Florida Gators Recruiting: Defensive Tackle Thomas Holley Flips from Penn State

The latest flip is in and it’s a big one; nearly 300 pounds big. Brooklyn, NY (Abraham Lincoln) defensive tackle Thomas Holley has decommitted from Penn State and committed to Florida. While not an overwhelming surprise, it is a pleasant gift all the same.

Thomas Holley, Florida Gators

Holley originally committed to the Nittany Lions due to the relationship he had built with then Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and defensive line coach Larry Johnson. When O’Brien left for the NFL’s Houston Texans and Johnson departed for Ohio State, Holley rethought the decision. Penn State’s loss suddenly became Florida’s gain.

Rather than completely reopen his recruitment, Holley went with his long-time number two—the Gators. The defensive tackle mentioned his relationship with Florida head coach Will Muschamp and the Gators’ staff as the main reason for his switch. Holley didn’t want to have to develop new relationships with new coaches when all along he could have seen himself comfortable coming to Gainesville.

While there is still time remaining in the 2014 recruiting cycle, Holley has said he is done. He has shut down his recruitment and will remain committed to Florida. As is always the case with recruiting, that sentiment can change, but it’s good to hear all the same.

Holley is widely considered to be one of the top defensive tackles in the 2014 class. 247, ESPN and Rivals all have him within the top three in the nation at the position; 247 even gives Holley five stars. He is joined on Florida’s 2014 commitment list by defensive linemen Taven Bryan (already enrolled), Khairi Clark, Justus Reed, and Gerald Willis III.

2013 Football Recruiting: Alex Anzalone Puts Florida, Notre Dame At Top Of List

Four-star outside linebacker Alex Anzalone still has a number of schools on his list of possible places to play college football, but two are tied at the top. The Wyomissing, PA (Wyomissing Area) LB has said the Florida Gators and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are his favorites at the moment ($). Despite also having interest in Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford and Southern Cal, the Gators and Irish are the current kings of the hill.

Since decommitting from Ohio State, Anzalone has made kept an open mind as he visits the various programs he’s considering. He has visited Florida three times in recent months and has enjoyed every visit. Anzalone sees himself as a versatile linebacker that can contribute whether the Gators defense is lined up in a 3-4 or a 4-3.

Anzalone will try to get to Penn State later this month and has mentioned other possible visits throughout the summer. It will be a tough decision for the linebacker and one many programs will be following closely.

2013 Football Recruiting: Ohio State Could Get Another Chance With Alex Anzalone

The story of Alex Anzalone’s decommitment from Ohio State is a weird one. That sentence isn’t of the highest literary quality, but there’s really no better way to say it. The entire situation is odd and gives off a feeling of, well, let’s just move on from the reasons behind Anzalone’s decommitment. You’ve surely read about them by now and that’ll do. The latest chapter is that the Buckeyes may still have a chance with the four-star outside linebacker.

When Anzalone first announced he would not be attending Ohio State, two schools came to the forefront – Penn State and our beloved Florida Gators. You can add Notre Dame and Stanford to that list, and now the Buckeyes as well. There were times when Anzalone was considered a Florida lean before he originally committed to Ohio State, and after the decommitment, it was figured the Buckeyes were out of the picture. While the Gators and Nittany Lions seem to have a definite advantage over the others at the moment, with even the possibility he could consider Ohio State again, no one can be sure which direction Anzalone is now leaning.

We do know he’ll take time to explore every option and weigh his decision heavily this time around. A great addition to any program, all five of the schools named would welcome Anzalone with open arms and with Ohio State still a possibility, the probability he ends up picking the Gators may have taken a hit.

2012 Football Recruiting: Skyler Mornhinweg Switches To Florida; Gators Add Quarterback

The Florida Gators have added a 21st member to their 2012 recruiting class. Number 21 comes in the form of quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg who was previously committed to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mornhinweg began to look into other options when PSU began recruiting other quarterbacks. It didn’t hurt that the Gators new offense coordinator – Brent Pease – began the hunt for a passer as well. The match was made and the 6’3″, 215-pound Mornhinweg – son of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg – chose Florida.

