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.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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

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

 

Underdogs: Vegas bearish on Gators in 2015

GAINESVILLE -- A famous Las Vegas oddsmaker is predicting an inauspicious autumn for the Florida Gators. 

The Golden Nugget sportsbook released early betting lines on a number of games during the 2015 season, listing seven contests involving UF. 

The Gators are currently an underdog in all seven games. 

Sept. 26 vs. Tennessee (+2.5) 

Oct. 3 vs. Ole Miss (+6)

Oct. 10 @ Missouri (+10)

Oct. 17 @ LSU (+14)

Oct. 31 vs. Georgia (+12)

Nov. 14 @ South Carolina (+2.5)

Nov. 28 vs. Florida State (+4) 

Florida’s over/under win total is seven and UF’s odds of winning the SEC is between 18-1 to 20-1 depending on the sportsbook. 

At first glance, there’s plenty of value with the Golden Nugget lines for those actually bullish on UF this season. The Gators have won 10 straight over the Volunteers, yet they’re getting nearly a field goal in The Swamp. 

The Missouri line also seems high, and potentially an overreaction to the 42-13 homecoming drubbing the Tigers delivered in Gainesville last season. 

Lastly, UGA is the definitive favorite in the East, but the Dawgs haven’t beaten the Gators by double-digits since 2007. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 26, 2015

UF shut out of NBA Draft for second straight year

GAINESVILLE -- Ten SEC players were selected in Thursday’s 2015 NBA Draft, but Florida’s Michael Frazier and Chris Walker were not among them. 

For the second straight season, UF was shut out of the draft. 

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

According to multiple reports, Frazier will play for the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Summer League. 

Frazier, a 6-5 sharpshooter, was projected as a second round pick in most mock drafts and was somewhat surprisingly not drafted. The junior averaged 12.1 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, hitting 38 percent from 3-point range during an injury-plagued year.

As a sophomore, Frazier was a key cog on UF’s Final Four team, shooting a conference-best 45 percent from behind-the-arc.

Although he lacked ideal size as a traditional NBA wing, Frazier was considered a specialist with a legitimate NBA skill. Now, he’ll hope to latch onto a NBA summer league team and earn an invite to training camp. 

Meanwhile, Walker wasn’t projected to be drafted following a shoddy sophomore season.

The 6-10 forward averaged just 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 2014-15, often buried at the end of UF’s bench due to defensive lapses, a low basketball IQ and a lack of offensive skills. 

Although he possess elite athleticism, the former McDonald’s All-American failed to fulfill sky-high expectations as a five-star prospect. 

In all, six SEC players were selected in the first round. UF hasn’t produced a first round pick since Bradley Beal to Washington in 2012.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 23, 2015

UF to meet Oklahoma State in Orange Bowl Classic

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s 2015-16 non-conference hoops schedule continues to take shape -- and add tough opponents. 

UF will meet Oklahoma State in the 2015 Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise on Dec. 19, the school announced Tuesday. 

Game time and broadcast information will be set at a later date. 

The Gators are 14-2 all-time in the event (including five straight wins), but the Cowboys -- a No. 9 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament -- represent Florida’s toughest test in the Orange Bowl Classic in many years. 

With Oklahoma State and the recent addition of Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators now have nine non-conference games currently on the slate for next season.  

Nov. 13 - at Navy (Veteran’s Classic)

Nov. 16 - vs. North Carolina A&T

Nov. 21 - vs. St. Joe’s (HoF Tip-Off Classic)

Nov. 22 - vs. Purdue or Old Dominion (HoF Tip-Off Classic)

Nov. 25 - vs. Vermont 

Nov. 27 - vs. Florida Gulf Coast 

Dec. 8 - at Miami 

Dec. 19 - vs. Oklahoma State (Orange Bowl Classic)

Jan. 30 - vs. West Virginia (SEC/BIG 12 Challenge) 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 22, 2015

OL T.J. McCoy reportedly transfers to Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s inexperienced offensive line remains a critical concern heading into the 2015 season, but the unit’s depth is suddenly a little less nightmarish. 

