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8 posts from April 2016

April 27, 2016

Florida Gators F Devin Robinson withdraws from 2016 NBA Draft

 GAINESVILLE -- Florida forward Devin Robinson will return for his junior season, withdrawing his name from the 2016 NBA Draft the school announced late Tuesday.  

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, starting 18 games. He entered the draft without an agent but his plans were foiled due to a significant foot injury. Last week, Robinson underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot and the injury is expected to sideline the forward for four-to-six months. 

Gators coach Mike White told Gatorsports.com, “It’s going to be extensive. He’s going to have to be patient. It’s going to be a long process with his recovery.”

Robinson was considered a late second-round pick, so as a fringe prospect the injury made his decision to return to school a rather simple one. 

GATORS ANNOUNCE SIGNEES

Florida inked 6-foot-11, 205-pound center Gorjok Gak (Victory Rock Prep, Bradenton) over the weekend, completing White’s first true recruiting class at Florida. 

Gak was originally committed to Oklahoma State but was released from his NOI after the Cowboys fired coach Travis Ford. 

The three-star prospect averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds as a senior. He joins Oldsmar Christian teammates -- four-star guard Eric Hester and three-star forward Dontay Bassett -- as UF’s 2016 signees. The Gators’ class ranked No. 58 nationally, per 247Sports. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 25, 2016

Gators claim three conference titles in fantastic sports weekend

GAINESVILLE -- Roundup!

Here’s an instant recap of Florida’s weekend in sports:

* The No. 2 women’s lacrosse team claimed the Big East Championship with a 13-8 win over Connecticut. 

* The No. 11 men’s tennis team upset Georgia 4-2 to win the conference tournament title. 

* The No. 3 women’s tennis team downed UGA to clinch the program’s 20th SEC Tournament title.  

* The No. 2 baseball team took 2 of 3 from Georgia, as Florida’s starting pitching dominated the Bulldogs (21.3 innings with just one run) during the three-game series.

* The No. 1 softball team swept Mississippi State, including Delanie Gourley’s no-hitter Friday and a walk-off homer by freshman outfielder Amanda Lorenz on Sunday. 

Not too shabby, huh? Three championships, multiple wins over a border-rival and several outstanding individual performances. 

Here are some notable sights and sounds from the weekend:

* Amanda O’Leary’s lacrosse team won its sixth-straight conference title (four American Conference championships, two Big East titles). 

"It's fantastic. It's a great tribute to these seniors. It's something for them to remember forever,” O’Leary told the school’s website. “We demanded a lot of them and they delivered."

* UF righty Logan Shore continued to flex his pitching prowess, tossing a two-hit shutout Friday and breaking a 32-year-old school-record with 13 consecutive wins. Shore faced the minimum against the Bulldogs, as the junior needed just 101 pitches to compete his gem. During Florida’s 6-0 win, speedster Buddy Reed (a surefire first-round pick in this summer’s MLB Draft) stole home.

* Not to be outdone, Florida’s softball ace Delanie Gourley threw a no-hitter in a 16-0 rout over Mississippi State. In a bit of a bizarre coincidence, Gourley -- and the Gators -- managed to match the feat of the Chicago Cubs, who won 16-0 over Cincinnati behind flamethrower Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter Thursday. 

“It's hard to get a no hitter in general,” Gourley told the school’s website. “Let alone in the SEC. I wasn't even thinking about it. I just came out, did my stuff, my team played great, and that was it."

On Sunday, Lorenz drilled a walk-off two-run homer on her birthday to complete the sweep over the Bulldogs. 

* With its 4-2 victory over Georgia, Florida’s women’s tennis team won its 16th straight match and is rolling heading into the NCAA Championships. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 21, 2016

NFL Mock Drafts: Projections on Hargreaves, Neal & Bullard

GAINESVILLE -- The 2016 NFL Draft is in one week, so let’s take a look at the latest mock drafts and where Florida’s trio of defensive standouts are projected to get selected. 

All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and hard-hitting safety Keanu Neal will both be in Chicago on April 28. Hargreaves is a consensus first round pick, while Neal, who performed well during UF’s Pro Day, is considered a Top 50 prospect. 

Gators defensive tackle Jon Bullard will not attend the draft and remains a likely Day 2 pick. 

