The State of the Swamp – 6/11/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

The State of the Swamp is a day late and it looks like that was a good thing. Sometimes the star align and missing a (self-imposed) deadline works out. There is big news sweeping the sports world and Gator Nation and it focuses on no one other than Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow - New England Patriots

Tebow has signed a two-year deal with the New England Patriots. The former Florida star will get another shot at the NFL, and with one of the league’s top franchises. Only one week after we were led to believe Tebow’s NFL career may have come to an end, it’s been given a jumpstart by Bill Belichick and the Pats. Tebow has a great chance to make the roster, though at what position remains to be seen. There is something about his drive and determination that made three NFL seasons seem like too few. Tebow may never make it as a full-time quarterback in the league, but Belichick and New England will give him the opportunity to play the game at the highest level again. There will be those in favor of this and, as always with Tebow, there will be detractors, but there will be no end to Tebowmania. (At least not anytime soon.)

J.C. Jackson makes the right choice, commits to Florida. After deciding that Florida State wasn’t the right fit, Jackson–a cornerback out of Immokalee, FL (Immokalee)–flipped to the Gators. ($) Florida was always on the top of Jackson’s list, but his train was derailed temporarily. He has now made the decision he was expected to make all along. The Gators’ pursuit of Jackson and the fact that Florida plays in the SEC were deciding factors for the CB. (And why wouldn’t they be?) He maintains that this latest commitment is solid, but we’ll rest easy come National Signing Day. Not that I’m no confident in his commitment, but…well…recruiting…

Add another to the list; Taven Bryan is the latest Gator. Florida went much farther than Immokalee to nab their latest commitment. On Tuesday, Bryan–an offensive tackle from Casper, WY (Natrona County)–was added to the 2014 class. At 6’5″, 250 lbs., Bryan has the height to play on the line at the next level, but needs to add a good deal of bulk. At 250, SEC defensive lines will eat him up. At 350, he could be a valuable asset in the nation’s top conference. Bryan has plenty of offers from out west, but decided to make the trek to Gainesville. And I can’t really blame him.

Keep an eye on Adoree’ Jackson. He won’t make his decision known until National Signing day, but keep an eye on one of the nation’s top athletes. Jackson is another cornerback very interested in the Gators’ football program ($) and also Florida’s recent men’s track and field outdoor championship. He would like to compete in both at the college level and Florida’s success with both programs is a plus. There are plenty of others hoping to land the star, but the Gators are among the few that stand a real chance. Jackson wants to visit Florida for the Gators’ final regular season game against Florida State.

Scottie Wilbekin suspended, again. The Gators’ point guard has violated team rules again and has subsequently been suspended again. Wilbekin missed the first three games of the 2012-13 season due to a suspension, meaning this one could see him out for more time. Billy Donovan can’t be happy with the PG and fans aren’t either, although many think this might mean a clearer path to playing time for super recruit Kasey Hill.

With the 20th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft the Detroit Tigers select junior pitcher Jonathon Crawford. Not expected to return for his senior season, Crawford’s fate was sealed when the Tigers drafted him in the first round. In other news, the Boston Red Sox drafted Gators’ starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the 29th round. While Crawford is leaving, I’m guessing Driskel will remain in Gainesville for a while longer.

The men’s track and field squad wins the NCAA Outdoor Championship. Mentioned ever so briefly above, I have to give a round of applause to the men’s track team for bringing home the trophy for the second year in a row. Good job gentlemen. Go Gators!

The State of the Swamp – 6/3/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

The coverage of the Florida Gators’ baseball team has been nothing better than nonexistent this season. Not from the many other sites out there that update you with a frequency that rivals the releases of new The Fast and the Furious movies, but from the staff here at The Bull Gator. We went hard one season ago when it came to baseball coverage, but couldn’t find our footing just one year later. The season wasn’t missed, it just wasn’t covered. So it’s sad to take a dive into orange and blue baseball at a time when the season is over.

