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14 posts from July 2014

July 31, 2014

About that summer optimism: Gators unranked in preseason coaches' poll

GAINESVILLE -- For the first time since 1991, Florida will open the season unranked in the USA TODAY preseason Amway coaches' poll. 

The poll, released Thursday, included seven Southeastern Conference teams -- four (No. 2 Alabama, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 LSU) on UF's schedule. 

In all, the Gators will square off against five teams in the top 15, most notably a year-end trip to No. 1 Florida State, the defending national champions. 

Florida received the second-most "others" votes (tallying 122), just barely missing being named a ranked team despite coming off its worst season since 1979. 

Also: Miami received 45 "others" votes, while Central Florida, fresh off a 12-1 year, tallied 102 votes. For the complete poll, including the coaches who participate, click the link

For those unaware: The coaches poll is merely for entertainment purposes only this season, as the poll will not be (at least officially) utilized by the new playoff selection committee. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 30, 2014

UConn, Kansas highlight UF's non-conference hoops schedule

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GAINESVILLE -- Florida released its 2014-15 men’s basketball non-conference schedule Wednesday, with a rematch against reigning national champion Connecticut highlighting the strong slate. 

The Gators close out their non-conference schedule hosting the Huskies on Jan. 3. UConn ended UF’s season with a 63-53 victory in the Final Four, snapping Florida’s school-record 30-game winning streak. 

"You learn a lot about yourselves as a team when you are challenged early in the season," coach Billy Donovan said in a statement. 

"Those experiences have really helped us in the NCAA Tournament the past several seasons."

The Gators, who will play at least three games against 2014 NCAA Tournament teams, open at home against a stout William & Mary squad (Nov. 14) before hosting in-state rival Miami later in the week (Nov. 17). Florida will also play at Florida State a day before New Years Eve (Dec. 30). 

As previously announced, UF is participating in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a Thanksgiving week trip to the Bahamas with potential matchups against powerhouses North Carolina, Georgetown, UCLA, Wisconsin and others. 

UF will also visit Kansas on Dec. 5 as part of a return trip in the SEC/BIG 12 Challenge. 

FLORIDA'S 2014-15 NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE 

Nov. 6 - Barry (exhibition)

Nov. 14 - William & Mary

Nov. 17 - Miami 

Nov. 21 - Louisiana-Monroe

Nov. 26-28 - Battle 4 Atlantis (UCLA, UAB, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Butler), Paradise Island, Bahamas

Dec. 5 - at Kansas 

Dec. 8 - Yale

Dec. 12 - Texas Southern 

Dec. 14 - Jacksonville 

Dec. 20 - Wake Forest (Orange Bowl Classic), Sunrise, Fla. 

Dec. 30 - at Florida State

Jan. 3 - Connecticut 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

July 29, 2014

Gators nab three-star standout

GAINESVILLE -- A day after a fourth verbal pledge decommitted and four-star tailback prospect Ray-Ray McCloud III spurned Florida's interest, an unheralded Jacksonville wideout finally delivered the Gators some positive recruiting news. 

Three-star receiver/hybrid tight end Kalif Jackson (Duncan U. Fletcher) verbally committed to Florida on Tuesday, becoming the eighth member of UF's 2015 class. 

According to Rivals, Jackson -- who projects as a fit in offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's 'B' position -- starred at Florida's Friday Night Lights showcase, quickly receiving an offer. Within days, the wiry 6-foot-4, 202-pounder committed, telling Rivals he is "solid to Florida." 

 

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July 28, 2014

UF recruiting update: No forward progress

GAINESVILLE -- Friday Night Lights came and went this past weekend, and at least for the moment, Florida’s recruiting momentum seems to be heading in the reverse direction. 

*************** UPDATE ***************

This post became dated in less than an hour, as four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis offically decommitted from the Gators on Monday afternoon. 

Lewis, Florida's second-highest rated verbal pledge, tweeted today:

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.00.09 PM

According to Rivals, Lewis visted Michigan over the weekend. 

******************************

For the third time in nine days, the Gators lost a 2015 prospect to a public decommitment on Twitter. 

Orlando West Orange athlete Jalen Julius, who attended UF’s weekend showcase, reopened his options a mere two days later. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.17.51 AMAccording to recruiting experts, the three-star prospect hopes to play receiver in college but was recruited by Florida as a defensive back. 

