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Gator Report

Antonya English

Keeping recruits, team intact key for Gators coach Michael White

At his press conference where he was announced as the new Florida head men's basketball coach, Michael White said he had reached out to all of Florida's four incoming freshman, but had no intention of begging them to stay committed to the Gators.

But on Tuesday prior to the start of the SEC spring meetings, White acknowledged that keeping three of the Gators' four incoming recruits - and all but one of the current players - is huge for the team.

KeVaughn Allen, forward Kevarrius Hayes, and Keith Stone will all join the Gators this fall.

“We did our best to expediate and catch up with a relationship-building process with all the guys on the current roster and the four signees," White said. "Unfortunately, we lost one signee, but we went 3-for-4 which we feel pretty good about. We have three former Billy Donovan signees that they’re excited to continue their trek to the University of Florida, they’re excited to be Gators and we’re excited to have them. …

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Ex-Armwood QB Josh Grady transferring to Florida

Former Armwood QB Josh Grady, who recently graduated from Vanderbilt after getting limited action in four seasons with the Commodores, confirmed Friday he's transferring to Florida for his final season.

Grady, who with former Gators RB Matt Jones and current Florida WR Alvin Bailey led the Hawks to the Class 4A state finals in 2010, also had considered USF and Maryland. He said in January that Vandy had given him clearance to transfer to any of the three.

He said he'll compete for the starting quarterback job after playing both behind center and at receiver for Vandy.

"Mentally, I was dead set on USF for a while," Grady, who has an economics degree, said in a text message Friday to the Tampa Bay Times.

"But once Vanderbilt compliance gave me permission to communicate with USF, the USF staff didn't really seem to have a mutual feeling, while the whole University of Florida organization seemed very intent on having myself as part of their program."

A member of the SEC's Academic Honor Roll in 2012 and '13, Grady totaled seven receptions in three seasons at Vandy. He switched to quarterback for the '13 season, and went 3-for-6 for 27 yards and two interceptions in limited duty before being sidelined by an injury.

Grady threw for nearly 7,000 yards in his final three prep seasons, his last two at Armwood. The Times' co-Suncoast Player of the Year as a senior, he totaled more 3,000 yards and 26 TDs for the 14-1 Hawks, tossing only five picks.

"From the moment I was granted permission to contact (Florida), I knew that UF was the place for me," Grady said. "They have shown nothing but professionalism throughout this whole process, and I am blessed to be a part of such a prestigious and successful university, as well as their football program."

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Michael White embracing the challenge of replacing Billy Donovan

Michael White, 38, made his first appearance as Florida's new head men's basketball coach today, saying it is his duty to continue the legacy former coach Billy Donovan established.

AP photo

Michael White, 38, made his first appearance as Florida's new head men's basketball coach today, saying it is his duty to continue the legacy former coach Billy Donovan established.

Michael White was born in Dunedin, but never spent more than two weeks there.

On Monday, he returned to the state where his life began to take on the biggest challenge of his young coaching career.

White, 38, made his first appearance as Florida's new head men's basketball coach saying it is his duty to continue the legacy former coach Billy Donovan established.

"It's an absolute honor of mine to replace Billy Donovan, one of the best coaches in the history of this game," White said. "I have tremendous respect and admiration for the legacy that he leaves, and it's my charge to continue the momentum that he's maintained for an amazing 19 years."

White joins the Gators after spending four seasons as head coach at Louisiana Tech where he compiled a 101-40 record.

He opened Monday's press conference by thanking the administrators at Louisiana Tech for providing him the opportunity to become a head coach. Then he talked about his desire to help continue to build on Donovan's legacy. …

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Video: Gators introduce new basketball coach Michael White

Head coach Michael White gestures during a Lousiana Tech game against Utah State in Ruston, La.

[Associated Press (2013)]

Head coach Michael White gestures during a Lousiana Tech game against Utah State in Ruston, La.

The University of Florida introduced new head men's basketball coach Michael White at a news conference this morning, streamed live both on SEC Network+ and on YouTube.

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Dante Fowler injured in first Jaguars camp

Former Florida DL and new member of the Jacksonville Jaguars Dante Fowler, Jr. suffered a knee injury during his first workout with the Jags today at the team's rookie camp.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said:  "He's being evaluated. We'll know more tonight," according to the team's official website.

Fowler, as St. Petersburg native, was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft this past week, becoming the highest drafted player ever out of Pinellas County.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Fowler was injured in 11-on-11 drills and had to be assisted off the field, and later needed a cart.

