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.

Joe Haden Dismissed From Cleveland Browns Practice

Former Florida Gators star Joe Haden was kicked out of Cleveland Browns practice on Wednesday. The third-year pro was dismissed for being too rough with rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Call it what you want, but the Browns deemed Haden’s play too intense for practice and told the former orange and bluer he needed to leave.

In the end, it was a non-issue as Browns’ head coach Pat Shurmur* said the matter was resolved quickly and everyone will move on from the situation. Haden has developed into a reliable defensive back in the NFL and will be counted on to be a leader in Cleveland; you know, when he isn’t beating up on rookie receivers.

*Now taking bets on the number of games Shurmur remains with the Browns. We’ll set the over/under at 24.

2013 Football Recruiting: Vernon Hargreaves III Commits To Florida; Gators Add 5-Star Cornerback

Wharton (Tampa, FL) cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III made it official on Thursday when he committed to play college football for the Florida Gators. Hargreaves instantly becomes the Gators’ highest rated commit and boosts the overall ranking of the 2013 recruiting class. According to Rivals, Florida now comes in at fifth overall after making Hargreaves their first five-star commitment.

“I can officially say I am committed to THE University of Florida ! #GoGators CHOMP CHOMP” – Vernon Hargreaves III, 2013 Cornerback (via Twitter)

The recruiting services tend to agree on where to place Hargreaves and his elite level of talent. At the highest, he’s the nation’s No. 4 overall player (ESPN) and at the lowest he comes in at No. 15 (Scout). All four major services give him five stars.

Hargreaves is the type that has instant starter written all over him. Once he arrives in Gainesville permanently, Marcus Roberson will be entering his third year with the program and Brian Poole his second. While others such as Loucheiz Purifoy have made strides recently, Hargreaves will compete for playing time immediately. He’s of the instant impact type that recently included cornerbacks like Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins.

Hargreaves chose Florida over Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. Look for more on him in the form of a recruiting report coming soon.

Top 5 Florida Gators Football Games I Have Attended

I attended the University of Florida from 2004 to 2009. It was the best five and a half years of my life and it would be a shame not to document all of the glorious games I witnessed because, as you will see, those years brought plenty of glory to the Gators.
1. Florida vs. FSU – 2005 – This was Urban Meyer’s first game against FSU. The Gators weren’t exactly having the best season and were coming off of a loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks that stunned the Gator Nation. I remember getting to The Swamp with my group of friends not knowing what to think. A FSU fan with body paint on that said “UF SUCKS” made me sick to my stomach. After Marcus Thomas and his “Scoop” blocked FSU’s field goal attempt which was then returned for a touchdown, the floodgates opened and it was nothing but hearing the fight song for the rest of the game. There’s nothing quite like beating the Seminoles.
2. Florida vs. Arkansas – 2006 SEC Championship Game – This was a matchup of the best run offense in the SEC against the best run defense in the SEC. The Gators had to go up against the triple-headed monster of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. Thank God their quarterback was named Casey Dick. If Ryan Mallett had been there at the time too, this may have been very ugly. My roommates and I camped out all night for row four tickets. Chris Leak’s scramble to the end zone for a touchdown is a play I will never forget. The game was iced when Tim Tebow handed off to Andre Caldwell who threw a pass to Tate Casey who was wide open for a touchdown. This game propelled us into the national championship thanks in part to UCLA’s huge upset over heavily favored USC
3. Florida vs. Alabama – 2008 SEC Championship Game – There is no better feeling than riding the MARTA transportation system in Atlanta to the Georgia Dome to watch your team play for the SEC championship. Alabama fans were extremely respectful, but as loud as can be. That game went back and forth and was a pure battle. When Tebow completed hit Riley Cooper to seal the game, Gators fans went absolutely crazy. SEC championship crowns were donned by all Florida fans that could get their hands on them and I wore mine proudly.
4. Florida vs. LSU – 2006 – The infamous Tebow jump pass game. That highlight would go down in history and set up the fake jump pass for games to come. My roommate worked in the ticket office and got us tickets close to the end zone that it happened in (I still thank him to this day). My favorite part of the game was watching Cooper truck a LSU return man that lead to a safety to start the second half. One of the more underrated parts of his game was that Cooper could lower the boom when he wanted.
5. Florida vs. Georgia – 2008 – Revenge is sweet and the Gators got it after watching the entire Georgia team celebrate in the end zone the season before. Florida seemed to be in control for most of the game and even some trickeration from the Bulldogs didn’t surprise the Gators. Like when Mark Richt made a ballsy onside kick call in which Butch Rowley wasn’t fooled on and recovered. The floodgates opened at the beginning of the second half when Joe Haden picked off Matthew Stafford and took the ball to the one-yard line to set up a Tebow touchdown. When Georgia finally ended up getting into the end zone, the entire Gator section erupted in applause. This along with Meyer calling his extra timeouts to get under Richt’s skin made some of their fans a little unhappy at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Those are mine, but I know we all attended this great university at different times. What about you? What were the greatest Gators games you got to witness in person?

