July 30, 2015

Florida unranked in preseason coaches poll

GAINESVILLE -- Eight SEC teams were ranked in Thursday's Amway/USA TODAY preseason coaches' poll, but the Florida Gators weren't one of them.

For the second straight summer, UF will enter the fall unranked.

The Gators received a pair of "others" votes, placing them 48th in the country and alongside familiar foe Georgia Southern, which also received two votes.

Florida will play six teams ranked in the preseason poll: No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Georgia, No. 13 LSU, No. 15 Mississippi, No. 23 Missouri and No. 25 Tennessee.

The Gators were 1-2 against ranked foes in 2014.

UF reports for fall camp on August 5, with its opener against New Mexico State scheduled exactly a month later.

The complete poll:

1. Ohio State

2. TCU

3. Alabama

4. Baylor

5. Oregon 

6. Michigan State 

7. Auburn 

8. Florida State 

9. Georgia

10. USC

11. Notre Dame

12. Clemson

13. LSU

14. UCLA

15. Ole Miss

16. Arizona State

17. Georgia Tech

18. Wisconsin

19. Oklahoma 

20. Arkansas 

21. Stanford

22. Arizona 

23. Missouri 

24. Boise State

25. Tennessee 

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July 27, 2015

Monday Musings: Florida's recruiting after FNL

GAINESVILLE -- Florida wrapped up its annual recruiting extravaganza over the weekend, and the success of this year’s Friday Night Lights has recruits looking at the Gators like...

In a three day span, UF netted five commitments -- (in order): 2016 defensive back Quincy Lenton, 2017 wideout Daquon Green, 2016 center Brent Hegie, 2016 linebacker Jeremiah Moon and 2016 quarterback Kyle Trask -- and generated exciting buzz with a number of other top-100 prospects. 

The Gators nabbed some recruiting momentum, but can they keep it during a transition season? 

In February, first-year coach Jim McElwain capped his inaugural recruiting class with a pair of five-star standouts (Martez Ivey, CeCe Jefferson). He proved he could fill out a class quickly, but nearly as important, he planted the Gators flag back in South Florida.

UF closed with a number of key prospects from the area (wideout Antonio Callaway and tailbacks Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite), reopening a pipeline with former Miami coach Randy Shannon leading the pillaging.  

With fall camp just around the corner (August 6), the summer evaluation/camp period is over. A couple of takeaways following Florida’s fruitful FNL. 

1. FORTIFYING A PIPELINE 

The Gators continue to strengthen their position in South Florida. Case in point:

Not only is UF targeting uncommitted South Florida prospects, the Gators are openly aiming to poach a number of Miami Hurricane commits. 

Florida’s 2016 class already includes six prospects from South Florida, including wideout Joshua Hammond, linebacker Vosean Joseph and wideout Isaiah Johnson. 

Three of UF’s four 2017 verbal commitments -- highlighted by top 2017 quarterback Jake Allen -- hail from Miami-Dade or Broward County. 

McElwain's plan is taking shape. 

The state is stocked with playmakers (especially receivers in the 2016 and 2017 classes) and the Gators have (seemingly) positioned themselves well with South Florida wideouts Binjimen Victor and Sam Bruce (a Miami commit) -- both players who traveled to FNL with Allen. Florida is also surging (per 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions) with four-star wideout Calvin Ridley (Deerfield Beach). 

Meanwhile, UF hosted a bevy of other prospects from the area, including 2017 wideout Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield Beach) and 2016 defensive target McArthur Burnett (Pahokee).

Florida's is building its foundation for the future almost exclusively from the fertile area.

2. AN INTERESTING BLUEPRINT 

Make no mistake, Florida’s 2016 class is critical in resuscitating the program. UF can ill-afford failing further behind the rest of the SEC, especially as rivals Tennessee, Georgia and LSU continue to recruit as well as any school in the country. 

Florida currently ranks 14th nationally -- fifth in the SEC -- according to 247Sports.

If the Gators can snag a commitment from any of the aforementioned South Florida studs, as well as four-star defensive end Antonneous Clayton or even five-star defensive end Shavar Manuel (who surprisingly named UF in his top 3), their rankings will undoubtably rise. 

But UF is in an interesting position heading to the fall because of its early strategy in the 2016 class: mining for diamonds in the rough.

Florida turned heads this spring hauling unheralded (or unknown) after unheralded prospect. Recruiting rankings are an inexact science, but they continue to get better and UF appears to be betting big on its staff’s developmental potential.

