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31 posts from January 2009

January 31, 2009

FSU's Preston Parker arrested for DUI

GAINESVILLE -- The turnaround up at Florida State took a turn for the worse on Saturday when receiver Preston Parker was arrested for DUI. The guy passed out in his car while in line at a McDonald's drivethrough. CLICK ME!

Jeez! This raises concerns about the Seminoles' football program. Seriously, their players eat McDonald's at 4:42 a.m. Is that the breakfast menu or the regular menu?


Gators end recruiting cycle with look to future, Junior Day

GAINESVILLE -- This is the final weekend of the 2009 recruiting cycle. Across the nation, schools are inviting prep football players to their campuses for one more sales pitch. But not here in Gainesville.

Florida coach Urban Meyer does things a little differently. UF hosts Junior Day today and focuses on the future rather than the present. There will not be any official visits today for players graduating in 2009. Instead, there are plenty of 2010 graduates buzzing through The Swamp. Think of it as Meyer's way of staying one step ahead of the competition. Is this a good idea? Debates rage on message boards whether or not its wise to forego the last weekend of the current recruiting cycle to focus on the next.

Corvin Visiting Gainesville this weekend is a player many consider to be the next Jeffery Demps or Chris Rainey. His name is Corvin Lamb [PICTURED] and he is a 5-10, 180-pound running back for Miami Northwestern. Lamb is somewhat of an enigma in the world of recruiting. He is already considered one of the nation's best running back recruits in 2010 but he wasn't a starter for the Bulls last season. This might be the reason Florida hasn't offered Lamb just yet. While Florida is shrewdly waiting to see what Lamb can do on the field of play before offering him a $40,000 scholarship, the Gators do know a little bit about him. Lamb ran the fastest time (4.3 seconds) at the Gators' Friday Night Lights recruiting showcase before the 2008 season.

Lamb seems to be favoring Florida. Lamb Sr. even told me that Corvin wants to bring a few of his teammates to Gainesville. It would be a major coup for the Gators to land just one player from Miami Northwestern, aka The West, aka Baby Canes Factory, aka Miami's junior varsity squad. Florida hasn't signed a scholarship player from Miami-Dade County since 2005.

If UF gets a commitment from Lamb, how will this affect UF's ability to recruit future players from Miami-Dade County?

The four players of the 2010 recruiting cycle who have already committed to Florida will also be on hand today in Gainesville. Among them is Demar Dorsey, a 6-1, 175-pound cornerback from Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson. Dorsey apparently has blazing speed and, like Lamb from Miami Northwestern, is expected to be one of the top recruits in the country next season. Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson is the home of current Florida cornerback Moses Jenkins

Florida's 2010 commitment list also includes Matt Elam of West Palm Beach Dwyer. Elam, a 6-0, 205-pound linebacker, is expected to be ranked as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com. Elam will be in Gainesville this weekend as will the rest of Florida's 2010 commitments: offensive lineman Ian Silberman (6-5, 257 pounds) of Fleming Island and dual-threat quarterback Trey Burton (6-3, 203 pounds) of Venice. 

Here's a link to my story in today's paper on Florida's recruiting class. CLICK ME!

Writer Antonya English of the St. Petersburg Times centered her recruiting story around lineman Xavier Nixon of Fayetteville, N.C. Very nice. CLICK ME!

Pahokee receiver Nu'Keese Richardson is visiting Tennessee this weekend. CLICK ME! Three other players UF is recruiting -- tight end Orson Charles of Tampa Plant, receiver Marlon Brown of Memphis (Tn.) Harding Academy and offensive tackle Brandon Moore of Montgomery (Ala.) Carver -- are also visiting Tennessee this weekend.

Deerfield Beach quarterback Denard Robinson is not taking an official visit this weekend, according to his high school coach. Robinson will choose between UF, Michigan, Tennessee and Kansas State on Wednesday.

Sanford Seminole receiver Andre Debose is visiting Florida State. We assume he is visiting FSU as a recruiter for the Gators, since he is already committed to UF. Debose's target: Trent Richardson, the Pensacola Escambia running back who is committed to coach Nick Saban and Alabama. Apparently, UF is recruiting Richardson pretty hard.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones (6-3, 226 pounds) of Columbus (Ga.) Carver is visiting LSU this weekend. Jones is thought to be favoring UF. Defensive back Joshua Evans (6-2, 185 pounds) of Irvington (N.J.) High is visiting Pittsburgh. UF is in the hunt for Evans as well.


January 30, 2009

Maryland LB prospect Jenkins 'top one percent of one percent'

Another recruiting spotlight today...

GAINESVILLE -- When Urban Meyer took over as head coach of the Florida Gators, he told fans that it was his goal to recruit the nation's best of the best. On and off the field, "the top one percent of one percent," Meyer said. 

