gators could nab Richardson in the final month of recruiting.

RUNNING BACK COMMITMENT: Mike Gillislee (6-1, 205 pounds of Deland).
CURRENT GRADE: C

-jo-

December 25, 2008

Six Gators earn All-Florida Team honors

GAINESVILLE -- The Miami Herald's All-Florida Team was published today. They tell me it looks really good in the newspaper. If you get the paper delivered, consider it a visit from the Lord of Scales himself, Gator Claus. Six Florida Gators made the first-team All-Florida team this season: quarterback Tim Tebow, receives Percy Harvin and receiver Louis Murphy, linemen Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey and Phil Trautwein, linebacker Brandon Spikes safety Ahmad Black.

There are plenty of Gators on the second-team as well. If you're out today, go buy a paper and have a look. Again, the All-Florida team is presented by The Miami Herald this morning on two full pages of color with individual capsules and action photographs of each player. Here's the entire All-Florida first team.

OFFENSE
QB -- Tim Tebow, UF
RB -- Antone Smith, FSU
WR/RB -- Percy Harvin, UF
WR -- T.Y. Hilton, FIU
WR -- Louis Murphy, UF
TE -- Jamari Grant, FAU
OT -- Phil Trautwein, UF
OT -- Jason Fox, UM
G -- Rodney Hudson, FSU
G -- Mike Pouncey, UF
C -- Maurkice Pouncey, UF

DEFENSE
DT -- Jervonte Jackson, FAU
DE -- Everette Brown, FSU
DE -- George Selvie, USF
LB -- Brandon Spikes, UF
LB -- Tyrone McKenzie, USF
LB -- Frantz Joseph, FAU
LB -- Glenn Cook, UM
CB -- Joe Burnett, UCF
CB -- Anthony Gaitor, FIU
S -- Ahmad Black, UF
S -- Myron Rolle, FSU

SPECIALISTS
PK -- Graham Gano, FSU
P -- Matt Bosher, UM

-jo-

December 24, 2008

RECRUITING: UF needs one more QB commitment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Merry Christmas Eve. In an ongoing pattern of self-inflicted torture, I'll be heading to the mall in a few minutes to donate the remaining morsels of my sanity to the Gap.

I have only observed one thing that compares to the suffering and angst of Christmas Eve at the mall and that's when I had to report on a FEMA distribution site in Oakland Park during Hurricane Wilma.

Imagine if the alien invasion happened on Christmas Eve at Aventura Mall (North Miami)? Here's what our zoo exhibit on the planet Tralfamadore would read: Humans from the planet Earth. Live birth. Social creatures. Seen here in its natural environment, a collection of artificial caves. Extinct.

From one mind-numbing creation to another, let's talk recruiting. The Florida Gators currently have one committed quarterback but could use two -- especially if Cam Newton leaves UF after being accused of stealing a laptop computer. Here's the worst -case scenario: Tim Tebow turns pro and Newton leaves. What then? Florida certainly doesn't want to begin the 2009 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks.

QUARTERBACK COMMITMENT: Jordan Reed (6-3, 245) of New London, Conn. A dual-threat quarterback, Reed was injured for a large portion of his senior season. I'm sure you're tempted to draw comparisons between Reed and Tebow because of Reed's size. Bad idea.

QUARTERBACK GRADE: C-

A few announcements before I check out...
--Don't forget to buy a Christmas Day copy of The Herald. You'll be impressed with the two-page layout of the All-Florida team.
--Got an email from the Desert Gator Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. They're collecting toys for Christmas donations. I told our friends at the Desert Gator Club that I'd mention their cause on the blog. Don't really know why people would ship toys to Arizona, now that I think about it. ANYWAY, do the right thing and donate toys this Holiday season.

-jo-

December 23, 2008

Who has better fans: Florida or Oklahoma?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Here's a column from OKNews.com about Gators fans. Good column but a few things need pointing out.

1. Of course Mark Bradley of the AJC is going to write that Florida has the most obnoxious fans. He writes for Atlanta and he loves UGA. Here's what writers who cover football don't understand: The more obnoxious the fan the better the fan. When Bradley named Gators the most obnoxious fans in the SEC, he was unwittingly handing the Gators the best-fan award. Well, maybe that was his point.