CB VERNON HARGREAVES III

Round 1: No. 14 to Oakland Raiders - Mel Kiper, ESPN

Round 1: No. 15 to Tennessee Titans - Todd McShay, ESPN

Round 1: No. 9 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Pete Prisco, Will Brinson, Rob Rang, CBS

Round 1: No. 14 to Oakland Raiders - Jared Dubin, CBS 

Round 1: No. 10 to New York Giants - Chris Burke, SI

Round 1: No. 9 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, NFL.com

Round 1: No. 9 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Peter Schrager, FoxSports

S KEANU NEAL 

Round 1: No. 30 to Arizona Cardinals - Dane Brugler, CBS

Round 2: No. 62 to Carolina Panthers - Chris Burke, SI

Round 3: No. 75 to Oakland Raiders - Mel Kiper, ESPN

Round 2: No. 35 to San Diego Chargers - Peter Schrager, FoxSports

DT JON BULLARD 

Round 2: No. 41 to Chicago Bears - Dane Brugler, CBS

Round 2: No. 51 to New York Jets - Chris Burke, SI

Round 3: No. 74 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mel Kiper, ESPN

SUMMARY

Florida’s junior cornerback remains one of the first defensive backs off the board on most analysts’ mock drafts. The two blockbuster trades have shaken up the top of the first round though, so Hargreaves is no longer considered a surefire Top 10 pick. Hargreaves has also battled some recent nitpicking from scouts and analysts, many of whom have raised concerns about the cornerback’s overall size, speed and ability to be a No. 1 guy. 

Said ESPN’s Mel Kiper, “He has been the best pure cover cornerback in college for the past two years on the aggregate, and even if you have concerns about the size and speed, the tape makes up the difference.”

Meanwhile, Neal remains a fringe first round prospect, and is most likely to get selected somewhere early on Day 2. The physical safety projects as a future starter (with a high ceiling should he improve his cover skills and tackling technique), but with such a deep draft class it will be tough for Neal to sneak into the first round. 

Bullard has slid a bit on most draft boards lately, as the versatile senior has been leapfrogged by other defensive linemen with projected higher ceilings. Bullard is what he is -- a blue-collar, powerful, penetrating lineman with the ability to play inside or as a five-technique end. He was very productive in college, too, but he played through a lot of injuries and he doesn’t possess ideal size for the position. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 13, 2016

Foley: "Very good chance" Florida-Miami meet in Orlando in 2019

GAINESVILLE -- Last October, reports surfaced that the Florida-Miami rivalry would likely be renewed in 2019

But after six months of radio silence, Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley essentially confirmed the rumors on Wednesday. 

The Gators and Hurricanes would meet in Orlando in the newly renovated Citrus Bowl.  

Foley told the Sun, “There’s a very good chance it will happen, but that’s not final yet.”

He later added, “I’m confident it will happen. Hopefully we’ll know something in the next couple of months.”

Florida and Miami have played just six times since the annual series was discontinued in 1987. The Hurricane beat the Gators 21-16 in 2013 -- the most recent meeting in the rivalry. 

The timing on Foley’s statement comes just one day after Florida head coach Jim McElwain was asked about playing Miami at a campus event Tuesday.

“It’s something we’ve talked about,” McElwain said. 

“There might be some things in the works, and yet, I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag there at al. It’s definitely not one of those things that we’re dodging them, I’ll say that.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 09, 2016

10 takeways from UF's spring practice & Orange & Blue Debut

GAINESVILLE -- With spring camp in the books, here are 10 thoughts on Florida’s 15 practices and Friday’s Orange & Blue Debut.

1. Luke Del Rio is positioned to become Florida's ninth starting quarterback since Tim Tebow. Del Rio delivered a flawless performance in the spring game, exiting camp as the heavy favorite to out-right win UF’s latest quarterback derby. The Oregon State transfer competed 10 of 11 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns -- with the noted caveat that Del Rio was carving up second- and- third-teamers. 

Still, it was an impressive performance by the redshirt sophomore, and considering Del Rio’s experience in the system and general accuracy, it would be quite a surprise if anyone else takes the first snaps again UMass on Sept. 3. 

