February 03, 2016

Report: UF hires Virginia Tech's Torrian Gray as next DB coach

GAINESVILLE -- During his National Signing Day press conference, Florida coach Jim McElwain hinted he was close to tabbing a new defensive backs assistant.

McElwain said he would wait until after National Signing Day to announce the hire, though. 

Too late. 

Gray replaces Kirk Callahan, who was fired two weeks ago. 

The longtime Hokies assistant is regarded as a strong recruiter and solid position coach. Gray logged 10 years at Virginia Tech -- his alma mater -- developing NFL standouts Kam Chancellor, Kyle Fuller and Brandon Flowers.

He is also a Lakeland native and will likely recruit the Tampa area -- a region Callahan struggled pulling prospects. 

Two hours before the news leaked, McElwain told reporters, “We’re down the road on that. Obviously, it goes back to something I believe in. I’m not going to run anybody’s [day]. This is something we’re ready to do. It will happen. You guys will probably know it via Twitter or whatever before I do, but yea, it’s ready to go.” 

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What compliment? McElwain fires back at Bielema's quip

GAINESVILLE -- Arkansas coach Bret Bielema mades waves Wednesday when he called Florida “the new Ole Miss,” adding, “They’re doing some things in recruiting that kind of shocks you a little bit.”

Shots fired? 

Not so, according to Bielema, who quickly backpedaled and explained that he was actually complimenting Ole Miss, currently under an NCAA investigation for recruiting violations, and Florida. 

Gators coach Jim McElwain wasn’t buying it, though. 

“You got to get a kick out of it a little bit because obviously this guy doesn't know who the heck I am,” McElwain said.

“I sure as heck don't know who he is. I'm not sure we really ran into him on the recruiting trail, but you know I know what I'm all about. I know what the University of Florida is all about and I think if you were to poll anybody in college football I think that they'd know that Mac does it right. I have no idea what this guy was talking about to be honest.”

During Wednesday’s National Signing Day, JUCO three-star cornerback Joseph Putu flipped from Arkansas to UF, while the Gators also beat out the Razorbacks (among others) for talented four-star receiver Tyrie Cleveland. 

Bielema told reporters he called McElwain to apologize, and it was “received well.”

“I said something earlier that came across in the wrong way, I guess. I was paying a compliment to Florida. We’ve seen them kind of pop up everywhere. Before my last couple years here, really had only competed against Florida in Georgia and Florida itself a lot, because I love to recruit Florida. Well, this last week we were competing against them on a wide receiver in Texas, a running back, a player in Louisiana and a player in North Dakota. And I’ve never seen that before; that’s all I was making reference to.

“It’s kind of like last week, we stumbled across an offensive lineman in Illinois and I really liked him and started to proceed with him and found out he _ before I got anything going _ had had committed to Ole Miss. And I told my staff, ‘Ole Miss, they’re everywhere.’ That’s kind of the comment we make. It wasn’t in reference to anything other than that. I mean that wholeheartedly and honestly, and when I said that earlier, I was paying a compliment to Florida.”

Interestingly enough, Florida travels to Arkansas for the first time since 2003 on Nov. 5.

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January 30, 2016

Report: Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier staying at Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier isn’t going anywhere. 

According to multiple reports, Nussmeier is no longer interested in the vacant head coaching job at Southern Miss and will return to UF for another season. 

Feldman added in a story that “Nussmeier didn’t feel like the situation at USM was the right fit.” 

Nussmeier -- who interviewed for the opening sometime last week -- presided over the nation’s No. 112th ranked unit, but his return gives the Gators some much-needed continuity heading into Jim McElwain’s second season in Gainesville. 

The report comes just five days before National Signing Day and also allows UF to avoid searching for its seventh OC since 2008. 

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January 22, 2016

Florida's Orange & Blue Debut turning into Friday Night Lights

GAINESVILLE — Jim McElwain isn't shy about making changes -- even with Florida’s spring game. 