A History: Urban Meyer vs. Steve Spurrier

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Urban Meyer (L) of the Florida Gators shakes hands with head coach Steve Spurrier (R) of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)Two things happened before the start of the 2005 season that had Florida fans eager and a little nervous about the future of Gator football. Legendary former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier returned to the college ranks to take charge of one of the Gators’ SEC East rivals and Urban Meyer came from Utah to take over the Florida program.

Spurrier’s move was a decision that lost him some fans in Gator nation. When the Ol’ Ball Coach left Florida for the NFL, a number of fans lost their respect for the man, saying he left behind his alma mater for money. That’s partially true. Spurrier also left for opportunity. In a sport where ego runs rampant, many coaches have the desire to see what they can do at the next level. Spurrier left for a bigger paycheck, but also left to take his turn as a NFL head coach. Many wrote him off at that moment. I never did.

Even when he came back to college to coach a program – South Carolina – that resided not only in the same conference, but the same division as the Gators, I never lost my love for Spurrier. My formative football educational years were during the time he led Florida to new levels. To suddenly begin to despise the man because he took another job we all may not have wanted him to take was out of the question for me. But there was the realization that beginning in 2005, I would have to see him on the opposite sideline once a year. A shuddering thought, but one I could deal with.

At the same time, the Gators had moved past the Ron Zook experiment and brought in a young man (Meyer was four years younger when he took over at Florida than when Spurrier did the same) with a brief, but glowing resume. Coming off a 12-0 season with the Utes, Meyer had improved his record to 39-8 as a head coach. Gator fans, still soured by Zook, weren’t sure what to expect from Meyer, but were more than excited at what the future could bring.

It took Meyer only two years to do what Spurrier needed seven to accomplish – win a National Championship. In another two, Meyer would take home the title again. While those who still revered Spurrier initially thought they could never love another head coach as much, Meyer was quickly becoming the top man in the school’s long football history.

Their first five seasons at Florida were surprisingly similar. From 1990 to 1994, Spurrier was 49-12-1 with four SEC Championship Game appearances, three conference titles, and three major bowl appearances (he went 1-2 in those games). From 2005-2009, Meyer was 57-10 with three SEC Championship Game appearances, two conferences titles, and three major bowl appearances (where he was 3-0). Both coaches had three seasons with 10 or more wins and each had their worst record – an identical 9-4 – in their third year. Meyer benefitted from playing five more games than Spurrier and had a higher win percentage, but overall the success was similar. With one major exception.

Although the Gators were a dominant power for most of the 1990s, they would only win one National Championship under Spurrier. He would play for the title following the 1995 season, but wouldn’t win it until a year later in his seventh season as the Florida head coach. Meyer has already won two titles and finished 13-1 an astonishing three times and won’t enter his seventh season until 2011. To say Meyer has equaled Spurrier success would be an understatement. At this point he has surpassed it.