A week ago, Tristan Payton, a three-star wideout from First Coast, announced his decommitment from the Gators -- also on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.20.53 AM
The Gators, with just eight seven prospects verbally pledged for 2015, have plummeted in Rivals’ team rankings, checking in at No. 35 nationally. However, Florida is ranked 10th in the country in average star rating (3.5). 

While July has been a turbulent month on the recruiting trail, Florida is reasonably optimistic for the near future. 

First, four-star tailback Ray-Ray McCloud III (Tampa Sickles) is set to announce his decision later tonight.

McCloud -- the nation’s No. 26 overall prospect according to Rivals -- attended Friday Night Lights and is considered a Florida lean  committed to Clemson. 

On Friday, four-star linebacker Adonis Thomas (Central Gwinnett, Ga.) will announce his decision -- a dogfight between Florida and Alabama according to most recruitniks. 

Meanwhile, the Gators are reportedly in the lead (or near the top) for Rivals100 prospects Byron Cowart (five-star defensive end/Armwood), CeCe Jefferson (five-star defensive end/Bake County), George Campbell (four-star wideout/East Lake) and Martez Ivey (four-star tackle/Apopka), but with enough uncertainty surrounding coach Will Muschamp this fall, Florida’s on-field success in 2014 will ultimately determine the ceiling of its 2015 class.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 25, 2014

Brown commits using live prop, Friday Night Lights set to start

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s annual recruiting extravaganza Friday Night Lights kicks off later today, but before the festivities even begin the Gators received some early good news. 

Cincinnati (OH) offensive lineman George Brown, Jr. verbally pledged his commitment to Florida -- and I’ve purposely buried the lede here -- announcing his decision by taking out a live baby gator during a ceremony at his high school. 

 

Brown, a four-star prospect according to Rivals, chose UF over finalists Kentucky and Alabama and is the Gators' ninth commit in their 2015 class. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 3.27.31 PMMeanwhile, Florida could receive a flurry of other commitments tonight, as (according to multiple reports) the Gators will host top prospects from the 2015 and 2016 classes including 2015 notables four-star wideout George Campbell (East Lake), four-star tailback Dexter Williams (West Orange; also a Miami commit), four-star tailback Ray-Ray McCloud III (Sickles) and four-star linebacker Jeffery Holland (Trinity Christian). Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart (Armwood) is among others rumored to attend. 

********** Again, I am not a recruiting expert/analyst/writer, but I will update the blog anytime news breaks of a new Gators commit. ********** 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 21, 2014

An examination: Most complete team?

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GAINESVILLE -- A week ago, Boom went bold.

Last Monday at SEC Media Days, Florida coach Will Muschamp made headlines when he confidently stated, “This is the most complete team we’ve had since I’ve been at UF.”

It was hardly a push the chips to the center of the table moment -- this is July after all and the annual circus event in Hoover ups the ante on any traditional customary bloviating by 400 percent. 

But the comment sparked turned heads because the Gators were so dreadful last season.  Muschamp, who embraced the hot-seat scuttle in Hoover, wasn’t haranguing delusions of grandeur but he wasn’t projecting false hope, either.

Florida’s roster is loaded with quality. According to Rivals’ rankings, the Gators have 49 players who entered college as four-stars or better.

But stockpiling prospects doesn’t necessarily equate to “the most complete team.”

The Gators need help today. Not tomorrow. 

There’s little doubt if Muschamp should be replaced at season’s end, whoever inherits Florida’s roster will be giddy about the immediate future. Gators fans have long shared ambivalent feelings towards Coach Boom, and a comment even slightly raising the stakes (or hope) strike at the heart of their contradictory thoughts.

I joked on Twitter Muschamp’s statement was incorrect. Case closed. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.20.29 AMWas it though?

An examination… 

QUARTERBACK

ADV: 2014

On the surface it’s Jeff Driskel’s potential versus Jeff Driskel’s linear development, but the talent behind Florida’s starting signal caller this fall is much stronger (Will Grier, Treon Harris). The fact Driskel is finally in an offense that can maximize his skills is another benefit.

RUNNING BACK

ADV: 2014 (if ever so slightly)

The Gators are super deep at tailback this fall, but in 2012, Mike Gillislee rushed for over 1,000 yards averaging 4.72 yards per attempt. Ultimately, the stable of tailbacks (Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Adam Lane, Matt Jones) + the (theoretical) eradication of Murderball (cc: Bill Connelly) top a lone wolf. 