According to The Orlando Sentinel, the Gators are adding a second OL transfer in as many weeks, as UF legacy T.J. McCoy is leaving N.C. State for Florida due to a lamentable illness in his family. 

McCoy, a 6-2, 305-pound three-star center from South Lake, enrolled early with the Wolfpack this spring, but his father, Tony, a former All-SEC defensive tackle for the Gators in 1991, continues to battle Leukemia and a recent trip home this summer has turned into an extended stay in the state. 

Although Tony’s cancer is reportedly in remission, T.J. pursued a release from his scholarship to remain closer to his family, per the Sentinel

McCoy was granted a hardship wavier and is immediately eligible, but UF has yet to confirm the report. 

The Gators now have 15 scholarship offensive linemen, but 10 are either redshirt or true freshmen. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 09, 2015

Florida adds OL transfer, eligible immediately

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s depleted offensive line received a boost Tuesday, as former Fordham tackle Mason Halter announced on Instagram he was transferring to play for the Gators.

On the 23rd of June I'll be heading down to the University of Florida to start my masters degree and fulfill my last year of eligibility playing as a Gator! Can't thank the Fordham coaching staff and all my teammates over the year for molding me into the player I am today! Can't wait to get down to Florida and start grinding with the team #GoGators 🐊🐊🐊

A photo posted by Mason Halter (@masonisohio) on Jun 9, 2015 at 12:05pm PDT

The 6-foot-8, 297-pound tackle -- and a two-time FCS All-American -- will enroll at UF for the Summer B semester and is eligible to play immediately. 

Halter, along with five-star freshman Martez Ivey, should compete for a starting job right away, too. 

The Gators ended spring practice with just six healthy scholarship offensive linemen. They hope redshirt senior Trip Thurman -- the unit’s only upperclassmen and the only player in the group who’s ever started a game -- will rejoin the mix after missing camp with a shoulder injury. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

June 08, 2015

MLB Draft: Martin goes to Oakland in the first round

GAINESVILLE -- Florida shortstop Richie Martin was selected 20th overall by the Oakland A’s in Monday’s first round of the Major League Baseball draft. 

The junior out of Brandon has started all 65 games for the Gators, batting .292 and leading the team in runs (59) and stolen bases (20). Martin, a slick-fielding shortstop, also has career-highs in walks (33), homers (5) and RBI (33) this season. 

Since 2012, Martin is the fourth first-round pick under UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan, joining catcher Mike Zunino, pitcher Brian Johnson and pitcher Jonathan Crawford. 

Martin struggled mightily as a sophomore in 2014, committing 21 errors with just a .265 batting average. But the Brooks Wallace Award semifinalist rebounded in the Cape Cod League last summer, leading the league in hits (59) and runs (36) while hitting .364 -- all with wooden bats. 

ESPN draft insider Eric Longenhagen summarized Martin’s selection by writing

“Martin is one of many college shortstops who project to stay there, but unlike those who have been selected ahead of him, Martin projects to do so because of explosiveness and athleticism rather than polish. He has the best range of any shortstop in the class, but his hands and actions need polishing. Martin is strong, muscular and has some power, but his swing is long and stiff for his size, and he likely will hit only for fringe-average contact at best. Swinging and missing won't be an issue if he can play a good shortstop and yank a handful of homers out down the left field line. He needs more polish than some of the other college shortstops, but his upside is just as high."

Martin is expected to sign with the A’s once Florida’s season concludes at the upcoming College World Series. The Gators take on in-state rival Miami on Saturday at 8 p.m. (ESPN). 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

June 02, 2015

Steele names VH3, Morrison preseason All-Americans

GAINESVILLE -- College football sage Phil Steele released his preseason All-American teams Monday, and unsurprisingly, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was named to Steele’s first-team for the second straight summer. 