That’s not necessarily the wrong approach, just an interesting one for Florida.

Considering UF's current position in the league, can it afford to gamble on so many projects (like signing a quarterback who doesn’t even start in high school)? We'll see. 

Depending on some roster gymnastics (normal attrition, early NFL departures, early enrollees counting backwards, etc.), Florida probably has room to sign around 25 guys in 2016. Obviously, McElwain & Co. will nail down an exact number, but it’s a fluid process and semi-complicated by the fact UF already has 18 commits -- 15 rated three-stars or lower. 

The Gators exit the summer with lots of recruiting mojo, so it bears watching how many of their early commits actually end up in Gainesville or if they’re processed for new highly targeted prospects.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 26, 2015

Gators WR Alvin Bailey jailed for outstanding warrant

GAINESVILLE -- After a mostly quiet offseason, it's suddenly the summer of scofflaws at Florida. 

A day after news broke that Caleb Brantley and Adam Lane’s failed to pay a bowling alley tab, redshirt sophomore wideout Alvin Bailey was arrested and spent nearly five hours in Hillsborough County jail Saturday evening after failing to appear in court for an outstanding traffic offense. 

Bailey was cited May 4 for knowingly driving with a suspended license -- his second suspended license offense -- and when the wideout missed his scheduled court arraignment on June 9, a warrant was issued for his arrest. 

The Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman first reported Bailey’s arrest, noting that the 20-year-old was released from jail on $5,000 bond around 10 p.m. 

Bailey has yet to record a catch at Florida, mainly playing special teams last season. Like Brantley and Lane, his case will likely result in simple restitution and some quality time with the The Swamp’s steps.  

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July 25, 2015

Brantley, Lane cited for second-degree misdemeanors

GAINESVILLE -- A pair of Florida football players allegedly dined and dashed left Splitz Bowling Alley without paying their tabs on July 4 and were charged with “defrauding an innkeeper for under 300 dollars,” according to Alachua County court records

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office issued warrant affidavits for UF tailback Adam Lane and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley on July 22, as both players were cited with second-degree misdemeanors. 

Per the court records, Lane and Brantley allegedly entered the bowling alley around 8:55 p.m. and then left around 9:45 p.m. without paying. Brantley’s tab was $42.34, while Lane’s was $16.93. 

Neither player has been arrested and the case will likely result in simple restitution, some community service and a bunch of running for being stupid. 

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#FNL proves profitable as UF nabs three commits

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s recruiting showcase Friday Night Lights -- now a three-day event -- wraps up Saturday with a camp strictly for offensive and defensive linemen, and UF hopes Friday's momentum continues into the weekend. 

First-year coach Jim McElwain nabbed three commitments (or more??) Friday, including a pair of pledges before the event even got started. 

Four-star defensive back Qunicy Lenton was the first to commit to UF. Lenton, who hails from Meridian, Mississippi, was originally committed to Mississippi State when Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was still on the Bulldogs’ staff. 

Later, UF landed its fourth commitment for the 2017 cycle, as standout wideout Daquon Green tweeted his announcement.

Green (Tampa Bay Tech) is a 6-1 burner who shredded defenses as a sophomore. The playmaking wideout considered one of the top receivers in the 2017 class and could be a potential five-star talent. 

Hours later, three-star center Brett Heggie verbally committed to Florida. According to 247Sports, Heggie is the sixth-best center in the 2016 class. 

McElwain tweeted out his famous #ChompChomp bat signal later in the evening -- only the tweet contained four chomps.

Many recruiting analysts predict Hoover, Ala. linebacker Jeremiah Moon is the secret pledge, but he told The Gainesville Sun he had not committed... yet. 

Perhaps the mystery recruit will be revealed later today. 

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

Moon it is. The four-star outside linebacker becomes the 17th commitment in Florida's 2016 class. 

Stay tuned. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 24, 2015

Florida grants DT Jay-nard Bostwick his release

GAINESVILLE -- Florida redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick is no longer with the program. 

247Sports’ Thomas Goldkamp first reported the news on Friday, and later, Florida confirmed the story. 

Bostwick -- who missed spring practice due to “personal issues" -- has been granted his release and is free to transfer to another school. 

The 6-foot-3, 283-pound tackle redshirted in 2013 before playing sparingly last season. He was suspended for the Florida’s opener against Idaho and recorded just three tackles and zero sacks in five games the rest of the season. 

