Former Gators won't be high on 2014 NFL draft boards

Coming off a 4-8 season, the Gators have several players expected to be taken in next month's NFL Draft, but none of them are expected to be high draft picks, according to ESPN.com's NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr.

Florida DB Marcus Roberson and CB Louchez Purifoy did not run well during their NFL workouts, and that will hurt both Kiper said. He said neither will be first round selections and that Purifoy may fall as late as the fourth round. Roberson will also be a third or fourth round pick, Kiper said.

Gators DT Dominique Easley, who missed most of the season after suffering an ACL injury, is also expected to be a third round selection.

 

 

 

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Former Gator Will Hill facing third substance abuse suspension

The Associated Press is reporting that former Gator safety Will Hill is facing a possible third suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Hill was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for using a performance-enhancing drug, which he said was Adderall. He was suspended for the first four games last season for using marijuana, which he said was to relieve stress.

More on the full story.

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Former Gator Jon Harrison says 2013 team was in total chaos

It should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the Florida Gators' 2013 season closely, but former Gators center Jon Harrison has opened up about that tumultuous season in which he says the teams "crumbled" and was in chaos.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne, Harrison describes locker room fights and altercations, players sneaking girls into the team hotels before games - or sneaking out themselves - and other events that led to the Gators "falling apart."

"We had a lot of individuals on the team," Harrison told Dunne. "Having individuals on your team kind of kills your team. We had people who thought they were entitled because of the school that they went to....There was always someone to blame. No one wanted to take it on themselves."

Harrison became infamous as one of the Gators caught on tape blocking another player during a game this season, said the season humbled him and ultimately made him stronger.

Considering the Gators won just four games last season, nothing he said should come as a shock.

If you want more, here's is Dunne's full story from his interview with Harrison.

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Vegas puts odds on Gators Billy Donovan in the NBA

Bovada lists Billy Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the Minnesota Timberwolves' new head coach.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Bovada lists Billy Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the Minnesota Timberwolves' new head coach.

In the midst of reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan, Vegas is weighing in on the odds Donovan - and several other college coaches - will become the Timberwolves' new coach.

Bovada lists Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the new head coach.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that Donovan was one of several coaches the Wolves are interested in to replace the retiring Rick Adelman.

Donovan's name has also been connected to the L.A. Lakers in the event its coach is fired.

From what I can gather so far, there seems to be no interest on Donovan's part in the Timberwolves' job.

But for what it's worth, here's how Bovada sees it when it comes to the Timberwolves' job:

Flip Saunders                3/2       

Fred Hoiberg                 4/1       

Billy Donovan               4/1       

Tom Izzo                       4/1       

Lionel Hollins                5/1       

Stan Van Gundy            5/1       

Jeff Van Gundy             14/1

 

 

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Former Gators coach Frank Verducci joins Northern Iowa staff

Former Florida O-line coach Frank Verducci has been hired at the new tight ends/offensive line coach at Northern Iowa, coach Mark Farley announced.

It is yet another stop for the veteran coach who has been a nomad in the profession, coaching in the Big Ten, SEC and NFL.

Verducci spent one season with the Gators under coach Will Muschamp, but was fired after one season after reportedly seeking NFL jobs at the end of the season. He spent the past season with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He has been in coaching since 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gators golf coach Buddy Alexander to retire after nearly three decades

Longtime Florida men's golf coach Buddy Alexander announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the season.

Alexander, a native of St. Petersburg, will conclude his career with the Gators after 27 seasons.

He is scheduled to coach the Gators at this week’s SEC Tournament and will finish out the remainder of the season.He will officially walk away on June 30.

"Coaching is a young man's game and it is simply time for me to turn the reins over to someone else and allow this great university, athletic department and golf program to be everything it should be," Alexander said. "I just thought it was a good time to do it."

Alexander is Florida’s longest-tenured coach and is second all-time behind former UF baseball coach Dave Fuller, who led the Gators for 28 seasons from 1948-75.

Alexander, 61, is an eight-time SEC Coach of the Year and led the Gators to two national titles (1993, 2001) and 11 top-10 finishes and seven Top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships.

“He’s one of the all-time greats,’’ Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “He’s had a heck of a run. There’s no better Gator than Buddy Alexander.” …

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Gators Rhonda Faehn leads Florida to back-to-back gymnastics national titles "the right way"

In what coach Rhonda Faehn called the Gators' best overall performance of the season, Florida rallied in the final rotation to earn its second consecutive NCAA Gymnastics Championship Saturday night in Birmingham.

Courtesy of Mary Howard

In what coach Rhonda Faehn called the Gators' best overall performance of the season, Florida rallied in the final rotation to earn its second consecutive NCAA Gymnastics Championship Saturday night in Birmingham.

