Gator Report

Antonya English

Three of four Gators on Preseason All-SEC team from Tampa Bay area

Four Florida Gators were selected to the SEC Preseason All-SEC team, chosen by the league's media on Thursday.

Three of those players are from the Tampa Bay area.

The Gators were picked to finish third in the SEC East. If it's any consolation for Florida fans, the media has only picked the eventual champion correctly four times in 22 years.

Sophomore DB Vernon Hargreaves III and DB Dante Fowler, Jr., were both named to the preseason All-SEC First Team on defense.

Senior OF Chaz Green was named to the Third Team on offense - the only Gator to be selected Preseason All-SEC on offense. Green missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

Fowler, a St. Petersburg Lakewood alum, has made appearances in 25 games with 13 starts in his career. He has 80 tackles, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in his two seasons

Hargreaves, a Wharton alum, appeared in every game as a freshman last season, including 10 starts. The Freshman All-American led the team with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and his 26 tackles ranked seventh on the squad.

Gators kick-return Andre Debose, who also missed all of last season with an injury, was named to the second team as a specialist.

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Gators Jeff Driskell named to Davey O'Brien Watch List

Florida QB Jeff Driskel is among 39 quarterbacks named to the Davey O'Brien Watch List today.

The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation's best college quarterback, and is the oldest and most prestigious national quarterback award.

This year's list was selected based on player performance during the previous year and expectations heading into the 2014 college football season. All nominees were required to have started at least one college game previously.

Nearly half (19 of 39) of the players on the watch list are seniors,  and there are 13 juniors and seven sophomores.

Among conferences, the Pac-12 leads the way with eight, the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are all represented by five players.

The full O'Brien Watch List below: …

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Make no mistake, Steve Spurrier says he has great respect for Alabama

South Carolina Steve Spurrier took an opportunity Tuesday morning to clarify his thoughts and opinions on Alabama coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide football program.

Earlier this summer, Spurrier was quoted as saying Saban had underachieved because of the talent and number of No. 1 recruiting classes he's amassed at Alabama - resulting in just two SEC championships.

But Spurrier said during his appearance at SEC Media Days today he has great respect for Saban, saying he runs his program the right way. Spurrier said his comments may have been taken too literally.


"I think they've done extremely well," Spurrier said. "There's no question about that. I just made a statement that I think they've had five number one recruiting classes out of the last six years, which has got to make him the greatest recruiter in the history of college football. Arguably, they've got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team, if the recruiting services are correct, and they're pretty much correct. So they're the favorites.  They're the favorites.  There's no question about that.  As long as they can recruit like that, they're always going to be the favorites." …

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Gators in need of a backup quarterback

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday the Gators are in serious need of a backup quarterback behind starter Jeff Driskel.

The lack of a proven backup was a critical part of Florida's 4-8 2013 season after Driskel went down in the third game of the season with a season-ending injury.

Former QB Tyler Murphy and backup Skyler Mornhinweg - each of whom had never played a collegiate game - took over for Driskel. Murphy won two games, then was injured. Mornhinweg did not lead the team to a victory.

The Gators have highly-recruited freshman QB Will Grier on the roster, but Muschamp said he's unsure who will emerge.

"We need to develop a backup behind (Driskel)," he said. "I don't know who that would be right now. But I would plan on playing that person early in the season, talking about the first game, just like we did with Jeff his freshman year when John Brantley was out quarterback because of the lack of experience behind Jeff. We need to develop that guy and be ready for a situation where we might have to play him."

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Gators CB Jalen Tabor cited for marijuana possession

Florida CB Jalen Tabor has already faced disciplinary action from coach Will Muschamp and the university following his citation in May for possession of fewer than 20 ounces of marijuana.

Tabor's citation was made public on Monday. He has since received deferred prosecution.

“Jalen has faced consequences for his actions and is very remorseful," Muschamp said. "He is aware that this is not how we represent the University of Florida."

Tabor wasn't the only player under the media spotlight for marijuana at Monday's SEC Media Days.

Auburn QB Nick Marshall was pulled from attending SEC Media Days on Monday after he was cited for marijuana possession this past Friday. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Marshall will face disciplinary action, but declined to say what that will be.