Looking at their overall tenure as Florida head coaches, similarities remain. Neither coach ever won less than nine games in a season and never lost more than four (although Meyer is walking both tightropes in 2010). Even their overall Gator win percentages get closer if you look at their entire bodies of work – Spurrier at 0.813 and Meyer at 0.829.

Only look at the last five years though and a very different picture is painted. Spurrier knew he wasn’t headed to a power when he agreed to coach South Carolina, but he had hopes to put the Gamecocks in a position to consistently compete in the SEC. That has yet to happen and, although South Carolina has been an improved program under him, they haven’t managed to lose less than five games in a season thus far. While Meyer has directed the Gators to an overall record of 63-13, Spurrier has been 41-31 with the Gamecocks and a meager 1-4 against Florida.

With the two coaches facing each other for a sixth time, there’s a lot more at stake than usual. Both teams sit at 6-3. For South Carolina, an upset over then top-ranked Alabama was the highlight. For Florida, the Gators hit bottom during a three-game losing streak. Thanks to an underwhelming year by SEC East members as a whole, both teams still have a shot at making it to Atlanta and playing in the SEC Championship Game. On Saturday, they will play a de facto SEC East title game.

Despite the meaning of this matchup for both teams, the actual game could go a number of different ways. It may end up being great. Or it could be one to sleep through. There have definitely been both in the Meyer vs. Spurrier series…

2005

Love or hate Spurrier, all Gator fans wanted in 2005 was to beat him. Florida had won 14 straight over South Carolina and, despite the addition of their former coach, the Gators needed that streak to continue.
In Meyer’s first season, he had led the Gators to a 7-2 (5-2) record with a shot at heading to Atlanta – assuming Florida got some help. With the upset loss to the Gamecocks, that door was closed by a man who had won a Heisman Trophy playing for the Gators and coached them to their first, and only, National Championship.

South Carolina played Florida tough from the start and was able to hold on late to win the game 30-22 in front of their home crowd. The Gators had a chance after kicking a field goal to pull within eight with 2:51 remaining. The following onside kick attempt was unsuccessful though. Florida forced the Gamecocks to punt with only a minute left, but was penalized, allowing South Carolina to keep the ball.

Despite an improved South Carolina team entering the matchup, the loss was still a gut-punch for Florida and Gator fans. The orange and blue didn’t lose to the Gamecocks. It was just that simple. To not come away with the victory was as shocking as having to face off against their former star head coach. Although it was Meyer’s first season and Florida had showed signs of life under their new leader, this particular loss would be remembered for the next year until the two teams met on the field again.

2006

I’ve had the fortune of being in The Swamp during two of the greatest home games in Florida football history. The first was during my freshman year in 1997 when the Gators upset top-ranked FSU in what I can only describe as the loudest stadium experience I’ve ever been a part of. The second was in 2006 when Florida beat South Carolina 17-16 in Spurrier’s return to Gainesville.

On that night, Jarvis Moss became a legend at Florida. His blocked extra point was crucial, but Moss went one step further, blocking a Gamecocks’ field goal attempt as time expired to seal the one-point victory. The kicking game was a nightmare for South Carolina as the Gators blocked three total kicks on the night.

An amazing finish and an always lively crowd were the highlights of the Florida win, but some other points stand out about the game. Despite only scoring a combined 33 points, the Gators and Gamecocks totaled 811 yards, 51 first downs, and only turned over the ball once. Numbers like that usually lead to higher-scoring games, but this was a battle that ended with both teams in the teens.

The legendary end to the game was only the beginning for Florida. The win would propel the Gators the rest of the season and help them climb the BCS standings. Florida would not lose again and would go on to win the National Championship. South Carolina would also not lose again and finish the year 8-5. It was a tough one for the Gamecocks with all five losses coming to ranked opponents and four of those five by a touchdown or less.

2007

While the South Carolina defense stood up admirably during the first two Meyer vs. Spurrier showdowns, they couldn’t stop anything the Gators threw at them during the next two.