At SEC Media Days last week, UF coach Jim McElwain was asked of Bostwick’s status with the team, responding, “He’s dealing with some things that he needs taken care of. We’ll see how that goes. Personal things in guys’ lives. We’re going to help him deal with those.” 

Not including NFL departures, Bostwick is the sixth player to leave the program since McElwain took over as coach in December. 

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July 22, 2015

Five@5: Can these Gators make the leap in 2015?

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s expectations for the fall are as low as ever

The Gators have never been picked to finish fifth in the SEC East, and while the silly season is mostly conjecture and fun fodder, new coach Jim McElwain definitely inherited a team with question marks abound. 

Most believe the Gators will barely tread water next season. As others have noted, no UF coach has ever won double-digit games in his inaugural campaign. 

But ***gasp*** Florida hasn’t played a game yet. Perhaps the Gators will surprise some. Perhaps they won’t. 

Either way, these five players could make the leap next season and determine where the Gators ultimately stand in 2015. 

1. Alex Anzalone, LB

The time is now for UF’s 6-3, 245-pound versatile linebacker. Anzalone, a junior, can fly to the football and possesses sound technique and solid instincts. He’s a three-down linebacker and can play both positions in Florida’s nickel defense. Health and opportunity have been Anzalone’s biggest career deterrents thus far, but with Florida’s linebacking corps ravaged by injuries, he’s poised to start at a position of need. This spring, Anzalone embraced the added responsibilities and was the team’s top linebacker. 

2. Keanu Neal, S

Florida’s junior safety started eight games in 2014, finishing second on the team with three interceptions. Neal is an athletic thumper, who flashed both brilliance and boneheadedness at times last season. Neal struggled with consistency, as his playmaking potential was oftentimes overshadowed by his communication issues. Last year’s contest against Alabama represented the full gamut of Neal’s game. If Neal continues to improve in coverage and can shore up his communication woes, he has the talent to be among the top safeties in the SEC. 

3. Kelvin Taylor, RB 

Ideally, McElwain adheres to a bell cow philosophy, but it remains unknown whether Taylor is truly featured back material. I remain skeptical, but the Gators need the junior running to reach a level he’s never displayed in Gainesville. Taylor averaged just 4.9 yards per carry last season and his lack of explosiveness and playbook knowledge (among other things) has limited his playing time. He’ll be pushed by freshman Jordan Scarlett for snaps, but teammates have been very complimentary of Taylor this offseason and many say the junior is ready to showcase his full potential.  

4. Caleb Brantley, DT 

The redshirt sophomore was a rotational linemen last season, but the third-year player has the talent to make the jump from good to great. Brantley has displayed a knack for consistent penetration -- simply without the production. Too often, Brantley would burst into the backfield and then fail to make the play. The guess here is that changes this season and the sophomore develops a nose for the ball and becomes a full-fledged starter at tackle. 

5. Cameron Dillard, C 

It’s a wildcard pick, but let me explain. Three years ago, Dilliard didn’t look anything like an SEC-caliber lineman and now he’s (the projected) starting center for Florida after playing spot duty in all of four games last season. It’s taken a while, but the 6-4, 308-pound redshirt sophomore has slowly changed his body and matured into a credible player. Dillard was one of the few offensive linemen who performed well during the spring, and the center has continued to draw rave reviews this summer. With Trip Thurman’s shoulder hanging by a thread and a lack of known quantities behind Dilliard, the sophomore needs to stay healthy and take command of the position next season. 

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July 21, 2015

McElwain cycles through first ESPN "Car Wash"


Jim McElwain completed his first ESPN “car wash” on Tuesday. 

The perfunctory cycle didn't yield anything particularly revelatory.   

Florida’s first-year coach spent the day in Bristol, Connecticut continuing to stay on message -- answering a bevy of questions by not saying much of anything. 

McElwain appeared on a number of the network’s platforms, including live stops at First Take, The Herd, Sportscenter and College Football Live. 

Florida continued a tradition it started under Will Muschamp, picking up South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on the way up to ESPN's campus. 

McElwain told ESPN’s Chris Low, “[Florida officials] asked was there any problem doing this. I said, ‘Hell, I drive by the guy’s statue every day.’ He won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Florida. You know what, we’ll do anything for him. Any opportunity I get to just visit with the guy is invaluable. In fact, I wish the guy would quit coaching, so I could get him in and really pick his brain.”

