Pittsburgh Steelers Release Chris Rainey After The Former Florida Star’s Arrest

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released running back Chris Rainey, only hours after his recent arrest. The former Florida Gators’ star was arrested on a simple battery account earlier on Thursday.

Chris Rainey Mugshot

Witnesses saw Rainey pull his girlfriend from a vehicle and then slap her. She ran away, but Rainey chased her to retrieve his cell phone. Upon catching up with her, both were knocked to the ground. According to police, Rainey admitted to attempting to get his phone back, but denied hitting his girlfriend. He went on to say she fell out of the car when he reached for her purse which contained his phone. Witnesses had a different account of the situation.

Rainey was mostly used as a kick returner during his rookie season in the NFL. The Steelers were quick to act, stating that Rainey’s actions were disappointing and he was no longer a member of their organization.

Preview: Florida Gators Vs. Kentucky Wildcats; Gators Look To Replicate Magic Of Seasons Past

The Florida Gators play host to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in an SEC game that has had a very familiar outcome of the years. For the last 25 seasons, the Gators have won this contest and the last four haven’t been close.

2008 marked the second-straight season during which the teams would meet in October instead of September. It confused those of us that don’t do well with change, but the result wouldn’t deviate from what we were used to. The Gators scored 63 points on only 446 yards of offense. Not that 446 yards is a small number, but 63 points is usually accompanied by much more. The first half was good to the Gators. Florida was up 28-0 at the end of the first 15 and headed to the locker room with a 42-3 advantage. A redshirt freshman quarterback that went by the name John Brantley even got into the action, finding David Nelson for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

The game would return to September in 2009 and the Gators would get out of the gate on fire yet again. 31-0 after the first quarter had us believing we could see records set on that day. Urban Meyer called off the dogs though and Florida would only add 10 more throughout the final 45 minutes to win 41-7. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow would only attempt 10 passes during the game, but would rush for 123 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Gators to victory. Brantley, now a redshirt sophomore, would come in late once again and add another fourth quarter touchdown pass, this time to Riley Cooper. This was the famous Tebow concussion game. For many long minutes, as Tebow lay motionless on the field, we thought the season and even his Florida career may be over. We all know now, it wasn’t.

Before the game in 2010, Florida and Kentucky came to an agreement that touchdowns would only count if scored by players wearing the number eight. 60 minutes and nine touchdowns later, both teams had lived up to the bargain. Fortunately for the Gators, their No. 8s were just a tad better. Freshman Trey Burton was introduced to the nation, scoring six times. Burton ran for five touchdowns and caught another (from Brantley; for those keeping track at home, that’s touchdown passes in three consecutive Kentucky games for the quarterback). Jeremy Brown – wearing No. 8 on defense – even got into the action with a 52-yard interception return for a score. The Wildcats had a solid No. 8 of their own – Chris Matthews – but could only get him into the end zone twice as the Gators prevailed 48-14.

2011 would be the game to rival all rushing games. The Gators would put up 405 yards on the ground in the 48-10 victory. Jeff Demps would lead the way with 157 rushing yards. He was followed by Chris Rainey who also went over 100 with 105. The current starter – Mike Gillislee – came close to joining the club with 84. Overall, seven non-quarterbacks would get carries. Brantley would only need to attempt 14 passes, but he would again get his one touchdown, a first quarter toss to Gerald Christian.

This time around should be no different. I hate saying “should be” because that generally means it will be different. The Gators need a victory and seem poised to delivery one. The Wildcats aren’t expected to make much noise this season and shouldn’t pose much of a threat; however, we’ve all seen games before where Florida has won, but in far from spectacular fashion. This is that game where spectacular fashion would go oh so far. Bye week ahead followed by LSU. A big win will carry momentum into the coming weeks.

We’ve seen a team improving right before our eyes and are excited for the future. Today isn’t about the future, it’s about the Kentucky Wildcats. Another Saturday, another win on the horizon. Go Gators!

Chris Rainey Drafted No. 159 Overall By Pittsburgh Steelers

With the 24th pick in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft (No. 159 overall) Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Pittsburgh, Rainey will join former his former Florida teammates Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert.

Rainey was expected by many to be drafted, but there was a range on exactly where he would fall. Some said the former star could go as high as the second round, while others saw him sneaking into the draft late. In the fifth round, the Steelers – who have had some success with former Gators – took a chance on the speedster.

The remainder of the draft went as expected with Rainey and defensive lineman Jaye Howard not being joined by any additional former Gators. The 2012 draft would mark the first since 1993 that the first three rounds didn’t feature a Florida athlete. We wish both Rainey and Howard the best of luck, but hope 2013 is more kind to the Gators.