2. Duke Dawson could be Florida’s next star in the secondary. The junior struggled for two years seeing limited snaps, but with several standouts off now to the NFL (Vernon Hargreaves, Keanu Neal, Brian Poole), Dawson stepped up this spring and embraced a newfound opportunity. Dawson grabbed a stranglehold on the nickel-back spot with an outstanding camp, as the former safety looks much more comfortable playing inside.

Dawson flashed as an upgrade in coverage compared to Poole, picking off two passes Friday night, including a 26-yard pick-six.  

3. Florida’s pass rush shouldn’t miss a beat in the fall. The Gators’ edge rushers (veterans Bryan Cox Jr. and Jordan Sherit, along with youngsters Keivonnis Davis and Jabari Zuniga) gave UF’s offensive tackles fits Friday night, combining for 4 sacks and a forced fumble. Had it been a real game, the group likely would’ve doubled their total. 

It's been that way most of the spring, too, as Davis and Zuniga both had really solid camps, while Cox, now a redshirt senior, appears primed for a breakout season…

4. … And yet, Florida’s offensive line still needs lots of work. The Gators allowed the most sacks in the nation last season (45), and their tackles didn’t do a whole lot this spring to inspire much confidence. The interior OL appears improved, but sophomore tackle Fred Johnson had a tough spring, while starting left tackle David Sharpe was inconsistent, too. The Gators will get former five-star recruit Martez Ivey (shoulder surgery) back in the fall, and they need him to be ready to play because there aren’t many options behind Sharpe or Johnson. 

5. Kylan Johnson vaults into the mix at linebacker. Florida doesn’t have a ton of depth at linebacker, but Johnson concluded a strong spring with a standout performance Friday night. The former safety earned the start opposite of star linebacker Jarrad Davis, recording a team-high eight stops. The 6-1, 230-pound redshirt freshman also added an interception and a hurry, showcasing his versatility in the box. While Alex Anzalone is likely to start in the fall, Johnson emerged as another viable option -- especially against spread offenses.  

6. Florida’s tight ends and tailbacks will be focal points in the passing game. Throughout the spring, McElwain praised both groups’ ability to make plays and the two units showed why on Friday night. 

Of UF’s 27 completions in the spring game, 14 went to tight ends or tailbacks. C’yontai Lewis led all players with five catches for 79 yards, while JUCO-tailback Mark Thompson had three receptions for 25 yards. Lewis and DeAndre Goolsby (who caught a touchdown) are a formidable duo inside, as each tight end has the ability to challenge defenses vertically and make plays after the catch. 

7. Feleipe Franks needs to redshirt. The four-star quarterback had a disastrous debut, throwing three interceptions on his first four pass attempts. The early enrollee is swimming mentally, struggling with reads and pass-progressions. The arm talent is obvious (see: late touchdown to Lewis) but a full year to learn the system and put on some weight would do wonders for Franks’ development and future confidence. 

8. The Gators have a kicker. Eddy Pineiro wasn’t perfect Friday night, missing a pair of 50-yard field goals, but the Miami native displayed his rocket leg on nearly every kick. The JUCO-transfer bombed all his kickoffs, nailed all five PAT’s and drilled two field goals from 52+ yards. 

Florida missed five extra points last season and didn’t hit a field goal longer than 43 yards, so Pineiro already represents an instant upgrade. 

9. Many of UF’s early enrollees will see significant snaps in the fall. Along with Pineiro and Thompson, wideouts Dre Massey (2 catches for 29 yards and a score) and Joshua Hammond (3 catches for 24 yards) made plays Friday, concluding strong showings all spring by both receivers. Defensively, linebacker David Reese flashed some (3 tackles, 1 sack) and definitely should have a role on special teams. Freshman safety Chauncey Gardner remains in the mix for a starting job, too. 

10. The Gators avoided the injury bug in camp. Aside from a few minor dings, McElwain’s team didn’t sustain any devastating injuries over the last month. Several notables didn’t play much (or at all) Friday night (defensive tackle CeCe Jefferson, linebacker Daniel McMillian, wideout Ahmad Fulwood) but avoiding any serious setbacks was key for a team that still has some depth issues. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton  

April 06, 2016

Gators QB Kyle Trask emerging as an intriguing project

GAINESVILLE -- Kyle Trask was a two-star recruit and a backup quarterback at Manvel High in Texas, but the 6-foot-4, 227-pound early enrollee has emerged as an interesting arm in Florida’s four-headed battle for the starting job. 