"It is a privilege and reward to represent Auburn University at SEC Media Days," Malzahn said. "Last Friday, Nick lost that reward."



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Gators, Will Muschamp to have eight open fall practices

Despite installing a new offense with a new offensive coordinator, Florida coach Will Muschamp will open some practices to the public this fall.

Muschamp and the Gators announced Monday that eight practices will be opened during the 2014 fall football camp - including one event exclusively for football season ticket holders.

The Florida football team reports for camp on Sunday, August 3, and will hold its first practice on Aug. 4.

The practices open to the public are as follows:

Aug. 7 : Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 8: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 9 - Morning Practice Only: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium
(Season Ticket Holder Exclusive Event)

Aug. 11 - Morning Practice Only: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 12 - Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 13 - Morning Practice Only: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 14: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

Aug. 16 - FAN DAY

Times will be announced at a later date.

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Autonomy remains at forefront for SEC Commissioner Mike Slive

Read more about autonomy from Times staff writers Antonya English and Joey Knight.

With his opening remarks at the kickoff of SEC Media Days 2014, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on Monday said change must come to college football, and NCAA approval of autonomy for the five power conferences is paramount among those changes.

The NCAA is set to vote on Aug. 7 whether to grant the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 more power to govern its on 65-memer schools, while remaining a part of the NCAA. Slive reiterated that if that vote isn't in their favor, the power conferences will have to consider breaking off into a division of their own under the NCAA umbrella.

"As I have said before, if we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establisment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interest of our student-athletes,"  Slive said."

Slive reminded the more than 1,100 media attending the event that the SEC first proposed changes in the current system in 2011, and has been at the forefront in trying to establish change in collegiate athletics. …

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Gators Dante Fowler and Vernon Hargreaves named to Bronko Nagurski Watch List

Gators DL Dante Fowler and CB Vernon Hargreaves have been named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch list, while teammate D.J. Humphries has been named to the Outland Trophy Watch List.

The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the best interior lineman in college football, while the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented to the national defensive player of the year.

Humphries is a junior from Union, N.C., who played in in seven games in 2013, starting the first six at left tackle, before a season-ending knee injury.

Fowler, a St. Petersburg Lakewood alum, has made appearances in 25 games with 13 starts in his career. He has 80 tackles, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in his two seasons

Hargreaves, a Wharton alum, appeared in every game as a freshman last season, including 10 starts. The Freshman All-American led the team with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and his 26 tackles ranked seventh on the squad.

Semifinalists for the Outland Trophy will be named on Nov. 20 and narrowed to a list of three finalists on Nov. 24. The five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy will be announced on Nov. 20.


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ESPN Power Index predicts Gators win seven games

The Florida Gators have about a 16.3 percent chance to win the SEC East, and are projected to win seven games based on statistical analysis of the ESPN Stats and Information team.

The results are based on a preseason Football Power Index, and the Stats and Information group’s projections covered a wide range of categories including likelihood of going undefeated, odds of winning the conference and division titles, likelihood of winning individual games and projected win totals.

Here is what the numbers concluded on the Gators:

Projected to win 7.6 games, Florida has a 6.2 percent chance of winning the SEC and a 16.3 percent chance of winning the SEC East. The Gators are favored in seven games and underdogs against LSU (49.9), South Carolina (45.6), Georgia (35.7), Alabama (20.7) and Florida State (8.9).

Click here for more on the other SEC teams from ESPN's Stats and Information.


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Three Gators on national preseason watch lists

Two area players are among three Gators named to national watch lists released today.

St. Petersburg DE Dante Fowler and Tampa CB Vernon Hargreaves were each named to the 20th annual Bednarik Award Watch List on Monday.

Gators QB Jeff Driskel was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List.

The Bednarik Award is presented to the nation’s top college defensive player each season, while the Maxwell Award goes to the nation's top quarterback.

Fowler, a junior, has played in 25 games with 13 career starts. He has 80 tackles, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in his first two seasons. Last season, he led UF with 10.5 tackles-for-loss and ranked second on the squad with 3.5 sacks.

Hargreaves, a sophomore, appeared in every game during his freshman season, including 10 starts. He led the team with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and his 26 tackles were seventh on the team. He went on to earn Freshman All-American honors.