Naturally, the "top one percent of one percent" is hard to come by. There is a high school linebacker in Maryland who some believe has the potential to one day be mentioned among the nation's best of the best both on and off the field. His name is Jelani Jenkins and he attends Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md.

JelaniWith a 3.9 GPA, natural leadership qualities and excellent athletic ability, Jenkins could be the nation's best all-around student-athlete of the 2009 football recruiting cycle. He is only 16 years old and is already 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds.

"He won't go to bed before he has his academics taken care of," said Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy. "He hasn't let all this attention go to his head, he hates being taken out of class for any reason. It's very unusual for a kid his age."

Jenkins will turn 17 years old at the end of March. According to Milloy, Jenkins was never held back "because he was always the brightest kid in the class."

Jenkins will choose between Penn State and Florida on Wednesday, National Signing Day. When Meyer said "top one percent of one percent," he was speaking about players like Jenkins. A commitment from this student-athlete could lay the groundwork for life after Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Just my opinion, but Jenkins should be considered the most important recruit for the Gators since Tebow.


Looking ahead to 2010 season, schedule released

Brought to our attention by loyal Gator Clausonian, Adam S...

GAINESVILLE -- The football team's 2010 schedule is online at GatorZone.com. In its first season without quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators play at Alabama (Oct.2) followed by a home game against LSU (Oct.9). That's a tough two weeks. 

Highlighting the nonconference schedule are games against Miami (Ohio), South Florida and Appalachian State.

Thoughts, anyone?

2010 Schedule
Current Standings:
Sat Sep 4 Miami (OH)   Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Sep 11 USF   Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Sep 18 at Tennessee Knoxville, TN TBA      
Sat Sep 25 Kentucky Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Oct 2 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL TBA      
Sat Oct 9 LSU Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Oct 16 Mississippi State Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Oct 30 Georgia Jacksonville, FL TBA      
Sat Nov 6 at Vanderbilt Nashville, TN TBA      
Sat Nov 13 South Carolina Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Nov 20 Appalachian State   Gainesville, FL TBA      
Sat Nov 27 at Florida State   Tallahassee, FL TBA      
All home games in bold.


January 29, 2009

Florida recruiting Deerfield Beach's Robinson as quarterback

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer is recruiting Deerfield Beach star athlete Denard Robinson as a quarterback, according to former Deerfield Beach coach Art Taylor.

Denard Robinson [PICTURED], the Bucks' starting quarterback for three seasons, received an in-home visit from Meyer on Wednesday. Known as 'Shoelace' by his friends and coaches, Robinson is a gifted athlete who could also play receiver or defensive back in college. He wants to play quarterback at the next level, according to Taylor.

"Shoelace runs a 4.3, has a canon for an arm and is very smart," Taylor said. "He can play quarterback anywhere in college."

As a three-year starter for Deerfield Beach, Robinson was at his best against some of the toughest competition in the nation. Led by Robinson, Deerfield Beach defeated both Miami Northwestern (preseason) and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in 2007.

Robinson is also being recruited by Kansas State, Michigan, Central Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Robinson's high school teammate, Adrian Witty, a cornerback, is also a top prep prospect and is being recruited by Kansas State, Central Florida and Michigan.

Florida is not recruiting Witty, which could hurt the Gators' chances of landing Robinson next Wednesday on National Signing Day. According to Taylor, the two high school friends would like to remain teammates in college.

"They would like to have an opportunity to play in college together," Taylor said. "They're going to have that opportunity."


Man returns to work moments after alligator attack

Per Gator Clause tradition, when a Gator makes the news, we blog about it...

GAINESVILLE -- Florida's first alligator attack of 2009 occured on Tuesday along the shores of Lake Osbourne in Lake Worth. CLICK ME! 

There's something quite bizarre about this story. A man was picking up trash along the lake when he was pulled into the water by an alligator. According to an eyewitness acount, the worker freed himself from the alligators jaws, climbed out of the water, wrapped his arm and then resumed his work. He was later airlifted to the Delray Beach Medical Center and underwent emergency surgery. Gotta feel for that guy.


January 28, 2009

Calathes goes triple-double in win against UGA

GAINESVILLE -- Florida guard Nick Calathes' triple-double came with 4:39 left in the game on Wednesday during the Gators' 83-57 win against rival Georgia. Calathes had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was Calathes' first triple-double against and SEC opponent and his first triple-double since last season against Creighton in the NIT.

Teammate Chandler Parsons scored 12 points, giving him double figures in scoring for the fourth consecutive game. Forward Alex Tyus had 18 points against Georgia's fat and out-of-shape front line. Yeah, that's right. I called them fat. Bunch of a Fatty McFattys.

--Florida guard Nick Calathes is three assists away from a triple-double. As it stands, Calathes has 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. UF leads Georgia 62-39 with 11:59 left.