McElwain's "car wash" mostly centered around Florida's quarterback competition, the team's potential breakout offensive players (Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell), Vernon Hargreaves' star power, his relationship with Nick Saban, etc.  

His most entertaining segment of the day had nothing to do with Florida football. McElwain ribbed on his former Eastern Washington University roommate Colin Cowherd, who wasn't hosting his own show Tuesday. 

With former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell and South Florida radio personality Jon 'Stugotz' Weiner filling in on The Herd, McElwain joked about Cowherd's favorite kind of booze back in college, his silly-looking haircuts and how Cowherd would talk to himself during baseball games. 

For those who missed Tuesday's programming, McElwain's four live appearances are linked below. 

FIRST TAKE (ESPN2)

THE HERD (ESPNU/ESPN RADIO)

SPORTSCENTER (ESPN)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL LIVE (ESPN)

 

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July 17, 2015

Hargreaves headlines UF's media All-SEC nods

GAINESVILLE -- A trio of Gators were named to the media’s 2015 Preseason All-SEC Teams, the league announced Friday. 

Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III earned first-team honors for the second straight year. The 2014 All-American tallied the most votes of any defensive player selected. 

Senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard was named to the second-team defense. The versatile end has started 20 games the last two seasons and was second on the Gators in tackles for loss (8.5) in 2014. 

Finally, injured linebacker Antonio Morrison earned third-team honors. The senior middle linebacker led UF in tackles (101) last season, but Morrison's prospects for the fall are unknown as he continues to recover from a knee injury

Meanwhile, the Gators’ pitiful offense received zero love. No Florida player made first, second or third team for the first time since 2011. The Gators haven’t had an offensive preseason first-teamer since center Mike Pouncy in 2010. 

Offensive tackle Chaz Green was named to the media's third-team last preseason, while offensive guard Jon Halapio is UF’s lone preseason second-teamer in the last five years. 

Tim Tebow in 2009 stands as the Gators’ last “skill position” player to earn first or second team honors. 

2015 PRE-SEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM (Total points earned in parenthesis)

OFFENSE

First-Team

QB       Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (170)                

RB        Nick Chubb, Georgia (189)    

RB        Leonard Fournette, LSU (180)             

WR      Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (169)           

WR      D'haquille Williams, Auburn (154)                       

TE        Evan Engram, Ole Miss (128)                    

OL        Cam Robinson, Alabama (167)                  

OL        Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (159)            

OL        Vadal Alexander, LSU (131)              

OL        John Theus, Georgia (129)        

C          Ryan Kelly, Alabama (144)                  

Second-Team

QB       Jeremy Johnson, Auburn (89)                       

RB        Derrick Henry, Alabama (151)         

RB        Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (82)      

WR      Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (147)              

WR      De'Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State (59)           

TE        Hunter Henry, Arkansas (97)             

OL       Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (124)               

OL        Dan Skipper, Arkansas (95)          

OL        Denver Kirkland, Arkansas (85)    

OL        Greg Pyke, Georgia (83)            

C          Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (108)                        

Third-Team

QB       Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (62)                                   

RB        Alex Collins, Arkansas (80)            

RB        Kenyan Drake, Alabama (34)      

WR      Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (50)            

WR      Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (39)         

TE        O.J. Howard, Alabama (87)               

OL        Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (72)       

OL        Alex Kozan, Auburn (69)    

OL        Avery Young, Auburn (57)      

OL        Brandon Shell, South Carolina (50)          

C          Evan Boehm, Missouri (81)              

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL        Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (173)               

DL        A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama (160)            

DL        Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (155)             

DL        Carl Lawson, Auburn (131)          

LB        Reggie Ragland, Alabama (181)            

LB        Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (121)              

LB        Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (102)            

DB       Vernon Hargreaves, Florida (186)            

DB       Cyrus Jones, Alabama (126)          

DB       Jonathan Jones, Auburn (122)              

DB       Jalen Mills, LSU (118)    

Second-Team

DL        Jonathan Bullard, Florida (115)                     

DL        Derek Barnett, Tennessee (105)            

DL        Jonathan Allen, Alabama (99)          

DL        Chris Jones, Mississippi State (93)     

LB        Kendell Beckwith, LSU (93)          

LB        Leonard Floyd, Georgia (92)           

LB        Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (80)             

DB       Tony Conner, Ole Miss (117)              

DB       Cameron Sutton, Tennessee (115)               

DB       Will Redmond, Mississippi State (79)               

