Gators Welcome Back Mike Peterson; Former Florida, NFL Linebacker Joins Staff

Former Florida linebacker Mike Peterson has joined the Gators’ staff in a full-time role. Peterson will be joining the weight room staff as of February 24.

Mike Peterson, Florida Gators

Peterson was with the Gators during the 2013 football season as he had returned to the University of Florida to finish his degree. Upon the completion of his degree, head coach Will Muschamp looked to bring him on full time. Peterson will start in the weight room with hopes of making a career out of coaching in some capacity.

With the Gators from 1995 to 1998, Peterson appeared in 42 games, starting 24. He was a member of the 1996 national championship team and was named an All-American as a senior in 1998.

Peterson was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for 13 seasons with the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Atlanta Falcons. Peterson’s best season came in 2005 with the Jaguars when he was named a second-team All-Pro.

Matt Jones Undergoes Surgery; Running Back Out for Spring

On Wednesday, Florida running back Matt Jones underwent another surgery on his left knee. While Jones is actually ahead of the recovery timetable, the surgery will keep him out of Spring practice.

Matt Jones, Florida Gators

Jones was in the midst of a promising, although frustrating, sophomore campaign when he went down with the injury. He only appeared in five games during the 2013 season, with his yards per carry average going up and down.

The duo of Jones and freshman Kelvin Taylor was expected to be a good one, but we only saw the two carry the ball in the same game twice. There was no two-headed monster, much to the dismay of Gators’ fans.

In Wednesday’s press conference, head coach Will Muschamp mentioned that Jones’s knee was 90 percent healed. Jones is progressing nicely and should be ready to go in time for Fall practice.

Also missing the Spring sessions are linebackers sophomore Alex Anzalone, redshirt sophomore Jeremi Powell, and redshirt freshman Matt Rolin.

Florida Gators Recruiting: The Ups and Downs of National Signing Day

As seems to be the case every year, there were ups and downs for the Florida Gators on National Signing Day. At final count, the Gators added two (three if you count Andrew Mike the night before, and I do), reaffirmed one, saw two choose other schools, lost no one already committed, and had a current player announce his intention to transfer.

Treon Harris, Florida Gators

That’s not a bad day by any means. Actually, it’s a quite good one. No Florida commit flipped, while the Gators got a Florida State commit to do just that. When you gain two (or three) and lose no one, you’re ahead. Unfortunately, the last announcement that really meant something for Florida didn’t go the Gators’ way. Adoree’ Jackson signed with Southern Cal and in doing so proved to one side of the Florida fanbase that head coach Will Muschamp has no idea what he’s doing.

That’s the side that refused to acknowledge anything good that happened leading up to NSD or on the day itself and only focused on one player that got away and how it must be Muschamp’s fault. I’m sure I’ll be called a Muschamp supporter for even bringing it up, but so be it I guess. Maybe one day those fans will be able to find a silver lining in, well, anything. For now, I’m not a Muschamp supporter, but I’m not running him out of town either. He’s the coach whether any of us like it or not. Instead, I’m focusing on where the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class ended up, and all things considered it was a good one.

1. Florida lost no one. The Gators didn’t lose Adoree’ Jackson because they never had him. Florida also didn’t lose Derrick Kelly Jr. because, again, they didn’t have him. Both players would have been welcome additions to the class, but both signed elsewhere—Jackson to USC and Kelly Jr. to FSU. Jackson’s loss was a big one as the dynamic playmaker could have made an immediate impact and Kelly Jr. would have provided depth along the offensive line. Both went elsewhere; move on.

2. The Gators started a day early, getting offensive lineman Andrew Mike to flip to Florida from Vanderbilt. Mike needs to add a great deal of bulk, but bringing aboard a sixth offensive line commit was crucial. Depth across the line is one of the Gators’ biggest needs.

3. Of course Quincy Wilson was the first to fax in his signed Letter of Intent. Has there been a commit more positive about all things Florida during the recruiting process? No, there hasn’t.

4. For the last few weeks, many considered J.C. Jackson to be a goner. FSU and Miami pushed the defensive back up until the last minute. In the end, Florida won out and Jackson stuck with his commitment. This may have been as big of a get for the Gators as anyone on NSD.