2. The columnist's first instinct was correct. LSU has the most obnoxious and slovenly fans in the SEC. Baton Rouge breeds the perfect Deep South hooligan. Cultural isolationism? Check. Prone to violence or shows of brutish masculinity? Check. Blind loyalty? Check. Wild Turkey sour mash whiskey? Check. Teeth? Optional. Inferiority complex? Check. Most people stop drooling around the time they learn to balance themselves upright. These two skills performed simultaneously are too complicated for the average LSU fan on game day. They regress. Evolution stumbles backwards, drunken, confused and marking its territory on every building and tree. LSU fans either walk around leaking at the mouth or crawl around on all fours like the primitive beasts they are. "Tiger Bait!"

3. Is Miami really UF's backyard? From the perspective of someone in Oklahoma, yes. From my vantage point, not exactly. Miami is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country but the Gators have failed to pull a recruit from Miami-Dade County since Dorian Munroe almost four years ago. Sheesh, that's pathetic.

4. I've been to every Florida home and away game for two straight seasons. I also grew up going to Auburn and Alabama games and later covered Auburn and Alabama games. Florida fans are not that rowdy. Gators might take this as a compliment or an indictment, I don't know, but since I've been in Gainesville, the most obnoxious fans were the Miami Hurricanes fans who celebrated their fandom with a giant mosh pit outside The Swamp before Florida 26, Miami 3. Does anyone remember this? Guess they figured celebrating before the game was the best idea.

So, who has more obnoxious fans: Florida or Oklahoma? If Billy Sims is any indication, then the award should go to the Sooners.

-jo-

RECRUITING '09: Replacing senior O'linemen a priority

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas and the eight nights of Chanukah, Gator Clause is breaking down the Gators' 2009 commitment list one position at a time. Yesterday we looked at receivers and tight ends and today we'll highlight the offensive line commitments.

GingerbigSince we're focusing on the big boys today, it's only fitting that we throw a little food into the blog. The Goodmans made Christmas and Chanukah cookies today before a trip down to the Southside for a basketball game between UAB and FAU.

Back in Gainesville, the Gators' basketball team hosted Georgia Southern and beat the Eagles 88-81. It was a too-close-for-comfort win for UF (9-2). Sophomore Nick Calathes put the game away with a three-pointer with six seconds to play. Georgia Southern is 3-6.

The Gators' football team has received four oral commitments from high school offensive linemen. While other positions will suffer due to UF's limited number of available scholarships this recruiting cycle, the Gators have a done a nice job of replacing their graduating offensive linemen. UF graduates three offensive linemen after the national championship game: tackles Jason Watkins and Phil Trautwein and guard Jim Tartt.

GingerheadTHE COMMITMENTS: Jonotthan Harrison of Groveland South Lake, Kyle Koehne of Indianapolis, Jon Halapio of St. Petersburg Catholic and Nick Alajajian of Naples.

THE GRADE: B

Alajajian is set to enroll at UF in a couple of weeks. The Naples High standout should compete for a spot in the Gators' rotation next season. Harrison, a former teammate of UF freshman running back Jeffery Demps, is already well known among his future teammates. The guard watched the Heisman Trophy presentation with the team in UF's Gator Room. Koehne and Halapio will add depth next season.

Florida is in the running for a few more offensive linemen, including Xavier Nixon of Fayetteville, N.C., and Morgan Moses of Richmond, Va. A late commitment from either one of these players would be major news. Both players are ranked among the nation's best offensive linemen.

Up next ... quarterbacks.

(Yes, your assumptions were correct. The Goodman's gingerbread man vomited green stomach bile while in the oven. Tragic and disturbing.)

-jo-

December 22, 2008

RECRUITING: Class of '09 thin at receiver/tight end

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Happy Festivus.

So, did anyone watch the final minutes of the 6A high school state championship? Pretty sure a couple UF fans wouldn't mind seeing Seminole's Andre Dubose donate to the Gators' Human Fund next season. The Gators only have one receiver commitment (Nu'Keese Richardson of Pahokee) this recruiting cycle and could stand to use another. It's a tough sell for the Gators, though. UF loses two receivers (possibly three, Riley Cooper to the MLB Draft?) this season but returns six/seven (David Nelson, Deonte Thompson, Carl Moore, Paul Wilson, Omarius Hines, Frankie Hammond Jr., T.J. Lawrence).