When Rhonda Faehn took over the Florida gymnastics program 12 years ago, she said her major goal was to build Florida into a place where top recruits would always consider among their potential choices.

After Saturday night, it's safe to say Faehn has accomplished that goal.

In what Faehn called the Gators' best overall performance of the season, Florida rallied in the final rotation to earn its second consecutive NCAA Gymnastics Championship Saturday night in Birmingham. The Gators shared the title with Oklahoma after the two finished with identical scores of 198.175. It is the first tie in the 33-year history of the NCAA gymnastics championships.

"What an incredible weekend of gymnastics," Faehn said Monday. I’m so proud of all of our athletes that competed their hearts out and really put together the best weekend of gymnastics that we’ve done all year. They just left it all out there on the floor and the results just couldn’t have been in better. I was proud for our senior class. . . to go out there and just what a way to finish off their careers winning back-to-back national titles, especially with as many injuries as they’ve had to deal with throughout their careers. It’s really still surreal, it’s going to take awhile to set in."

Florida is the first team to win its first two NCAA Championships in consecutive years since Utah claimed the first five NCAA titles (1982-86). Six teams have claimed national gymnastics team titles - Alabama, UCLA, Florida, Georgia, Utah and Oklahoma. That is the fewest number of different teams to
claim the national crown among the 13 sports challenging for national titles since the NCAA began fielding women’s championships in the 1981-82 season.

The Gators are also the first team which began the season at No. 1 in the GymInfo preseason poll to win the NCAA title since Georgia in 2009.

Florda won its second title in dramatic form. The Gators entered the final rotation trailing Oklahoma, which had scored the highest score in NCAA Tournament history and was awaiting Florida's completion of the meet in first place. After Kytra Hunter scored a 9.95 on the floor routine, it was up to Bridgette Caquatto to do at least the same, if not better, for the Gators to win the title.

“It was so special because and it was a perfect position for her because she had put so much pressure on herself," Faehn said. "We were in that exact scenario a month ago for the SEC championships,in that exact same arena, on that floor – and we didn’t perform the way we wanted to. And that was the best learning experience for the entire team, but also for Bridgette because she was able to step inside herself to figure out what she was thinking when the mistake happened (at SEC’s) and what she needed to do the next time she was put in that situation. And there she was, exactly in that situation, but the pressure level raised probably a million times. And she performed beautifully. And that’s the mark of a tremendous mental competitor. is that when the biggest pressure is on, they deliver. I was thrilled for her."

Faehn said she didn't talk to Hunter and Caquatto about what scores they needed because she didn't want to add any pressure before they took the floor to compete.

“I had an idea that they both had to basically hit the routines of their life, the best that they could do," she said. "And I was just telling them just go out and have fun and do what you know how to do. You really cannot put that extra pressure on them if you let them know. They know what’s at stake. They can feel the intensity in the atmosphere. But it was wonderful because that was an exception routine for Kytra, no doubt. And then Bridgette that’s one of the best she’s done all year. And then at that point, we just have to leave it in the hands of the judges because we didn’t really know exactly the score. And when we finished, I just turned to the athletes and said, you know what it doesn’t matter what the score is, how it finishes, I’m just proud of the way you performed. That Super Six competition, that was the best performance overall from all of our athletes for the whole season. And that’s all you can ask from the team.

"And then I heard Adrian (Burde, UF assistant coach) say we tied and I was like ‘What does that mean?’ Nobody’s ever tied before. So instantly I was like somebody get out the calculator because we might have to count that sixth score. And then somebody said if they do a tiebreak you win by a quarter of a tenth. And then somebody came over from the NCAA and said ‘we don’t break the tie'. So Adrian ran over to Oklahoma and told them they’d won too. And it was just a great way to share the title with Oklahoma."

Three years ago, the Gators entered the national championships ranked No. 1 and with high expectations to win it all, but fell short. Faehn said she learned some valuable lessons from that season.

“I think one of the biggest things is that it’s important that the athletes are able to buy in and believe that not only are they capable of winning, but stepping back and not having that expectation," she said. "In the past I felt they were focused in on the end result, and when you do that you get ahead of yourself and you’re not focusing in on the present and what’s right in front of you. And the last few years I think we’ve really done a great job of being able to step back and kind of keep the big ahhh at the end of the season away from them so that their sole focus is taking it one step at a time – qualifying for the Super Six and not thinking about how you want to win the title before you even compete in the Super Six. And then the next thing is just really grateful to be on that floor and given a possibility to win. And then taking it event per event. It’s easier said than done. It’s no doubt it’s so hard to keep them focused, to not look at the score, to not get distracted by the crowd. And that’s the main thing." …

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Multiple Gator teams vying for championships this weekend

It's a championship weekend for several Florida Gators teams who will be vying for conference and national titles.

