October 08, 2008

Harvin still limited; UF lands major commitment

GAINESVILLE -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin practiced on Wednesday afternoon for the first time this week but was limited, according to UF coach Urban Meyer. Meyer says he thinks Harvin will be able to play on Saturday against LSU.

Other injury updates to report: Meyer said that redshirt junior linebacker Ryan Stamper and freshman safety Will Hill are both "good to go" for Saturday's game. Stamper missed the Arkansas game with a sprained ankle while Hill played sparingly against Arkansas with a sore hamstring.

--Left guard Jim Tartt (shoulder) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle) both practiced on Wednesday but were limited. Meyer said that redshirt sophomore Carl Johnson will start at left guard on Saturday night.

--Freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter (ankle) did not make the trip to Arkansas last week and has not practiced this week. (Sounds like a typical medical redshirt situation to me.)

--I watched Harvin and running back Emmanuel Moody walk off the practice field on Wednesday. Harvin appeared healthy but Moody had a considerable limp.

Florida picked up its third commitment for the 2010 recruiting cycle on Wednesday and it was a big one. West Palm Beach Dwyer athlete Matt Elam (6-0, 205) orally committed to attend the University of Florida. Elam is projected to be the top recruit in the state of Florida next season.

Oral commitments are non-binding and Elam won't sign with Florida until February of 2010. According to Rivals.com writer Adam Gorney, Florida is the only program in the country with three commitments for the 2010 recruiting cycle.

Not too long ago, Meyer did not like to receive early commitments. His philosophy is changing slightly, he said on Wednesday. Florida's 2010 oral commitments include Elam, Venice quarterback Trey Burton and Fleming Island lineman Ian Silberman.

"It's risky," Meyer said. "You're talking about taking them off of sophomore tape and they're playing their junior year right now. I'm not a big fan of it but like I said if you already know them, know their families and know what they're all about."

Elam, a two-way star for Dwyer but projected as a safety for UF, first met Meyer 10 years ago when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame. Elam's brother, Abram, was recruited by Meyer as a receiver for the Fighting Irish.

"I do remember him then," Elam told Rivals.com. "[Meyer] actually taught me a wide receiver's stance then. After that we didn't talk at all. Then I heard he was at my high school my freshman season to recruit a teammate of mine. So I found him and introduced myself. Coach Meyer remembered me and the rest is history. That's when I really starting liking Florida."

Back in January, former Pompano Beach Blanche Ely cornerback Patrick Peterson (at the time his name was Patrick Johnson) caused a stir when he told reporters that Florida had alerted the NCAA of problems with Peterson's ACT score. Peterson called Florida "cowards" at the time. On Wednesday, Meyer said Florida never contacted the NCAA about Peterson's ACT scores.


August 27, 2008

Harvin, Spikes, Hurt are out; Ronnie Wilson moves back to O-line; Patchan wowing coaches

GAINESVILLE -- Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney said on Wednesday evening that Ronnie Wilson has been moved back to the offensive line and could begin competing for a spot on the Gators' two-deep offensive line depth chart immediately.

"Tough guy and strong guy," McCarney said. "He's got to help our team somehow, some way."

Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Wednesday that reserve offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (neck stinger) will be unavailable for Saturday's season opener against Hawaii. Hurt is a second-string right guard behind Mike Pouncey. Meyer also said that receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Brandon Spikes are doubtful for Saturday.

There are two likely reasons why coaches moved Wilson back to offensive line. One, Wilson wasn't very good at defensive tackle. Two, they don't need him anymore because freshman Matt Patchan is wowing coaches in practice. Patchan has only been back to full-contact practice for three days and already McCarney likes what he sees.

"His motor never stops and when you say go play relentless for the Gators he understands that about as good as anybody," McCarney said. "The short time he has practiced he has really, really left a strong impression on everybody."

McCarney plans to play 9-10 players in the defensive line rotation. Here's an educated guess at list: Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap, Justin Trattou, Duke Lemmens, Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders, Matt Patchan, Troy Epps, William Green and Javier Estopinan.

--Torrey Davis is not working with the defense. He is out of shape, according to McCarney and working with trainers during practice.


August 21, 2008

BEING URBAN MEYER: Who gets a redshirt?

I should be in bed right now. It's 1:30 in the morning but I just can't take my eyes off the television. The Olympic race walkers just have that affect on me. So bizarre. Olga of Russia IS A BEAST! I'll have to check the official Olympic media guide, but I'm pretty sure this sport was invented at Bal Harbor (Miami Beach mall) but then later popularized at Sawgrass Mills (suburban Sunrise mall). I haven't seen this many manic Canadian walkers since last I went to Hollywood Beach ...