Round 1 Of The NFL Draft Ends; Former Florida Gators Wait

Round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft came and went on Thursday night and as expected no former Florida Gators were selected. It wasn’t surprising, but to many indicates just how far the Gators have fallen off the map.

That’s true, but it also isn’t. College talent doesn’t always equal NFL talent. It’s a different game and employs different types of players. A great college player doesn’t always become a great NFL player, but it can have a link to recent success or a lack thereof. There’s a reason Florida, Florida State and Miami were all shut out in the first round for the first time since 1980. Alabama on the other hand; well, you only have to look at the top seven picks. Where the biggest link comes to life is when you look at the Gators record over the last two seasons. Programs that go 15-11 end up in a situation like this.

A Gator will eventually go, but the question is when. Jaye Howard and Chris Rainey are the likely candidates. Howard’s potential and strength have some teams interested, while Rainey’s speed and overall skill set could push him into the first half of the draft. They’re both expected to be selected, but we have no educated idea of when that will happen. Some say Rainey could go as high as the second round or as low as the fourth. Howard is a likely sixth or seventh round pick.

That they will be the only former Florida players drafted says something about the recent roster, but again it doesn’t. It says something about the NFL talent level. Of course, in the SEC, that can mean much of the same. While we’d all like to see Gators fly off the board each year come draft time, we’re much more concerned with how they play when they suit up for Florida.

Jeff Demps, Jaye Howard And Chris Rainey Invited To NFL Combine

Jeff Demps, Jaye Howard and Chris Rainey have been invited to participate in the NFL Combine in preparation for the 2012 NFL Draft. The former Florida Gators have a chance to improve their draft stock by participating in the various drills offered at the combine. For all three, it presents a good opportunity to be seen in front of a number of NFL scouts, and that’s where it gets interesting.

It would seem like it’s a no-brainier for Howard and Rainey to accept their invitations. The defensive lineman and running back/returner are both looking to continue their playing careers, but have some work to do before the draft. Participating gives them the opportunity to potentially move up the draft boards of some teams. “All three” is a different story though.

During January, Demps announced that he was done with football and would not be persuing a career in the sport. Instead, he was shifting his efforts toward track and focusing on his future there. It was thought of as a wise decision at the time as many believe track presents him with the best career opportunity. With the invite to the combine, might he be reconsidering? It’s doubtful, but it’s hard to imagine it hasn’t at least crossed his mind.

Florida Gators 24 – Ohio State Buckeyes 17: Winning Record Secured With Gator Bowl Victory

How nice is it to win? The answer is very nice. Regardless of the circumstances or situation, a win can become a moment of happiness or at the very least relief that’s much needed and desired. In this instance, it meant 7-6 and not 6-7 for the Florida Gators. Defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl 24-17 secured a winning record for Will Muschamp is his first year as a head coach. The season was far from pretty, but it ended on a positive note. A win is a win.

To say the Gators improved to 7-6 could be construed as reaching, but that’s what the bowl season is about. The last hurrah for your team. You’re hoping to hold on to that final moment, those 60 remaining minutes before your team goes into hibernation. It can be a joyous occasion or one to forget. In Florida’s case it became one lasting memory for the seniors and something to carry those players that will be back for 2012 into the spring semester. Again, a win is a win and winning is good.

A loss would have meant the first losing season for the Gators since 1979. While that didn’t happen, a longer streak was broken. The Buckeyes hadn’t lost seven games in a season since 1897. 1979 is the year I was born. I’m going to venture a guess and say no one reading this was around in 1897. Then again, I haven’t looked at the Google Analytics in quite some time.

Special teams won it for Florida and the defense did its part. Andre Debose provide the spark with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. You can credit Debose’s speed, but his blockers deserve the applause. You could describe it as a thing of beauty when a play unfolds like that. The other special teams highlight was aggression at its best. Sending the house after the punter resulted in Chris Rainey blocking another one. You think Graham Stewart thought he’d find himself in the end zone during this one? Probably not.

The Florida defense took a page from the Gators’ national championship victory over the Buckeyes five years ago. Pressure the Ohio State quarterback relentlessly and force him to beat you. Braxton Miller didn’t and the defense was able to contain the Buckeyes and limit the big play.

With the long break upon us, I’m sure we’ll talk about this victory more, but for now just enjoy it. As with many others, the real world comes back into the picture on Tuesday. For a few more hours, I can live in the moment of the win.