WIDE RECEIVER 

ADV: 2014 

The wideout position is easily Florida’s biggest strength compared to two years ago. Sophomores Demarcus Robinson, Chris Thompson and Ahmad Fulwood stand as emerging playmakers, while senior wideout Quinton Dunbar is the same ho-hum possession receiver he was two years ago -- when he was Florida’s top option at the position. 

TIGHT END 

ADV: PUSH

Jordan Reed was a second-team All-SEC performer in 2012 and standout rookie in the NFL last year. Although Virginia transfer Jake McGee could reasonably replicate Reed’s stats (45 rec., 559 yrds) in Kurt Roper’s spread attack, the promising talent behind the former Cavalier (C’yontai Lewis, DeAndre Goolsby) is eerily similar to the hyped outlook for former freshmen Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson. 

OFFENSIVE LINE

ADV: PUNT (or 2012)

It’s the difficult choice between a pair of pu-pu platters, but Florida’s line this fall is scary thin and starts a center who’s never played center, a pair of tackles who can’t stay healthy and a guard who’s 6-9, 350-pounds. Two seasons ago, the Gators’ line barely mitigated disaster; so again, this is like comparing the best Adam Sandler flicks since 1999.

DEFENSIVE LINE 

ADV: 2012

Florida started three former five-star recruits (Dominique Easley, Omar Hunter, Sharrif Floyd) and brought a pair of freshmen five-star studs (Dante Fowler Jr., Jon Bullard) off the bench. The Gators’ youthful front this fall could be stout, but UF’s 2012 contingent was a menacing, seasoned group.

LINEBACKERS

ADV: PUSH

2012 had the vets (Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, Lerentee McCray) and 2014 has all the promise (Jarrad Davis, Daniel McMillian, Matt Rolin). Bostic was a steady force, but Davis is a natural breakout candidate this fall. How well Antonio Morrison rebounds from a rough 2013 will go a long way in determining the actual upside of the unit.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

ADV: 2012

Vernon Hargreaves III is possibly the best corner in the nation, but he can’t cover the entire field solo. Florida’s secondary is a gluttonous group (Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson) but the 2012 unit was ridiculous also. To wit: Matt Elam, Josh Evans, (a mentally engaged) Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, Jaylen Watkins and De’Ante Saunders.

SPECIALISTS

ADV: 2012

Caleb Sturgis and Kyle Christy were All-Americans in 2012. The Gators’ kickers were so dreadful last season they replaced their special teams coach after just one year in Gainesville. Really, enough said. Sixth-year senior Andre Debose should reprise his ‘12 role as UF’s electric return man, but Solomon Patton actually averaged more yards per return last season than Debose ever has in his career.

FINAL SCORECARD 

2012: 3 (DL, DB, SPEC.)

2014: 3 (QB, RB, WR)

2 pushes (TE, LB); 1 punt (OL).

Ultimately, Muschamp believes this is his most complete team because he believes he’s actually found a functional offense. The purely (unscientific) prospect talent base in 2012 versus 2014 is almost negligible (48 four-stars or better in 2012; 49 in 2014), but two years ago the Gators knew they had a rock-star defense and this year they simply hope they do.

Offensively, UF’s talent pool is better now and in a LOST-like alternate universe its attack could actually be more consistent than its defense. But Florida’s margins remain thin. Although the ceiling on this year’s team could be higher than a group that went 11-2, its floor is definitely lower.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 17, 2014

Gators picked third in East, place four on All-SEC teams

GAINESVILLE -- While Will Muschamp & Co. are openly confident heading into the 2014 campaign, members of the conference media remain unconvinced of a dramatic turnaround in Gainesville. 

The Southeastern Conference media picked Florida to finish third in the Eastern Division, the league announced Thursday.  UF was one of six schools in the league that did not receive a single vote to win the conference. 

The Gators had just four players named to the preseason All-SEC teams, led by first-team standouts Dante Fowler Jr. (defensive end) and Vernon Hargreaves III (cornerback).

Sixth-year senior wideout Andre Debose was named a preseason second-team return specialist, while senior right tackle Chaz Green was named to the third team. 