The defending national champion Gators gymnastics team is in Alabama this weekend for the NCAA Gymnastics championships.

The No. 1 Gators (15-2, 6-1 SEC) will compete in tonight's second semifinal round at 8 p.m. along with Alabama, UCLA, Nebraska, Penn State and Utah. Florida will begin the competition on the vault.

The first semifinal round, at 2 p.m., will include: Georgia, Illinois, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford

The top six teams - three from each round - will advance to Saturday's Super Six team finals at 7 p.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.

Florida has qualified for the NCAA Championships 32 times, missing only the 2000 event. The Gators advanced to the 2014 national stage by winning the University Park Regional, held April 5 in Penn State's Rec Hall. This is the fourth time Florida enters the NCAA Championships as No. 1, as UF was the top seed in 2013, 2012 and shared the No. 1 seed with Utah in 2007.

TENNIS …

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Gators Will Muschamp happy with spring practice

Florida concluded its 2014 spring practices today with the annual Orange and Blue game.

Gators coach Will Muschamp said he was pleased with the overall practices, including the installation of Florida's new up-tempo offense under Kurt Roper.

Hear Muschamp's postgame comments: <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SBhi6bbbyu8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Vernon Hargreaves focused on becoming a leader for Gators

After a freshman season that earned him All-American status, Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves said he's pleased with what he was able to accomplish this past season, but focused on the future.

Hargreaves said Wednesday afternoon he is trying to become more of a leader after the Gators lost many upperclassmen on defense, and are in need of players to step up.

Hear more from Hargreaves on the secondary and what to expect in this weekend's spring game:

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Wilbekin prepared for rematch with UConn in Final Four

Florida senior G Scottie Wilbekin is expected to be one-half of a highly-anticipated matchup with UConn's Shabazz Napier when the Gators and Huskies meet Saturday night in the NCAA national semifinal game.

The two teams played earlier this season, with UConn earning a 65-64 victory.

Wilbekin talked about the previous game and the upcoming Final Four game during press conferences on Friday.

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Gators Scottie Wilbekin looking forward to playing UConn again

The last time Florida and UConn met, Gators senior G Scottie Wilbekin  missed the final minutes of the game after turning his ankle.

The Gators eventually lost that Dec. 2 game at UConn on a buzzer-beater by the Huskies' Shabazz Napier.

On Saturday, the Gators and Huskies will meet again - this time with a trip to the national championship game on the line.

Watch Wilbekin talk about UConn and his thoughts on the Final Four.

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Gators Casey Prather named Wooden All-American

Florida senior forward Casey Prather is among 10 players named to the John R. Wooden Award All-American team, announced today.

The team was selected through voting from nearly 1,000 college basketball experts and by fan voting across the nation.

Prather is averaging 13.8 points per game, with 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

All players included on the John Wooden All-American team are making progress towards graduation and have maintained a minimum grade point average of 2.0 -a criteria insisted upon by the late legendary coach Wooden. In addition to regular season play, voters could also consider performance throughout the first three rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in making their selections.

Florida, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, will play UConn Saturday at 6:09 p.m. in the first national semifinal game at Cowboys Stadium. The game will be televised on TBS>.

Here is the full Wooden All-American team:

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Nick Johnson, Arizona 
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Doug McDermott,  Creighton
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut 
Jabari Parker, Duke
Casey Prather. Florida
Russ Smith, Louisville
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

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Gators don't see Dayton as Cinderella team

Because Dayton is a No. 11 seed and Florida is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, many have given the Flyers the NCAA tourney "Cinderella" label.

The Gators are not among those. Florida's players said Friday the way Dayton is playing - having defeated Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford on the way to the Elite Eight - there is no way they should be considered a Cinderella.

"They're all great at shooting threes," Florida senior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "They have great percentages. They do a good job of getting in the lane. They're active on defense. I think that they have a lot of depth, have a lot of different guys who can score and put points on the board in a number of different ways.  It's going to be a challenge to match up with them and to stick with it for the whole 40 minutes."

Listen to Wilbekin talk more about today's game:

 

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Gators Michael Frazier focused, ready for battle with Dayton

Coming off a game-high 19 point game against UCLA, Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier is feeling confident that his early-tournament shooting struggles are over.

But during interviews Friday prior to today's Elite Eight game against Dayton, Frazier was extremely focused.

He said the Gators are "excited for the opportunity" to play in another Elite Eight game - the second for Frazier - and that Florida's players continued to be fueled by their quest to "chase greatness."

When asked to define chasing greatness, Frazier said: "I think chasing greatness is just being locked in every single moment. Not worrying about the past, not worrying about the future, just trying to dominate every possession and be our best."

Watch Frazier talk more about today's game:

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