DB       Tre'Davious White, LSU (61)       

Third-Team

DL        Montravius Adams, Auburn (90)                        

DL        Jarran Reed, Alabama (60)             

DL        Davon Godchaux, LSU (40)           

DL        Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (34)          

LB        Kris Frost, Auburn (77)               

LB        Antonio Morrison, Florida (66)           

LB        Kentrell Brothers, Missouri (61)          

DB       A.J. Stamps, Kentucky (59)       

DB       Eddie Jackson, Alabama (58)            

DB       Jamal Adams, LSU (56)       

DB       Johnathan Ford, Auburn (52)                        

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P          JK Scott, Alabama (161)          

PK        Marshall Morgan, Georgia (100)                     

RS        Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (117)                  

AP        Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (112)                     

Second-Team

P          Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (92)              

PK        Elliott Fry, South Carolina (87)                         

RS        Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (75)             

AP        Leonard Fournette, LSU (85)            

Third-Team

P          Jamie Keehn, LSU (52)               

PK        Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky (59)                         

RS        Leonard Fournette, LSU (66)          

AP        Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (84)           

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July 16, 2015

Gators picked to finish fifth in SEC East

GAINESVILLE -- Aside from the opinion of one brave deranged silly media member, Florida isn’t expected to compete for much of anything in Jim McElwain’s first season in Gainesville. 

Media members at this week’s SEC Media Days released its preseason projections Thursday, with Auburn picked to win the conference -- this despite Alabama finishing first in the voting for the Western Division title -- and Georgia projected to capture the East. 

The Gators were picked to finish fifth in the Eastern Division, but they did receive one vote to win the division and win the league. 

Internet comedy instantly ensued. 

The preseason poll is a useless exercise, but last season Florida was correctly pegged to finish third in the division. The Gators went 4-4 in conference play and finished behind Missouri and Georgia. 

WESTERN DIVISION (1st Place votes in parenthesis)

School

Points

Alabama (92)

1405

Auburn (108)

1362

LSU (10)

870

Arkansas (6)

821

Ole Miss (3)

732

Texas A&M (4)

628

Mississippi State (2)

482

EASTERN DIVISION (1st Place votes in parenthesis)

School

Points

Georgia (166)

1498

Tennessee (36)

1231

Missouri (20)

1196

South Carolina (1)

830

Florida (1)

768

Kentucky (1)

534

Vanderbilt

243

SEC CHAMPION

School

Points

Auburn

96

Alabama

80

Georgia

28

LSU

9

Ole Miss

3

Arkansas

3

Texas A&M

2

Tennessee

2

Mississippi State

1

Florida

1

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July 14, 2015

VH3, Bullard praise former coach Will Muschamp

HOOVER, Ala. -- Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn turned heads at SEC Media Days on Monday when he shared his esteem for former Florida coach and current Tigers defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

“In my opinion, he’s the best defensive mind in all of football, not just college football.”

The lovefest for “Coach Boom” only continued thereafter, with a pair of Muschamp’s former UF players also praising the defensive guru. 

“Everybody on the defense is going to get better,” Gators cornerback Veron Hargreaves III said.  

“They’re going to practice hard. They’re going to play hard. Definitely run to the ball. That’s one of his big points of emphasis. Coach Muschamp likes you to act mature. He doesn’t really bother you much. He sets his rules and that’s his rules. If you can follow them, you’ll be a great player. If you can’t, [he’s] probably not the coach for you.”

Muschamp was just 28-21 in four seasons as Florida’s head coach, but he presided over three top-10 defenses and was beloved by his players -- especially those on the defense -- even after he was fired. 

“He’s a guy that just wins you over,” UF defensive lineman Jon Bullard said. 

“He makes you want to play for him.”

Now, Muschamp is tasked with reinvigorating a middling Tigers unit on a team hoping to compete for a national title. In short order, Malzahn said Muschamp has already impacted the team's culture and energy. 

“He gives the players confidence,” Malzahn said.

“He has the ‘it’ factor. We think the future is bright.”

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"SEC Storied" series continues with "Wuerffel's Way"

HOOVER, Ala. -- Former Florida quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy Winner Danny Wuerffel will be featured in the next slate of "SEC Storied" documentaries this fall, the league announced Tuesday. 

The film Wuerffel’s Way will focus on the quarterback's journey from a national champion to spearheading the Desire Street Ministries and leading recovery efforts and community outreach in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. 