You won’t find Mornhinweg at or near the top of many quarterback lists, but he has a strong arm and could be somewhat of a project. He won’t be asked to play for a few years and that will be beneficial for his development as he learns the system and adjusts to the college game. He is a solid addition and not a bad one considered Pease looked to add a quarterback late. Fortunately, Pease seems to be of the mindset that you should always be looking for a passer regardless of who is on the roster. I’ve said many times I share that belief and excited to see a depth chart that consistently includes more than just a starter and backup on scholarship.

Be sure to check out the updated commitment list. More links will be added to that page – and hopefully more names – in the upcoming days.

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Kent Taylor To Publicly Commit; Could Florida Be The Choice?

Land O’ Lakes, FL tight end Kent Taylor has already told the school he plans to attend that he should be considered a commit, but he hasn’t made his plans public. That announcement is reserved for Thursday, October 27 (tomorrow for those of you that own calendars). Taylor’s commitment would be a huge boost to Florida and many think that’s where he’s headed. He also lists FSU, Georgia and Penn State among his finalists, but many analysts point to the Gators. We won’t know for sure for another day, so hold off any celebration until then, and go ahead and keep your fingers crossed that these rumors become truth.

Florida Gators Athletics Schedule: September 5-11, 2011

A little late, but still in road trip catchup mode. One of the events below already occurred, but there are plenty more to come this week. Florida football continues its season and plenty of other sports are in action. Recaps of all we missed will be coming soon. Great time of year to cheer for the Gators with so many of the athletic teams in action. And as we’ve said before, it doesn’t hurt that they’re all pretty darn good.
Monday, September 5

Volleyball – Iowa State – Gainesville, FL – Sun Sports, GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 2:00pm
Friday, September 9
Women’s Cross Country – South Florida Invitational – Tampa, FL
Men’s Cross Country – South Florida Invitational – Tampa, FL
Soccer – FSU – Gainesville, FL – GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 7:00pm
Volleyball – Texas (NIKE Big Four Classic) Palo Alto, CA – GatorZone – 11:00pm

Saturday, September 10

Volleyball – Penn State or Stanford (Campus USA Credit Union Invite) – Palo Alto, CA – GatorZone
Football – UAB – Gainesville, FL – FSN, Sirius 220, XM 199 – 7:00pm

Sunday, September 11

Women’s Golf – Cougar Classic – Charleston, SC
Soccer – Florida Gulf Coast – Gainesville, FL – GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 2:00pm

You can check out all past and future schedules at GatorZone, of course, and even see who else is playing in all those various tournaments, challenges and invites.

Gators Season Comes To An End; Gamecocks Win National Championship

Nearly two years ago a poll was conducted on this site. The basic idea was to find out who you would cheer for if you couldn’t cheer for Florida (USF was eliminated from the choices as well). After weeks of voting, we got down to a final that saw South Carolina take the title over Penn State. The Gamecocks won for a few reasons, but it probably came down to SEC affiliation and Steve Spurrier. For every Gators fan that can’t stand the man for leaving, there are two that still love him (me included).
On Tuesday night, any love for South Carolina – if there was any left after Monday night – was thrown in the trash. Hope was still alive after dropping Game 1 to the Gamecocks, but all of that was killed in Game 2 when South Carolina got the 5-2 win over Florida to claim back-to-back national championships.
The hardest part to stomach of the whole situation may be the fact that the Gators only managed to produce three runs over the two games. Those games only produced 10 runs total, but if you’re the team with three, you probably didn’t fare so well. In Game 1, one run wasn’t enough. In Game 2, doubling that total didn’t help. You can blame slumps. You can blame a loss of power. You can blame bunting.  And don’t think Florida was the only team that had trouble scoring against South Carolina. In the first inning of the first game, the Gamecocks allowed four run to Texas A&M. Since that point, South Carolina only allowed six runs in their other 50 innings. Whatever you decide to blame, there were points – the bottom of the ninth to be exact, or possibly their win over Virginia – when it seemed as if the Gamecocks were destined to repeat.
Although they weren’t able to return to Gainesville with the ultimate prize, you can’t diminish what Florida did this season. It was a successful year for a team that fell just short. Had one of those runs in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 scored, we may be having a very different discussion right now. But they didn’t. Instead, Florida is the runner-up to a national champion who also happens to be a conference rival. It always hurts losing, but it hurts even more when it’s a rival – regardless of whether or not you might find yourself cheering for them against any other team.

