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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Report: Byron Cowart, Ryan Davis arrested at Auburn

A pair of former local high school stars have been arrested at Auburn, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

Former Armwood High defensive end Byron Cowart and Lakewood High receiver Ryan Davis were arrested late Saturday on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession, according to the paper.

Cowart was Rivals' No. 1 player in the country for the 2015 recruiting class. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound end totaled six tackles in 13 games last fall as a true freshman.

Davis was a four-star prospect in the same recruiting class. He rushed twice for 20 yards in eight games last season, and coaches spoke highly of his future during spring practice.

Read the News' full report here. 

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2017 NFL draft: Brad Kaaya, Dalvin Cook among top prospects

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is expected to go somewhere between 10th and 17th in next year's draft.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is expected to go somewhere between 10th and 17th in next year's draft.

The 2016 NFL draft has been over for more than one full day...which means it's time to look ahead to the 2017 draft, right? 

Yes, this is ridiculous. No, you cannot project which team will be picking where, let alone what that team's needs will be a year from now.

But, for fun, I peeked at a few for an insanely early Mock Draft Monday.

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was the unanimous top pick (according to The Big Lead, SBNation and WalterFootball.com).

Miami QB Brad Kaaya was the No. 2 pick in two of them and fifth in the other. If Kaaya leaves the Hurricanes early, that is.

Florida State's top draft prospect isn't star RB Dalvin Cook; it's OT Roderick Johnson. SBNation puts him at No. 6 (to the Bucs), while The Big Lead projects him at No. 11, and WalterFootball has him 19th. Johnson has started at left tackle for the Seminoles since the Miami game in 2014 when his success moved another first-round pick -- Cam Erving -- to center.

Cook shouldn't be overlooked, though, despite the NFL devaluing the position. All three sites expect him to go somewhere between 10th and 17th. …

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Vernon Hargreaves' mom: 'No better feeling than to have your son come home'

Vernon Hargreaves III leaves a news conference Friday at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, His father, Vernon Hargreaves Jr., can be seen behind him.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Vernon Hargreaves III leaves a news conference Friday at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, His father, Vernon Hargreaves Jr., can be seen behind him.

Vernon Hargreaves' homecoming became official today when the Bucs introduced the former Florida/Wharton High star cornerback as their newest draft pick.

Among the happiest in the crowd: Hargreaves' mother, Jackie.

"There's no better joy, no better feeling than to have your son come home," Jackie said.

At UF's pro day, Jackie said she was trying to make sure Hargreaves was staying out of trouble and eating right. Jackie and her husband, also named Vernon, talked about how it couldn't get any better than Hargreaves playing for his hometown Bucs.

That finally began to feel real Friday, when Hargreaves walked in front of the media and posed for photos with his new No. 28 jersey.

"It means everything to him," Jackie said. "He's just a Florida kid. He loves the state of Florida, so it means everything to be able to stay home, be around his friends and family. It's a dream come true. I don't even know how to explain it."

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NFL draft: Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Bullard, Chris Moore are Day 2 options

As expected, Thursday was a busy day for NFL draft prospects with state ties. Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey went fifth to the Jaguars. Two Florida defensive backs, Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal, went in the top 17. Miami had a first rounder, too; the Steelers picked CB Artie Burns at No. 25.

So what's in store for today?

FSU K Roberto Aguayo could hear his name called. Aguayo is the first kicker to leave school early for the draft since Sebastian Janikowski (Aguayo earned his degree). ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has projected him to go between rounds 3-5, but some analysts think he could be the first kicker picked in the second round since 2005.

DL Jonathan Bullard is the most likely Gator to be drafted today. He made himself a lot of money by returning for his senior season and having a disruptive year as one of the Gators' top defensive players.

Hillsborough County could produce another draft pick: Cincinnati WR Chris Moore. I've seen the former Jefferson High star as a potential third-round pick, although he might last until Saturday.

 

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NCAA overturns ban on satellite camps

The NCAA has overturned its ban on satellite camps, allowing more colleges to hold scouting opportunities in Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

The NCAA's Division I board of directors rescinded a rule adopted earlier this month by a council of conferences.

"The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle," said board chairman Harris Pastides, who's also South Carolina's president. "We share the Council's interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the Council's efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes."

Satellite camps have become one of the most controversial offseason stories in college football. They allow staffs to hold recruiting camps away from their campuses, often allowing multiple schools - sometimes in different states - to evaluate and coach prospects. Michigan had one scheduled at USF in June. USF still plans to hold that session, along with three other Bulls satellite camps. Within an hour of the ruling, Arizona announced that it will be having a satellite camp in Tampa.  …

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Jim McElwain: 'Nothing new' on Antonio Callaway, Treon Harris

TAMPA - Florida coach Jim McElwain is in town tonight to address the Gator Clubs of Tampa and Pinellas at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Before his speech, McElwain met with a handful of reporters. A few quick notes:

There's "nothing new" regarding the status of suspended receiver Antonio Callaway and quarterback Treon Harris, McElwain said. According to Callaway's lawyer, the Gators star was suspended by the university in January while it conducts a code of conduct investigation for unspecified reasons.