The Gators will hold their annual Orange & Blue Debut under the lights for the first time in school history, hosting a spring scrimmage on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

Admission is free. 

The move away from a traditional Saturday afternoon scrimmage is yet another change by McElwain to elevate Florida’s brand. Television details will be released at a later date, but by playing on Friday the Gators won’t be competing with the Masters or spring games of several marquee programs (FSU, Auburn, Clemson) on April 9. 

The move also allows UF to showcase another nighttime atmosphere for recruits and fans. 

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January 15, 2016

Florida Gators make staff change three weeks before NSD

GAINESVILLE -- Florida parted ways with defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan on Friday, officiating announcing the move with a statement from head coach Jim McElwain on the school's website.

“We’re making a change on our staff,” McElwain said.

“Moving forward, Kirk Callahan will be looking at some other opportunities and he has a long career ahead of him.”

The move comes just three weeks before National Signing Day on Feb. 3. 

The 30-year-old assistant played at Central Florida and started his career as a student assistant at UCF before working as an intern and graduate assistant at UF. 

Callahan returned to alma mater to coach defensive backs for three seasons before joining McElwain in Gainesville last January. 

He signed a two-year deal, so UF is likely on the hook for his $315,000 salary in 2016. 

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January 12, 2016

UF adds 13 mid-year enrollees, checks in at No. 25 in final polls

GAINESVILLE -- Florida officially welcomed 13 mid-year enrollees -- including a dozen freshmen -- on Monday. 

The Gators updated their spring roster, as four-star quarterback Feleipe Franks was the last player to arrive on campus after playing in Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in Texas. 

UF also confirmed the addition of graduate transfer quarterback Austin Appleby, formally of Purdue. 

After Florida’s 41-7 blowout loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, coach Jim McElwain already had an eye on the future, saying, “We’ve got a bunch of guys coming in here at the break. Just know, we’ve got some good guys coming. Lots. Believe me, I’m excited as heck.”

UF's baker's dozen of mid-year enrollees is reportedly the most in school history. 

The complete list:

QB Feleipe Franks

QB Austin Appleby (graduate transfer)

QB Kyle Trask 

RB Mark Thompson (JUCO)

WR Joshua Hammond

WR Freddy Swain

WR ‘Dre Massey (JUCO)

OL Stone Forsythe

DE Jordan Smith

LB David Reese

DB Chauncey Gardner

DB McArthur Burnett

K Eddy Pineiro

FINAL RANKINGS

Florida checked in at No. 25 in the final AP and Coaches Poll. 

The Gators (10-4) finished the season on a dispiriting three-game losing streak -- getting throttled a combined 97-24 against Florida State, Alabama and Michigan. 

Florida climbed as high as No. 8 in the AP poll after upsetting then-No. 3 Ole Miss and moving to 6-0. But the Gators mostly treaded water the second-half of the season, going just 4-4 down the stretch. 

Considering UF’s finish and the school’s continued quarterback uncertainty, the Gators aren’t listed in ESPN, CBS or SI’s early 2016 Top 25 rankings. 

SOMETIMES, THE JOKES WRITE THEMSELVES

THIS & THAT

Electric playmaker Antonio Callaway was named a 2015 FWAA Freshman All-American, earning a spot as a punt returner. The Miami native scored two touchdowns as a returner and nearly broke the school-record for yardage in a season (435 yards). … Offensive tackle Marcus Tatum, long considered a UF lean until a change of heart late in the process, committed to Tennessee on Monday. The Daytona Beach-Mainland product is a three-star recruit. 

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January 07, 2016

Notebook: Six Florida players undergo offseason surgery

GAINESVILLE -- Five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey was among six Florida players to undergo offseason surgery this week. 

The 6-foot-5, 302-pound freshman had shoulder surgery after exiting early in UF’s 41-7 blowout-loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Ivey started eight games this season, mostly at guard. 

