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Gator Report

Antonya English

Gators get one class among Scout's Top 10 since 2001

In recognizing its 13 years of recruiting coverage, Scout.com decided to rank the Top 10 classes in its history.

It might come as surprise, but the 2006 class headlined by Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin didn't make the cut.

According to Jamie Newberg, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst, two other Florida teams were ranked higher.

So which Gators team made the list, and where?

Check out the full story and breakdown of of the Top 10 recruiting classes in Scout.com's history.

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Gators softball preparing to open season as defending national champs and preseason No. 1

The Gators' defending national champion softball team will begin the 2015 season ranked No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Florida earned 15 of 20 first-place votes in the preseason rankings.

The Gators also are ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason poll.

None of this comes as a surprise to coach Tim Walton. Now entering his 10th season, Walton has elevated the program to the level where lofty expectations and title runs are the norm.

And that No. 1 ranking? It's not even a factor right now.

"We're very excited about our team, really looking forward to it (season)," Walton said. "Obviously we have the No. 1 ranking going into the season, which preseason No. 1 ranking means about absolutely nothing. You don't know what you have, you don't know what other people have. So we'll have an opportunity to go out and compete and get a chance to see not only what all of our returners can bring to the team, but also our new players as well."

As usual, the Gators are preparing to face stiff competition. Eleven of the teams ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 preseason poll this year are on the Gators' schedule. …

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Former FAMU coach sues, citing Will Muschamp's contract as example

Former Florida A&M football coach Earl Holmes is suing the university for wrongful termination.

Holmes is asking to be paid the remainder of the money owed on his contract — $400,000 over two years — plus other damages.

And he's using former Florida coach Will Muschamp's contract as proof he should be paid.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee attorney Tim Jansen said Holmes had a four-year contract to coach FAMU football and that former athletic director Kellen Winslow — who resigned on Dec. 15 — chose not to "comply with the terms of the contract."

"They have the right to do that," Jansen told The Democrat. "They also have right to pay (Holmes) for the terms of his contract, just like with Will Muschamp down at the University of Florida. When he was terminated, they paid his contract. Coach Holmes deserves the same; we expect the same."

Although Muschamp has been hired as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, Florida is paying him the remaining $6 million on his contract in five installments over the next four years.

The full story from the Tallahassee Democrat on Holmes' suit.

 

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ESPN to provide live coverage from Gainesville on National Signing Day

Florida is ranked dead last in recruiting among SEC schools, but that won't stop ESPN from including the Gators in their live coverage from 14 campuses on National Signing Day.

The network announced today that it will broadcast live from 14 schools on Feb. 3, including Florida. The others are: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern California, Tennessee, Texas and Texas A&M.

This is part of ESPNU's 11 hours of National Signing Day coverage. There will also be regular updates on SportsCenter, and across other ESPN platforms.

More than 15 top recruits are scheduled to make their college announcements on the ESPNU National Signing Day Special.

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Gators announce date for Orange and Blue spring football game

The first spring football game under the new regime of Jim McElwain will be played on April 11.

The UAA announced today it will have more details later, but the date has been set.

McElwain was hired in December after coach Will Muschamp was fired in late November.

There have been no details released about spring football practice dates, and it remains to be seen if any of those practices will be open to the public.

 

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Gators get commitment from 4-star DE

Florida has received an oral commitment from Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry defensive end Jabari Zuniga.

Zuniga orally committed to N.C. State in November, but apparently changed his mind after a visit on Monday night with Florida's staff including head coach Jim McElwain and defensive line coach Terrell Williams.

Zuniga is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds.

According to 247Sports, Zuniga is a 247Sports four-star prospect.

The Gators now have 10 members of their 2015 class, still last in the SEC.

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'Desperate' Gators to take on Alabama, try to stop three game skid

“We definitely need this win," said guard Michael Frazier,  who had a season-high 27 points against Ole Miss. "We go into every game needing it. We’re desperate, so we gotta do what we gotta do to win the game. Period."

AP photo

“We definitely need this win," said guard Michael Frazier, who had a season-high 27 points against Ole Miss. "We go into every game needing it. We’re desperate, so we gotta do what we gotta do to win the game. Period."