RECEIVER COMMITMENT: Nu'Keese Richardson, Pahokee (5-8, 151 pounds). Another smallish skill player.
GRADE: C, If Nuke is anything like Janoris Jenkins (another Pahokee guy) then UF might not need another receiver commitment.

While UF isn't hurting for receivers, the Gators definitely need to add depth at tight end on Feb. 4. (National Signing Day). UF returns one tight end next season (junior Aaron Hernandez) but the Gators only have one commitment so far. Two more would be ideal.

TIGHT END COMMITMENT: Desmond Parks of Greer, S.C. (6-4, 218) Can Parks play right away?
GRADE: D, With the loss of Cornelius Ingram and Tate Casey, UF needs depth at tight end.

Up tomorrow...Offensive line.

-jo-

December 21, 2008

Two visit UF on final day of recruiting

Did anyone see David Hasselhoff sing the National Anthem before the Las Vegas Bowl? Could there have been a better metaphor for the first weekend of the bowl season? Yes, actually. Dustin Diamond could sing before the Emerald Nuts Bowl...

GAINESVILLE -- Now that we've wedged that wonderful mental image into your head, let's move on to recruiting -- an equally dirty business. (It appears Tennessee's Lane Kiffin is adjusting well to the whole recruiting thing: "What are kids really looking at? I'd like to tell you that the No.1 thing kids look at is academics. That's not the case," Kiffin said. "We need to be realistic with that. Kids want to play in the NFL."

This the final day coaches can lie to players about the NFL before the dead period. (The recruiting dead period begins tomorrow. Recruiting resumes in January. Sorry, Urban. No dressing up in Santa Claus (or Gator Claus) costums and frightening the family of Jelani Jenkins (nation's top outside linebacker) on Christmas Day.) UF welcomed nearly a dozen recruits last week to its campus for official visits last weekend. This weekend only two recruits are scheduled to visit Gainesville: defensive end Ryne Giddins of Seffner Armwood and JUCO defensive end Pernell McPhee, Janoris Jenkins' cousin.

With about two months of recruiting remaining before National Signing Day (Feb. 4), Florida has 14 oral commitments and one signee (JUCO defensive tackle Edwin Herbert). Junior college guys began signing last week. High school kids must wait until February.

By my count, Florida has between 17-20 scholarships available for next season depending on who leaves for the NFL and who is allowed back on the team after allegedly stealing a laptop. With only a few more scholarships to fill, the Gators will be selective in the final two months.

Recruiting report card coming tomorrow.

-jo-

December 19, 2008

Tennessee prep standout commits to Gators

GAINESVILLE -- Florida received a commitment from Marsalis Teague of Paris, Tenn., on Thursday. Projected to play cornerback in college, Teague chose UF over Alabama and Tennessee.

Teague is the Gators' 15th commitment of the 2009 recruiting cycle and the second cornerback of the class. A 5-10, 175-pound all-purpose player in for Paris Henry County High, Teague is considered one of Tennessee's best talents of 2009. He also has a 4.0 GPA, according to Paris Henry County coach Joe Gaddis.

--Florida practiced for the final time today before Christmas break. The team reports back to Gainesville after Christmas. UF quarterback Tim Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes have filled paperwork with the NFL draft advisory board, seeking formal evaluations of their potential draft projections. NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. told Gator Clause last week that Tebow will likely be drafted in the second or third round, if the junior quarterback decides to forgo his senior year of eligibility. Kiper said that Brandon Spikes could be a first-round pick if he runs well in the 40-yard dash.

--UF coaches played coy on Friday when asked if junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham had filed his NFL draft advisory paperwork. UF coach Urban Meyer said he didn't know.

Happy Holidays, folks. I'm headed to Tampa on Saturday to cover the wonderful and riveting St. Petersburg Bowl between South Florida and Memphis. I'm headed to Birmingham (my hometown) after that. Don't worry, we'll be blogging all week.

-jo-

December 18, 2008

Eleven Gators land on my final ballot for The Herald's All-Florida team

GAINESVILLE -- The Miami Herald's second-annual All-Florida team is scheduled for publication on Christmas Day. Here's my ballot. Four other Herald college football writers have votes: Jeff Shain (FSU, national football writer), Pete Pelegrin (FIU writer), Manny Navarro (UM writer) and Susan Miller-Degnan (UM writer).

