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6 posts from January 2013

January 17, 2013

Seattle Seahawks make it official: Florida DC Dan Quinn leaving Gators, rejoining NFL; ST coach Durkin promoted

Dan Quinn is leaving Florida after two seasons, as the Seattle Seahawks made it official Thursday afternoon with the announcement on their Twitter feed that Quinn will become the team's new defensive coordinator.

The position was open after Gus Bradley took the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching job Thursday morning.

Quinn was rumored after Bradley's hire to be a strong candidate for the vacant position, and the confirmation announcement came swiftly. Within hours, the speculation became fact, and now Florida is on its fourth defensive coordinator in the last five seasons.

"I’m happy for Dan and this opportunity," coach Will Muschamp said in a school press release. "I’ve said before that I always encourage my staff when opportunities arise to take the next step in their career. Dan’s background is in the NFL and this is a great chance to go back to a place he’s familiar with."

Special teams coordinator and linebackers coach D.J. Durkin was announced as the team's new defensive coordinator in the same release.

“D.J. and I will run the defense, continuing the way that Dan and I did for the past two years,” Muschamp said. “We will look to add another coach that is the best fit for our staff moving forward.”

Still, losing Quinn hurts for Florida. In two seasons at the helm of the defense, Quinn led the Gators to back-to-back top-10 finishes in total defense. He was also instrumental in the development of the unit's front seven, and the players loved and respected him. 

Quinn spent two seasons (2009-2010) as the defensive line coach in Seattle under Jim Mora and then Pete Carroll. Carroll thought highly enough of Quinn to retain him from Mora's staff in 2010, and his familiarity with the personnel and the scheme that Bradley ran helped immensely in Quinn being a seamless hire. 

In that same vein, Durkin provides continuity for Florida, as he has been on staff since 2010. The hire was first reported by Bryan Holt of Rivals.com.

Quick hits: Dunker released from jail; DC Quinn rumored to be target of NFL, Seahawks; Brissett to NC State

Florida freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker was released from jail Thursday on his own recognizance.

Dunker is facing charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, a third-degree felony, and driving with a suspended license, a second-degree misdemeanor. But Huntley S. Johnson, a local attorney who represents most Gators athletes who get in trouble with the law and is working on Dunker's behalf, said Dunker paid $600 for the scooter and had no idea it was stolen, according to reports.

"His position is that he bought the scooter from an individual; he had no idea it was stolen,” Johnson told the Tampa Times.  "And if he paid the amount of money that he said he paid for it, it was certainly a reasonable amount."

Coach Will Muschamp will likely address the situation in a press conference scheduled for noon on Friday.

Quinn involved in NFL rumors

The Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday hired former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to become the team's new head coach, which immediately set in motion rumors that Florida's Dan Quinn would be targeted by Seattle as a potential replacement. 

"There is a 'strong possibility' Florida DC Dan Quinn will return to Seattle to replace Gus Bradley as DC," ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter tweeted Thursday morning, adding that Quinn is reportedly also being targeted for the same position with Cleveland and Philadelphia. 

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport also reported Quinn as a possible name in Seattle, mentioning also that Quinn has interest in Philadelphia.

Prior to joining Florida's staff in 2011, Quinn coached the defensive line in Seattle for two seasons under Bradley. Quinn brought elements of Bradley's hybrid 4-3, 3-4 scheme with him to Gainesville and his familiarity with the personnel and style in Seattle make him a logical candidate.

Brissett chooses destination

Former Florida quarterback and Palm Beach Dwyer High alum Jacoby Brissett will transfer to North Carolina State, according to a report from the Palm Beach Post.

The attraction to N.C. State apparently stems from new Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren, who is familiar with Brissett after recruiting him heavily as the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin from 2008-10. If he enrolls this week, Brissett will be eligible to go through spring practice with his new team but he will not be allowed to play until 2014 due to NCAA transfer rules.


January 16, 2013

Florida freshman and Boynton Beach High alum Jessamen Dunker arrested, charged with grand theft

Florida freshman offensive lineman and Boyton Beach High alum Jessamen Dunker was arrested Wednesday morning in Gainesville for driving a scooter that was reported as stolen.

Dunker is being charged with grand theft, a third-degree felony, and knowingly driving with a suspended license, a second-degree misdemeanor, according to University Police.

Dunker was pulled over around 9:30 a.m. near the south end zone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for following too closely and driving a moped without a license plate. After stopping Dunker, police discovered the moped had earlier been reported as stolen. Dunker, who admitted he knew that his license was suspended, said he did not know the moped was stolen, according to UPD.

The arrest was first reported by Thomas Goldkamp of 247sports.com. An official arrest report will not be available until Thursday, police said. Dunker is being held at Alachua County Jail and bond has not yet been set.

A university spokesman confirmed coach Will Muschamp is aware of the arrest, but said Muschamp is on the road recruiting was not immediately available for comment.

Dunker becomes the 12th player arrested or cited and the 15th total incident since Muschamp took over the Florida program in December 2010. A four-star recruit and the fifth-ranked guard in the country out of Boynton Beach High, according to Rivals.com, Dunker, 6-6, 315, redshirted in 2012 but was expected to compete for a starting spot in 2013.