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH

EAST

1. South Carolina

2. Georgia

3. Florida

4. Missouri

5. Tennessee

6. Vanderbilt

7. Kentucky

WEST

1. Alabama

2. Auburn

3. LSU

4. Ole Miss

5. Mississippi State

6. Texas A&M

7. Arkansas

OFFENSE

First-Team

QB       Nick Marshall, Auburn (241)          

RB        T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (281)        

RB        Todd Gurley, Georgia (280)         

WR      Amari Cooper, Alabama (282)       

WR      Sammie Coates, Auburn (207)                    

TE        O.J. Howard, Alabama (188)                 

OL        La'el Collins, LSU (231)              

OL        Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (188)      

OL        Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (183)       

OL        Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (174)      

C          Reese Dismukes, Auburn (226)           

Second-Team

QB       Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (118)      

RB        Mike Davis, South Carolina (240)        

RB        Alex Collins, Arkansas (126)     

WR      Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (182)        

WR      Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (71)       

TE        C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (141)       

OL        A.J. Cann, South Carolina (166)       

OL        Vadal Alexander, LSU (112)     

OL        Alex Kozan, Auburn (112)     

OL        Corey Robinson, South Carolina (107)     

C          Ryan Kelly, Alabama (126)                  

Third-Team

QB       Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (94)                  

RB        Corey Grant, Auburn (52)       

RB        Keith Marshall, Georgia (44)    

WR      Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State (67)         

WR      Marquez North, Tennessee (66)     

TE        Hunter Henry, Arkansas (72)          

OL        Austin Shepherd, Alabama (106)

OL        Chad Slade, Auburn (101)

OL        John Theus, Georgia (96)

OL        Chaz Green, Florida (94)    

C          Evan Boehm, Missouri (77)        

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL        Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (239)         

DL        Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida (212)      

DL        A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama (208)      

DL        Gabe Wright, Auburn (192)    

LB        Trey DePriest, Alabama (253)       

LB        A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (186)         

LB        Ramik Wilson, Georgia (147)        

DB       Landon Collins, Alabama (274)      

DB       Vernon Hargreaves, III, Florida (243)       

DB       Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (210)      

DB       Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (183)

Second-Team

DL        Trey Flowers, Arkansas (181)              

DL        Chris Jones, Mississippi State (150)      

DL        Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky (134)    

DL        Markus Golden, Missouri (125)   

LB        Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (143)     

LB        Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (137)       

LB        Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (116)       

DB       Robenson Therezie, Auburn (144)      

DB       Tre'Davious White, LSU (141)       

DB       Damian Swann, Georgia (127)      

DB       Tony Conner, Ole Miss (116)       

Third-Team

DL        Ray Drew, Georgia (102)                

DL        Montravius Adams, Auburn (94)      

DL        Carl Lawson, Auburn (87)      

DL        Jermauria Rasco, LSU (79)         

LB        Kwon Alexander, LSU (112)         

LB        Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (82)      

LB        Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss (76)      

DB       Jon Mincy, Auburn (99)    

DB       Corey Thompson, LSU (86)        

DB       Rashard Robinson, LSU (84)   

DB       Brison Williams, South Carolina (81)      

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P          Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (221)      

PK        Marshall Morgan, Georgia (224)               

RS        Christion Jones, Alabama (262)                

AP        Christion Jones, Alabama (130)              

Second-Team

P          Sam Irwin-Hill, Arkansas (136)        

PK        Colby Delahoussaye, LSU (142)                    

RS        Andre Debose, Florida (97)        

AP        Terrence Magee, LSU (111)       

Third-Team

P          Jamie Keehn, LSU (81)         

PK        Andrew Baggett, Missouri (103)                  

RS        Marcus Murphy, Missouri (72)        

AP        Trey Williams, Texas A&M (89)   

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 15, 2014

Fall camp starts Aug. 4, eight practices open to fans

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s fan-friendly reboot will continue this fall. 

After increasing transparency this spring, Florida coach Will Muschamp announced UF will open eight preseason practices in August -- including one event designed exclusively for 2014 season ticket holders. 

The Gators report for camp Sunday, Aug. 3, and will begin practice the next day. Florida’s first open session will take place Aug. 7 at the Dizney Lacrosse Stadium. The Gators will hold their final open practice inside The Swamp (Aug. 14), coinciding with their annual Fan Day to follow (3 p.m., O’Connell Center). 