Meanwhile, sophomore cornerback Quincy Wilson (sports hernia), sophomore wideout Brandon Powell (foot), junior defensive tackle Joey Ivie (sports hernia), walk-on kicker Neil MacInnes (ACL) and sophomore defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee) also had surgeries this week.  

Florida did not announce return dates for any of the injured players, but the Gators are counting on Wilson, Powell and Sherit to have increased roles next season -- especially considering the early departures of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, safety Keanu Neal, defensive end Alex McCalister and wideout Demarcus Robinson. 

THIS & THAT

Redshirt junior linebacker Jeremi Powell will not return for his senior season, opting to take “an eye toward the future outside the game,” according to Florida’s team website. … The Gators landed four-star defensive tackle Shavar Manuel (IMG Academy) on Tuesday. UF’s 2016 class now stands at 26 commits. … Fifteen former UF players will participate in the NFL Playoffs, per Florida’s team website. 

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December 30, 2015

Gators DT Jon Bullard glad he returned for his senior season

ORLANDO -- A year ago, Jon Bullard put his NFL dreams on pause, but Florida’s dominant defensive tackle hasn’t sweated his choice all season. 

“It’s the best decision I made in my life,” the senior said Wednesday.

“I thought about coming out with the coaching chance. You hear things about how that’s going to be and you have to learn new things. But I buckled down. Me and my family made a decision to come back, and I think it was a great decision. I’m playing the best ball I’ve played since I’ve been here.”

After a solid junior season, Bullard was viewed as a potential mid-round pick, but the former five-star recruit opted to return for one final year in Gainesville and his decision is likely to pay significant dividends for the future.  

Bullard earned All-American honors in 2015 and emerged as a possible first-round pick after leading UF with 17.5 tackles for loss -- third-best in the SEC. He also recorded 6.5 sacks, tying pass-rushing specialist Alex McCalister for the team lead. 

First-year coach Jim McElwain has praised Bullard’s selflessness and maturity all season, and on Wednesday, Florida’s defensive coordinator Geoff Collins called the senior “the poster child” for how Bullard handled both his NFL future and Florida’s coaching transition. 

“Him being a premier player last year, I’m sure he wrestled with the decision to come back or to leave,” Collins said. 

“But the things he did in the offseason, the things he did throughout the year to make himself one of the best players in college football, you don’t see guys do that a lot.”

SHOW YOUR BRAND

As Florida prepares for Friday’s Citrus Bowl showdown against No. 17 Michigan, a handful of future Gators are readying to showcase their skills on the same field the very next day. 

Four UF oral commits will participate in Saturday’s Under Armour All-American Game (Noon, ESPN2): WR Josh Hammond, DE Antonneous Clayton, CB Chauncey Gardner and OL Brett Heggie.

A number of other blue-chip targets on Florida’s board will also play in the all-star game, including linebacker Mack Wilson, wideouts Nate Craig-Myers, Eli Stove (Auburn commit) and Sam Bruce (a Miami commit) and defensive tackle Shavar Manuel. 

With so many top prospects in the same area code, Florida’s first-year coach Jim McElwain said Friday’s game is “an opportunity to show your brand.”

“Look, that’s part of advertising, right? This is no different. We get a chance to take a three-hour block and put the University of Florida on for a three-hour commercial.” 

Florida’s 2016 class currently has 25 commits and ranks No. 8 nationally according to 247Sports. 

THIS & THAT

Both Michigan and Florida spent time with kids from a local Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday.  … McElwain said Florida’s practices this week have been “pretty darn good.” … Michigan’s freshman star Jabrill Peppers remains questionable for Friday, as the three-way playmaker is reportedly battling an undisclosed hand injury. Peppers, a former five-star recruit, is the Wolverines’ starting safety, and the redshirt freshman also returns kicks, punts and plays a little running back. On the season, he has 45 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two touchdowns on 72 yards rushing. UF is wary of Peppers’ talent, but sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor said, “We’ve got 11 Jabrill Peppers on defense. Michigan, they only got one of him. We got 11.” 