Here's the breakdown of my ballot by school: UF 11, FSU 5, USF 3, FAU 3, FIU 2, UM 1, UCF 0. My breakdown by class: seniors 9, juniors 8, sophomores 7, freshman 1. This is an elite list of college football players -- one that rivals any all-state team in the country. A few notes about my ballot:

1. Several South Florida prep standouts made the list: Marc Dile (Miami Edison), T.Y. Hilton (Miami Springs), Anthony Gaitor (Miami Northwestern) and Frantz Joseph (Fort Lauderdale High).

2. One freshman made the list, Hilton of Florida International. Hilton had an incredible season. He had 41 receptions for 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran for two scores and threw a touchdown pass. In addition to his offensive accomplishments, Hilton was a special teams dynamo. He returned 18 punts for 266 yards, including a 74-yard return for a touchdown. On kickoffs, Hilton averaging 23.1 yards per return and had a 90-yard touchdown return.

3. The guidelines for the offensive and defensive teams allow voters to set formations to best represent the state's top players. I went with three receivers and one running back on offense. Defensively, I opted for a 3-4 front seven and didn't list a defensive tackle on my ballot. Instead, I went with three defensive ends.

4. Only one Miami Hurricane made my ballot, punter Matt Bosher, who was recently named UM's MVP at the Hurricanes' football banquet. Miami linebacker Glenn Cook had a solid season but was up against some tough competition. I voted for FSU safety Myron Rolle over Miami defensive back Anthony Reddick. Rolle was a Rhodes Scholar. Offensively, Miami's rotation of young players left several talented Canes off the list. The same thing happened to UF's running backs.   

MY ALL-FLORIDA BALLOT
OFFENSE

T Marc Dile, USF, sr.
G Mike Pouncey, UF, soph.
C Maurkice Pouncey, UF, soph.
G Rodney Hudson, FSU, soph.
T Phil Trautwein, UF, sr.
TE Jamari Grant, FAU, jr.
WR Louis Murphy, UF, sr.
WR T.Y. Hilton, FIU, fr.
WR Percy Harvin, UF, jr.
RB Charles Pierre, FAU, sr.
QB Tim Tebow, UF, jr.

DEFENSE
DL George Selvie, USF, jr.
DL Everette Brown, FSU, jr.
DL Jermaine Cunningham, UF, jr.
LB Derek Nicholson, FSU, sr.
LB Tryone McKenzie, USF, sr.
LB Frantz Joseph, FAU, sr.
LB Brandon Spikes, UF, jr.
CB Joe Haden, UF, soph.
CB Anthony Gaitor, FIU, soph.
S Ahmad Black, UF, soph.
S Myron Rolle, FSU, sr.

SPECIALISTS
K Graham Gano, FSU, sr.
P Matt Bosher, UM, soph.
R Brandon James, UF, jr.

-jo-

CB Joe Haden not 'talking smack,' Kid just speaks the truth

GAINESVILLE -- Thank you, Joe Haden, for keeping it real. In a sporting world filled with limp-wristed answers and politically correct coach speak, Florida's cornerback speaks the truth. The kid tells it like it is.

Asked earlier this week if Oklahoma could score 60 points on the Gators' defense, Haden didn't back down like so many college athletes are told to do by coaches and sports information directors.

"They haven't played against us," Haden said. "Our team looks like they haven't put 60 points up on us. Nobody puts 60 points up on us. So, we feel like if we come out and play at the top of our ability, nobody should be able to score that many points."

Now, a few in-state newspapers have dubbed this as "talking smack." I disagree. Calling Florida the real "U," a la Louis Murphy. Now, that's smack. Calling Tennessee a bunch of quitters. Now, that's smack. Haden was just stating the obvious. Let's break this thing down.

1. "They haven't played against us." FACT (In fact, Florida has never played Oklahoma.)
2. "Our team looks like they haven't put 60 points up on us." FACT (Obviously.)
3. "Nobody puts 60 points up on us." FACT
4. "So, we feel like if we come out and play at the top of our ability, nobody should be able to score that many points." OPINION BASED ON FACTS

Florida is ranked ninth in country in total defense (279.3 points per game) and fifth in scoring defense (12.8 points per game). UF is No.2 in turnover margin (plus-22).