Offensive lineman Martez Ivey continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. McElwain said Ivey is doing some modified weightlifting but hasn't been fully cleared.

McElwain certainly sounds like a fan of Tampa Bay; he referenced the Lightning's playoff run and the upcoming national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.

"I'll tell you what's pretty cool, though, is the championship game being right here in Tampa," McElwain said. "You talk about a great city and what the Bolts are doing right now. This is sports heaven, right here in Tampa."

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Where FSU football, Florida Gators and local recruits land in first ESPN 300 rankings

Only Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have more commits among ESPN's top 300 national recruits than Florida State.

ESPN unveiled its top prospects for the class of 2017 Wednesday. FSU's four-star commitments are: S Cyrus Fagan (No. 59), WR D.J. Matthews (69), RB Zaquandre White (146), DT Ja'len Parks (166) and QB Bailey Hockman (176). I'll also insert the standard disclaimer that oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent during their senior years.

The Gators have four commitments on the list: Tampa Bay Tech WR Daquon Green (79), QB Jake Allen (147), TE Kemore Gamble (237) and OT Kadeem Telfort (258).

Miami's top commit is RB Robert Burns (62).

Local players on ESPN's list are, aside from Green, are: Hillsborough DE Zachary Carter (129), North Carolina commit Clearwater RB Adarius Lemons (148), Plant WR Juwan Burgess (221), Clearwater Central Catholic RB CJ Cotman (228), former Tampa Catholic TE Tre McKitty (233) and Tampa Catholic ATH Devan Barrett (286).

Check out ESPN's full rankings here.

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College Football Playoff director on Tampa: 'What a great success story'

The College Football Playoff championship trophy has already spent some time in Tampa Bay.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

The College Football Playoff championship trophy has already spent some time in Tampa Bay.

There wasn't any major news in Tuesday's news conference regarding the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.

One takeaway came from Bill Hancock, the CFP's executive director. As I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times, Hancock first got to know Tampa Bay when he worked with the Final Four before it came to Tropicana Field in 1999. He said he was struck by the area's sincere excitement for landing the big event.

Two decades later, the positivity remains, even as the area exploded.

"That passion is still here," Hancock said. "Downtown Tampa is just almost a different place. When I first came here, we were looking at the bid for (the title game), I thought, what an awesome job you guys have done in downtown Tampa. It's remarkable.

"What a great success story you have. Please, please, don't take it for granted, and don't be ashamed to talk about it."

Hancock said events like the Final Four, Frozen Four or national championship can help bring pride to a city as visitors see the city in a different perspective. …

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Tampa's 2017 College Football Playoff schedule unveiled

TAMPA -- The College Football Playoff unveiled a detailed schedule centered on the Riverwalk for this the Jan. 9 national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.

As I wrote three months ago, the national title game has evolved into an event, not just a game.

Here's the schedule, which was announced by CFP executive director Bill Hancock during Tuesday's news conference at the Tampa Convention Center:

The Playoff Fan Central (a centralized event for fans, as the name suggests) will be from Jan. 6-8 at the convention center.

The Playoff Playlist Live! outdoor concert series will be from Jan. 6-8 at Curtis Hixon Park. Last season's event in Phoenix included Walk the Moon and Ciara, and performers for the Tampa event will be announced in November.

Media day will be Jan. 7 at Amalie Arena and open to fans.

The Extra Yard for Teachers charity 5K race will be Jan. 8 in downtown.

The Taste of the Championship food festival will be Jan. 8 at The Florida Aquarium. Restaurants participating include: 717 South, Ava, Cigar City BrewPub, The Columbia, Datz, Goody Goody, Haven, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Mise en Place, Parkshore Grill, The Refinery, Roux and Ulele. …

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Finally official: Florida Gators will open 2019 season against Miami Hurricanes

Florida and Miami will officially open the 2019 season with a neutral-site game against each other at Orlando, the Gators announced Tuesday.

The game will be at the newly renamed Camping World Stadium - which was the Citrus Bowl.

Ticket information and the date for the game has not yet been announced. 

"We are pleased to have partnered with Florida Citrus Sports and ESPN events to kick off the 2019 season against Miami" UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. "Orlando is a great Gator city and we look forward to playing in front of our fans from all over the state of Florida and beyond."

Tuesday's official announcement was expected; both schools had talked about nearing an agreement in the last few months.