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December 17, 2015

UAA Approved: Florida raising ticket prices for 2016 season

GAINESVILLE -- On the heels of an unexpected 10-3 season and a berth in the SEC Championship Game, the Florida Gators are raising ticket prices for the 2016 season -- coincidentally perhaps -- but also in advance of the worst home schedule in years. 

The University Athletic Association Board of Directors approved a price hike of 33 percent for student season tickets and 10 percent for booster season tickets, as first reported by The Gainesville Sun. 

Although tickets prices were modestly raised, booster fees remain unchanged for the third straight year. 

“These additional dollars will allow us to continue to maintain a high-level athletic program in our 21 sports,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement on FloridaGators.com

“Our students are very important to us. They create a special environment at all our venues and we try to maintain reasonable prices for them. That’s the reason why this is the first increase in four years.”

According to the UAA, booster season tickets will now be $330 -- instead of $300 per season ticket package. Student prices will go from $105 to $140 for the seven-game slate -- or $5 per game. Foley noted that the increase still leaves Florida “the the median range relative to other SEC programs.”

In Jim McElwain’s first season, the Gators sold out The Swamp four times -- something former coach Will Muschamp didn’t do in four seasons. UF went 6-1 at home, losing the finale 27-2 to Florida State. 

But the price hike comes at a tough time, as Florida's 2016 home schedule is a drag. The Gators non-conference slate -- UMass, North Texas and Presbyterian -- is awful and LSU is the only conference opponent that finished the 2015 season with a winning record. 

Of note though, Muschamp will return to The Swamp on Nov. 12 with South Carolina. 

THIS & THAT

Three-star defensive end JaQuan Bailey (Jacksonville Raines) decommitted from UF on Wednesday, and Miami Central three-star defensive end Eric Mitchell backed off his UF pledge on Thursday. Florida’s 2016 class now stands at 24 commits and is ranked No. 8 according to 247Sports. … Wideout Antonio Callaway, a star at Miami Booker T. Washington, and defensive end CeCe Jefferson were both named to ESPN’s True Freshman All-American team. Callaway quickly emerged as a dynamic playmaker, leading the Gators with 603 receiving yards and four touchdowns and adding two punt return scores, too. Jefferson, a former five-star recruit, was also a standout, recording 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.  

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December 13, 2015

Florida Gators recruiting news: One addition, one subtraction

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s 2016 recruiting class changed a bit Sunday. 

Dwyer wideout Isaiah Johnson decommitted from UF after spending the weekend in Gainesville on his official visit. The three-star prospect was once a Miami commit, too, and is an early enrollee. According to recruitniks, the decision was a mutual one, as Florida hopes to land several blue-chip prospects as the position.

But minutes before Johnson announced his intentions, the Gators landed a verbal pledge, as four-star defensive end Jordan Smith (Lithonia, Ga.) committed following his official visit. 

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound pass rusher was recently a member of South Carolina’s 2016 class. But Smith reopened his commitment following the hiring of former UF coach Will Muschamp. 

Florida’s class now stands at 25 commits and is ranked No. 7 nationally by 247Sports. The month-long dead period starts Monday.

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December 09, 2015

Jim McElwain hopes Florida's staff stays together

GAINESVILLE -- While staffs across the country are busy recruiting before Monday’s month-long dead period begins, the coaching carousel is in full swing, too. 

Jim McElwain just hopes the Gators aren’t involved in any of it. 

Asked if he anticipated any changes, McElwain said, “Well I sure hope not.”

Florida’s first-year coach, recently named the SEC’s Coach of the Year, added, “We’ve got a great staff, and I know a lot of guys would be in high demand because they are great coaches. We’ve been able to put together an outstanding staff here. I hope all of them are back.”

According to USA Today’s database, UF’s assistants ranked 20th nationally -- 10th in the conference -- in salary pool last season. 

Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and linebackers coach/assistant head coach Randy Shannon were candidates for Central Florida’s opening before Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost got the gig. 

Recently, offensive line coach Mike Summers, the only UF assistant without a contract for next season, and defensive line coach Chris Rumph were rumored targets for Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina. However, Muschamp reportedly retained interim USC coach Shawn Elliott, who will serve as the OL coach. 

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November 30, 2015

Gators add three commits including heralded QB Felipe Franks

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s offense was shutout in its humbling 27-2 loss to Florida State, so the Gators went out and secured some future help. 

UF continued its recent momentum on the recruiting trail over the weekend, adding three verbal commits headlined by four-star quarterback Felipe Franks. 

Franks (Wakulla High) decommited from LSU last week and has long been rumored to flip to Florida. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect is the No. 5 quarterback recruit in the country. With Florida’s issues and uncertainty at the position next season, securing Franks, an early enrollee, was a must for Jim McElwain & Co. 

Meanwhile, the Gators also added a playmaker and someone to protect their future quarterback.  

Junior college athelte Dre Massey, a four-star prospect from Holmes C.C. in Mississippi, committed to Florida following his official visit over the weekend. 

Later, the Gators added mammoth three-star offensive guard Jawaan Taylor (Cocoa), who flipped from Miami on Sunday night. Taylor, a 6-5, 330-pounder, is teammates with UF commit Chauncey Gardner. 

Finally, Florida’s class did take a hit with the decommitment of Pasco cornerback Jayvaughn Myers. The three-star athlete is considered a bit of a project, but he is also the half-brother of five-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers -- a key UF target. 

Craig-Myers (Tampa Catholic) is rumored to be a Florida lean, but his half-brother’s decommitment could potentially throw a wrench in his recruitment. We’ll see. 

The Gators’ 2016 class now has 25 commits and is ranked No. 10 nationally by 247Sports. 

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November 26, 2015

Bullard, McCalister remain doubtful for Florida State

GAINESVILLE -- Senior star Jon Bullard is one of three Florida defensive linemen who remain doubtful for Saturday’s showdown with Florida State. 

Gators coach Jim McElwain released an early evening injury report Wednesday, listing Bullard (knee), defensive end Alex McCalister (foot) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (ankle) as doubtful. Two more rotational linemen are questionable (Jordan Sherit, hamstring; Joey Ivie, leg). 

The Gators also listed starting guard Martez Ivey (shoulder) and center Cam Dillard (leg) as questionable. Slot receiver Brandon Powell (foot) and starting left tackle David Sharpe (foot) were upgraded to probable, though.  

“We’ll have 11 players take the field on Saturday versus Florida State,” McElwain said. 

The complete injury report: 

PROBABLE

Caleb Brantley

Antonio Morrison

David Sharpe

Brandon Powell

QUESTIONABLE

Cam Dillard

Joey Ivie

Martez Ivey

Jordan Sherit

DOUBTFUL

Jon Bullard

Alex McCalister

Taven Bryan

THIS & THAT

FootballScoop.com reported that Central Florida “plans to interview” UF co-defensive coordinators Geoff Collins, a former Knights assistant, and Randy Shannon, Miami’s head coach from 2007-10, for its head coaching vacancy. Collins was recently named a 2015 Broyles Award finalist, honoring the nation’s top assistant. … Florida president Kent Fuchs will serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits on Saturday.

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November 24, 2015

UF recruiting: A commit, a (possible) flip and two signees

GAINESVILLE -- It’s been a busy 24 hours for Florida on the recruiting trail. 

A quick wrap:

-- Three-star cornerback Antonio Nelson verbally committed to Florida on Monday night.

The Alabama product is a little-known prospect but touts good size (6-foot-2) and athletic ability (he’s a standout basketball player) for the position. He is also teammates and close friends with five-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson -- a top UF target. Wilson has flirted with the Gators for months, and although he is considered an Alabama lean, signing his buddy could be another chip in Florida’s favor.  