Florida Gators Baseball Season Ends

On Saturday, the Gators were eliminated from the NCAA Regionals after a 5-4 loss to Valparaiso. Florida gave up a 4-1 lead and with it their season. With such roster turnover from last season to this (and a number of injuries), it was hard to imagine the Gators truly being in the hunt for the championship, but we like to dream. This isn’t how we wanted the dream to end, but one we must accept. Go Gators. Until next season.

Leron Black is one of the most sought after recruits in the 2014 basketball class, and the Gators want him. Black still has a number of teams on his list of possibilities, but Florida is among those pushing the hardest for him at the moment. Some think the recent commitment of point guard Chris Chiozza has given the Gators the edge, but that may not be the case. Black and Chiozza play together on the same AAU squad and Black only has good things to say about Chiozza, but his decision won’t be swayed. Black wants to take visits to his top choices and go wherever his heart and his faith lead him. If it is Gainesville, Black would fit into Billy Donovan’s system as a combo forward that likes to run.

I didn’t know you could be named a “Great Floridian,” but count Steve Spurrier among them. The former Gator great–as both a player and coach–was presented with the honor last week in The Swamp. To put myself even further out of touch, Tim Tebow, Derrick Brooks and Tony Dungy have all been named Great Floridians as well. In fact, Spurrier was the 71st individual to receive the designation. I suppose this is to be expected when I spend more time reading about Serie A than I do about my own area. Anyway, Spurrier is well deserving of the honor for all he accomplished during his various football-related times in the state.

Hey look, it’s Bam Hardmon. On Thursday, Hardmon joined the Idaho coaching staff, being named the Vandals’ defensive line coach. The former Gators’ linebacker is trying to make a name for himself among the coaching ranks. After spending three seasons under Ron Zook at Illinois, Hardmon moved on to Charleston Southern to coordinate special team and coach the outside linebackers. Hardmon and Idaho head coach Paul Petrino spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons at Illinois together. Best of luck to Hardmon as he continues to further his career in football.

I smiled when Jeff Demps was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even if it meant the former Gators’ star would never suit up for my NFL team of choice. Demps continues to pursue his track career first and foremost, even with the Bucs hoping he’ll one day join the team. Tampa Bay is supportive of what Demps does on the track though and seems fine with the speedster pursuing that dream. We don’t know if we’ll ever see Demps in a Bucs’ uniform–or any other NFL uniform for that matter–but we should be seeing him in some of the world’s largest track events in the coming years. One way or another, news about Demps succeeding in one of the sports he excels at will keep coming.

And finally, the story I couldn’t leave off the list. The Tim Tebow train was kickstarted once again when this piece came out last week. There are those that believe Tebow’s NFL career has come to an end, those that won’t ever go as far as to speak such blasphemy, and those that honestly don’t care at this point. Take any side and you’re sure to find yourself in a debate with those that have taken the others. Regardless, one fact remains: Tebow is currently a free agent and there is more than one reason why. Among them is the belief among those inside the NFL coaching and scouting ranks that he can’t succeed as a quarterback at the professional level. Then there’s also the media storm that comes with Tebow wherever he goes. Tebow–through no fault of his own–was considered a distraction during the 2012 as a member of the New York Jets. Although I would argue the Jets as a whole were the distraction. There’s still a chance Tebow ends up somewhere. A team out there may invite him to camp and it’s hard to imagine he’s given up the dream just yet, but we are unlikely to see Tebow as a 16-game starter in the league. With each passing day, we may not even see him on a roster. Wherever Tebow ends up–in the NFL or not–we’ll always have the orange and blue days and moments like this to remember.

The State of the Swamp – 5/28/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

I embark on a new mission. One which consists of scheduled articles that actually post when promised. As discussed many times in the past, these types of posts don’t make it very far here at The Bull Gator. Life has a way of wanting your attention just when you sit down to let you mind focus on the task at hand. Over the past 10 and a half months, life has been a blessing for me. I have spent that time with the most amazing son a man could ask for. Lil’ TBG is doing well and making me smile every day.

They say you make sacrifices when you enter the world of parenthood. For me, that sacrifice has been this website. That’s not a complaint; it’s actually a sacrifice I would make over and over and over again. I’m fine with that, even if that does mean less time with my outlet for all things Florida Gators. But time and time again, I come crawling back to the comfort of this now five-year-old blog. This is one of those times.