Halftime here in the O'Dome. UF leads 42-30 over the Georgia Bulldogs. Florida's Walter Hodge swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give UF its 12-point lead. Florida has now made seven buzzer-beaters this season.

Halftime Now for something completely different...the halftime show here at the O'Dome featured an act by "The Amazing Christopher." Christopher, we're assuming that's his name, offered a most creative tribute to The Village People. Pictured, The Amazing Christopher is in the middle of a man-sandwich. (They're actually puppets.) Sorry for the mental and visual image. Who booked this show?

UF 30, UGA 21
The Gators have gradually increased their lead over the Bulldogs in the first half and now lead 30-21 with 3:03 left in the first period. Georgia cut UF's lead to one point before the Gators went on an 8-0 run.

UF 19, UGA 11
What started as a sloppy game for both teams has quickly turned into an eight-point Florida lead with 9:17 left in the game.

Florida led 12-11 before a 7-0 run, which featured a Nick Calathes 3-pointer sandwiched by dunks from Chandler Parsons.


Meyer makes final pitch to recruits

GAINESVILLE -- Across the country, college football coaches are delivering their closing arguments this week to the remaining high school football prospects not yet committed. In other words, millionaire coaches are spending thousands of university dollars (or UAA dollars) to fly all over the South in an attempt to further confuse teenagers.

--On Monday, Urban Meyer and running backs coach Kenny Carter visited Escambia running back Trent Richardson. Richardson, committed to Alabama, is considered one of the best running back prospects in the nation. While UF has plenty of running backs, the thought here is that, well, UF needs more running backs.

--Last week, Meyer flew to Maryland for an in-home visit with linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Keep an eye on this kid. Coaches refer to him as a natural-born leader. Coming to Florida Field next season, a defense that features three players with the Jenkins surname: Jelani, Janoris and Moses.

--Speaking of surnames, if UF signs Columbus, Ga., linebacker Jarvis Jones, then UF will have four players with that family name. The others are A.J., Bryan and John.

--For the fourth consecutive year, it appears Florida coach Urban Meyer isn't going to sign any players from Miami-Dade County. If that wasn't upsetting enough for South Florida Gators fans, there is a chance UF's five-year streak of signing at least one player from Broward County could also end. UF currently does not have any commitments from Broward County. Denard Robinson of Deerfield Beach could keep the streak alive, however, if he chooses UF over Michigan. Robinson played quarterback for the Bucks but would likely play receiver or cornerback if he signed with UF.

--UF only has 16 commitments, is anyone a bit worried about this? By comparison, Tennessee already has 19 commitments. Tennessee, by the way, finished the 2008 season 5-7. Around the SEC East, Vanderbilt has 17 commitments, South Carolina has 26 commitments, Georgia has 17 commitments and Kentucky has 26 commitments.

--Don't look now but Louisiana State (21 commitments) might end up with the SEC's best recruiting class of 2009. The Tigers are loaded down with future stars, including quarterback Russell Shepard of Houston and safety Craig Loston of Aldine, Texas. Homegrown superstars include defensive back Janzen Jackson and defensive tackle Chris Davenport, a 6-4, 318-pound monster.


January 26, 2009

Hard to get a handle on these Gators

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators are 17-3 this week with a home game against Georgia (Wednesday) and an away game against Tennessee (Saturday.) It's difficult to get a read on these Gators right now. After a terrible showing in the final minutes against South Carolina, UF bounced back against Vanderbilt on Sunday and beat the Commordores 94-69.

A few days after Chandler Parsons was answering questions about the identity (or lack thereof) of the Gators' basketball team, the sophomore forward scored 27 points, including 7-of-8 from behind the three-point line. Off the bench, freshman point guard Erving Walker scored 17 points.

Are these Gators a lock for the NCAA Tournament? Not yet. Last season, the Gators' men's basketball team entered their first meeting against Vanderbilt with a 4-1 record in the SEC and beat the Commodores by 22 points in Gainesville. The Gators then lost seven of its final 10 conference games and were relegated to the NIT.

This season, on Sunday, the Gators entered their first meeting against Vanderbilt with a 3-1 record in the SEC and beat the Commodores by 25 points. Where do the Gators go from here? 


January 23, 2009

14 teams more prestigious than UF

GAINESVILLE -- Anyone following the daily releases of ESPN.com's "prestige poll," which is attempting to rank all Football Bowl Subdivision schools in order of prestige? CLICK ME! The poll is finished and Oklahoma is No.1.

This poll seems flawed in some ways. Most agree that the SEC is the most dominant conference in the country yet the SEC doesn't have a team in the top 5. Alabama is No.6. Florida, despite its success since 1990, didn't crack the top 10. The Gators are ranked No.15. Other SEC teams ranked ahead of Florida include No.12 Tennessee, No. 13 LSU and No.14 Georgia. Florida State is No.9, followed by Miami at No.10.