The Florida baasketball team shot 48 percent from the floor and 60 percent from 3-pont range this past Saturday at Ole Miss.

Yet the Gators still lost the game.

It's been that kind of season for Billy Donovan's team.

The Gators return to action tonight at Alabama, and Florida junior guard Michael Frazier wasn't afraid to call it like it is as the team preapred to leave on Monday.

Florida is on a three-game losing streak and this is a team that's "desperate" for a win.

“We definitely need this win," said Frazier,  who had a season-high 27 points against Ole Miss. "We go into every game needing it. We’re desperate, so we gotta do what we gotta do to win the game. Period."

Alabama is among 10 SEC teams that are hanging around packed togehter trying to stay in contention in league play - behind undefeated and the nation's No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. Those 10 teams are either 4-2, 3-3 or 2-4 in SEC games.

The road hasn't been kind to the Gators, who are 1-4 this season in true road games, 1-2 in SEC play away from the O'Connell Center.

Frazier said one of the drills the Gators continue to focus on in practice deals specifically with getting defensive stops - on the road. …

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Billy Donovan sticking with guard Kasey Hill

Despite his up and down play this season, Florida coach Billy Donovan said today he has no plans to bench sophomore PG Kasey Hill.

Hill is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 assists per game. He has started 18 of the Gators' 19 games. But his consistency from game-to-game has been an issue.

He had 25 assists vs. 4 turnovers (6.25 ratio) over one three-game stretch (Kansas, Yale, Texas Southern). He had his first career 20-point game vs. North Carolina, including a 10-for-12 night from the free throw line. And he had a 10-assist, zero-turnover game vs. Yale, with 4-for-4 shooting.

But he has also had games like vs. South Carolina where he had six turnovers and one assist. Donovan said despite his up and down play, it's in the Gators' best interest right now to stick with him. …

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Former Gators coach Brad Lawing lands at rival Florida State

Another member of former Florida coach Will Muschamp's staff has landed a job.

Brad Lawing, who was the Gators' assistant head coach/defensive line coach, has been hired by FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, Warchant.com is reporting, citing sources.

Lawing is expected to replace Salsunseri, who is leaving to take a position on Jack Del Rio‘s staff with the Oakland Raiders.

Lawing is a highly-respected, veteran coach who spent two seasons with the Gators after six seasons at South Carolina. His other stops include Michigan State and North Carolina.

Lawing was not retained by new Florida coach Jim McElwain.

He is the fourth member of the Gators' previous staff to find another job. Muschamp and Travaris Robinson are both at Auburn, and former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is the new defensive coordinator at Michigan.

 

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Gator basketball trying to find answers to its struggles

Gators coach Billy Donovan talks to one of his players during the second half of Tuesday's game against LSU in Gainesville. LSU defeated Florida 79-61.

Associated Press

Gators coach Billy Donovan talks to one of his players during the second half of Tuesday's game against LSU in Gainesville. LSU defeated Florida 79-61.

After opening the conference season 3-0, the Florida men's basketball team has now lost two consecutive games.

But it's not just that the Gators lost, it's how they've lost: both by double digits and clearly outplayed in both games against Georgia and LSU.

Tuesday night's loss to the Tigers was Florida's worst at home since 2010, and the Tigers ended a six-game losing streak to Florida.

So what's wrong with the Gators?

Even they are struggling to figure that out.

"If I knew, I probably would help do something about it," junior G Michael Frazier said.

The Gators have used 10 different starting lineups this season. On Tuesday night, Florida coach Billy Donovan used 10 different players for at least 12 minutes.

“It’s like a revolving door,” Donovan said. “I was going to put (assistant coach John) Pelphrey in, but they said his eligibility was up.”

Donovan has been desperately trying to find a combination that is effective on a consistent basis. So far, no luck.

"We are not doing our job as a team," junior F Dorian Finney-Smith said. As soon as we correct that, there might be some change."

Donovan said the Gators remain a "selfish" team, but not in the way you might think. He said the players are so consumed with trying to play well as individuals - to help the team- that they are failing to accomplish what's necessary as a unit.