I hope to turn The State of the Swamp into a weekly column in which I take a look at recent orange and blue news and offer my opinion. I wouldn’t put money on it popping up every Monday if I were you, but I’m taking my shot. At the least, I can offer this one piece. At the best…well, we have yet to see what the best might be. With that, here’s the first of The State of the Swamp.

Dominique Easley - Florida Gators

Happy Memorial Day. I’m a day behind, hence the reason for this piece posting on a Tuesday and not a Monday. I hope you all had a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. For those that made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country, our hats are off and are hearts are with you.

David Lee, All-NBA. I’ll move outside of The Swamp for the first bit of Gator news. (That’s something that’s not new here, but will continue. Men’s basketball right alongside football.) The Golden State Warriors forward made the All-NBA team for the first time in his career. Lee was named to the third team after averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. He also led the NBA with 56 double-doubles over the course of the regular season. Lee was the first Warrior named to the All-NBA team since the 1993-94 season and the first to lead the league in double-doubles since 1963-64. With Lee and others like Bradley Beal, Al Horford and Joakim Noah performing night in and night out in the NBA, the Gainesville to the pros pipeline looks alive and well. Kudos to Lee on a great season. One that saw the Warriors in the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.

Two decommitments in five days. Christian Miller and Ryeshene Bronson are no longer members of the Gators’ 2014 football recruiting class. In a span of five days, both decommitted from Florida. Miller’s decommitment stings the most because it could be considered a true decommitment. However, don’t count out Miller just yet. Florida is still in the picture along with Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. Miller believes he reacted a little too soon and would like to take some more time to think about his final decision. Bronson, on the other hand, may have been a forced decommitment. There were concerns over the academic side of things with the wide receiver and many believe when new WR coach Joker Phillips recently visited Bronson it was to tell the recruit that he should look elsewhere. Expect the Gators to fight long and hard for Miller, but we’ve probably heard the last of Bronson being associated with the class.

Take two away, bring one in. While the Gators lost Miller and Bronson, they were hard at work adding a tight end to the class. C’Yontai Lewis–a TE from Tuscaloosa, AL–committed to Florida ($), becoming the eighth member of the 2014 class. 247Sports gives Lewis three stars while Rivals gives the TE two. While Lewis’s rankings may not impress, his 6’5″, 212-pound frame has Florida interested. He could be a climber and won’t be the only TE the Gators look to add to the class. It doesn’t hurt that Lewis’s cousin is Bo Scarbrough, one of the nation’s top athlete prospects. Scarbrough is committed to Alabama, but will visit Florida this summer. I’m not extremely confident we can pull him from the Crimson Tide, but Lewis’s commitment at least cracks open the door.

Jarran Reed isn’t coming to Gainesville. Yet. The junior college defensive tackle won’t be joining his classmates in Gainesville for the Summer B semester, but Reed plans on making his way to Florida eventually. Reed is 25 credit hours short from earning his AA. Those required hours will keep him at East Mississippi Community College through December, but he’s confident he will one day be a Gator. We should see the DT in orange and blue one day, but not as soon as we may have once thought.

It’s going to be a hot one. Those of you planning to make the trip to Miami to watch the Gators take on the Hurricanes on September 7 better be prepared for the heat. Due to a NASCAR event and another choice for the night game, ESPN has put Florida and Miami in the noon slot. It’s going to be a little toasty, so keep the water coming for this one. Although those of you attending the season opener in Gainesville against Toledo won’t have any sympathy for those making the drive south. Kickoff time hasn’t been announced for the opener, but there’s a good chance it will be an early game as well.

Urban Meyer doesn’t regret leaving Florida, but regrets the way he did so. Meyer’s departure will continue to come up as long as he’s still involved with college football. The Ohio State head coach recently said that the way it all happened wasn’t ideal, but it was time to move on. We just can’t quit you Urban Meyer. Or, actually, we can. And most of us have. I won’t bring up the Meyer debate yet again, but as we enter year three with Will Muschamp at the helm, we have other things to think about.