2007 would end up being the down year for both coaches. It was the low point for Spurrier as South Carolina stumbled to 6-6 and would be Meyer’s worst season as the Florida head coach as the Gators finished 9-4. On the bright side, 2007 would be the season Tim Tebow would stake his claim as one of the greatest to ever play college football and put together a season for the ages as he took home the Heisman Trophy.

He may have won the award due to his performance against the Gamecocks alone. In the 51-31 win, Tebow accounted for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. His five rushing touchdowns set a school record and he broke a tie with Emmitt Smith and Buford Long for the most rushing touchdowns in a season in Florida history. His final touchdown of the night would be #42 for Tebow on the season which would break a tie with Danny Wuerffel for the most touchdowns accounted for in one season in SEC history. For good measure, the sophomore quarterback also set a career-high in the game with 304 passing yards.

The game would bring back painful memories for Spurrier. The Gators were the first team to score 50 or more points against a Spurrier-coached team since Nebraska put up 62 against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Despite being bowl-eligible, South Carolina would lose its next, and final game, and be left out of the postseason.

2008

In the 2008 meeting, Florida would hand Spurrier his worst loss ever as either a player or a coach. The loss to the Cornhuskers for the National Championship may have been more knock-you-to-the-ground-and-kick-you-while-you’re-down, but in terms of margin, this was the worst.

On their way to a second National Championship in three years, the Gators ran over the Gamecocks 56-6. Not only was it Spurrier’s worst loss ever, it was also South Carolina’s worst loss in 13 years (a 63-7 defeat to the Gators coached of course by Spurrier himself in 1995).

Florida turned the game into a numbers-haven of sorts. The Gators rushed for 346 yards, their highest total in 19 years, against a Gamecock defense that was only allowing 101 yards per game on the ground. Florida became the first team to win six-straight SEC games by 28 points or more. With two passing touchdowns, Tebow improved to 15 scores through the air and no interceptions against the Gators’ last four ranked opponents. And at one point in the first quarter, Florida scored three touchdowns on eight plays.

There are many things to remember from the 2008 beat down as a Gators’ fan, but my most fond memory was when a TBG-favorite almost scored. South Carolina tried some trickeration on a kickoff, but a badly thrown lateral resulted in a recovery by Florida long snapper James Smith. Smith appeared to have scored, but was ruled down just short of the goal line.

2009

The Florida offense struggled at times during the 2009 season and despite being the #1 team in the nation had trouble finishing off South Carolina.

The Gators would score on their first three possessions and make it look like another blowout was brewing, but Florida’s offense would cool off and the Gamecocks would begin to inch their way back into it. South Carolina even looked like they might take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Gator defensive end Justin Trattou became an instant hero as he intercepted Stephen Garcia and rumbled 53 yards. A few plays later, Tebow would cross the goal line and put Florida ahead for good.

The win could be credited to the defense that tightened when needed late in the fourth quarter. The Gators would sack Garcia four times late and a Joe Haden interception would seal it for Florida. South Carolina would win its next game, but fall in their bowl. The Gators would go on to finish 13-1 for the third time in four years.

As both teams prepare for the 2010 matchup, they will be thinking of what could have been. An upset of Alabama could have propelled the Gamecocks to a breakout season. A few plays could have seen the Gators beat LSU and Mississippi State. For now though, the teams are identical. 6-3 (4-3) with a shot at Atlanta. Neither will win the National Championship and its unlikely they’ll even finish in the top 10, but this one game could make or break how the season is looked back on in the coming years. Two legendary coaches doing battle for a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

Jordan Haden to Transfer from Florida

Chris Martin = When transferring before your first season is good.  Jordan Haden = When transferring before your first season is bad.