"Danny Wuerffel was on top of the world at the end of the 1996 college football season. The University of Florida quarterback had just won the Heisman Trophy and led the Gators to a National Championship.  But drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the spring of 1997, he struggled to attain the same kind of success in the NFL. It was in that first year as a pro that he began volunteering in New Orleans’ Desire neighborhood, one of the poorest locales in the country.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated his Desire Street Academy in late August 2005, Wuerffel took the lead in tracking down his students, established a new location for the school in Florida, and expanded his outreach to help several more communities in the southeastern United States.  He continued his efforts while battling a life-threatening illness.  Now, ten years removed from the costliest natural disaster in American history, Wuerffel returns to New Orleans to dedicate the rebuilding of the Desire Community Square and further the cause he joined two decades ago."

Wuerffel's Way will premiere on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28 — the eve of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 

The film will re-air on Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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July 13, 2015

McElwain: Indoor Practice Facility ahead of schedule

HOOVER, Ala. -- Florida’s first-year coach Jim McElwain has focused on upgrading the team’s facilities and infrastructure during his initial months on the job, and he delivered some notable news Monday on the school’s biggest project yet. 

Construction on Florida’s $17 million indoor practice facility is currently ahead of schedule. The project, initially projected for completion in September, should be available during training camp. 

“It was long needed,” McElwain said.

“It’s a beautiful facility. It sounds like we’ll at least be able to get a permit to go ahead and spend a couple hours in there as we go through two-a-days this fall. That’s something really exciting for our guys.”

McElwain also said the refurbished athletic dorms will be ready by the fall.

“Gutting out some of the dorms, the living arrangements, is something we tackled right away," he explained.

"That should be finished up for these guys to be moving in this fall. We’re excited about that and the security within those dorms. It’s something that’s really important.”

The Gators have a number of other projects on the docket, too, namely renovating and expanding the academic center.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” McElwain said.

“We’ve got a long ways to go, but it’s good to see that those things are happening.”

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July 08, 2015

Florida announces 2015 SEC Media Days attendees

GAINESVILLE -- All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, sophomore wideout Brandon Powell and senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard will represent Florida at the 2015 SEC Media Days, the league announced Wednesday. 

New coach Jim McElwain will accompany the three student-athletes and make his make his debut at the circus event in Hoover, Alabama.

Florida is scheduled for Day 1, as SEC Media Days starts Monday and runs through Thursday. 

Last summer, Hargreaves attended the event as a sophomore, joining former quarterback Jeff Driskel and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. 

Bullard and Powell are first time attendees. Bullard is a senior leader who turned down the NFL this offseason and will share his relationship with his late grandmother as part of “Beyond the Field: Stories of the SEC.”

Powell, who transitioned from tailback to receiver this spring, stands as a potential breakout star for an offense desperate for playmakers. He is one of just four sophomores scheduled to attend the event. 

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July 07, 2015

The silliness in debating Florida's G.O.A.T

GAINESVILLE -- During Sunday's closing minutes of the USWNT’s 5-2 romp in the World Cup final, ESPN writer (and friend of the blog) Edward Aschoff posted a simple but inevitably controversial tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 11.30.57 AM

Predictably, most of Twitter told Aschoff he was wrong. 

Tim Tebow, Emmitt Smith and Ryan Lochte were all submitted as superior choices. Amazingly, no one mentioned Joakim Noah, Dana Torres or Kerwin Bell.  

I kid. 

Really though, determining THE GREATEST GATOR EVER is an exercise in futility. It’s a silly (but entertaining) debate, with an endless string of points and counter points. It's a deep-dive into subjective questions and criteria as ridiculous and polarizing as Game of Thrones theories.   

So instead of determining the impossible, let's use Wambach (and others) as an example of the craziness of the conversation on just who is Florida’s G.O.A.T.

With Sunday’s victory, Wambach’s accomplishments now include an elusive WC title, UF's goal and assist marks, a 1998 NCAA Championship, two Olympic gold medals and the all-time international scoring record -- male or female. 

Those aren’t just impressive credentials, they’re legendary.  

BUT SHE DOESN’T PLAY REAL FOOTBALL, PAWWWL!

Therein lies the crux of the issue. Florida’s bread is buttered on the gridiron, so debate angles such as -- Should collegiate legacy trump professional accomplishments? Should the popularity of the sport matter? Does decorated equal greatest? What about top athletes (i.e. softball stud Lauren Haeger) with few professional opportunities? -- are all trumped by did athlete X play football. 