Here is video shot of the injury by Chad Weeks.

 

 

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Florida hires Louisiana Tech coach Michael White to replace Billy Donovan

On Monday Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said he planned to take his time to find the right person to replace longtime coach Billy Donovan.

It took him three days.

The Gators have hired Louisiana Tech coach Michael White as the Gators' new men's head basketball coach.

White has agreed in principle to a six-year deal at an average of $2 million per year.

“Michael White is someone who came to the top of our list very quickly and he checks all of the boxes we were looking for,” Foley said. “He is a winner who has a high level of integrity, plays an up-tempo style of play and has the respect of his peers and the basketball community. He has experience in coaching, recruiting and playing in the Southeastern Conference and has a strong pedigree. He has a certain authenticity with people and is not afraid of challenges.”

White, the 2014-15 Conference USA Coach of the Year, will join the Florid staff after leading Louisiana Tech to a 101-40 record (.716) over the past four seasons, including three straight conference championships. …

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Tampa native and former Gator Preston Tucker called up to majors for Houston Astros

Preston Tucker, a 24-year-old outfielder, was a seventh round pick for the Astros in 2012.

AP photo

Preston Tucker, a 24-year-old outfielder, was a seventh round pick for the Astros in 2012.

Former Gator and Tampa Plant alum Preston Tucker has been called up to the majors for the Houston Astros.

Tucker was called up from Class AAA Fresno to replace George Springer and will meet the team in Anaheim where the Astros are scheduled to start a four-game series with the Angels tonight.

Springer was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday after he crashed, face-first, into the right field wall Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

This will be the first time Tucker, a forrmer All-SEC player with the Gators, has been to the majors.

On Wednesday, he posted this on his Twitter account: "Today, I got the best news of my life, and I've never been more humbled. Go Astros"

Tucker, a 24-year-old outfielder, was a seventh round pick for the Astros in 2012. With Fresno this season he's hit .320 with a .378 on-base percentage, .650 slugging percentage and 10 home runs.

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Reports: Louisiana Tech coach Michael White leading candidate to replace Billy Donovan

According to reports, Louisiana Tech coach Michael White has emerged as a leading candidate to replace former Florida coach Billy Donovan.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, citing sources, said White could meet with Florida athletic officials as early as today.

White, 38, has led Louisiana Tech to a 101-40 record in four seasons.

Donovan, 49, resigned last week after 19 seasons with the Gators to become the head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

More on White and his ties to Florida.

 

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Former Gator David Eckstein is Florida's SEC Legend for 2015

Former Gator standout David Eckstein is among four players to be honored as SEC Legends for the Class of 2015, the league announced today.

Eckstein joins Andy Phillips Alabama); Mark Johnson Texas A&M) and Larry Schmittou (Vanderbilt). Four legends are recognized each year, with representatives from Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn and Kentucky set to be honored in 2016.

The SEC Legends will be honored at the 2015 SEC Baseball Tournament May 19-24 at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala. Each legend will be recognized individually throughout the two quarterfinal matchups on Friday and will have on-field recognition and an awards presentation by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on Saturday, May 23, during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.

Eckstein was a key member of the 1996 Florida team that won the SEC's Eastern Division and regular-season titles on its way to the NCAA East Regional championship and a berth at the NCAA College World Series, where the Gators finished third. …

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Billy Donovan's departure may cost Gators a top recruit

Billy Donovan said he had talked with all four of the incoming recruits.

AP photo

Billy Donovan said he had talked with all four of the incoming recruits.

At his farewell press conference on Monday, former Florida coach Billy Donovan said he believed the four incoming recruits for the 2015 Gators basketball class would need time to process his decision to leave after 19 years.

Now it appears Donovan's departure for a job with the Oklahoma City Thunder has at least one rethinking his decision to attend Florida.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette is reporting that shooting guard KeVaughn Allen plans to ask out of his Letter of Intent.

Allen's stepfather, John Curry, called into a sports talk show in Little Rock said Allen is planning to asked to be released from his LOI. According to Curry, Allen was coming to Florida because of Donovan.

A two-time Arkansas basketball prep player of the year, Allen was ranked 54th in the nation in ESPN.com's latest rankings, and is the highest-rated in UF's 2015 class.