Jordan Haden – the third Haden brother and second to sign with Florida – has decided to leave the Gators and resume his playing career somewhere else.  The announcement that Haden will transfer seemed to come out of nowhere on Monday.
Not long ago, Haden was telling the media about his brother – Josh Haden – and how he too would be coming to Florida after transferring from Boston College.  Now Jordan will transfer as well, but this time away from the Gators before ever getting a chance to play in a single game.
No one is saying much about the reason why Haden has decided to leave the Gators.  His father merely mentioned that Florida wasn’t the right fit.
First guess would be the competition at his position where it may be a while before Haden would see significant playing time.  Haden is a talented kid who could contribute a lot to the Gators over his career, but already finds himself planted firmly behind fellow classmate Matt Elam on the depth chart.  With Elam spending at least three years at Florida, it might have been a while before Haden had a legitimate chance to start unlike his older brother – Joe Haden – who started his first game in a Florida uniform.
It’s unclear where Haden will end up, but he has been granted his release and will be allowed to transfer anywhere he wishes.

The Long Snapper (4/23/10)

Day one of the three-part NFL Draft came to an end and saw three Gators and a Bull go in the first 25 picks.  Hats off to Jason Pierre-Paul for becoming the highest former USF player ever selected.  Hats off to Tim Tebow for sneaking himself into the first round.  And, of course, hats off to Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey as well.  It was a good night for the Florida schools (even FSU snuck in a pick at the end) and a great day for the Gators and Bulls.  Consistently having first round selections only helps Florida when it comes to recruiting and USF continues to improve its name.  It’s the whole “why go to one of the big three and possibly fight for playing time for four years when you can come to USF and maybe get a quicker shot at showing what you can do?”  That might not always be the case (in fact, it definitely won’t always be the case), but for now, it’s certainly something recruits will consider.  On to day two.
In case you need a quick recap of exactly what happened last night during the first round of the NFL Draft, EDSBS put together a solid review.  It’s easy to understand and covers a variety of points that should be made.
Why does it continue to seem like the Big 12 is doomed if conference expansion eventually occurs?  The latest I’ve seen is the possibility of Missouri heading to the Big Ten and Colorado jumping to the Pac-10.  To be fair, both of those teams will continue to struggle against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, and a rejuvenated Nebraska program in the Big 12, but they’ve also both had their moments too.  It seems to me the Tigers won’t fare any better in the Big Ten and the same goes for the Buffaloes in the Pac-10.  Then again, this isn’t about competing.  It’s about money.  The almighty dollar.  Forget about a jump to boost your program.  It’s a jump to boost your bottom-line.  In five years, the landscape of college football could look very different than it does today.
The BCS has released its formula for automatic qualification, but it really doesn’t mean much because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Something about the highest ranked team, regular season computer rankings, and number of teams in the top 25.  But that can’t be it.  The real reason has to be…wait for it…the almighty dollar.  See a theme yet?  As much as the Mountain West and the WAC think they belong, they don’t bring with them the fan bases or revenue-generating abilities the other conferences do.  Maybe one day that will be different, but it’s not currently the case.  During the 90s, you might see a fan in an FSU jersey on the other side of the country.  During the 2000s, you could walk by someone in the middle of Times Square wearing a USC hat.  Do you really think Boise State fever is going to spread the nation in the 2010s (have we decided if we’re going to go with 2010s or 10s yet?)?  It won’t.  Those schools don’t have the national appeal the BCS is looking for.  Look at formulas all you want, for now, the real reason is money.
We’ll call this the Friday Fifth.  Think of it as an added bonus.  This is being reported as the cover for the XBOX 360 version of NCAA Football 11:
The List: In case you can’t tell, I’m a video game player.  I’m not an addict (although I may have been pretty close at one point in my life), but I still find time to pop in the occasional sports game.  Here are some of my favorites over the years:
1. NHLPA ’93.  Obviously.
2. Super Tecmo Bowl.  Again, a no-brainer.
3. NCAA 2002.  Probably not considered one of the greats, but EA made a leap with the first PS2 release of the NCAA franchise.  Today’s game evolved directed from the 2002 version.
4. NFL2K and NBA2K.  Dreamcast, living in a fraternity house, Busch Light.  That pretty much sums up 1999 and 2000 for me, One Eyed Willy, and KP.
5. College Hoops 2K5.  There have been a lot of BAD college basketball games.  This was one of the few I was able to stomach.
6. T&C Surf Designs.  I guess you have to classify this as a sports game.
7. NHL ’10.  Yes, a new one.  You could say I’m addicted to this game.  First time since NHLPA ’93 I’ve actually enjoyed playing a hockey game.
8. FIFA 2001.  The first game I had for PS2 definitely got plenty of play time.
9. RBI Baseball, Bases Loaded, Baseball Stars.  Take your pick.
10. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!
The Sixth Man: Many got their wish with the expansion of the NCAA Tournament although it probably wasn’t exactly what they wanted.  The Big Dance hasn’t gone to a 96-team field (thankfully), but instead will expand to 68.  Whoever decided to stop this at 68 deserves a medal.  Thank you for not watering down the tourney anymore than it already is.  Perhaps more important is a new television deal for the tournament that includes TBS, meaning every game from the second round on will be televised.  More tourney on television = more March fun (or madness, would madness be the right word to use there?).