Recruiting reporter Andy Staples of SI.com recently completed a study aimed at finding a quantifiable way to explain that recruits like to stay close to home. Looks like it took a lot of work. Nice job, Andy! CLICK ME! Andy also picked where he thinks the remaining 17 uncommitted players of the 2009 recruiting cycle are headed. It's not good news for Florida fans. CLICK ME!

There are two more weekends remaining in the recruiting cycle but Florida will use just this weekend to finalize its 2009 class. The Gators are hosting six players, according rivals. CLICK ME! Can Florida sway a few more recruits. Perhaps the Gators should just work on keeping the ones they have. UF will use the final weekend of the 2009 recruiting cycle to host its Junior Day. Never too early to get a jump on the class of 2010.

Remaining focused and avoiding complaceny were the catchprases of choice for UF guards Nick Calathes and Dan Werner on Monday. Then Wednesday happened. Now the Gators must regroup in an important away game against Vanderbilt. CLICK ME!


January 22, 2009

UF mascot, Albert, destroyed by OSU fans

This is disturbing...(from Feb. 2007)

Tebow excited about chance to work with new quarterbacks coach

GAINESVILLE -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said on Thursday that he plans to work extensively with new UF quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler this offseason to improve his mechanics as a quarterback to better prepare himself for the 2010 NFL Draft.


"I feel we have a great quarterback coach in here who really knows a lot about the next level and knows a lot about quarterback play, so I'm going to spend practically every second with him, trying to work on different things and try to prepare myself for the next level but even more importantly, prepare my team to be successful this next year," Tebow said.


The Manning Award Tebow recently received the Manning Award, given to the nation's top quarterback. It is the only individual postseason award for quarterbacks which takes into account the bowl season. Tebow led the Gators to a 24-14 win against Oklahoma in the BCS national championship game.


Tebow is still recuperating from surgery on his right shoulder. The procedure was performed days after the national championship game to remove bone spurs in his non-throwing shoulder.


"I haven't really had an opportunity to work on anything after the game because of my surgery," Tebow said. "I haven't had an opportunity to get out there and throw. Right now I'm just trying to get back healthy."


Tebow plans to be fully healed by spring practice. This offseason he said he wil focus his efforts on improving his throwing mechanics: "footwork, balance, keeping everything real tight and just working on all those things," he said.


On his return for his senior season, Tebow said, "There were a lot of things going into it, but when it came down to it, I just wanted to be loyal to Coach [Urban] Meyer and the University of Florida. I just love being here. It has been a joy for me. I just wanted to finish what I started. I'm enjoying it and I'll have a lot of time to do other things once this is done."


Former college and professional quarterback Archie Manning said on Thursday that Tebow is "
one of the best football players I've ever seen. Of course, Tim has developed every year. I've seen him play a lot since his freshman year. He has developed so much as a player, as a quarterback and, of course, as a passer. I'm sure he'll admit, there's been greater passers, there's been greater runners but when you talk about just overall football player and the ability to lead his team and will his team to wins, I just don't think I've seen anyone do it any better."


Manning, father current NFL quarterbacks Payton and Eli Manning, said that that Tebow's image a pocket passer might suffer "a little bit" because of Florida's offensive system. Given time to work as a pro-style quarterback, Manning said he has no doubt "that [Tebow] will be able to make those adjustments and be an outstanding player in pro football."


Archie Manning of Tebow's decision to return for his senior season: "I think it's a great decision. I think Tim will find this out next year, there are so many special things about being a senior. Tim is just establishing such a legacy there at Florida. People would understand if he left, but I assure you that when people think a little bit more in the long run they'll remember the loyalty he has shown the Gator Nation. It's a tough decision but one I think he'll appreciate many, many years from now."


A few other notes: Tebow said he is taking a full class load this semester and is on track to graduate early. Tebow said his platform off the field as the senior quarterback at the University of Florida was one of the reasons for his return. "We have some different charity things lined up that I'm trying to get together — different things in the community and in other places I'm working on. I think my platform is great here and I think my opportunity to help others and help kids and those who are not as fortunate. I think there's something about being a Gator."



Gators gag; Gamecocks glad

GAINESVILLE -- An average South Carolina team beat UF at the buzzer on Wednesday night in Columbia, S.C. By average, we me mean average for the SEC, which is terrible this season. 

On Monday, Florida's players talked about defensive complacency not being a problem this season. Last season, UF faded during conference play, losing seven of its final 10 games. Shades of that collapse emerged on Wednesday when South Carolina's Zam Fredrick caught a long inbounds pass in the final seconds and made a lay-up. Florida's best defender, Dan Werner, was outhustled.

"It was a bang-bang play and maybe Dan got caught resting a little bit and Zam blew past him," Donovan said after the game. "It was a heartbreaking loss for our team."