"It's a challenge for [Oklahoma] to come against us, honestly, because they haven't seen a defense like us -- with the speed and the physical play and just knowing our assignments and just flying around," Haden said. "They probably played some good defenses, but our defense is definitely one of the top."

Again, let's break it down.

1. "It's a challenge for them to come against us." FACT
2. "They haven't seen a defense like us." UP FOR INTERPRETATION/DEBATABLE (Texas Christian's defense is ranked No.2 in the country and Oklahoma defeated the Horned Frogs 35-10.)
3. "They probably played some good defenses." FACT (In addition to TCU, Oklahoma played Cincinnati, which features a defense ranked No.24 in the nation.)
4. "Our defense is definitely one of the top." FACT

-jo-

Three Gators earn AP All-America honors

GAINESVILLE -- Florida junior linebacker Brandon Spikes earned first-team All-America honors on Wednesday. Florida junior receiver Percy Harvin was a second-team All-American while junior quarterback Tim Tebow landed on the All-America third team.

LINK TO AP ALL-AMERICA TEAMS (FYI: Oklahoma had six All-Americans. Alabama had five.)

Spikes led the Gators with 87 tackles, including eight tackles for losses and two sacks. He had four interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. Just as important as his play on the field, Spikes was a leader in the locker room and credited for galvanizing the defense after the unit's poor effort in 2007.

Harvin made the AP All-America second-team as an all-purpose player. A receiver, Harvin led the Gators in touchdown (16) and amassed 1,133 all-purpose yards (103 per game). He was second on the team in receptions (35) and had 595 receiving yards. As a running back, Harvin led the Gators with 8.8 yards per carry (61 carries for 538 yards).

Tebow, third place in Heisman Trophy voting, accounted for 40 touchdowns this season. He threw for 28 touchdowns and two interceptions. Tebow threw for 2,515 yards, led the Gators in carries (154) and rushed for 564 yards. 

-jo- 

December 17, 2008

Oklahoma loses another player to surgery

GAINESVILLE -- The biggest news of the day came out of Norman, Okla., where it was announced that defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger will miss the college football national championship game.

Granger, a junior, who has suffered from chronic lower back problems for much of his career, underwent surgery on Saturday. Granger played in 11 games this season as a back-up. He had 20 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Earlier this week, OU announced that running back DeMarco Murray will miss the Jan. 8 national championship game due to a partially torn hamstring tendon. Murray rushed for 1,002 yards this season (second on the team, or eight yards fewer than Chris Brown). Murray was third in the FBS with 2,171 all-purpose yards. He scored 18 touchdowns this season and was the Sooners' kick-return specialist.

--Nothing new to report from Florida's camp. UF coach Urban Meyer said that tight end Cornelius Ingram will not play in the title game, putting that rumor to rest.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow still hasn't filed his paperwork with the NFL draft advisory board. The deadline is Friday. Players do not have to file with the advisory board to enter the NFL Draft.

--The Gators begin Christmas break after Friday's practice. The team won't practice again until Dec. 27. Florida is a three-point favorite against Oklahoma, according to Las Vegas. The over-under is 72 points.

--The national championship game has been sold out since November but ticket prices are dropping on Stubhub.com. Tickets were being auctioned for $299 each on Wednesday night.

-jo-

December 16, 2008

Mullen to coach in title game; Tebow and Spikes yet to file with NFL

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Tuesday that former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen will help coach the Gators' offense during the BCS national championship game on Jan. 8.

Mullen was hired as Mississippi State's head coach last week. Meyer said on Tuesday that Mullen will rejoin the Gators after Christmas.

"We've talked about it and the goal is to win the game and right now, unless something changes, it looks like that's going to happen," Meyer said.

Gotta assume that this move is more for Tim Tebow's comfort level than anything. Meyer said "all of the above" when asked if Tebow's relationship with Mullen had anything to do with the decision to keep Mullen around for a few more weeks. Tebow said on Saturday that he is comfortable communicating with Mullen during games. Mullen was also UF's quarterbacks coach.

While Meyer believes having Mullen around gives the Gators the best chance to beat Oklahoma, Florida's coach realizes his former offensive coordinator will be limited.