Cleveland Browns Select Joe Haden 7th Overall

As expected, Joe Haden was the first former Florida player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft.  The Cleveland Browns apparently had a cornerback set in their sights for quite some time and in the end made Haden their pick.  Although not a Browns’ fan, Mrs. TBG is a big Haden fan and was very excited for the pick.  Me?  Well, I never dislike it when a Gator goes in the first round.
Haden came to Florida a highly decorated high school quarterback.  There was never much of a chance he would be taking snaps for the Gators (although he sure wanted to over the years), but his position wasn’t complete defined when he came to Gainesville.  Listed as an athlete, the early thought was somewhere in the defensive backfield, but wide receiver was always a possibility.
Haden would end up settling in at cornerback and oh what a career he would have.  He became the first true freshman to ever start at CB for the Gators (Janoris Jenkins would duplicate the feat the next season) and ended up leaving after an All-American junior year.  Who can forget the interception return against Georgia?
The Browns get a physical corner who tackles like a linebacker and hits like a free safety on a mission to decapitate someone.  Haden is extremely athletic and can fight for the ball in the air with even the best wide receivers.  Over the years, his man coverage skills where questioned because receivers tended to get behind him from time to time, but Haden has closing (or catch up, call it what you like) speed and definitely improved in this area during his final season.
Haden ends up being the highest Florida cornerback ever selected and the third highest Gator defender taken.  Great pick for the Browns.  They got themselves a solid athlete built to play the more physical NFL game.  Good luck Joe.

The Long Snapper (4/14/10)