UF led by seven points (67-60) with 96 seconds left in the game but Nick Calathes turned the ball over with 1:04 left to play and then, up by two points, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12 seconds to play. With two seconds to play, UF led 69-68 when Chandler Parsons missed a foul shot and Mike Holmes grabbed the rebound. He launched the ball down the court to Fredrick, who caught the pass and outplayed Werner.

UF is now 16-3 and 3-1 in the SEC. Where do you project UF at the end of the season: NCAA Tournament or NIT?


January 21, 2009

From worst to first, Gators hire Washington assistant

GAINESVILLE -- Former Washington assistant coach Brian White was named the University of Florida's tight ends coach on Wednesday. White, 44, coached special teams and tight ends at Washington in 2008.

Nice change of scenery, I'd say. Washington went 0-12 in 2008 while UF won the national title. Apparently, White and UF coach Urban Meyer are longtime friends.

Washington's record last season shouldn't be a reflection of White's talents as an assistant coach and recruiter. He won a national assistant coach of the year award in 2004 while at Wisconsin, where he coached for 11 seasons (1995-2005). He was the Badgers' running backs coach in 1999 when Ron Dayne won the Heisman Trophy.

White replaces former UF tight ends coach John Hevesy, who joined former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen at Mississippi State.

Well educated, White has an undergraduate degree in history from Harvard University (1986), a Master's degree in communications from Fordham University (1987) and a Master's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame (1990). 

Brian White Coaching Experience


Washington (Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends)


Syracuse (Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends)


Wisconsin (Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs)


Wisconsin (Running Backs)


UNLV (Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers)


Nevada (Wide Receivers)


UNLV (Running Backs)


UNLV (Quarterbacks)


Notre Dame (Graduate Assistant)


Fordham (Graduate Assistant)


UF's national title not helping secure recruits

GAINESVILLE -- UF won a national title on Jan. 8. Why, then, are committed football recruits possibly turning their backs on the Gators?

Since the week leading up to Florida 24, Oklahoma 14, the Gators' coaching staff has been scrambling to not only add a few more talented players to its 2009 recruiting class but also keep the prospects who are already committed. 

  • Days before the national championship game in Miami, one of the Gators' top oral commitments, Georgia cornerback Greg Reid, figuratively punched the Gators' coaching staff in the gut by wavering on his word. He is now believed to be headed to either Georgia, Florida State or Alabama.
  • Last week, defensive end Nick Kasa of Colorado did the same thing. It seems the pass rusher wants to stay close to home.
  • This week, another cornerback, this time Marsalis Teague of Tennessee, is also having second thoughts.

If you're counting, that's three headaches the Gators' coaching staff are having to deal with in the final weeks of the recruiting cycle. When UF could be focusing its energy on securing one, two or three more recruits, coach Urban Meyer and his staff are now having to shore up relationships with players already committed. The Reid situation is one of particular frustration for Meyer. After all, Reid was the Gators' first prospect of the 2009 recruiting cycle to commit. He did so last February. That's almost an entire year of work (more than that, really) down the drain when you consider that UF could not not only now lose Reid but also lose the cornerbacks they could have recruited if Reid wasn't committed for an entire year.
So, what's the problem? You'd think recruits would be flocking to UF after the Gators won the national championship and seem to be favorites to repeat. If you think like a normal person, then that's a good reason to go to Florida. If you think like a recruit...God help you if you think like a recruit.

Here are a couple explanations for the recent rash of turncoats:

  1. Blame opposing coaches and their dirty, dirty recruiting tactics. All is fair in love and recruiting, right? Coaches are filling players' heads with ideas of inactivity. Just look at Florida's depth chart, Nick Saban is saying. When are you ever going to play with all these underclassmen starters and reserves? We all know little Nicky Kasa and wee Gregory Reid don't want to ever sit the bench.
  2. Once again, blame opposing coaches for their dirty, dirty recruiting tactics. Sure, UF is going to be great next year, Lane Kiffin is saying. But that's when you're not playing. What happens when you're the starter and Tim Tebow and his merry men are gone? UF won't be on top anymore. (And, yes, when clarifying recruiting tactics it is absolutely necessary to modify the word with the double dirty.)
  3. Recruits make change about as often as Toll Booth Willie. 

In recruiting news ...
On Tuesday evening, Flavarsity.com released its final list of the top 100 football prospects in the state. CLICK ME!The Gators landed three current oral commitments in the top 10, including the No.1 prospect, Seminole receiver Andre Debose. Miami Northwestern fans should be plenty familiar with Debose. He's the player who caught that remarkable touchdown pass in the final minutes of the Class 6A state championship game.

UF's other Top 10 state commitments, according to Flavarsity.com, are defensive tackle Gary Brown of West Gadsden and offensive lineman Nick Alalajajian of Naples. (A good lineman is a lot harder to find than a great receiver, just my opinion.)