Is that fair? No. But checkout Aschoff's feed. It's the prevailing opinion. 

Like Wambach, Ryan Lochte (5X Olympic gold medalist, 24X All-American, 7X NCAA Champion) and Dana Torres (First swimmer to medal in five Olympics, 4X Olympic gold medalist, 9X NCAA Champion) have decorated careers. Former UF tennis champion Lisa Raymond, swimmer Tracy Caulkins or long-jumper Christian Taylor could be on a short list for best UF athlete, too. 

The number of people who did or didn’t watch Wambach & Co. at Florida probably shouldn’t matter so much, yet it does. 

So since football is king, Emmitt Smith -- Twitter’s most popular choice -- would stand as UF's top athlete ever, right?

Well… 

Smith -- a Hall of Famer, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and a 3X Super Bowl champion -- has had an arms-distance relationship with his alma mater. He actually left UF with the school's career rushing mark only to see his record later eclipsed. But since Smith hasn’t always embraced his Gators roots, he’s not on many Florida fans’ Mount Rushmore (That’d be Tebow, Spurrier, Wuerffel, Noah).  

Does that matter? Should Florida's greatest athlete ever stand alongside it's most popular athletes ever?

See, it's a subjective debate with all the circular logic and silliness of an episode of Seinfeld

So is Wambach the G.O.A.T?

Perhaps. 

I’m sticking with Kerwin Bell though.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 03, 2015

Jon Bullard to be featured at 2015 SEC Media Days

GAINESVILLE -- The 2015 SEC Media Days will include a new feature titled: “Beyond the Field: Stories of the SEC” and Florida senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard will serve as UF's representative to tell his “compelling story outside his athletic endeavors," the league announced Thursday. 

The versatile defensive lineman will detail his relationship with his late grandmother, Joyce Robbs, who raised Bullard and battled cancer during his high school career. She passed away in 2012.  

Florida – Jonathan Bullard (Senior, Defensive Line) was raised in part by a grandmother who battled cancer during his high school career.  Despite his intention to play at a school near her home, she encouraged him to follow his dream and play at Florida.  She saw him play his freshman year but soon became ill and passed away the week after he played the best game of his young career vs. Missouri.  She remains an inspiration to him. 

UF is slated for Day 1 of the four-day event, starting July 13. Bullard is one of three athletes who will represent the Gators in Hoover. The league will announce Florida's full contingent on July 6.  

“The athletic achievements of the SEC continue to be well-documented, but many of our student-athletes lead interesting lives or have intriguing stories that happen away from the field of play,” new SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. 

“This is an opportunity to tell stories of academic achievement, personal ambition, community service, determination in the face of adversity and character of mind.  These student-athletes are the chapters of a larger book that is the story of the Southeastern Conference.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 30, 2015

#SECNTakeover: Florida's July 2 lineup announced

 

GAINESVILLE -- With the help of former Florida football player and current WWE Tag Team World Champion wrestler Titus O’Neil, the Gators will “takeover” the SEC Network on July 2 for 24 hours of consecutive coverage. 

ESPN announced UF’s “takeover" Tuesday, with the lineup featuring “The Greatest Game Ever Played in The Swamp,” Tim Tebow and Abby Wambach documentaries and replays from nine different sports. In a bit of a surprise, just two football games will be re-aired -- neither from the 21st Century. 

The only title game on the schedule is Florida’s win over Florida State in 1997 Sugar Bowl. According to ESPN's release, “takeover schedules were created from the available television inventory and NCAA Championships were not available for re-air.”  

The 24-hour coverage lineup: 

Midnight: Florida Gators’ Takeover Special 

1 a.m. - 2015 SEC Baseball Tournament Championship: UF vs. Vanderbilt

3 a.m. - 2014 UF vs. Texas (Volleyball) 

5 a.m. - 2009 Tennessee vs. UF (Women’s basketball)

7 a.m. - 2015 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championship

9 a.m - 2014 Florida State vs. UF (Soccer)

11 a.m. - SEC Storied: Abby Head On

12 p.m. - 2015 Kentucky vs. UF (Men’s basketball)

3 p.m. - 2015 Florida State vs. Florida (Softball)

4:30 p.m. - Florida Gators’ Takeover Special (Encore)

5:30 p.m. - “The Greatest Game Ever Played” - 11/22/1997 - FSU vs. UF

7:30 p.m. - 1997 Sugar Bowl - 1/2/1997 - Florida vs. FSU

9:30 p.m. - 2006 Ohio State vs. Florida (Men’s basketball)

11 p.m. - Tim Tebow: Everything in Between 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

UF updates roster, announces enrollees and transfers

GAINESVILLE -- With Summer B classes starting Monday, Florida updated its official roster for next season. 