The Orlando Sentinel’s Florida blog – Swamp Things – has a list of five things to look for this offseason.  Surprisingly enough “slipping into a coma because of a lack of college football” didn’t make the list (or my renewed love of EA Sports’ NHL series, but that’s neither here nor there).  Let’s run through the list at hyper speed, shall we?  1) Urban Meyer will take more time off.  I would imagine he will, being that the real focus is recruiting over the summer, and even that slows somewhat.  2) The Gators will curb the offseason arrest problem.  I won’t hold my breath.  This actually does bother me quite a bit, but I’m about two or three more arrests away from only caring about what players do on the field and ignoring what happens off of it.  I waste enough time reading about so and so and his fill-in-the-blank problem.  3) At least one player will transfer.  That’s probably true.  It happens every summer.  I won’t venture a guess just yet but there are plenty of stacked positions.  4) Steve Addazio will be rewarded for his interim role.  Addazio will get more money, but a head coaching offer will be a few years away.  My guess is after 2011 if the offense continues to roll.  5) John Brantley will emerge as the team’s fiery vocal leader.  On offense, yes.  He has to.  On defense, look for the trio of Brendan Beal, Jon Bostic, and Jelani Jenkins to take a gigantic leap forward in terms of leadership.
Former Gator player and coach Steve Spurrier was on the Dan Patrick Show recently and gave his thoughts on South Carolina, his stint in the NFL, Tim Tebow, and the bowl system.  He believes the Gamecocks can win the SEC despite critics (like me) that think South Carolina can’t get past the big boys in the conference.  Spurrier didn’t enjoy pro football and had much less control than he anticipated.  He believes Tebow will be just fine in the NFL due to his overwhelming competitiveness.  And he is in favor of a college football playoff.  One day I’ll actually join a side in the bowl vs. playoff debate, but not just yet.
So remember when we all had a good laugh while watching the Champs Sports Bowl and Capital One Bowl and wondering if it was a throwback game to the days of playing in the school mud yard?  Good times.  Well now there will be no more of that.  The grass (if you could call it that) of one of the worst stadiums known to man will be replaced with artificial turf.  No more dirt battles.  A $10 million renovation to the stadium will include a new $1 million field.  If I didn’t have dogs, I would seriously consider turfing my own yard.  No word on if the field will be ready in time for the various high school events that occur at it during the fall.
16 individuals have accepted invitations to attend the NFL Draft despite the fact that it cuts into Must See TV Thursday.  Tebow is not among the names and might not join them in the end (I’d say that’s a good idea, there’s really no telling where he could end up getting drafted), but former All-American cornerback Joe Haden is.  For Haden, it makes sense.  He’s likely to be selected in the first half of the first round and might still sneak into the top 10 picks.  Tebow could go virtually anywhere in the first few rounds and it’s just not worth it for him to be there.  The NFL has indicated there will be a separate room without cameras for those individuals that don’t go high to get away to.  What a nice thought.
The List: The order in which I believe the Florida and USF entrants will get drafted.  I have no method to my madness other than coming up with this in a matter of about 30 seconds:
1. Joe Haden
2. Jason Pierre-Paul
3. Carlos Dunlap
4. Tim Tebow
5. Nate Allen
6. Maurkice Pouncey
7. Brandon Spikes
8. Jerome Murphy
9. Carlton Mitchell
10. Riley Cooper
11. George Selvie
12. Major Wright
The Sixth Man: On ESPNU this afternoon, one of this year’s great basketball prospects will make his decision on where to play college ball.  Brandon Knight is down to Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and UConn, but not necessarily in that order.  Although there has been speculation that the Gators stopped recruiting Knight a while back, Florida appears to still be in it.  That being said, the Gators may be a long shot though.  Signs point toward Kentucky.  Knight has mentioned several times that he likes what John Calipari did with Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall.  It sounds like he wants to be next.  If that is indeed the case, it might be better for Florida not to get a one-and-done star.  The Gators began the long road back by making the NCAA tournament this past season and need to continue to develop the team concept which won them two national titles.  A one-year superstar may not solve Florida’s problems and may do little more than create one year of excitement, but no actual overall improvement.  That’s not to say I don’t want Knight in orange and blue.  I’m just not a fan of the one-and-doners and would rather get someone who will be part of the building process for longer.

The Bull Gator (3/18/10)