Driskel, a redshirt junior from Oviedo,,missed most of last season after he suffered a season-ending leg injury. In his limited play last season, he threw for 477 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and also rushed for 71 yards and one touchdown. …

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ESPN names Gators' Billy Donovan No. 1 among top 50 coaches

Billy Donovan is the nation's best basketball coach, according to ESPN.


Billy Donovan is the nation's best basketball coach, according to ESPN.

Billy Donovan is the nation's best basketball coach, according to ESPN.

Over the past five weeks, ESPN has been doing a countdown of the top 50 coaches in college basketball, based on a panel of their experts. 

Today, on its website, the panel revealed it has chosen Kentucky's John Calipari as No. 2 and Donovan as No. 1.

Here is part of what's Eamonn Brennan wrote:

"The Florida coach edged out Calipari, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski and (Rick) Pitino. It's hard to think of a better testament to Donovan's current stature in the sport than this one."

More on Donovan and why he was chosen No. 1.

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Gators, Miami renew basketball series

Florida has agreed to renew its basketball rivalry with Miami with a home-and-home series beginning with the 2014 season.

The Gators and Hurricanes will play at the O'Connell Center on Nov. 17.

The game will be Florida’s second of the season, although the season opener has not yet been announced. It is the first home date of the 2014-15 season to be set by Florida.

Florida previously announced the following games:  the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament (Nov. 26-28), at Kansas (Dec. 5) and vs. Wake Forest at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise (Dec. 20).

Florida will play in a return visit to Miami in the 2015-16 season. The game will most likely be among several that will be played around the state that season while the O'Connell Center is undergoing a major renovation.

Florida leads the all-time series against Miami, 45-22, but this will mark the first meeting since UF defeated the Hurricanes in the 2009 NIT, 74-60, in Gainesville. The teams last played a home-and-home series in the 2004-05 (at UF) and 2005-06 (at UM) seasons, with the road team winning both games.



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Florida Gators pitcher Hannah Rogers named SEC Female Athlete of the Year

Florida pitcher Hannah Rogers, who led the Gators to their first softball national championship this season, has been named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year.

Rogers and the male winner, Kentucky baseball player A.J. Reed, were selected by a vote of the league’s athletics directors.

Rogers is the first Gator to receive the league's top award since former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow won back-to-back SEC Male Athlete of the Year awards in 2008 and 2009.

“It means so much to me because of what we accomplished as a team," Rogers said. "I would not
have gotten this award without the support of my teammates and coaches. It makes me proud to have done this for the University of Florida, but also for the game of softball. Though the game is getting bigger and bigger, it probably doesn’t get the recognition it should, so this is something I can take pride in - not just for me, but for softball.” 

Rogers was the Women's College World Series (WCWS) Most Outstanding Player after
four complete‐game wins, three shutouts, and one save in the WCWS.

The Gators went undefeated at the WCWS, outscoring opponents 32-6 in the five games played in Oklahoma City. …

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Florida lacrosse to join BIG EAST in 2015

After five years as members of the American Lacrosse Conference, the Florida lacrosse team will join the BIG EAST conference for the 2015 season.

The decision is a result of the dissolution of the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC).

“We’re very excited for this next step for Florida lacrosse,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We enjoyed the high level of competition in the ALC, and are looking forward to the new challenges the BIG EAST will provide. We’ve built a legacy of success during our first five years and that’s something we look to continue while competing in the BIG EAST.”

For competition in 2015, the conference will include eight teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Georgetown, Marquette, Temple, Vanderbilt and Villanova.

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Gators coach Billy Donovan leads Men's U18 National Team to gold medal

Florida coach Billy Donovan helped lead the United States U18 national team to the 2014 FIBA Americas gold medal with a 113-79 win over Canada on Tuesday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

It is the third time Donovan has led Team USA to a gold medal. In 2012, he led the U18 team to gold, and was head coach of the U19 team that won gold in 2013. Florida guard, and Tampa resident Michael Frazier II was a member of that 2013 team.

Donovan is 19-0 as a head coach in international competition.

“I’m just honored,” Donovan said. “I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you’re only as good as your players. I’ve been very fortunate that in he past three years, I’ve coached some great guys, great kids and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. They bought in, they listened and they’re the ones who really played well. I’m just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride.” …

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