"Is he going to give 100 percent? I hear that comment and I laugh inside because of course he's not. He's got a job to do," Meyer said. "But is the best chance of us winning that game with the mechanics of the game we way we do them? Probably yes. So, right now I'd say the plan is he's going to be up in the press box and we're going to go."

WHO REPLACES MULLEN?
Meyer said on Tuesday that he's going to take his time replacing Mullen. That said, Meyer's lists of possible recruiting coordinates might be a short one.

"The next coordinator is probably going to be someone I know," Meyer said. "When I hire a coach I'm not interested in a guy that's going to sit there and nod his head yes. I want a guy that has input. So, more I'm looking for great chemistry and a great recruiter and someone who represents this university well."

Meyer said he will consider in-house candidates and coaches outside the program. Keep this name in the back of your mind, Gregg Brandon. He was Meyer's offensive coordinator at Bowling Green. Brandon was recently fired as Bowling Green's head coach.

PERCY HARVIN FILES NFL PAPERWORK
It's no shock that junior receiver Percy Harvin has already filed paperwork with the NFL Draft Advisory Committee for a formal evaluation of his projected draft status. What is a little surprising is that Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow have not, according to UF strength coach Mickey Marotti, who coordinates the paperwork for UF's underclassmen. The deadline is Friday.

INJURIES
Florida worked out in shorts inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Harvin ran with the team, according to coaches. The receiver injured his ankle against Florida State and did not play in the SEC championship game. Meyer said he expects Harvin to be "100 percent" for the national championship game.

Meyer disclosed on Tuesday that offensive lineman Carl Johnson and receiver Louis Murphy are nursing knee injuries. Meyer called the injuries "cartilage issues." Both players should be ready for the championship game, according to Meyer.

-jo-

December 15, 2008

Will Tebow return for senior year? We try and connect the dots...

GAINESVILLE -- In our ongoing pursuit to fuel speculation and debate, Gator Clause will now attempt to piece together observations, opinions and interviews to determine if UF quarterback Tim Tebow will leave for the NFL after the championship game or return for his senior season.

Tebow hasn't said one way or the other but some evidence suggests Tebow will return. The junior quarterback has said that he will likely return to Gainesville if he is not projected as a top 15 pick in upcoming draft. Gator Clause caught up with NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. last week and Kiper believes Tebow is a second-round pick and will be used primarily as a tight end/H-back/fullback in the pros.

While Kiper says second round, some NFL scouts project Tebow being drafted on the second day (rounds three to six).

On Saturday, Tebow said a chance at a second Heisman his senior year will have nothing to do with his decision to return or stay.

"I don't think that will make any difference in my decision to go or stay, winning a second Heisman," Tebow said. "It would be more to win a third national championship."

In case anyone was wondering, Heisman winner Leon Hart (1949), an end, won three national championships in his four-year career with Notre Dame.

WAS TEBOW ROBBED?
So, was UF quarterback Tim Tebow robbed of his second Heisman by the voters?

I don't think so but some were convinced on Saturday night when it was announced that Sam Bradford of Oklahoma won the Heisman while Tebow had the most first-place votes. Tebow appeared on 83 percent of the ballots, meaning about 153 voters left him off their ballots. (Ballots consist of three spots. A individual first-place vote receives three point, second place votes are worth two points and third place votes are worth one point.)

Not surprisingly, Bradford beat Tebow by 151 points. Ouch, that hurts. In the Southwest region, Tebow only received 184 points from voters while Bradford and McCoy received 360 and 313 points, respectively. On the other hand, Tebow received 382 points from the South region (the highest point total by region for any player.)

DT COMMITS TO UF
Defensive tackle Edwin Herbert (6-3, 295 pounds) of San Francisco City College committed to the Gators this weekend. Herbert, who was orginally committed to Tennessee, is expected to enroll at UF in January. Herbert is the second defensive tackle of the 2009 recruiting cycle to commit to Florida. Gary Brown (6-3, 275 pounds) of Quincy, Fla., was the first.

Herbert is the Gators' 14th commitment of 2009 signing class and the second junior college commitment.

-jo-

December 12, 2008

Tebow takes in NYC; Mullen now attempting to steal recruits from UF, apparently

NEW YORK -- Things are winding down here in the city. Well, for me anyway. The Quarterbacks Three -- Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy -- went to the "Top of the Rock" tonight. I went to Grand Central for dinner and ate oysters.