-- Next, four-star quarterback Feleipe Franks (Wakulla High) officially announced his decommitment from LSU.

With all the chaos surrounding the Tigers + Franks’ public tryst with the Gators, the U.S. Army All-American’s announcement didn’t come as a surprise. Franks, an early enrollee, has been teasing a flip to Florida in recent weeks, attending games against Vanderbilt and FAU, and a commitment to UF could come as early as this weekend. Stay tuned. 

-- Finally, a pair of 2016 recruits signed their written offer of admissions to UF. Coach Jim McElwain announced on Twitter the “official” addition of Cocoa cornerback Chancey Gardner and Citra-North Marion receiver Freddie Swain as “midyear enrollees.” Both prospect are consensus four-stars.

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

McElwain announced Wednesday that three-star wideout Joshua Hammond also signed his written offer of admissions. 

Florida’s 2016 class has 23 commitments and is currently ranked 10th by 247Sports. If the Gators land Franks, Wilson and a pair of other five-star prospects (DT Shavar Manuel, WR Nate Craig-Myers) they could finish with a Top 3 class. 

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November 13, 2015

Jim McElwain pokes fun at AD Jeremy Foley

GAINESVILLE -- Jim McElwain is riding high. 

The No. 11 Florida Gators’ first-year coach is the only SEC East coach ever to lead his team to the conference championship game in his first season at the helm. 

The Gators (8-1, 7-1) clinched the division with a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt and play at South Carolina this weekend (noon, ESPN). 

Earlier this week, McElwain was sporting a sharp, oxford shirt. Asked if athletic director Jeremy Foley gave it to him as a gift, McElwain seized an opportunity to take a friendly shot at Foley's frugalness. 

Just dial the video up to 13:45. 

Who thinks McElwain is getting a raise and probably more facility upgrades this offseason? (Everyones hands get raised). 

THIS & THAT

Three-star defensive end Jachai Polite (Daytona Beach-Mainland) verbally pledged to Florida on Thursday. The Gators’ 2016 class now has 22 commitments. … Despite drilling the game-winning field goal Saturday, Austin Hardin hasn’t cemented his spot as Florida’s first-team kicker. McElwain wouldn’t commit to Hardin, saying newly walk-on Neil McInnes remains the team’s “short kicker.”  

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October 28, 2015

Gators add four-star DE, recruiting mojo continues

GAINESVILLE -- On Monday, Florida coach Jim McElwain joked he no longer needs to show his ID when he visits prospective recruits at high schools. 

With the No. 11 Gators leading the SEC East and positioned for a possible playoff run, the recruiting trail has been a lot friendlier to McElwain recently.

"Before you'd roll into a school and they really say, 'You've got to show your ID,' because they didn't know who the heck you were," McElwain said.

"And they thought I was kidding when I said I was the head coach at Florida. Now there's a couple more people that know, which is a good thing for us.

"The reception was outstanding. We’re making some inroads and still need to obviously in a lot of areas, but recruiting is your lifeline. We’ve got to get better at it.” 

Florida picked up another elite prospect Wednesday, adding consensus four-star defensive end Antonneous Clayton. 

Clayton verbally committed to UF on Twitter.

The Gators reportedly beat out Auburn and Florida State for the 6-3, 218-pound speed rusher. They now have 21 prospects pledged to their 2016 class and rank 12th nationally in 247Sports’ rankings. 

Clayton’s commitment could be the first of several big dominos to fall in the next couple months. According to 247Sports Crystal Ball projections, Florida leads for top prospects Nate Craig-Myers (five-star wideout), Dexter Lawrence (five-star defensive tackle) and Binjimen Victor (four-star wideout) and could potentially flip wideout Sam Bruce (Miami commit) and defensive end Janarius Robinson (Florida State commit). 

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October 12, 2015

Report: College football icon Steve Spurrier to retire

GAINESVILLE -- The visor has been tossed for the last time. 