Hargreaves, a rising junior, led the SEC with 13 pass breakups last season and is a two-time Associated Press All-American.

Meanwhile, injured linebacker Antonio Morrison was named a third-team All-American. The senior standout led Florida with 104 tackles in 2014, but Morrison may miss a sizable chunk of the upcoming season recovering from a knee injury he sustained in UF’s bowl victory on Jan. 3. 

Steele also released his All-SEC projections, with Hargreaves and Morrison named as first-teamers. 

Gators wideout Demarcus Robinson, who led UF with 53 receptions for 810 yards and seven touchdowns last year, was named to Steele’s second-team and was UF’s lone offensive player to earn honors. 

Versatile senior defensive lineman Jon Bullard (8.5 tackles for loss) was also named to the All-SEC second team, while senior defensive back Brian Poole (team-leading four interceptions) was awarded fourth-team honors. 

Finally, Gators kicker Austin Hardin (7-of-10 FGs) was named a third-team member. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 27, 2015

Thurman progressing, Morrison's return unknown

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Jim McElwain provided a quick roster update Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings in Destin.

According to Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel, McElwain said senior center Trip Thurman, out all spring with a chronic shoulder injury, is lifting weights again and eying a return for fall camp. Thurman started 10 games last season and is UF’s lone upperclassman along the offensive line. 

“He’s kind of a one-hit away guy,” McElwain said.

“Taking what we can off has allowed him to get [his shoulder] strengthened and we’ll do the same thing this summer.”

Meanwhile, McElwain said defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. (hip surgery) and linebacker Jarrad Davis (knee) should be ready for training camp. Antonio Morrison’s knee injury remains clouded in mystery though, and his return is unknown. 

The senior linebacker -- and team’s leading tackler in 2014 -- continues to rehab after sustaining a serious injury in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3.

“He’s continuing to work on that,” McElwain said.

“As you know, I would never put a guy out there who is not ready.”

Finally, McElwain provided no update on cornerback J.C. Jackson, but he did confirm recent graduate transfer Josh Grady, formally of Vanderbilt, will play quarterback at UF. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 25, 2015

UF earns No. 4 seed, sets sights on Omaha

GAINESVILLE -- After ripping off four straight wins to capture the 2015 SEC Tournament Championship, Florida's baseball team was rewarded with the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday. 

UF, vying for its first trip to Omaha since 2012, won’t have to leave home to reach the College World Series either, earning a national seed for the sixth time in seven years. 

The Gators (44-16) -- who were the No. 1 overall seed last season but were bounced in the opening weekend -- will host fourth-seed Florida A&M (23-23) Friday at 7 p.m. The Gainesville Regional also includes Florida Atlantic (40-17) and South Florida (33-24-1). UF topped FAU 10-8 at Roger Dean Stadium earlier this year, and went 2-0 against USF. The Gators were scheduled to play FAMU on Feb. 17, but the contest was rained out. 

Should the Gators advance this weekend, they could have date with Florida State. UF -- 1-2 vs. FSU this year -- would host the winner of the Tallahassee Regional.  

2015 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Bracket copy 2Florida survived a pair of lengthy rain delays to win its seventh SEC Tournament title in school history with a 7-3 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday. The Gators rallied for four straight wins, including a 2-1 upset over top-seeded LSU, after losing their opening game in the tournament against Arkansas. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 18, 2015

Allen opts to play for White, Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Michael White is proving his recruiting prowess already. 

UF’s top-rated signee KeVaughn Allen will honor his commitment rather than seeking a release from his LOI, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman first reported. 

The 6-foot-3 combo guard -- the nation’s 54th ranked prospect per ESPN -- was a standout at North Little Rock in Arkansas and was rumored to sign elsewhere following Billy Donovan’s departure to the NBA. 