GAINESVILLE -- So, while I watch the Olympics and wonder how these ladies' hips don't pop out of joint from all the swishing, I'll raise an always-intriguing preseason question: Who gets a redshirt? This is a popular topic for both fans and reporters, so make sure to chime in with your comments. I'm interested to know what you guys think.

Last season, the Gators decided to redshirt nine scholarship freshmen. (Most notably: Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson, John Brantley, John Brown and James Wilson.) Some people don't agree (one of those Internet guys who tried to convince me last week), but redshirting is still an important part of college football. Meyer likes to say that he doesn't ever plan to redshirt anyone. That's bologna. Especially this season, which features so many underclassmen at UF. Florida's roster includes 60 underclassmen (31 sophomores, nine redshirt freshmen and 20 true freshmen).

Like in 2007, a few talented players need to redshirt this season. If I was Meyer, here are the guys I'd redshirt this season:

--Brendan Beal, LB, An obvious redshirt. This guy recently tore his ACL.
--Jeremy Brown, CB, Battled back spasms throughout fall camp. He's not ready but has big-time potential.
--Adrian Bushell, DB, Didn't practice for the first week of the preseason.
--Earl Okine, DE, Plenty of defensive ends on the depth chart. Give him a year to develop.
--Omarius Hines, WR, One of the three freshmen receivers should redshirt.
--Sam Robey, OL, Plenty of young offensive linemen already on the depth chart.
--David Young, OL, Despite an excellent fall camp, could use a year of development.
--Omar Hunter, DT, John Brown of 2008? Does the addition of Ronnie Wilson make redshirting Hunter a possibility? I say yes.

--Janoris Jenkins, CB, Will play a significant role on special teams. A possibility at nickel and dime.
--Matt Patchan, DT, Give him about three more weeks and he'll be in the mix.
--Caleb Sturgis, K, I don't care what anyone says. This guy should start.
--Jeffrey Demps, ATH, Can't wait to see what he can do.
--William Green, DE, Special teams dynamo.
--Frankie Hammond Jr., WR, Still a redshirt possibility, Hammond Jr. has wowed coaches with his smarts.
--Will Hill, S, One play away from being a starter.
--T.J. Lawrence, WR, Special teams star.
--Lerentee McCray, LB, Special teams.
--T.J. Pridemore, FB, Special teams.


August 04, 2008

Live from practice...Ronnie Wilson looks good; So does Frankie Hammond Jr.; And guess who's a safety now...

Really upset with Krispy Kreme. The doughnuts are not fresh...Here's a link to my story in today's Miami Herald! Gators Hope To Blaze Trail to National Title. Here's a public-service link: Miami Heat dance team tryouts photo gallery! Sorry if the picture quality in this blog post isn't up to snuff. Deal, folks. I used my BlackBerry.

(If you noticed any typos earlier this morning it's because I wrote this blog on the BlackBerry as fast as possible...It has since been edited.)

GAINESVILLE -- The sun isn't up yet and already I've been at practice for 35 minutes. Freshmen and walk-ons are the only players practicing this fine morning. A few quick notes...

-T.J. Lawrence appears to be the Gators' latest safety convert. Lawrence, who was recruited as a receiver, is wearing a white practice jersey (meaning he's a defender; offense is in blue) and learning how to backpedal and defend. Safeties coach Chuck Heater is correcting his mistakes every five seconds. Yep, he's a safety now. Now Urban is actually working one-on-one with Lawrence.

Ronniewilson-Ronnie Wilson [PICTURED] of Pompano Beach Blanche Ely is practicing at defensive tackle. Wilson was kicked off the team last year for firing an assault rifle into the air near a downtown nightclub. Notice how there's no stripe on Ronnie's helmet. Guess that means he's already a part of the team. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, incoming freshmen at UF have thin stripes on their helmets during preseason camp. When coaches take the stripe off, it signifies that you're officially a member of the team. Major Wright was the first player to be de-striped last season. Percy Harvin had the honor the year before that. I'm calling for Jeffrey Demps to lose his stripe first this season.)

Adrian-Texas cornerback Adrian Bushell [PICTURED] is in street clothes. Guess he hasn't made it through the NCAA Clearinghouse yet. Bushell didn't practice but he was still up early with the rest of the freshman. He was reading a sheet of paper throughout practice and following around cornerback's coach Vance Bedford. Assuming the paper was some kind of practice schedule or tip sheet.

-Jeffrey Demps is a strong freshman. He's bigger than Chris Rainey. (Well, that's not saying much.)

-Omar Hunter is a beast. He doesn't look out of shape to me. This guy is already bigger than John Brown.

-Matt Patchan is participating in drills but D-line coach Dan McCarney is telling him to take it easy. Patchan is looking good.