Florida’s pro day has come and gone and the new and improved Tim Tebow was on display.  Scouts believe Tebow has worked well on his release and his footwork and probably improved his draft stock.  He keeps the ball higher when he drops back and is getting rid of it quicker, but Tebow still has a tendency to drop it before he makes a throw.  He’s getting there though and a number of coaches were impressed with the former Gator quarterback.  Two other former Florida defenders improved their draft stocks as well as both blazed through the 40-yard-dash.  Cornerback Joe Haden may have solidified himself as a top 10 pick with times of 4.39 and 4.41.  Many thought Haden would drop in the draft after posting a 4.57 at the NFL Combine, but that time doesn’t seem important now that he has shown what he can really do.  Carlos Dunlap also impressed with times of 4.57 and 4.59.  Great times for someone with his size.  Dunlap warrants a good, long look from anyone picking in the first round.  The only former Gator that didn’t seem to really help himself on Wednesday was Brandon Spikes.  Spikes didn’t run very fast, although I’m not sure if many expected him to, but is still seen as a special talent.  He could definitely be a case of someone who plays much faster than he runs in drills.
As expected, Urban Meyer is back as the head coach of the Florida Gators.  After a vacation or leave of absence of sorts (we should really call it a scaling back of involvement), Meyer is back in the driver’s seat and feeling well.  He won’t mention much about his health other than to say he’s doing fine.  And we shouldn’t expect him to comment on it too much anytime soon.  Meyer is tight-lipped about his health and he should be.  At this point in spring practice, Meyer takes on more of an observatory role.  This time of year gives him a chance to see how his assistant coaches interact with players and how all of the new faces get acclimated to the Gators’ system.  Many seem to think 2010 will be a transition year for Florida, but Meyer believes there is still plenty of talent in Gainesville and the Gators will be ready to compete in the fall.
SI.com’s Andy Staples shared his thoughts on the upcoming season in the SEC.  Among them was a belief that the East could be a little more open than the past few years.  While I will admit Florida will be entering a period of adjustment, the level of talent and coaching staff should assure the Gators won’t exactly get off track either.  One interesting point Staples makes about Florida is that the Gators need to find a way to get four – count ‘em, four – linebackers on the field at once.  There were rumors of Florida converting to a 3-4 defense when George Edwards was the coordinator (Everyone remember that week? Fun times!).  But Edwards left and was replaced – if you can call it that – by Teryl Austin who has mentioned there will be a few tweaks although he won’t overhaul the defense Charlie Strong perfected.  With the talent at linebacker, he may have to change more than he planned though.  Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones have plenty of experience and should see the field a lot, but Austin won’t be able to keep Jon Bostic or Jelani Jenkins on the bench either.  I can’t be the only one drooling at the thought of Bostic and Jenkins on the field at the same time.
B.J. Daniels’ recently repaired non-throwing shoulder won’t keep him out of spring practice after all.  The USF quarterback will be doing pretty much everything during practice except taking hits.  You probably don’t want your starting QB, and the only one with any substantial experience, taking too many hits this far ahead of the season anyway.  Being able to do basically everything else will be extremely beneficial for Daniels as he learns the offense under new head coach Skip Holtz.  Daniels is still developing as a quarterback and a leader and this spring is really his chance to step and take over the Bulls’ offense.  Exciting things are coming and hopefully fans won’t have to wait too much longer for that first Big East championship season.
The List: I’ve given up attempting to come up with some catchy name for this.  Sometimes simplicity is the way to go.  So it’s The List.  Nothing fancy or memorable.  Sort of like the list itself.  Today’s list focuses on that man who improved his throwing motion.  Clip #1 is a quick shot of that new motion that’s all the rage.  It’s just a glimpse, but maybe you X and O junkies can fully appreciate what has changed.
1. The new, improved Tim Tebow.

2. No list would be complete without the pledge.
3. A little practice Tebow.
4. The ad the world lost its mind about.
5. Tebow vs. Eric Berry. Surprised existence didn’t end after this collision.
The Sixth Man: Despite losing to NC State in the first round of the NIT, we have to give a big round of applause to the USF men’s basketball team for the season they just completed.  It’s easy to assume nothing out of the Bulls.  Since the move to the Big East, they’re just not expected to compete.  The size of the school should allow USF to build something over time and have a decent season now and then, but I’m not sure if anyone really saw this season as being the one in which they broke out.  At times, there were serious talks about the Bulls possibly making the NCAA Tournament.  As you know, they didn’t.  But an NIT appearance shouldn’t be seen as a letdown.  This program is headed in the right direction under Stan Heath and if Dominique Jones returns, the Big Dance could definitely be in sight for next season.  Watching the Bulls improve over the course of this season was exciting and has fans actually looking forward to the future.  Good job men, you should be proud.