Not so, apparently.  

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 3.38.20 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 3.38.34 PMAllen’s stepfather went on a local Arkansas radio station roughly two weeks ago, saying Allen’s release was imminent. But Allen met with White in the interim and ultimately chose to stay at UF and play for a new coach. 

With Allen in the fold, White officially retained three of Donovan’s four signees, only losing four-star power forward Noah Dickerson. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 14, 2015

Dickerson released from LOI, Allen weighing options

GAINESVILLE -- New Florida coach Michael White is already facing his first test less than a week on the job. 

Former coach Billy Donovan signed a talented and deep recruiting class, but two of the Gators’ four signees are reportedly seeking other options following Donovan’s departure. 

Forward Noah Dickerson -- UF’s highest-rated commit -- has been released from his LOI, according to ESPN.com and other media outlets. 

  Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 6.17.46 PM

Dickerson, a 6-8 forward from Montverde Academy, is ranked No. 51 overall in the country. Meanwhile, explosive shooting guard KaVaughn Allen (North Little Rock, Ark.) is also reportedly seeking his release. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 6.18.37 PM

White met with Allen last weekend, and said the nation’s 54th ranked player continues to weigh his options. Still, White won’t obstruct any signee wanting to play elsewhere. 

“I don't think we've had any final answers yet,” White said Monday.   

“I’m not into begging. … But they wanted to play for Coach Donovan.  I understand them having second thoughts.  I understand that.  I appreciate it.  I accept it.  And if those guys want to be here, I'd love to have them.  If not, we'd love to help them find the right place for them.”

White did receive some good new late Wednesday evening though, as athletic forward Keith Stone tweeted he would be honoring his LOI with Florida. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 6.17.15 PM
Big man Kevarrius Hayes (No. 68 in ESPN Top 100) also remains committed to UF, giving White 10 scholarship players for next season. He could add to the roster before the year, and he’s confident he can restock the program with other quality players.  

“I think this place to a certain extent sells itself,” he said. 

“At the University of Florida we can recruit nationally.  I think you can get involved with kids in all 50 states, and I think that in the past that this basketball program has proven that.  But I also understand how important it is to recruit our state, especially a state that's as fertile as it is.

"I've always enjoyed recruiting this state.  Not only because I liked traveling to Florida, but because there are really good players here.  And we're not going to get them all, but we're going to recruit them all.” 

GATORS TO HOST MOUNTAINEERS 

Florida will square off against West Virginia in Gainesville on Jan. 30 as part of the SEC-BIG 12 Challenge, the conferences announced Thursday. 

The Gators played a home-and-home series with Kansas the last two seasons, but the Mountaineers pose a similar non-conference challenge next season.  

Bob Huggins’ team went 25-10 last year, getting trounced by Kentucky in the Sweet 16. 

In years past, the SEC-BIG 12 matchups were held during the heart of football season in November and early December, so the games were moved to later in the schedule in order to boost visibility and interest. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 13, 2015

Jackson's future in doubt, no longer enrolled at UF

GAINESVILLE -- J.C. Jackson’s career at Florida is likely over before it ever truly started. 

The troubled redshirt freshman cornerback -- currently facing multiple felony charges for an alleged armed robbery last month -- is not enrolled in school for the Summer A semester, coach Jim McElwain confirmed Wednesday on the SEC Teleconference. 

“He’s got a lot of things he’s dealing with right now,” McElwain said.

“He’s trying to take care of certain things and we’ll support him and help him do what he can, but right now he’s not enrolled in school and dealing with some things that are a lot bigger than the Florida Gators.”

Jackson, 19, has pleaded not guilty to three charges stemming from an incident at a Gainesville apartment complex on April 18.  

The former Under Armour All-American redshirted last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the electric athlete was competing for a starting job in UF’s crowded secondary this spring.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


Team Stats


» View more stats

Categories


Archives


Powered by TypePad