The Long Snapper (3/3/10)

Sticking with the NFL Draft stories for a little longer (which honestly will probably turn into quite a bit longer or at least until the event itself has come and gone).  Vic Carucci of NFL.com put his thoughts together regarding some of the tops defensive back prospects.  Among the 10 he reviewed are four players from schools in the state of Florida.  Those of you that live elsewhere may bow now.  Go ahead, it’s easy.  Just bow and respect the talent.  At the top of the cornerback list is Florida’s Joe Haden as expected.  Haden seems to have disappointed some by running a slower than expected 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, but my guess is he’s still the first CB off the board come draft day.  The overall ability he has is too much to pass up.  He’s also the best tackling corner to come out in quite some time.  Also on the cornerback list is USF’s Jerome Murphy.  Murphy is even being touted as a possible first-round pick.  I have to admit, I’m very surprised by this.  I’ll do my best not to bash Murphy, but he is a very up-and-down talent.  He possesses great speed and is a ball-hawk who can be a game changer, but discipline on the field is an issue.  At times during his career, Murphy was out of position and has serious issues with penalties.  And not your run of the mill penalties either.  Not to say Murphy can’t make it in the NFL and after a few years become a serviceable CB, but I’m not sure he’s truly worth a high draft pick.  At safety, Nate Allen is expected to go somewhere in the first three rounds.  Allen is one of the more disciplined players out there and was an underrated star on the Bulls’ defense.  He will be one of the most missed members of the team once the 2010 season opens.  Allen has the skills and game intelligence to be in the NFL for a long time.
John Brantley may not be Tim Tebow 2.0, but in some ways he could be Tim Tebow 1.5.  As Brantley gets ready to take over as the Gators’ starting quarterback, he admits he isn’t the second coming of Tebow, but is ready to make his own mark on the University of Florida.  Right away, you can tell he plays the game differently.  Much more of a drop-back passer, Brantley will bring a new dimension to the Gator offense.  Expect the way Florida aired it out during the Sugar Bowl to become much more common.  He mentions he won’t scramble as much as #15 did, as if we didn’t already know that.  What he does hope to bring that he learned from three years with Tebow is to be more of a vocal leader and that a good work ethic is a definite plus.  As I’ve mentioned, I can’t wait for the Brantley era to start.  Some people seem to think that means I wasn’t a fan of Tim Tebow.  That couldn’t be less true.  It means I’m fully capable of adjusting to new players.  Tebow will always be one of the greatest to put on a Gator uniform, but last time I checked, he won’t be doing so again.  Time to get ready for what the next guy brings to the table.
With junior days all the rage in college recruiting these days, a few seem to wish the entire process would slow down.  Most of the big schools conduct junior days in order to get the next crop of prospects on campus as quick as possible and hopefully committed.  Texas, for instance, already has 17 players committed as part of the 2011 recruiting class.  13 of those were attendees of their first junior day of the year.  But a few schools still don’t go through the process.  Penn State doesn’t have a junior day, because coaches like to invite prospects individually to come visit the campus.  They like to do their research on a recruit before inviting him to see the school and football program.  Tom Bradley – Penn State’s defensive coordinator – wishes the entire process would slow down.  As he states, the way it is now, you can basically only determine what a kid can do on the field.  You don’t have time to look at the kid’s character or background because the scholarship offers come fast and plenty and before you know it, the kid has given his verbal to a rival.  As a recruiting follower, I enjoy today’s process because it gives me plenty to do during the offseason.  As a fan of a school that has had some issues with character over the past few years, I think slowing down may be a good idea.  Of course, I’m perfectly fine knowing there are two recent National Championship trophies on display.
I don’t know nearly enough people with unique names.  For example, I don’t know a Jaybo.  I know a couple Jays.  I even have friends who know a Bo or two.  But alas, no Jaybo.  That was just a roundabout way of telling you Jaybo Shaw is leaving Georgia Tech.  Not wanting to spend yet another year behind starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt, Shaw will transfer to Georgia Southern where he’ll have two years of eligibility.  And that was just a roundabout way of telling you I predict big things for GT in 2010.  Which probably means you should stay as far away from the Yellow Jackets as you can.  Good picks don’t typically happen around here.  You’ve been warned.
Today’s list has nothing to do with football.  I can’t say why.  But I can’t say why not either.  Just a list.  Enjoy.  Don’t.  It’s up to you, but it is the list.  Name still pending.
1. Remember when practically everyone had a White Sox hat?