Former Florida Gators player, coach and legend Steve Spurrier is retiring -- effective immediately -- according to multiple outlets. 

Sports Illustrated first reported the news

The Ol’ Ball Coach, 70, is a college football saint, winning the Heisman Trophy at UF in 1966 and revolutionizing offense in the SEC years later with the Fun 'N Gun attack.

In 1996, Spurrier delivered Florida’s first national title in school history with a 52-20 win over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. 

In all, Spurrier was 122-27 in a dozen seasons at UF, winning six SEC Championships. He remains the school’s all-time winningest coach, losing just five games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and nicknaming the house of horrors “The Swamp.” 

After leaving UF following the 2001 season, the HBC had a brief and unsuccessful stop in the NFL, lasting just three seasons with the Washington Redskins.

In 2005, he became the head coach at South Carolina and eventually revived a dormant program, leading the Gamecocks to 10 straight bowl games. The Gamecocks won 11 games in three-straight seasons from 2011-2013 and Spurrier is the school’s all-time winningest coach. 

Last season, USC upset Florida 23-20 and the next day Will Muschamp was fired. 

“I’m getting a little old when you start feeling sorry for the other coach, “ Spurrier said afterwards. 

“I hope they keep him.”

Had Spurrier chosen to finish out the 2015 season, his final SEC game would’ve come against his alma mater on Nov. 14 in Columbia, SC. 

Spurrier remains an endeared figure, and his larger-than-life personality started at UF. His most famous gems include, "You can't spell Citrus without U-T" and "You know what FSU stands for don't you? Free Shoes University."

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October 06, 2015

Notebook: Morrison honored, recruiting updates

GAINESVILLE -- Antonio Morrison is just nine months removed from major knee surgery, but the senior linebacker has started every game for No. 11 Florida.

Morrison hasn’t quite looked himself, though, until last Saturday. 

The middle linebacker recorded a ridiculous 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a half sack in UF’s upset win over Ole Miss.

He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week and also earned Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors for his standout performance. 

“There’s the story of this football team,” McElwain said. 

“What he has overcome. The work he has put in. … I can’t say enough about this guy.”

Morrison now leads the team in stops with 40, adding 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. 

ONE IN, ONE OUT 

Former Miami commit McArthur Burnett (Pahokee) verbally pledged to Florida over the weekend.

The wideout/cornerback is the third prospect to flip from Miami to Florida in the 2016 cycle, joining corner Chauncey Gardner (Cocoa) and wideout Isaiah Johnson (Dwyer). 

Meanwhile, the Gators lost a commitment, as athlete Tyrek Tisdale (Orlando Oak Ridge) announced on Twitter he was backing off his pledge. 

The Gators’ 2016 class is ranked No. 14 nationally with 20 verbal commits, per 247 Sports.  

THIS & THAT

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk remains indefinitely suspended and will not play against UF. Freshman quarterback Drew Lock will make his second straight start. … Despite playing every snap the last three weeks, Will Grier still isn’t listed as UF’s unquestioned starter at quarterback -- at least not on the depth chart. There were no changes to the Week 6 two-deep, as the ‘OR’ remains between Grier and sophomore Treon Harris.  

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September 30, 2015

UF addresses tackling woes in advance of Ole Miss

GAINESVILLE -- Florida missed upwards of 30 tackles against Tennessee, and the Gators know they can’t afford a repeat performance against an explosive Ole Miss offense this weekend. 

The No. 25 Gators spent an extended portion of practice Tuesday just working on the fundamentals.

“We did a poor job,” senior linebacker Antonio Morrison said. 

“We were so into the gameplan we forgot the little things. The basics. We just got back to the basics today, you know wrapping up, clubbing up, running your feet and bringing your feet [to] the tackle.”

Last Saturday, the Volunteers’ Josh Dobbs (136 yards) and Jalen Hurd (102 yards) consistently reached the second level of UF's defense thanks to missed tackles at the line of scrimmage. Coach Jim McElwain said UF struggled with tackling in practice and wasn’t surprised with the team’s issues on gameday. 