According to an Internet report, Deerfield Beach quarterback Denard Robinson and cornerback Adrian Witty have narrowed their offers down to two schools and Florida isn't one of them. CLICK ME! 

A website covering Kansas State recruiting reported on Tuesday that Robinson and Witty visited Kansas State over the weekend and Deerfield Beach coach Art Taylor listed Michigan, Georgia, Kansas State and perhaps Tennessee as the schools vying to sign the players.


January 20, 2009

Gators take on Gamecocks on Wednesday

GAINESVILLE -- The newly ranked Florida Gators travel to Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday for a Southeastern Conference away game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

No.24 UF is undefeated in SEC play and currently tied with Kentucky for first place in the SEC East. LINK TO SEC STANDINGS UF is the SEC's lone representative in The Associated Press Top 25. There are no SEC teams ranked in the coaches' poll.

Florida's current 10-game winning streak has been fueled by the offensive output of guard Nick Calathes, who is averaging 21.3 ppg in SEC play. The Gators (16-2, 3-0) have won five straight against South Carolina and 14 of the last 16 meetings between the two team.

4 The number of starters who have positive assist-to-turnover ratios: Nick Calathes, Walter Hodge, Dan Werner and Chandler Parsons.

8 Since being out-rebounded by a large margin (24 rebounds) in its the SEC opener, UF has out-rebounded its last two opponents by eight rebounds per game.

23.6 Over the last seven games Florida has held its opponents to just 23.6 percent from beyond the three-point line (30-of-127).

61.5 In the Gators' most recent win against Arkansas, UF made just 17.6 percent of its shots from three-point range in the first half. Led by Calathes and freshman point guard Erving Walker (7-of-10 combined), UF made 61.5 percent of its three-point attempts (8-of-13) over the final 20 minutes.

FLORIDA (16-2, 3-0)
F Dan Werner (9.4p/4.5r)
F Chandler Parsons (8.7p/5.3r)
C Alex Tyus (12.7 p/6.5r)
G Nick Calathes (17.7p/6.7a)
G Walter Hodge (7.7p/2.2a)

SOUTH CAROLINA (12-4, 1-2)
F Dominique Archie (11.6p/7.3r)
F/C Mike Holmes (11.4p/8.1r)
G Devan Downey (19.6p/4.3a)
G Zam Fredrick (16.3p/3.1r)
G Brandis Raley-Ross (6.7p/3.4r)


January 19, 2009

Gators' next goal: Finalize recruiting class

All thanks to Mike "Mike" McCall for filling in while I was away on a belated honeymoon. The Goodmans visited Lake Tahoe for a week of snowboarding. Eeeh, let's clarify that. For Mrs. Goodman, a professional rider, it was a fun week of snowboarding. For Mr. Goodman, a professional faller, it was a week of pain.

For those familiar with the Sierras, the Goodmans visited two mountains, Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, and Squaw Valley, which is located north and west of the big lake. I offer these details only so you, the loyal reader, can revel in my suffering. I left my mark upon every square foot of those two mountains. And by mark, I don't mean snow angels. Despite the hundreds of falls, I had a great time and actually learned how to snowboard. Quite the accomplishment for a guy who had never seen mountains or mountain snow until last week.

I return to Gainesville with a slightly strained left arm. List my status as probable. Kind of like the Gators' chances of repeating as football national champs now that quarterback Tim Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes are returning for their senior seasons.

GAINESVILLE -- There are several things to address now that I'm back in Gainesville, but we'll start with the one thing people are probably most interested in right now: recruiting. National Signing Day is 16 days away and the Gators are hoping to finalize their 2009 recruiting class in the coming days.

The Gators' coaching staff is known for finishing strong in the final days of the recruiting cycle but this year might be an exception simply because UF doesn't have many scholarships available. After signing six players at the beginning of this month, UF only has 12 scholarships available (by my count) for National Signing Day and 10 players are already committed. Let's break down the numbers. Listed are the scholarship players returning (67, by my count. Obviously, this number is subject to change.):

Continue reading "Gators' next goal: Finalize recruiting class" »

January 13, 2009

Which junior does Florida need back the most? I say Harvin.

What's up peoples? This is your guest Gator Clause author, Mike "Mike" McCall, filling in again for Joe, who is still pizza-wedging his way down the mountains of California.

First off, good news today (sort of) for Florida as quarterback Tim Tebow underwent successful surgery on his non-throwing shoulder to remove a bone spur and inflammation. Tebow hurt the shoulder last season and aggravated the injury early this year, which makes sense, because if you watched him closely, Tebow didn't look the same.