The Sixth Man: We’re getting dangerously close to that point where Florida is knocked out of contention for a NCAA Tournament bid.  With this weekend’s loss to Georgia and last night’s loss to Vanderbilt, the Gators may need a miracle to make it in.  If that miracle comes in the form of a win over Kentucky on Sunday, so be it.  Over the last 11 games (I go to 11, because there is a belief the selection committee looks at the last 12 games a team plays, not just the last 10), Florida is 6-5 with a chance to be either 7-5 or 6-6 depending on the outcome against the Wildcats.  Last season, the Gators were 6-6 in their last 12 regular season games (also 6-6 if you push those 12 to include the SEC Tournament).  Their overall record of 23-10 wasn’t enough to get them in.  The year before that, Florida was 5-7 in their final 12 (4-8 if you include the conference tourney).  A 21-11 record wasn’t good enough that year.  The Gators currently sit at 20-10 and while I do believe miracles can happen, I find it hard to imagine Florida going on a ridiculous run and winning the SEC Tournament.  Stranger things have occurred, but let’s not count on it.  Florida does have some good wins this season and some losses that they realistically should’ve lost, but then there are also the ones the selection committee could remember.  People may point to Richmond, but the Spiders aren’t a bad team.  The real ones to look at are South Alabama and Georgia.  With just those two going the other way, the Gators would be in a much better position.  As it now stands, an upset over Kentucky AND a couple of wins in the conference tourney may be needed.  If anything, this has been a fun team to watch.  At least more so than the versions we cheered for during the previous two seasons.  I don’t want to cash in my chips just yet, but I’m looking forward to next season.

The Long Snapper (2/23/10)