The complete rundown of open practices:

Aug. 7 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium)

Aug. 8 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium)

Aug. 9 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium, season ticket holders only)

Aug. 11 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium) 

Aug. 12 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium)

Aug. 13 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium) 

Aug. 14 (Dizney Lacrosse Stadium)

Aug. 16 (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium)

* Dates and times are subject to change.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Freshman DB cited for marijuana possession

GAINESVILLE -- Florida five-star freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor was cited May 27 for misdemeanor maijuana possession of less than 20 grams, as first reported by 247 Sports’ Thomas Goldkamp. 

Tabor, an early enrollee and UF’s top-rated prospect in 2014, reached a deferred prosecution agreement on June 3.  

“Jalen has faced the consequences for his actions and is very remorseful,” coach Will Muschamp said in  a statement to reporters in Hoover, Alabama. 

“He is aware that this is not how we represent [the University of Florida.]"

Tabor’s mom, Merri, tweeted out her support late Monday evening. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 7.25.33 AMAccording to the Gainesville Police Department report, Tabor was in a parked car in the University House apartment complex when an officer smelled marijuana emanating from the vehicle. A “probable cause search” yielded possession of less than 20 grams. 

The Under Armour All-American has already been disciplined by the team and school, and will not face any additional punishment, per The Gainesville Sun. 

Tabor’s arrest is Florida’s first run-in with the law since junior linebacker Antonio Morrison’s infamous barking-dog incident last July 21.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 14, 2014

Florida '14: Five Toughest Games

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GAINESVILLE -- A college football preseason summer series! A yearly tradition like The Masters, a Kardashian wedding or an Emmy snub for Jon Hamm. 

Today: Florida's five toughest games in 2014. The Gators' upcoming schedule is ranked among the toughest in the nation, with six preseason Top 25 matchups on the slate -- including five games against Top 15 foes. 

1. @ Florida State (Nov. 29) -- The Seminoles crushed the Gators by 30 points in The Swamp last season, as Jameis Winston eviscerated the nation’s No. 8th ranked defense for 327 yards and three touchdowns. While UF stands to be an improved squad in 2014, FSU returns a loaded defense (eight starters), an all-senior starting offensive line and the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class. 

2. @ Alabama (Sept. 20) -- Florida’s last trek into Bryant-Denny Stadium was an embarrassing bloodbath: a 31-6 shellacking in 2010. This fall’s return to Tuscaloosa could be deja vu. The Gators should again have some early momentum thanks to three home cupcakes to open the year. But Bama remains the class of college football, and the game’s finest coach (Nick Saban) has lost just a single home tilt against an Eastern Division foe (Georgia, 2007) in his career with the Tide. 

3. vs. Georgia (Nov. 1) -- For years, Georgia was the team that found ways to lose in Jacksonville (see: turnovers, penalties), but Florida has not-so-gleefully accepted that role of late. The Gators have dropped three straight against their bitter border rival, as coach Will Muschamp remains winless on both sides of the series. Heisman hopeful tailback Todd Gurley shredded Florida in 2013 (187 total yards, two touchdowns) and stands as UF’s toughest individual challenge this year.  

4. vs. LSU (Oct. 11) -- The Tigers lost a ridiculous amount of talent this offseason (nation-leading nine NFL draftees), but Les Miles simply reloads every year. Despite a preseason quarterback competition, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has seemingly stabilized the Tigers’ attack and the introduction of top recruit Leonard Fournette (RB) should only help. 

5. vs. South Carolina (Nov. 15) -- Steve Spurrier’s bunch returns eight starters on offense and a former backup quarterback (Dylan Thompson) with plenty of experience. UF has lost three of the last four against the Gamecocks — its lone victory a turnover-riddled 44-11 smashing where it gained just 183 yards but won by four touchdowns. Although Jadeveon Clowney is gone, USC's defense should remain cagey with a deep front-seven. 

Thoughts? 

Your rankings. Proceed. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 10, 2014

2014 SEC Media Days: UF to send its three most notable players

GAINESVILLE -- The 2014 SEC Media Days begin Monday, and Florida will send its three most marquee -- and important -- student-athletes to Hoover, Alabama. 

Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. will all join coach Will Muschamp at the circus event, representing Florida on a frenzied Day 1.

The Gators are one of just two schools to not bring a senior, but Hargreaves III (first-team) and Fowler Jr. (second-team) were All-SEC standouts in 2013, while Driskel enters this season as starter for the third straight year. 