On Monday, Donovan said he had talked with all four of the incoming recruits. …

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Gators Kelsey Stewart and Lauren Haeger earn SEC Player and Pitcher of the Year honors

Florida's Kelsey Stewart was named SEC Player of the Year and teammate Lauren Haeger was named SEC Pitcher of the Year, the league anounced today.

Junior Kirsti Merritt joins Haeger and Stewart as First Team All-SEC selections, while infielder Nicole DeWitt and utility player Aleshia Ocasio earned spots on the Freshman All-SEC team. Florida is the top fielding team in the country according to the latest NCAA statistics, and Stewart and Kathlyn Medina were selected to the SEC All-Defensive team.

Stewart is the fifth Gator to be named SEC Player of the Year, and the first since Michelle Moultrie in 2012. She has been chosen to an All-SEC Team in each of her three years (2014 – First Team, All-Defensive; 2013 – Second Team, Freshman All-SEC).

Haeger earned UF's third SEC Pitcher of the Year award, and the first since Stacey Nelson won the honor for the second consecutive season in 2009. The right-hander earns her third career All-SEC selection (2013 – First Team; 2012 – Freshman All-SEC). In coach Tim Walton’s 10 seasons, the Gators have earned four conference Player of the Year selections and three Pitcher of the Year honors. …

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Billy Donovan hopes to be remembered for more than wins and losses

Billy Donovan won 502 games and two national titles at Florida.

But when people look back on his impact with the Gators and remember his legacy, Donovan, who is leaving after 19 years to become the head coach with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunders, hopes he'll be judged by more than just wins and losses.

"I think that people will always look at wins and losses and those kinds of things," Donovan said Monday at his farewell press conference. "I hope that I'm able to leave a big gaping hole here, and I don't mean that from an arrogant standpoint. I mean that that I was able to make an impact. That I was able to impact people's lives. That I was able to bring value to people. That I was able to help
people grow from staff to players to the administration.

"I just hope that I brought value," Donovan added.I hope I made Florida better.  I'm not talking about from wins and losses.  I hope I made Florida better as an institution. I want the people in the community to kind of remember me as somebody that really cared deeply because I had my kids grow up in their primary years and their development had a lot to do with the community and the people here." …

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Gators finish with eight players selected in 2015 NFL Draft

At final tally, the Florida Gators had eight players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In today's final rounds, four Gators were selected.

The eight players drafted is two shy of the school record, and the Gators had six offensive players taken in same draft for the first time since 1978 (eight rounds).

Offensive lineman Max Garcia was a fourth round selection by the Denver Broncos today. LB Neiron Ball was selected in the fourth round, WR Andre Debose was taken in the seventh round - both by the Oakland Raiders. OL Trenton Brown was the final Gator picked as he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round.

Those players join DL Dante Fowler, Jr., who was the No. 3 overall selection to Jacksonville on Thursday night; OL D.J. Humphries who was the No. 27 overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round; OL Chaz Green (Tampa Catholic), who was selected in the third round by Dallas and TB Matt Jones (Armwood) who was selected in third round by Washington.

With Humphries, Green, Garcia and Brown getting drafted, it marks the first year the Gators have had four offensive lineman selected in the Common Draft Era (1967). …

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Gators offensive lineman D.J. Humphries selected No. 24 overall by Arizona Cardinals

D.J. Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

AP photo

D.J. Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

Former Florida offensive lineman D.J. Humphries was selected No. 24 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

The Gators have now had six first round draft picks in the last three years. Earlier Thursday, Dante Fowler, Jr. was selected at No. 3 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Florida had two players selected in the first round for the second time in the last three years.

"This is a great fit," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after Humphries was selected. "(D.J.'s) got the best feet of any offensive tackle in the draft. He can start on the right side or the left. He's an immediate starter."

 

 

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Billy Donovan leaving Gators for NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

[Getty Images (2014)]

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

Billy Donovan is leaving Florida for the NBA.

Donovan 49, has been hired as the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Florida and Oklahoma City officials announced this afternoon.

Donovan leaves after 19 seasons and two national titles at Florida. He joined the Gators’ staff in 1996 after spending two years at Marshall University – his first head coaching job.

Donovan is the third head coach for the OKC franchise.

“I want to thank Jeremy Foley, the players, coaches and staff I’ve had the chance to work with during my time at Florida,” Donovan said. “The administrative support and stability has been unbelievable here, and it is an incredibly difficult decision to leave that. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation.”

Yahoo Sports has reported that Donovan will receive a five-year deal. …

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