The Jim Leavitt saga is not going to end.  At least not anytime soon.  Leavitt wants his good name restored money and his attorneys are stopping at nothing to get it.  Attorneys for both sides met this weekend but have not come to a resolution.  USF’s stance is that it fired Leavitt with cause and therefore owes him just one month’s pay.  His attorneys say it was without cause due to their belief the investigation into the incident which occurred with player Joel Miller was conducted unfairly.  They are seeking he be paid a figure closer to the 75% of his full contract value as stipulated by said contract if he were dismissed without cause.  The two figures are vastly different – roughly $67,000 compared to $7.5 million.  Obviously a difference Leavitt wants to fight for.  Whether the investigation was conducted fairly or not, I have to think the fight is casting a larger black eye on Leavitt than on USF.  There are those that may still believe he was dismissed unjustly and those that believe he built the program and although should have been let go should be given his due, but the majority seems to have moved on to Skip Holtz and now regards Leavitt as yesterday’s news.  The possibility of a settlement seems to increase weekly and is probably how all of this will end up.  At this point, it may be in the best interest of both parties to come to an agreement and just move on.  Nothing good can come out of an ongoing fight.
Skip Holtz has finalized his coaching staff at USF with the hiring of new offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler.  The coaching staff breaks down with four coaches coming over from Holtz’s last stomping ground, ECU, and four being retained from the previous Bulls’ staff.  Five if you count Carl Franks who will not be a coach per say, but will be given an administrative role to remain with the program.  With the 2010 recruiting class signed and the coaching staff now in place, Holtz and crew move on to preparing for the upcoming season.  With talent returning at several key offensive positions, USF will be expected to again compete in the Big East.  A conference title is probably out of the question in Holtz’s first year, but don’t be surprised if the Bulls pull off a signature win here or there.  While USF never experienced the highest level of Big East success, a new coach isn’t in place because the last one failed.  It’s not a rebuilding situation, but more of a tweaking.  USF was a consistent bowl team who will now be expected to take the next step under Holtz.  He has many of the tools necessary to succeed in place and will look to build the others.  The biggest of course will be playing hard through an entire season.  You can bet on the second half collapses of the past to be something the new staff keys on and looks to eliminate.
Bad economy be damned, people will still spend $9,000 on eyeglasses if they please.  At least that’s what two Penn State alums are willing to give up in order to own the famous glasses of legendary head coach Joe Paterno.  Paterno recently had surgery to improve his vision and no longer needs the glasses that defined part of his historic look.  He’ll still need spectacles to read, but probably won’t be seen in anything similar to what he wore for years.  So his old ones immediately became a desired piece of sports memorabilia.  Very desirable at that.  I’m not sure how much I’d pay for a Steve Spurrier visor or an Urban Meyer windbreaker.  I guess if I had the money at my disposal and it was going to a good enough cause, it would be something to consider, but I’d imagine my limit would be far below $9,000.  Of course, having Joe Paterno’s glasses on a shelf is definitely a conversation starter.  Let’s just hope there are no drunken Halloween parties in the purchaser’s future.  That’s an expensive accessory to lose or break during an alcohol-induced haze.
The subject of Oregon receiver Jamere Holland’s Facebook tirade – Duck’s linebacker Kristian Kiko Alonso – has been suspended for the entirety of the 2010 season.  Not quite the dismissal Holland believed had occurred, but a fairly large punishment nonetheless.  In response to being arrested for DUI, Alonso will remain part of the Oregon program in some capacity, but will not play during the upcoming season.  I’d imagine Holland would still be with the team too if he hadn’t prematurely jumped to conclusions concerning Alonso’s fate.  The Ducks continue to take hits in the player conduct department.  I’m not about to start throwing stones, but it can’t be a fun time to be an Oregon fan.  That said, for every fan that cringes when an arrest is announced, there is a fan who could care less what happens off the field.
After putting a record 48.8 million people in seats for games during the 2008 season, college football attendance numbers dipped slightly in 2009 to 48.3 million.  Not a very significant decrease, but a decrease all the same.  You can link it to the economy all you want and you’d probably be right for the most part, but I have to think it could also have something to do with increased options for viewing games.  I enjoy going to games from time to time, but also enjoy having friends over to watch multiple games just as much.  There is little that can match the feeling of being in a stadium for a big game (I was at both the 1997 Florida/FSU game and the 2006 Florida/South Carolina game), but I’m also not someone who goes to every home game.  Maybe it’s that I enjoy the sport as a whole.  There’s no way I’d miss catching a Gator or Bull game, but at the same time, I don’t want to miss other big matchups either.  On a big weekend, I’d be just as comfortable with three televisions running the entire day with all the great games going.

CBSSports.com BlogPoll – Final – First Take

As usual, your thoughts appreciated.
The last poll of the season.  Provide your thoughts if you must.  The final will be posted on Monday.
1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. Florida (+2)
4. Boise State (+2)
5. TCU (-2)
6. Ohio State (+2)
7. Iowa (+2)
8. Cincinnati (-4)
9. Penn State (+1)
10. BYU (+6)
11. Oregon (-4)
12. Virginia Tech
13. Pittsburgh (+1)
14. Nebraska (+8)
15. Wisconsin (+5)
16. Georgia Tech (-5)
17. Utah (+2)
18. LSU (-5)
19. USC (+6)
20. Ole Miss
21. Texas Tech
22. Central Michigan
23. Miami (-8)
24. Oklahoma State (-6)
25. West Virginia (-8)