I've watched Tebow play in almost every game since his junior year of high school (don't worry, I went to school there, I'm not a stalker), and I've never seen him run the way he did this season. He used way more spin moves than I've ever seen him use before, opting out of his usual, punishing style. Granted, he still ran over his share of defenders, and the dude finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting and led the Gators to a national title, so who cares about a few extra spins, right?

Now that Tebow has decided to play his senior season, Florida will be favorites to win the 2009 title, but with linebacker Brandon Spikes and receiver Percy Harvin yet to choose between college and the NFL, is he the most important of the three?

Here's my rank of the Gators' talented juniors, in order of who I would take if I could only have one back:

Harvin_mug1. Percy Harvin: I know, I know. He's not Tebow, but hear me out. All three are incredible football players, so I'm splitting hairs here anyway, but I think the Gators offense would be better with Harvin and without Tebow than the other way around. UF will still have Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody to carry the ball next year, and all three proved to be effective throughout the season. But without Harvin against Alabama, most of the option plays and runs that worked all year started to fail. When Percy is on the field, he makes everyone else better because defenses have to commit at least one player to follow him around, and if he leaves, it makes life harder on everyone else, including Tebow. Besides, receivers David Nelson, Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson are much better as second, third or fourth options than they are as the go-to guy. Call me crazy, but I think John Brantley could be an efficient passer, especially with a loaded rushing attack and solid defense, meaning he'd never have to carry the team.

Tebow_heisman_kid 2. Tim Tebow: I know Tebow is the heart and soul of the team, and if he left, Harvin and Spikes would probably bail too, but for the purposes of this exercise, examining each player independently, I rank him second. Since I believe in John Brantley, I think the most important thing Tebow brings with him is his emotional leadership, not his arm or legs. Players say they're even afraid to cuss in front of him, and that dynamic will be especially important next season. The Gators will go into the year expecting another championship, and Tebow is the guy who keeps everyone from getting complacent. Part of the reason the 2007 UF team sucked was because it expected everything on a silver platter, and Tebow won't let that happen again.

Spikes_lookin_fresh 3. Brandon Spikes: He's my favorite person and player on this team, by far, but Spikes has some pretty good replacements behind him in case he leaves (although I think he'll stay). Ryan Stamper, Brandon Hicks and Dustin Doe would make a solid, experienced starting lineup, and I think Hicks will be the next great UF backer. A.J. Jones provides depth, and if John Jones, Lorenzo Edwards, Lerentee McCray and Brendan Beal pan out as expected, the Gators should have plenty of LBs flying around.

I know Tebow is the man and all, but if I have first pick from the Gators' roster, I want Harvin. But I think we can all agree that, if Harvin and Spikes both decide to stay, we'll be watching one of the best college football teams ever next fall.


January 12, 2009

Tebow's back, will the others follow?

Hey Gator Clausers, this is Mike "Mike" McCall, and I'll be filling in for Joe (pictured) while he's out in Mt_hutt_ski_snowboard_picture_2 California snowboarding on a belated honeymoon. Guy spends a week on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, and now he's in Lake Tahoe. Tough, right?

Anyway, big news from Florida's national championship celebration on Sunday, as quarterback Tim Tebow announced he's coming back for his senior season.

(Here's the story in today's Miami Herald: LINK)

As it stands, the Gators are probably a lock for preseason No. 1, even if linebacker Brandon Spikes and receiver Percy Harvin, the other two juniors considering a jump to the NFL, skip town. They'll have at least 10 starters back on defense, including what might be the nation's best secondary next season, and the d-line has nowhere to go but up with Dan McCarney running the show.

On offense, it won't be easy to absorb the losses of receiver Louis Murphy, running back Kestahn Moore and half of the offensive line, but Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody should combine for a pretty solid rushing attack, and Tebow probably won't have much trouble making David Nelson, Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Carl Moore and Aaron Hernandez a dangerous unit.

Things are looking good for UF to have the best team in the country again, and here's the thing -- they're going to get Spikes back too. Here's why:

Ctc2504image5Clue 1 - Spikes (left) didn't attend Sunday's ceremony because he's spending time with family. He doesn't get to see his mom often because she lives in North Carolina, so he's enjoying it while he can. If he planned to jump to the NFL later this week (the deadline is Thursday), don't you think he'd want to enjoy the championship festivities before he bails? No, he's chillin' with mom before he has to get back to class.

Clue 2 - Linebacker Ryan Stamper said Spikes told him after the Oklahoma game, and repeatedly throughout the season, that he's coming back. Now, these stories aren't always true (Carlos Dunlap claimed Tebow told him he'd return last week, but Tim said that was false), but there's another reason to believe Spikes is coming back.

Clue 3 - Just like the rest of Gator Nation, Spikes loves him some Tebow. The first time they met was outside then-Alabama coach Mike Shula's office on a recruiting trip, and Spikes immediately told Tebow he would sign wherever the big lefty did. He followed up on that, and after saying this season that Tebow's NFL decision would be a heavy influence, expect him to follow suit again.