Although the freshman will almost certainly not win the competition, Trask has impressed both coaches and teammates throughout spring practice, oftentimes showcasing the best pure arm-talent of anyone in the group. 

“As far as the eye test, the kid is big and he can throw,” UF superstar cornerback Jalen Tabor said. 

“I tried to bait him into one play in the scrimmage and he baited me. He threw it right over my head, I'm like, 'Oh, I thought I had it,' but he put it right on a dime. He can definitely drop dimes."

Trask played behind D’Eriq King, a Houston signee, in high school, but Florida’s coaches were intrigued by the freshman’s measurables, competitiveness and potential upside.  

“I say this about that guy -- overtime you tried to say, ‘Well, I’m not so sure, and he did something that said you are sure,’” Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said. 

"If you just turned on the film when he played in the games and looked at his production, it’s pretty darn good now. You look at the decision making, the size, arm strength, accuracy and say, ‘What box aren’t you checking, what are we missing here.'”

Trask threw for 10 touchdowns as a senior, and while he came to UF as a project, the early enrollee is quickly overcoming his inexperience and could potentially see the field sooner than many people anticipated. 

“I love Trask,” Tabor said.

“He has the prettiest ball. Now it’s different when you get under the live bullets in the SEC. Guys like Dante Fowler, Jarvis Jones coming after you. Can you still step up in the pocket and deliver a ball to help your team win? That’s the only question I have for him.”

GRIER FINDS A LANDING SPOT

Former UF starting quarterback Will Grier transferred to West Virginia, the school announced Wednesday. Grier must sit out the 2016 season but will have two years of eligibility remaining. Grier was suspended for a calendar-year on Oct. 12 for violating the NCAA’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He later left Florida in December and it remains to be seen whether or not his suspension will run concurrently with his transfer. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 04, 2016

UF forward Devin Robinson mulling entering the NBA Draft

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s sophomore swingman Devin Robinson could test the NBA waters, according to coach Mike White. 

The Gators' 6-foot-8 forward averaged 9.0 points on 46 percent shooting in 2015-16. He shot 34 percent from 3, adding 5.7 rebounds. 

Robinson was Florida’s sixth-man for much of the season before starting the team’s final nine games of the year.

“Devin’s got a very high ceiling,” White said Monday. 

“He’s very talented. I think in the back of everyone’s mind, especially with the new rule, most guys at this level are always at least somewhat considering it. I don't know whether he declares or not but I think we find out soon."

Under the new rules, Robinson could enter the draft, participate in the combine and then decide to return to school -- so long as he doesn’t hire an agent. 

White “would like to see Devin come back,” but Florida’s coach supports any decision Robinson makes. 

“I’d like to continue coaching him,” White said, adding that Robinson is home in Virginia mulling the decision. 

“I thought he made a very big jump this year. And I think he could make a equally as big if not bigger jump next year.”

According to most draft rankings, Robinson would be wise to return to school, as DraftExpress.com ranks the forward No. 71 overall and CBSSports.com lists Robinson as the 98th best prospect

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 02, 2016

Gators assistants recap team's second spring scrimmage

GAINESVILLE -- Florida scrimmaged for the second time this spring Friday, and according to several Gators assistants, players on both sides of the ball turned heads. 

Junior-college tailback Mark Thompson, competing with Miami natives Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett for the carries, scored a “60 to 70 yard touchdown,” according to tight ends coach Greg Nord. 

“We had a few explosive plays that we’ve been looking for out of the offense,” he said. 

“That was good to see.” 

Nord also highlighted big plays by senior wideout Ahmad Fulwood and junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby. 

“Fulwood had a nice catch-and-run,” Nord said. 

“We had Mark [Thompson] get out and get the big run. Goolsby had a nice long catch. There were several other, which is good.”

Defensively, Florida’s secondary forced multiple turnovers Friday, not including a negated pick-six by nickelback Duke Dawson. 

“We got our hands on the ball, and we did some positive things,” UF secondary coach Torrian Gray said.

“But there were also some long plays that we got to clean up.”

Gray noted that early enrollee Chauncey Gardner, who recently moved to safety, had an interception, as did senior safety Marcus Maye. 

“Overall, we’re going to like what we’re going to put on film with the understanding that we’ve got a lot of work to still do,” Gray said. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton



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