The Gators added 16 freshmen enrollees, but two signees -- athlete D’Anfernee McGriff and defensive end Keivonnis Davis -- weren't listed after failing to qualify.

McGriff, an explosive offensive playmaker, appears headed to junior college or prep school, but Davis’ enrollment may just be delayed until the fall semester. 

Florida also confirmed five transfers and handed out jersey numbers to most of the newcomers.  

TRANSFERS 

QB - 12 - Josh Grady (6’0, 200) 

QB - 14 - Luke Del Rio (6’1, 216)

OL - 75 - Mason Halter (6’6, 295)

LB - TBA - Anthony Harrell (6’2, 237)

OL - 59 - T.J. McCoy (6’1, 302)

OFFENSIVE FRESHMEN 

OL - 66- Nick Buchanan (6’4, 285)

WR - 81 - Antonio Callaway (5’11, 198)

RB - 32 - Jordan Cronkrite (5’11, 205) 

OL - 68 - Richard Desir-Jones (6’4, 290)

OL - 73 - Martez Ivey (6’5, 302)

OL- 74 - Fred Johnson (6’6, 296)

OL - 64 - Tyler Jordan (6’4, 292)

TE - TBA - Camrin Knight (TBA)

OL - 67 - Brandon Sandifer (6’3, 357)

RB - 25 - Jordan Scarlett (5’10, 198)

DEFENSIVE FRESHMEN

DL - 98 - Luke Ancrum (6’5, 251)

DL - 62 - Andrew Ivie (6’1, 302)

LB - 44 - Rayshad Jackson (6’0, 221)

DL - 96 - CeCe Jefferson (6’1, 275)

DB - 28 - Kylan Johnson (6’1, 220)

DB - 35 - Chris Williamson (5’11, 188)

DL - 92 - Jabari Zuniga (6’3, 263)

Meanwhile, UF also added several walk-ons to the roster, including punter Jack Spicer and three linebackers. 

Surprisingly, troubled defensive back J.C. Jackson is still listed on the roster -- despite not being enrolled in school. However, Jackson will not play at UF next season and reports suggest he’s headed to junior college. 

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

Jackson has been removed from the official roster. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 29, 2015

UF ranked 12th in SEC; VH3 voted top cornerback

GAINESVILLE -- AL.com released its annual SEC Preseason Football Report on Sunday -- polling the league’s 14 sports information directors on the conference title game, All-SEC teams and power rankings. 

Auburn and Georgia were voted to meet for a rematch on Dec. 5, yet Alabama ranked as the best team in the SEC. 

Parity for the win!

Florida came in as the 12th best team in the SEC, only ahead of perennial bottom-dwellers Kentucky and Vanderbilt. 

Meanwhile, the 14 SIDs also voted on first and second All-SEC  squads, with UF cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and injured linebacker Antonio Morrison making the first team.

The Gators’ All-American defensive back was also named the “best cornerback” in the league. Morrison earned runner-up honors as the league’s most underrated player. 

Versatile defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard made the second team. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 27, 2015

UF adds legacy linebacker Anthony Harrell

GAINESVILLE -- Florida continues to fill out its roster with graduate transfers. 

The Gators added former Georgia Tech linebacker Anthony Harrell on Friday, who announced on Twitter he will play his final season at UF. 

Harrell is eligible immediately after graduating from Tech in the spring. He is also the second UF legacy to transfer to Florida in the last week, joining offensive lineman T.J. McCoy. 

Harrell’s father, James, played linebacker for the Gators from 1975-78. 

The Yellow Jackets middle linebacker adds some much-needed depth for the Gators, bolstering a thin unit still dealing with injuries to Antonio Morrison, Jarrad Davis and Jeremi Powell. Harrell recorded just 16.5 tackles with Tech last season though, and will likely serve as a backup at Florida. 

Also, Harrell’s transfer isn’t without some confusion. 

Georgia Tech’s official football Twitter account tweeted Friday:

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 11.59.58 AM

Shortly thereafter, Harrell disputed the suspension, responding:

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 11.59.40 AM

 Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

 


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