“These are prideful guys,” McElwain said.

“I want you to keep writing about it. That helps us.”

Unlike Tennessee, the No. 3 Rebels don’t tout a bruising, power-run game. Instead, their offense is predicated on playmakers making people miss in space, so UF’s secondary must be ready to tackle a group of athletic, rangy receivers 1-on-1. 

“It wasn’t us,” said safety Keanu Neal, lamenting last weekend’s performance. 

“We want to be BDN. We want to be the best in the nation and we didn’t show that.” 

THIS & THAT

Morrison extended some high praise to freshman wideout Antonio Callaway, comparing Saturday's hero to a recent Top 5 NFL Draft pick. "Since he stepped on here I said he’s Amari Cooper in the making,” Morrison said. “Just watch and remember I said that. Amari Cooper from Alabama. That’s him right here.” … With more than nine players sidelined with flu-like symptoms, Florida didn’t practice Monday but returned to the fields for its normal work Tuesday afternoon. …  McElwain on Florida’s big recruiting weekend: “The buzz, the amount of guys that were just here, the environment, I credit the Gator Nation for that. We’ll see how it pans out come February. … But’s it’s sure something that we’re excited about.”

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August 15, 2015

UF's 2015 class: Guesses at who will and won't play

GAINESVILLE -- With a depleted roster, a number true freshmen will play key roles for the Florida Gators this season. 

UF coach Jim McElwain hasn’t been shy embracing the team’s youth movement, but the new coach also insists he won’t simply burn a redshirt season for limited snaps. 

“My deal is if we’re going to play them, they’re going to play,” he said.

“Whether it’s significant on every single special teams and in certain series on defense and offense. I think you can probably look at the depth or just the numbers at the position, there will be a lot of young guys probably playing and kind of philosophically if they’re ready and can help the football team and play valuable reps they’re going to play. If they’re not and need some seasoning then we’ll go ahead and redshirt [them].”

Florida scrimmaged for the first time this preseason on Friday, and McElwain said he and the staff will begin honing the depth chart after its second scrimmage next week. 

 “After the second scrimmage you’re usually able to know which guys kind of work in,” he said.

“It really comes down to their value on special teams. Moving forward, that’s how you make a roster.” 

Based on watching practice and talking to coaches/players, here’s a breakdown of where the 2015 class stands with three weeks before the team's Sept. 5 opener. 

DEFINITES TO PLAY

Martez Ivey, offensive tackle

Jordan Scarlett, tailback

CeCe Jefferson, defensive end

Antonio Callaway, receiver

Jordan Cronkite, tailback

Rayshad Jackson, linebacker

Tyler Jordan, center/guard

***** Ivey, Jefferson and Scarlett will all see significant snaps, while Callaway, Cronkite and Jordan have already worked their way into their prospective positional rotations. Jackson should be a special teams stud. 

PROBABLES TO PLAY

Fred Johnson, offensive tackle

Nick Buchanan, offensive tackle

Chris Williamson, cornerback

***** Both offensive linemen are currently taking reps with the second-unit. Williamson won’t see much PT at cornerback but should be another special teams contributor. 

ON THE FENCE

T.J. McCoy, center/guard

Jabari Zuniga, defensive end

Dylan Johnson, safety

Kalif Jackson, receiver 

***** The question here is opportunity. McCoy has impressed in camp, but Jordan, Johnson and Buchanan have all been better. Zuniga could play, too, but Florida probably doesn’t need him right now. Johnson and Jackson are wild cards candidates for special teams snaps.  

LIKELY REDSHIRT CANDIDATES 

Brandon Sandifer, offensive guard

Andrew Ivie, defensive tackle

Camrin Knight, tight end

Richerd Desir-Jones, defensive tackle

Keivonnis Davis, defensive end

Luke Ancrum, defensive end

***** There's potential with this group, but also lots of development needed.

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