UM leads the all-time series 29-26, but the two teams have split neutral-site matchups 3-3. The teams last met in 2013. …

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Why Eastern Michigan football's future matters in Tampa Bay

If a report from Eastern Michigan University's faculty and students has its way, the school will drop out of Division I football.

That report, as covered by the Detroit Free Press, is startling: Faculty member Howard Bunsis told the school's board of regents that "EMU football will simply never succeed" and that it "is a losing proposition - always has been, and always will be."

Well then. You can (and should) read the Free Press' full story here.

In the meantime, here's why the future of football at a program in Ypsilanti, Mich. matters locally: Recruiting.

Eastern Michigan is in the Mid-American Conference - a league that pulls many of its top athletes and skill players from Florida.

Obviously Florida's major colleges recruit Tampa Bay well, but there aren't enough spots for all of the state's D-I players. While the top-tier players go anywhere - usually the SEC or ACC - the second- or third-tier players need somewhere to go. That somewhere often turns out to be the MAC. More specifically, that somewhere is Eastern Michigan. …

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FSU football No. 6 in Sporting News' Top 25

We're at the point in the year where publications stop dropping "too early" from their Top 25 preseason rankings. So it is with the Sporting News, which unveiled its Top 25 Monday morning. 

Florida State is the only state program that cracked the list. The Seminoles come in at No. 6, one spot ahead of Ole Miss, its Week 1 opponent at Orlando's Citrus Bowl on Labor Day. Defending national champion Alabama was No. 1 and the publication's favorite to win the national title in January at Raymond James Stadium. Clemson was No. 2, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State and Baylor. 

You can see the full rankings here. 

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Mock Draft Monday: Final guesses on Bucs, Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Ramsey

The Bucs' most likely target seems to be Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves.

AP photo

The Bucs' most likely target seems to be Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves.

NFL draft week is finally upon us, and not much has changed (locally) since the first Mock Draft Monday back in February.

The Bucs' most likely target seems to be Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves. He's the only unanimous pick among CBSSports' and NFL.com's pundits, although some analysts still think Tampa Bay could choose a defensive lineman or offensive tackle. One interesting wrinkle: ESPN's Todd McShay thinks the Titans could trade up to grab an offensive tackle, letting the Bucs slip back six spots to still land Hargreaves.
Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey will almost certainly go somewhere in the top five, and most pundits don't expect him to fall past the Cowboys at No. 4.

Miami CB Artie Burns, Gators DL Jonathan Bullard and his teammate, S Keanu Neal, are also possible first-round picks. Burns is gaining the most momentum but isn't a lock to hear his name called Thursday.

Without further ado, here's our final weekly summary of potential Bucs targets and local players among noted mock drafts: …

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Brian Kelly: Miami-Notre Dame game will be hyped from coast to coast

It's only April, but it's not too early to look ahead to one of the marquee games of next season: Miami at Notre Dame on Oct. 29. That's part of a crazy day in the state; rivals Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville, and Florida State hosts Clemson in what will likely be a top-10 (or top-five) matchup.

Irish coach Brian Kelly said he expects the game against the Hurricanes to be "hyped up pretty big" because of the teams' rich histories.

"We always look toward the Miami game as one that has some good tradition to it and a lot of respect for Miami's tradition..." Kelly said Wednesday in the ACC spring football coaches' teleconference with reporters. "It'll be a little bit different - different coaches, different styles of teams - but one that still when it's the U and it's Notre Dame, it will kind of take on a life of its own from coast to coast."

First-year 'Canes coach Mark Richt, for what it's worth, said he hasn't thought that far ahead yet.

"I know it'll be an exciting time for everybody," Richt said. "Hopefully we have a team that's worthy of playing on that day."

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Jimbo Fisher: Experience only one part in FSU quarterback battle

Sean Maguire threw for 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping FSU to four wins in his six biggest game.

AP photo

Sean Maguire threw for 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping FSU to four wins in his six biggest game.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Sean Maguire's experience will be part of the equation when the Seminoles decide their starting quarterback - but it's only one part.

Fisher said Maguire is more talented than he gets credit for. Maguire, a 6-foot-3, 224-pound redshirt senior missed the spring as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery. He threw for 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping FSU to four wins in his six biggest game, but he continues to be challenged by redshirt freshman Deondre Francois.

"We'll wait and see how it comes out," Fisher said during Wednesday's ACC football coaches teleconference.

A few other things from Fisher:

DE Lorenzo Featherston's career is likely over due to a knee injury. The 6-foot-7 Featherston had five tackles for a loss during his freshman season in 2014.

RB Dalvin Cook is "doing fine" as he recovers from shoulder surgery. The Heisman Trophy candidate will likely be in a sling for another week or so but is expected to be running at full speed in June and ready for fall camp in August. …

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