The Gator Bowl: Confidence Is…

I awoke this morning from my holiday coma and realized I really don’t know what to think about the Gator Bowl. I know John Brantley’s final game as the Florida Gators’ quarterback won’t reach the must-see levels of Tim Tebow’s. I know the Jeff Demps/Chris Rainey Acceleration Hour is about to air its final episode. I know Urban Meyer isn’t yet the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Basically, I know the facts. But I don’t know what to think about Florida’s chances to finish the 2011 season with a winning record. Just as equally, I have no idea whether Ohio State will be able to do the same.

The holiday season has treated me well so far. I hope it has done the same for the Gators. There was no offensive coordinator under the Christmas tree, which leads us down the continued path of patience. We already know to wait until after the Gator Bowl before the identity of the new play caller will be revealed. Names thrown out there have been less than impressive with many fans hoping to see Brian White remain in the position he is temporarily holding. Others hope Kerwin Bell can find his way back to Gainesville. Both seem like viable candidates and worthy choices, but are we hyping those because we’ve heard the others? Mike Shula? Greg Davis?
One present that was delivered and placed nicely on the doorstep was Jeff Dillman. Dillman comes by way of IMG’s Performance Institute and before that Appalachian State and LSU. He’ll replace Mickey Marotti as the new strength and conditioning coach. For those concerned or merely wondering whether Dillman can cut it, I’ve heard good things about his intensity and focus. He’s liked and respected among the lifting-heavy-things community and should be a good addition. We’ll see his impact in the fourth quarter of games when players would typically start to gasp for breaths of air. Rainey, for instance, did many great things in a Gators’ uniform, but “winded” could have been an accurate description at many times.
As for the Gator Bowl, my confidence is non-existent. Not in the way that I can’t foresee any possible chance of a Florida victory, but in the way that I need to spend the next few days and really, truly think about the game ahead. Florida is favored by two, which means about as much as me declaring the odds of a Gators’ receiver catching a touchdown pass at five-to-one. Without Charlie Weis, we don’t know what we’ll see from the offense. With him, we didn’t either. Will Muschamp surely doesn’t want to be the first coach since Charley Pell went 0-10-1 the year yours truly came into the world to have a losing record, but no one can guarantee 7-6.
We’ll watch the game and at times we’ll cheer and at times we’ll yell. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll still be Florida fans when we wake up on January 3. For now, I’ll be comforted in the fact that there’s plenty of college football to still be played even though the offseason is fast approaching. One more chance to see the seniors and an opportunity to beat a rapidly growing rival.

The Gators Need For Running Backs Increases With Mike Davis’s Decommitment

On Sunday, Mike Davis announced he was no longer committed to the Florida Gators. The announcement wasn’t a surprise as rumors had been brewing for weeks regarding Davis’s displeasure with the coaching staff’s pursuit of other running backs. While Davis’s loss specifically may be tough to swallow, the loss of a committed running back makes it impossible to keep down.

The Gators experienced numerous injuries to their running backs over the course of 2011. Add that to the fact the Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey will be gone and you have a heightened need for depth. It now starts with Matt Jones, but must continue with at least one more commitment at the position.

For more on Davis’s decommitment and Florida’s need at the position during the current recruiting cycle, check out my piece on the matter at Alligator Army.

Will Muschamp to the Wide Receivers: "You Got to Get Open."

The Florida wide receivers have been a topic of discussion all season long. After 10 games, the Gators’ leading pass catchers are a running back – Chris Rainey with 335 yards – and tight end – Jordan Reed with 24 receptions. To make matters worse, the leaders at the wide receiver position are Andre Debose with 272 yards and Deonte Thompson with 17 receptions. 10 games have passed; you can do the quick math to figure out the somewhat pitiful averages.

Blame has been placed everywhere at this point. We’ve discussed the offensive line at length throughout the season and we’ve also mentioned the quarterbacks’ inability to get the ball to the receivers. But what about those wide receivers themselves? What can they do to become part of the offensive attack? Will Muschamp thinks the answer is right in front of them: they have to get open.

During Wednesday’s SEC press conference, Muschamp mentioned the receivers and a need for consistency from the unit. He also keyed in on two points: getting open and making catches. Muschamp discussed the need for the receivers to get seperation from man-to-man coverage and put themselves in a position to make plays. He said drops have hurt the Gators and he went back to the one word that could end up defining Florida’s season – inconsistency.