-John Brown and Brandon Hicks are practicing with the freshmen. Punishment? The probably have to take tests this afternoon, says UF's people. Summer B isn't over yet.

-Staying with the defensive line theme: Hoover, Ala., defensive end William Green is tall and lean. This guy is really fast. He could play linebacker. Speaking of speed, Matt Patchan is pretty fast. He looks to weigh about 250 pounds. Green appears to be about 225 at the most.

-Defensive backs coach Vance Bedford's metaphorical coaching technique: "You're a cat. You're hungry and you want to eat."

Corners Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown are apparently hungry and sleepy.

-Bedford is a crowd pleaser. He just called himself "gangsta.'"

Now he's dancing and talking about "Bullet" Bob Hayes. Hysterical.

Frankie-Hallandale native Frankie Hammond Jr. [PICTURED] appears to have put on some muscle over the offseason. He looks good and just made an impressive diving catch near the sideline. Wow! Another great catch by Frankie Hammond Jr. He is definitely the highlight of the first practice. He caught a pass in traffic and then cut to the outside and blew past three defenders.

-More Bedford, as he walks off the field to fans: "Y'all got no life but you love football." I love this Bedford guy.

OK, that's it. Check back around 5 p.m. for a live blog from today's second practice. Will try to snap a picture or two of Tebow.

RecruithatOh, a final picture to share with y'all. A lot of people have been asking me to post a recent picture of myself up on the blog. I snapped this photo yesterday in the dog park. That's my new hat. (That's Guinness, my dog, behind my head.) I'm wearing the hat every day to practice (and maybe games) this season. (My offering of sarcasm to the ridiculousness of the recruiting craze.) I'm a six-star recruit. I write stories in 4.19 seconds.


June 29, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: No.1 Emmanuel Moody

If you're reading this blog for the first time today, then you've already missed our five-part blog series on the football team's top five newcomers. Don't worry. You can catch up. Just click on the names of the previous "Top Five Newcomers" right here:


GAINESVILLE -- No.1 on our list of top newcomers is USC transfer running back Emmanuel Moody. We here at Gator Clause don't necessarily think Moody is the best addition to the Gators' roster, but we do believe that Moody's potential impact is greater than any newcomer.

Ncf_moody_200Why, exactly? Well, the Gators start and stop with the success and health of Tim Tebow and Moody, if he's productive, might be the guy that keeps Tebow out of the trainer's room this season and on the field. That's right. The more Moody carries the ball the less likely the Gators' superstar quarterback gets injured.

Tebow didn't miss a game last season but that doesn't mean he didn't sustain injury. Tim received shots of a painkiller in his right (none throwing) shoulder for much of the season. He then broke his non-throwing hand against Florida State.

Even more than a better defense, a healthy Tebow is what the Gators need to win a national championship. Moody, the USC transfer who redshirted last season, might be the key. Moody showed glimpses of his potential his freshman season at USC. He had several solid games before being limited by injuries.

A digression here: I'm still scratching my head as to why, exactly, Moody transferred to Florida. He says he left USC to become a featured running back but a featured back is one thing Urban Meyer's and Dan Mullen's offense does not produce. Moody might be the first, who knows? But I doubt it.

0817moody_2Moody probably should have gone to North Carolina if he wanted 20+ carries a game. Why do we mention all of this? We're wondering if Moody will become a distraction if he doesn't get the amount of carries he needs to feel like a major contributor. Moody could have stayed at USC if he wanted a chance to win a national title. He wants to run the ball and the guy isn't afraid to speak his mind, something most UF players do not do.

We'll keep an eye on Moody's morale during preseason practice and two-a-days. If you believe Urban Meyer (which I don't in this case), then the starting running back position isn't even Moody's right now. According to Meyer, Kestahn Moore is still the starter. Meyer swears by Moore. This is strange because if Meyer went back and watched at few game films from last season, then he would be swearing at the fumbles Moore coughed up in close games. Our guess: Meyer is just playing head games with Moody. Meyer got on Moody's case after he fumbled in the end zone during the spring game. It seems like flawed logic that Meyer would berate Moody publicly Si_2007for one fumble in a spring game but still allow Moore to be on the team after the costly fumbles last season. (A side note to this Moody-Moore situation. The two Texans played against each other in little league football.)

OK, digression over. Back on topic...Moody, more than any newcomer, is the key to the Gators' success in 2008. When Moody first showed up last season, all Meyer would say to him when they ran into each other in the football facility was, "I sure hope you're good." There was a reason for that.

[Check out this SI cover from 2007. That's Moody on the left. Instead of splitting time at USC last year, he decided to transfer to UF and sit out a season. Wonder if Moody will make the 2008 SI college football preview cover as a Gator this time around?]




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