January 10, 2013

Former Gators and current Steelers RB Chris Rainey arrested on battery charge

Gainesville Police

Former Gators and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey was arrested Thursday morning in Gainesville for slapping his girlfriend in the face during an altercation over a cell phone, Gainesville Police confirmed to the Miami Herald.

Rainey was charged with one count of simple battery (dating violence), a first-degree misdemeanor, and he is currently being held at Alachua County Jail.

According to Gainesville Police spokesman Ben Tobias, police responded at 8:26 a.m. Thursday to a 911 call from witnesses that said Rainey and a female later identified as his girlfriend of nine months got into an argument because she took his cellphone and got into Rainey's roommate's car in an attempt to get away from Rainey. According to the written report from GPD, witnesses said Rainey went to the passenger side of the car and pulled his girlfriend out of the car, slapping her across the face and causing both to fall to the ground. Rainey chased after her, again trying to obtain his cell phone that was in the female's purse, grabbing it and causing both to fall to the ground again.

Neither Rainey nor his apparent girlfriend suffered visible injuries, according to the report.

Thursday's incident wasn't Rainey's first domestic run-in, however, as he was charged in 2010 with felony aggravated stalking after sending a girlfriend a text message that read "Time to die."

In an interview with Steelers.com following the team's selection of Rainey in April's draft, Rainey said he had learned from the incident.

"I became a better man, I matured," Rainey told the team website. "I learned a lesson not to do that ever again. It’s something I know that I won’t ever do again. I didn’t even know that you could get in trouble over a text. Plus, I wouldn’t harm a fly."

UPDATE: The Steelers have released Rainey in light of Thursday's arrest. “Chris Rainey’s actions this morning were extremely disappointing,” Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “Under the circumstances and due to this conduct, Chris will no longer be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

January 07, 2013

Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins leaving Florida for NFL Draft

Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins (3) returns an interception against Florida State on Nov. 14. (Photo: Brett LeBlanc, brettleblanc.com)

Florida redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the NFL draft, the school said Monday in a release.

Jenkins was mired by injuries this season, playing in just nine games while dealing with a broken thumb and hamstring issues. Still, Jenkins' ability in coverage has caught the eye of NFL scouts, and linebackers that can stick with the new breed of athletic tight ends at the next level are becoming more and more coveted.

"Jelani informed me that he wishes to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL," coach Will Muschamp said in the release. "We wish him the best of luck and encourage him to return to Florida and complete his degree."

Jenkins recorded 29 tackles, including five tackles for a loss, and a pair of sacks, two quarterback hurries and one interception. He also came up with the game-saving touchdown on a return of a blocked punt to beat Louisiana in the final seconds.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay in October called Jenkins "the best cover linebacker in college football today" citing his speed, instincts and anticipation in coverage. Because of those attributes, McShay said Jenkins could be drafted as high as the second round. It's unclear how his injury history could affect that grade, but a strong showing at UF's pro day and the NFL combine could make Jenkins a coveted player at some point in the draft come April. However, the chance exists that teams are reluctant to take a chance and Jenkins could go undrafted.

Florida has now had four redshirt juniors declare early for the draft with Jenkins joining safety Matt Elam, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and tight end Jordan Reed.

The Gators now have room to sign up to 30 recruits in this year's class, which will be finalized in early February.

January 06, 2013

Dwyer alum Jacoby Brissett to transfer from Florida

Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett walks off the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the last time following Florida's win against Jacksonville State on Nov. 17. (Photo by Brett LeBlanc, brettleblanc.com)

Florida on Sunday confirmed multiple reports stating sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett will transfer from the program.

Brissett battled for the starting job in spring and fall camps with fellow sophomore Jeff Driskel, but Driskel won the job following the season opener against Bowling Green. In December, coach Will Muschamp confirmed that Driskel had done enough during the season to earn the job going forward, saying there was no foreseeable situation in which Driskel was not the starter in 2013.

Cue Brissett's transfer.

Additionally, Florida announced in the same release that reserve running back/linebacker Chris Johnson will also transfer. Johnson will leave Gainesville with the dubious memory of being ejected from his last game, as he was flagged for unsportsmanlike and subsequently kicked out of the Gators loss in the Sugar Bowl for throwing a punch at a Louisville player following a failed onside kick attempt to start the third quarter.

“Both Jacoby and Chris expressed an interest in transferring and getting a fresh start,” Muschamp said in the release. “We are very thankful for their contributions to the University of Florida and wish them the best of luck.”

According to reports, Brissett, a Dwyer High alum, will look to transfer to West Virginia, Louisville, Arkansas or NC State. Brissett was heavily recruited by Miami out of high school, and his mother was upset that he chose to go to Florida, but as of now it does not appear that the Hurricanes are in his future plans.

The Gators will now likely look to sign another quarterback in this recruiting class, which will be finalized in early February. Behind Driskel, the options are rather slim with redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy, freshman Skyler Mornhinweg and incoming three-star recruit Max Staver. 

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