5. When C.J. Worton decommitted from FSU most expected him to sign with Florida. He did. Go Gators!

6. The flip of the day, at least where the state of Florida is concerned. Treon Harris had been rumored to be seriously considering making the switch from the Seminoles to the Gators on NSD. He pulled the trigger and he, Florida, the staff, and fans couldn’t be happier. New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper got his man.

7. Not exactly recruiting news, Cody Riggs will transfer. It relates in that it frees up a roster spot, but for who? Riggs wanted to player cornerback; coaches wanted him to play safety. He will search for a program where he can play at his position of choice.

The 2014 recruiting cycle was a busy one like all of the others. It had its ups and its downs and we won’t know how good this class truly is for years. In the meantime, on to 2015 recruiting!

Hoping to Play Cornerback, Cody Riggs Will Transfer from Florida

Later today, Florida head coach Will Muschamp will announce the transfer of Cody Riggs. Riggs started 12 games at safety, but hopes to return to his natural position of cornerback.

Cody Riggs, Florida Gators

Riggs spent his first three seasons at Florida at cornerback. He played in 26 games, starting 13, over the course of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Riggs was improving and looking forward to a successful 2012 campaign when he injured his foot and took a redshirt. He was moved to safety for the 2013 and started all 12 games, finishing with 51 tackles

Riggs will have one season of eligibility remaining. There is no word on where he will transfer, but immediately playing time at cornerback will be the determining factor. Riggs ends his Florida career having appeared in 40 games, starting 26.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Quarterback Treon Harris Flips from Florida State

Florida pulled off one of the biggest gets of National Signing Day, flipping quarterback Treon Harris from Florida State to the Gators.

Treon Harris, Florida Gators

Once hired as Florida’s new offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper made Harris one of his top targets. Despite being committed to FSU, Harris was open to listening to what Roper had to offer. The quarterback seems to fit well into the offense Roper hopes to run and brings a different skill set to the position than early enrollee Will Grier.

Jeff Driskel will be the starter, but the junior has a history with injuries and, at times, inconsistent play. While many fans hoped Grier could come in and win the job immediately, the best course of action for the Gators was always to bring in two quarterbacks. Two transferred out; two are coming in.

Harris could actually be the one to relieve Driskel during the 2014 season as he may fit the offense better from day one. That’s not to say Grier is now on the outside looking in, but the best course of action for him may be to redshirt while the offense evolves. There are worse things than three quarterbacks all learning during the transition season to be ready for 2015.

Fans will instantly think back to John Brantley and Cam Newton and then to Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Keep hope that this time around, the two quarterbacks will have bright futures for the Gators.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Wide Receiver C.J. Worton Signs with Florida Over West Virginia

Former Florida State commit C.J. Worton has signed with Florida. The wide receiver announced his decision on National Signing Day, selecting the Gators over West Virginia.

C.J. Worton, Florida Gators

When Worton first reopened his recruitment, many believed Florida was the school to beat, but West Virginia came on strong. The Mountaineers pushed Worton until the very end, hoping to add the three-star wide receiver. In the end, his familiarity with Gainesville–his brother Cody was there from 2006-2010–won out.

Worton joins a wide receiver class that may not be completely closed. Adoree’ Jackson is still in the play for the Gators.

Florida Gators Recruiting: J.C. Jackson Sticks with Commitment

The one Florida commit that seemed the most likely to flip has stuck with the Gators. J.C. Jackson has signed with Florida after all.

J.C. Jackson, Florida Gators

Jackson wavered through most of his recruitment and it was largely due to being very confused about the decision he had to make. Having committed to the Gators after decommitting from Florida State, Jackson was pursued heavily by both FSU and Miami. He could have signed with any one of the three schools and it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise.

What was a surprise was a last-minute, unexpected visit to Florida this past weekend. Jackson wanted to take in the school one more time. Evidently, he may have been doing one final check to be sure he had made the right choice.

On Wednesday morning, Florida received a signed Letter of Intent from Jackson. The Immokalee, FL (Immokalee) defensive back will be a Gator.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Offensive Lineman Andrew Mike Flips from Vanderbilt

Florida was hard at work on the eve of National Signing Day. The Gators added a sixth offensive lineman as part of the 2014 recruiting class in the form of Andrew Mike who flipped his commitment from Vanderbilt.