"These guys have always gotten along pretty well," Donovan said. "We don't have a problem at all in terms of internal chemistry problems or guys not getting along."

"I'm not surprised by any of this, Donovan said. "I saw this back coming out of last season, with the group of guys that were back. I didn't have a high expectation for Devin (Robinson) and Chris Chiozza because they were going to be freshman and I think when you start trying to rely on freshmen it becomes difficult. But the veteran guys coming back there was a lack of discipline in them and they struggle in that area. I'm not surprised by anything that's going on, that's been the challenge. I've tried a lot of different things with them, but they're going to have to go through that to figure it out." …

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Former Gators RB coach Kenny Carter hired as head coach at Delaware State

Kenny Carter, who served as running backs coach for the Gators in 2008 and 2009, was hired today as the new head coach at Delaware State.

“I am extremely excited about this new chapter in my football career” Carter said. “There are only 250 such opportunities in Division I football, so it is truly a blessing."

Carter was the passing game/co-special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Youngstown State University during the 2014 season. 

He left the Gators in 2010 to join Charlie Strong's staff at Louisville, where he was running backs coach until 2014. Carter also served as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt from 2004 to 2007.

Carter, a former four-year letterman at The Citadel, takes over a DSU program that was 2-10 overall and tied for ninth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 2-6 league record during the 2014 season.

“Kenneth Carter is an outstanding motivator with a proven record of success,” Delaware State athletic director Candy Young said. “He has the knowledge and energy to return our football program to its past success. The University is also impressed with his commitment to our student-athletes in the classroom and the community ”

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Former Gator Trenton Brown tries to set record straight at Senior Bowl

Former Florida OT Trenton Brown is at the Senior Bowl this week trying his best to clear up issues that are clouding his NFL Draft status.

Among them: his weight and the label of being lazy.

Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports caught up with Brown as he talked about clearing up the misconceptions about himself.

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Gators to build new $15 million indoor football practice facility

Florida's new indoor facility will include a full 120-yard, synthetic turf football field, additional space for drill work on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms. The project will also feature a newly redesigned entrance to the baseball stadium and football practice facility.

Photo renderings: Davis Architects

Florida's new indoor facility will include a full 120-yard, synthetic turf football field, additional space for drill work on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms. The project will also feature a newly redesigned entrance to the baseball stadium and football practice facility.

Having lost ground to comparable SEC rivals in some of its football facilities, Florida announced today it will build a $15 million indoor football practice facility on campus - located on the site of the current Sanders Football Practice Fields.

The facility will be completed in early September.

The announcement comes just two weeks before National Signing Day, and during a period when the Gators are struggling on the recruiting trail.

Rival Florida State has an indoor facility as does Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn among SEC schools. Georgia is preparing to build one. …

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Dorian Finney-Smith battled back from knee injury to play vs. LSU

Florida junior F Dorian Finney-Smith played in Tuesday night's game against LSU after suffering a hyperextended knee in this past Saturday's game against Georgia.

Finney-Smith, who missed several games this season with a broken hand, did not practice on Sunday or Monday, but did participate in Tuesday's shoot around  and was cleared to play.

LSU defeated the Gators 79-61, but Finney-Smith finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

"I hyperextended my knee, but I played tonight so no excuses," Finney-Smith said. "I felt good (before the game). I ran on it. I knew I was going to play."

LSU's victory ended a six game losing streak to the Gators.

The loss was Florida's worst at home since a 93-75 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 16, 2010.

LSU shot 61.5 percent from 3-point range and 51.9 from the field.

“We fought at the end, but their offense was better than our defense,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s (lack of) discipline. We came out with no energy. We didn’t fight. We didn’t protect our home court.”

 

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Gators Jake McGee confirms NCAA has granted sixth year

Florida TE Jake McGee confirmed on his Twitter account tonight that he has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

McGee, a transfer from Virgina, suffered a broken leg in the first game of the season - the first game of his Gator career. He missed the remainder of the season.

McGee appealed to the NCAA for a sixth year and has been awaiting word on whether it would be granted.

Tonight, he Tweeted: "Lets try this college thing one more time! thanks see you in the fall!"

McGee led the Cavaliers with 43 receptions and 395 receiving yards in his final season there.

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