Last summer, Driskel attended Media Days, joined by Dominique Easley and Jon Halapio. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 09, 2014

SEC Network coming to Cox Communications

GAINESVILLE -- Florida fans can rest easy. 

Cox Communications, the major cable provider in Gainesville and much of North Central Florida, will carry the new SEC Network upon its launch on Aug. 14, ESPN and Cox announced Wednesday. 

“Cox is home to some of the biggest fans with five SEC schools in our markets,” Jill Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Cox Communications said in a release.  

“This is great news for alumni and fans across our footprint who will enjoy all the action and rivalries that have become synonymous with SEC sports.” 

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive added: “The addition of Cox is another very important step in the development of the SEC Network, bringing millions more viewers nationwide to the network when it launches on August 14.  As one of the largest cable television distributors in the U.S., including five states in the SEC footprint, this agreement with Cox has a significant impact on exposure for the SEC.”

The SEC Network will air 45 football games next season, including two of Florida's first three games (Eastern Michigan, Sept. 6; Kentucky, Sept. 13). 

Former Gators legend Tim Tebow will appear on the network as co-host of SEC Nation, a travelling pre-game show similar to College Gameday. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 07, 2014

Names, Names, Names: Watch List month is here

GAINESVILLE -- It is time. 

 

We’ve officially reached the tipping point of the summer, where half (not exactly a scientific approximation) the players in college football are named to random preseason watch lists.

These lists are absurd, only relevant due to the fact there’s minimal college football content in early July.

But alas, we must note even what isn’t particularly noteworthy.

Florida’s top two standouts -- defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III -- were named to the 2014 Bednarik Award watch list Monday, honoring the nation’s best defensive player.

Fowler Jr., a rising junior who led the Gators in tackles for loss (10.5) last season, and Hargreaves III, one of the country’s top defensive backs as just a freshman, join 74 other players on the list.

Both defensive studs were also named to the Nagurski watch list, another award given to the nation's best defensive player (Football Writers Association of America). 

Meanwhile, UF quarterback Jeff Driskel was tabbed to the Maxwell Award watch list for the nation’s best offensive player. Nearly every notable quarterback, tailback and receiver from the power conferences were named. 

Fifth-year senior Max Garcia, a 12-game starter for the Gators in 2013, was named to the 2014 Rimington Trophy watch list -- this despite never starting a single career game at center. Last season, Garcia mainly played left guard and left tackle but is transitioning to center following the graduation of Jon Harrison. 

In a bit of a suprise, Virginia transfer tight end Jake McGee was not named to the Mackey Award watch list. McGee led all Cavaliers in receptions (43) and yards (395) in 2013 and is considered an ideal fit (and upgrade) for offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's spread system. 

D.J. Humphries, Florida's left tackle who endured an injury-riddled 2013, was named to the preseason watch list for the 2014 Outland Trophy, an award given to the nation's best (offensive or defensive) lineman. Humphries is a former five-star prospect who hopes this season is his breakout campaign. 

MON., JULY 7

Bednarik Award -- DE/LB Dante Fowler Jr., CB Vernon Hargreaves III

Maxwell Award -- QB Jeff Driskel

TUES., JULY 8 

Mackey Award -- ______

Rimgington Trophy -- C Max Garcia 

WED., JULY 9

Lou Groza Award -- ____

Ray Guy Award -- _____

THURS., JULY 10

Bronko Nagurski Trophy -- DE/LB Dante Fowler Jr., CB Vernon Hargreaves III 

Outland Trophy -- OT D.J. Humphries

FRI., JULY 11

Jim Thorpe Award -- CB Vernon Hargreaves III

*** This post will be updated daily, as the NCAA will release watch lists for the next two weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

July 01, 2014

Gators-Hurricans renew rivalry

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators and Hurricanes will square off after all in 2014 -- just on the hardwood.

Florida and Miami will play on Nov. 17 in Gainesville to kickstart a home-and-home series with its in-state rival, UF announced Tuesday.

Although a return date in Coral Gables has yet to be scheduled, the two schools are likely to square off again in South Florida sometime in November 2015. 

The last time to two teams met, the Gators trumped the Hurricanes 74-60 at home in the second round of the 2009 NIT. 

Florida leads the all-time series 45-22, winning 15 of the last 17 showdowns. 

Meanwhile, Florida also announced official plans for renovating the O’Connell Center, with Davis Architects, CPPI Construction Management and TLC Engineering green lighting the $45-50 million project.  

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