Gator Report

Antonya English

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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Gators finish national runner-up in Learfield Sports Director's Cup

The University of Florida athletics program has finished in second place in the national Learfield Sports Directors' Cup - the third consecutive runner-up finish for the Gators.

The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup is presented annually by the nation's athletics directors and recognizes the schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year.

Points are awarded based on finishes and participation in 20 NCAA Division I sports. Stanford won the Directors' Cup - its 20th consecutive.

Florida was aided by two national titles (gymnastics and softball) and 12 top-10 finishes among its sports teams during the 2013-14 academic year. …

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Florida Gators women win Capital One Cup

Bolstered by two national championships (gymnastics and softball) and eight top-10 finishes, the Florida women's athletics program is the winner of the 2013-14 Capital One Cup.

It is the first for the Gators' women.

Florida will be formally honored at the ESPY Awards televised by ESPN on July 16, when the Capital One Cup trophy will be presented.

Florida is the first school since the Capital One Cup was introduced for the 2010-11 season to claim the award in men's and women's competition. The Gator men's program won the first two Capital One Cups in 2011 and 2012.

For each win, Capital One contributes $200,000 to UF to support student-athlete scholarships.

Eight sports contributed to Florida's winning total of 152 points. The Gators won NCAA team titles in gymnastics and softball, had top-four finishes in indoor (T-3rd) and outdoor track (4th), and a sixth-place finish for swimming & diving in NCAA Championships competition.

The Gators also received points for placing among the top 10 in the final sport polls for lacrosse (4th), tennis (5th) and soccer (10th). …

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Gators Kelsey Stewart shines at USA Softball selection camp

Florida sophomoe infielder Kelsey Stewart had four hits and a stolen base to help the  USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp to two wins in a doubleheader against the Ohio All-Stars on Tuesday.

Former Gator outfielder Michelle Moultrie contributed in the second game. The USA team won the first game 3-0, then earned a 5-0 win in the second game that evening.

Batting out of the No. 8 spot in the opener, Stewart had a hit in each of her three at-bats, including a two-out double in the second inning and a one-out RBI single in the fourth. Stewart
stole second after her base hit, but she was stranded. The infielder beat out a bunt single in the sixth, then advanced on an error and a teammate's base hit before scoring from third on a one-out single to produce the final margin in Team USA's 3-0 win.

Moultrie and Stewart were slotted back-to-back at the top of the batting order for Game 2, and each had a single in the game. 

Team USA's exhibition tour concludes Thursday in Purcellville, Va., where the Selection Camp invitees will play a doubleheader against the Virginia All-Stars beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The USA National Team will be selected on Sunday.

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Urban Meyer calls 2008 Gators best to play the game

Urban Meyer has been associated with his fair share of excellent football teams, but one stands out for the former Florida Gators head coach.

His 2008 BCS National Championship team at Florida.

Meyer, now the head coach at Ohio State, recently told a group attending a camp in Detroit: "I’ve been a part of a couple great teams, I think the best team to ever play the game in ’08 (at Florida)."

That national title team was one of two Meyer coached while at Florida, and included Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, WR/RB Percy Harvin, LB Brandon Spikes and CB Joe Haden. Three of  those remain on NFL rosters.

More on Meyer's comments via YouTube.

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Gators catcher Taylor Gushue to join Pirates organization

Florida catcher Taylor Gushue won't return for his senior season after agreeing to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Gushue, who was selected in the fourth round of last week's MLB Draft with the 131st pick, is the third member of the 2014 Gator baseball team to sign a professional contract.

A second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger and a first-team All-SEC selection, Gushue batted a career-high .316 and led the Gators in total bases (105), RBI (49), doubles (16), sacrifice flies (11), homers (6) and slugging percentage (.467).

The Johnny Bench Award semifinalist for the nation’s top catcher, Gushue led the SEC in conference games with a .389 average and was the runner-up in slugging percentage (.583) and on-base percentage (.449).

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Palm Harbor's Casey Turgeon, a Gators standout, signs with St. Louis Cardinals

Casey Turgeon, the Palm Harbor native and Dunedin alum, will forgo his final season with the Gators after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Turgeon was a 24th round selection in the MLB Draft last week, No. 735 overall. He has been assigned to the Johnson City (Tenn.) Cardinals in the Rookie Appalachian League.

In three years with the Gators, Turgeon started 185 games and had a career average of .269, with 112 runs, 95 RBI, 28 doubles, 23 stolen bases and 13 homers.

Turgeon batted .259 this season with a team-high 35 walks and was second on the squad in runs (36), RBI (33), doubles (11) and home runs (4).

He became only the second Gator in school history to be named as the NCBWA National Hitter of the Week on May 6 after batting .727 (8-for-11) in Florida’s first sweep of Alabama in Tuscaloosa since 1988 and was also chosen as the SEC Player of the Week for his efforts against the Crimson Tide.

In 2013, he was one of the three Gators to start all 59 games, with 50 starts at second base and nine at shortstop.



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Gators Fawn Miller wins national title in javelin throw

Florida junior Fawn Miller earned the Gators' first individual national title at the 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships in the javelin throw with a personal record of 58.13m/190-8.  Miller hit the distance on her second throw.

It is Florida's first national championship on the women's team since 2010.

“I'm super excited, it still hasn't sunk in," Miller said. "My first throw I just wanted to go out there and really set the tone and make everyone come after me -  it worked out to my advantage this time.
PRing here (at Hayward Field) is a big thing and I'm happy about that one.”

Miller’s first-place finish was the best collegiate mark this year, No. 9 all-time and No. 2 in UF history. 

It put the Gators on the board at the NCAA Championships with 10 points, good for third place in women’s action after the first day.

Junior Stipe Zunic’s sixth-place finish in the shot put (19.67/64-6.5) gave Florida three points and put the Gators in a tie for 16th heading into today's competition.


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Gators WR coach Joker Phillips abruptly resigns

With just two months until the start of fall football camp, Florida has lost its wide receivers coach.

The Gators announced this afternoon that Joker Phillips has resigned. Former Gators QB and current graduate assistant Chris Leak will coach the wide receivers for the 2014 season.

The surprising news means that the Gators will now have had four different wide receivers coaches during Will Muschamp's four-year tenure as head coach - six since 2009.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons," Phillips said in a statement released by UF.

A 26-year coaching veteran, Phillips, 51, joined the staff in December 2012 after he was fired as the head coach at Kentucky. He spent three seasons (2010-2012) as the Wildcats' head coach, and is a former Kentucky player and assistant coach.

He was hired by the Gators to bring experience and stability to a unit that has struggled the past several years. …

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