Maybe Muschamp is right; he is the head coach after all. The offensive line does need to hold up and the quarterbacks do need to get the ball out quicker, but without the wide receivers putting themselves in the position to make plays, it’s all for naught. Youth is not an excuse. Thompson, Frankie Hammond, Omarius Hines and even Debose have been around for long enough regardless of a new system. Quinton Dunbar is the youth, but much more was expected from the redshirt freshman. Inexperience can’t be blamed. It’s past the time for the receivers to step up; that was months ago. It’s now time for them to make a quick leap and a big one. With two games left – and possibly a third – eight wins can’t even be whispered in passing without this unit making plays. Seven may even be a stretch.

South Carolina Gamecocks 17 – Florida Gators 12: Another Loss, Another Series of Frustrations

I find it hard to put Florida’s latest defeat into words, but I’ll try for a number of reasons. The first reason is, although this is a few days late, I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a flight that doesn’t leave until twenty after midnight, so what else am I going to do. The second is because the Gators are yet again .500 with a grim immediate future.

Saturday’s game brought an amount of pain to fans that was all too familiar. There’s little frustration involved with winning 30 of 32 games over a span of two full seasons and the first third of another. Even if you saw some holes in the offense that could impact the future, you were still looking at back-to-back 13-1 seasons followed by a 4-0 start in 2010. Frustrated that they lost those two games? I’ll take that frustration every day of the week.

Oh how things have changed. Florida has played 19 games since that time and has a record of 9-10 in those 19 contests. That’s not the worst part though. No, the worst part is that little has shown that that mark will improve any time soon. Against Furman, the Gators are the favorites, but wins over instate rival FSU and a bowl game opponent are far from guaranteed. If the play of the offense against South Carolina is any indication, things will get worse before they get better.

Let’s go through the rundown, but be warned, it’s not pretty. You should know that by now. You’ve watched the games and read the reviews. You should be quite aware that this team has a far road to travel before dreams of even 10-win seasons are realized again. Against the Gamecocks, offensive line play was atrocious, a passing game was non-existent, and we saw the Gators play another game without wide receivers. Harsh? Maybe, but maybe not enough. Even the lone bright spot – Chris Rainey, who finished with 132 yards on the ground and another 30 receiving – brought about frustration because of what more he could have done with consistent blocking.

I’ve been kind to the offensive line for the most part this season. I’ve harped that they were the key and needed to improve week after week after week, but I’ve still been kind. That has to stop now. The line is battling injuries, yes, but there has to be a point where improvement is seen. 10 games in and that hasn’t happened. Why? It’s not a sarcastic or mean-spirited question; it’s a serious one. Why hasn’t the line improved? Is it a case of drastically wrong recruiting rankings? Too much of a change from one offensive system to the next? A true lack of talent? We could talk about how John Brantley only passed for 119 yards and spent another afternoon relying on his tight ends and running backs because the receivers weren’t doing their part, but how much time did he have to make decisions in critical moments? We could have assumed the line would struggle. There was limited overall experience and even less, if any, experience playing together. However, none of us expected it to still be an issue 10 games into the season. Injuries or not, there has to be improvement somewhere. In this case, there isn’t.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has trouble stopping the run, but they all but eliminated the pass. Say what you want about the young defensive backs, but South Carolina star receiver Alshon Jeffery had two catches for 17 yards. Even the big pass play of the day – a 46-yard strike from Connor Shaw to Ace Sanders – was a near-perfect throw that few could have defended. But there is the matter of stopping the run; a matter that focuses directly on angles yet again. A simple fundamental of football is that you can’t tackle someone if you’re running to where he was instead of where he’s going to be. Time after time, Florida defenders were misjudging angles and allowing Shaw and Brandon Wilds to gain extra yards. Without Marcus Lattimore in the lineup, the Gamecocks run game was supposed to be stalled against the Gators. Um, South Carolina ran the ball 52 times for 215 yards. That’s not stalled. That’s a fully functioning engine with a brand new battery.

There’s definitely more to cover, but you already experienced it. Why bring too much of it up again days later when we may have to revisit it all in a couple of weeks? The loss was ugly. Ugly because for the reasons listed above and those others that don’t appear here. Tougher to swallow because it was another game that despite poor play in areas, Florida was in until the end. 6-4 doesn’t sound much better than 5-5. How does 7-3 sounds? Or how about 8-2? The Gators are now looking at a best-case scenario of matching last season’s 8-5 record. That would require winning two games they won’t be picked to do so. 7-6 seems more likely and 6-7 seems highly possible. I go back to this article I wrote before the season started. It seemed like a joke at the time. Jokes are never that funny when you’re living them out.