Tebow was his usual Crocs-wearing self today during the pre-Heisman press conference. Bradford was a little nervous and McCoy sounded like he's ready to begin next season tomorrow. The Longhorns return 10 offensive starters next season.

Mullen is telling people in Mississippi that he will help coach the Gators through the Bulldogs. Don't know if that's good news or not. For what it's worth -- probably a lot -- Tebow wants Mullen in the booth for the title game. On Friday, Tebow made it pretty clear that he didn't want to communicate with anyone except Mullen on the headsets during the game.

There are already signs that Mullen's new gig at Mississippi State might affect the Gators' upcoming recruiting class. One Mississippi high school receiver, Chad Bumphis of Tupelo, Miss., told Rivals.com that Florida fell in his list of prospective schools shortly after Mullen was hired at Mississippi State.

Bumphis is being recruited by Alabama, Florida and now Mississippi State. Mullen was the point man with Bumphis while at UF but now that Mullen is at Mississippi State, UF's former/current offensive coordinator is telling Bumphis that he's going to play in Starkville, Miss.

"He said I'd be playing for him at Mississippi State now instead of Florida," Bumphis told Rivals.com. "I like it. I like him and that move makes it closer to home. So, yeah, that helps Mississippi State. I wouldn't say they're leading, but they're up pretty high."

This is an interesting development, to say the least. Don't know how long UF is going to want Mullen around if he's going to steal recruits from the Gators.

Coincidentally, this weekend is a big one for the Gators' recruiting efforts. According to Rivals, 11 football recruits are visiting UF this weekend. That list includes nine four-star recruits and two five stars, according to Rivals. Five of the recruits are committed to Florida but six are not, including Deerfield Beach quarterback Denard Robinson (who will likely play defensive back in college) and Pompano Beach Ely cornerback Michael Carter.

The biggest names this weekend are William Campbell, a five-star defensive tackle from Detroit, and five-star outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins of Olney, Md. Campbell is the No.4-rated defensive tackle in the nation, according to Rivals.com, and the No.1 overall recruit in Michigan. Rivals.com ranks Jenkins as the No.1-rated outside linebacker in the nation and the No.3 overall recruit in the nation.

-jo-

December 11, 2008

Tebow wins second Maxwell Award; Talks about Mullen

LAKE BUENA VISTA-- Tebow became just the second repeat winner of the Maxwell Award on Thursday at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney World's Boardwalk.

Tebow also was given a Spirit Award from Disney for his work as a missionary. Tebow flies to New York City on Friday for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. 

UF linebacker Brandon Spikes was named to the Walter Camp All-America team. FSU coach Bobby Bowden was given a lifetime achievement award from the National College Football Awards Association.

Tebow answered a few questions about UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen on Thursday. He said that Mullen wants to coach UF in the bowl game but the decision is up to Meyer, who apparently hasn't decided just yet.

"I know he's going to be busy with recruiting and everything," Tebow said.

MEYER NAMES HIS DREAM JOB: NOTRE DAME
UF coach Urban Meyer told Jim Mandich of AM 560 WQAM (Miami radio) on Wednesday that Notre Dame is his dream job. Before you jump off a building, read the transcript of the quote and tell me what you think.

MANDICH: I think a lot of people were fascinated that you were looking at Notre Dame and the University of Florida and you turned down, what at one time was your dream job.  Take us through that again and what was behind your thinking.

MEYER: Well, Florida was already in the 11th hour.  We met twice with Jeremy Foley and my wife, we were very drawn to Florida.  Notre Dame is still my dream job and that hasn't changed.  It's just that the time in my life that, to be the head football coach at Notre Dame, you're on the plane recruiting because you recruit San Diego as hard as you recruit New York as hard as you recruit California, Florida, Texas, Ohio...it's a national recruiting base.  I recruited there for 6 years and I spent every night in a hotel, in an airport and I'm going to be a good father first.

Once my kids are done, maybe some day I'll go coach.  I don't know that, that's way down the road.  Being a father and being able to recruit the best athletes in America within a five-hour radius of my home, that's why I came to Florida and I thought we could have a great chance at success.

-jo-


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