Andrew Mike, Florida Gators

Mike was not a member of the Commodores’ recruiting class for long, having committed to Vandy on Monday after an official visit to the school over the weekend. Then Florida came calling. The Gators reached out to Mike on Monday night, further expressing their interest in having him join their class. It didn’t take long for the offensive lineman to change his mind and on Tuesday night he committed to Florida.

The 6’7″, 270-pound Mike projects to offensive tackle at the college level. The height is there, but the weight needs to come. He is a three-star prospect across the board, ranking as the nation’s No. 60 offensive tackle according to Rivals and No. 61 according to 247. ESPN and Scout are a little higher on Mike than the others, putting him at No. 32 and No. 44 respectively at his position.

Despite having six offensive lineman as a part of the class, the Gators may not be done. Florida has a strong chance of adding four-star offensive tackle Derrick Kelly Jr. on National Signing Day.

Former Florida Gators’ Star Percy Harvin Wins Super Bowl with Seattle Seahawks

Percy Harvin didn’t return kickoffs during his time with the Florida Gators. The do-everything weapon was reserved to doing almost everything but returning kicks. Then Harvin went to the NFL.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

In four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Harvin returned four kickoffs for touchdowns and twice led the league in kickoff return average. His 2012 average of 35.9 yards per return ranks third all-time; not in team history, in NFL history.

Traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the 2013 season, big things were expected from the dynamic Harvin, but we would see him only touch the ball twice during the regular season. Of course, one of those touches was a 58-yard kickoff return. Even hobbled, Harvin is better than most at the football.

The playoffs came and Harvin was healthy once again, giving the Seahawks a threat barely seen during the regular season. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t return a kick during Seattle’s first game against the New Orleans Saints and would be held out of the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers due to a concussion.

Then came the Super Bowl and a ready-to-go playmaker. Harvin only caught one pass and ran the ball just twice, but oh that kick return. Up 22-0 over the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks hoped to put more points on the board during their first drive of the second half. They wouldn’t have to wait long as Harvin would go 87 yards for the score. It was the fifth touchdown return of his career and by far the biggest of them all.

My obsession with Percy Harvin is no secret. As much talent as there was on the 2006 and 2008 Gators’ national title teams, Harvin was over-the-top special. We may never see such a pure athlete in orange and blue again. There are other names I could mention here that contributed greatly to one or both of those teams, but when Harvin got the ball, you made sure you were watching. Something jaw-dropping was about to happen.

On Sunday night, the oft-injured star made his mark again, this time on football’s biggest stage. Plenty of former Florida players have won the Super Bowl, but last night was Harvin’s moment. Congrats Percy. Go Gators!

Florida Gators Recruiting: Athlete Deiondre Porter Commits to Florida

Jefferson has been good to Florida. The Tampa, FL high school gave the Gators the Caldwell brothers and has now given Florida it’s latest star, Deiondre Porter. Porter committed to the Gators on Monday night over Central Florida, Miami, and South Florida. If Porter turns out to be anything like Reche Caldwell–another Jefferson quarterback turned Gators’ wide receiver–we’ll be looking back fondly at his career one day.

Deiondre Porter, Florida Gators

What position Porter does play at Florida remains to be seen, but wide receiver is as good of a guess as any other. However, there are also many who believe Porter will end up playing defensive back as his raw athletic ability could turn him into a better-than-average cornerback. The Gators have some experience with one of those as well. Joe Haden came to Florida as a quarterback-turned-athlete. He turned into one of college football’s better cornerbacks. All Haden has done since is be selected to the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl while making his first All-Pro team as a second team selection. Porter has two great former Gators to model himself after, depending on which side of the ball he ends up on.

As for where he wants to play, Porter said during his announcement that he’ll play wherever Florida coaches feel he’ll help the team the most. It’s a good guess that Will Muschamp and staff will evaluate further once he gets to Gainesville to find the best place for him and the team.

A one-time USF commit, Porter reopened his recruitment upon receiving offers from the Gators and Hurricanes. When he visit went well this past weekend, it was a good indication he would commit to Florida. Porter becomes the 22nd member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class.