If you're wondering, here are some of the reasons why Spikes is considering the NFL: LINK

With Spikes back, that would mean the ENTIRE defensive two-deep will remain in tact, plus safety Dorian Munroe will return from injury. Harvin would be the tougher guy to replace, as there's simply no one even capable of playing his position, but once Tebow and Spikes are in, maybe they can guilt trip Harvin into staying.

And Harvin might not even need that much convincing. He said in a TV interview after the celebration that he's leaning toward coming back. I still find that hard to believe, although Harvin has surprised me plenty of times this season by being more of a team player than I thought, like when he asked coach Urban Meyer before the season if he could help out in the secondary.

If Harvin does leave, Meyer may have found the next-best thing. Andre Debose, one of the nation's top high school receiver prospects, is committed to play for UF.

Debose has a knack for running with the ball, and he was in Gainesville on Saturday, where he was serenaded by Gators fans during the basketball team's win against Mississippi.

Check out Debose's highlight reel. Not bad.

If you missed the celebration on TV, here's the best part (besides Tebow's announcement, of course). They did this slightly awkward, forced thing where Mike and Maurkice Pouncey interview teammates, and it was kinda lame until safety Ahmad Black dropped this gem.

Maurkice asked him about his huge interception against the Sooners, when he pulled the ball away from OU's Juaquin Iglesias, and Black's response was pretty brief: "I think Iglesias might have to go get in the weight room a little more."

It looks like Dan Mullen is going to raid the fridge on his way out of UF to Mississippi State. He has tight ends coach John Hevesy on board to go with him, and he might pull a few recruits too.

Greg Reid, a defensive back from Valdosta, decomitted from UF and is looking around again, and the Bulldogs are on his radar, although people who supposedly know stuff about recruiting say he should still be headed to Gainesville.

More importantly, newly-appointed offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, Mullen's replacement, is a leading candidate for Boston College's open head coaching position, which they inexplicably haven't filled yet with demigod offensive coordinator Steve Logan.

Anyway, Addazio missed the ceremony because he's in the hospital with a knee infection, and Meyer said he should be fine, and that "He's a great coach. [B.C.] should request permission to talk with him."


If you find Urban Meyer's personality a little...interesting, as I do, then you might enjoy this, which must have taken entirely too long to put together: LINK

January 08, 2009

FINAL: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

GATORS WIN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Florida runs out the clock, Urban Meyer gets a Gatorade shower, camera lights flicker from the stands and the party is on at Dolphin Stadium.

OU Drive 10: Joe Haden breaks up Bradford’s pass on fourth-and-4, and it’s only a matter of time now. Some Oklahoma fans are starting to head for the exits.

UF Drive 9: Get the champagne ready. The Gators take a 10-point lead on Tebow’s 4-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson and consume almost seven minutes on the drive. Given the way their defense has played tonight, it’s hard to see Florida collapsing here.

OU Drive 9: Another drive, another huge play from Florida’s defense. Ahmad Black picks off Bradford’s pass to Iglesias, and the Gators get the ball back with just under 10 minutes to play. Let’s see how much time the Gators can eat up on this next drive.

UF Drive 8: Gators take the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Jonathan Phillips. Percy Harvin has a monster run – 52 yards – then another for 11 before appearing to hurt his leg. He leaves the game, but runs off the field without help and could very well return.

OU Drive 8: Bradford throws an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gresham, and we're tied at 14 with 12:13 left. Two big plays really hurt Florida on this drive: a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Torrey Davis, and a 25-yard pass from Bradford to Brown -- Oklahoma's first big play in a while.

UF Drive 7: Louis Murphy has what appears to be a leg injury. He had to be helped off the field on Florida’s previous drive, then returned for this one, but has since gone back to the bench.


OU Drive 7: Jimmy Stevens’ 49-yard field goal attempt is blocked by Joe Haden! Haden gets free on the outside and swats the kick away. That is Florida’s ninth blocked kick this season, a school record. Oklahoma fans starting to get pretty quiet.

UF Drive 6: The Gators needed a breakout drive and they got it, thanks largely to Tebow and a touchdown run by Harvin. Tebow had two big runs for first downs -- one for 15 and another for 12. Percy ran it in from 2 yards out, making this his 15th consecutive game with at least one touchdown.

OU Drive 6: The Gators give Oklahoma an extra chance when William Green is flagged for roughing Sooners punter Mike Knall. But Florida’s defense makes up for it, forcing Oklahoma’s offense to go three and out after the penalty.

UF Drive 5: We’re under way in the second half, and Florida’s offense doesn’t look much better than it did in the first. Tebow, under pressure on third-and-6, finds Percy Harvin open downfield but the ball sails just past his outstretched hands. If he catches that he’s gone.

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