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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Gators fall in two national baseball polls

After losing two of three games in a weekend home series against Arkansas, Florida fell this week in both the Baseball America and USA Today/ESPN Coaches baseball polls, released on Monday.

The Gators defeated Arkansas in Friday's series opener, but lost games on Saturday (5-1) and Sunday (3-1). The Gators are 3-3 in decisive third games in SEC series this season.

Florida (33-12, 12-9 SEC) fell from No. 2 to No. 5 in the USA Today/ESPN poll - which includes six SEC teams in the Top 25. The Gators went from No. 5 to No. 7 in the Baseball America poll.

Florida has struggled offensively lately, including in a loss to USF last week.

“It’s been very hard for us to score runs,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Teams go through this and we’re not immune to it. It’s a difficult time right now, but we will get through it and we’ll hopefully be better because of it. . . . We just haven’t been able to put it together. We need to do a better job getting lead-off men on base, so we can get some offense and some momentum going. I know we’ll get out of this thing and we’ll be a much better team because of it.”

Florida State (36-7) is No. 1 in both polls this week. …

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Bradley Beal's stock on the rise as NBA Draft approaches

When former Gator basketball star Bradley Beal announced earlier this month that he had decided to leave school after just one year and enter the NBA Draft, Gators coach Billy Donovan said Beal would be among the Top 5 picks in the nation by the time the draft is held on June 28.

His prediction seems to be right on the money, at least as far as some NBA Draft analysts are concerned.

In his latest mock draft,'s Chad Ford has Beal listed as the No. 3 overall pick - behind former Kentucky players Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The 6-foot-5 Beal played in 37 games for the Gators, averaging 34.2 minutes per game. He also averaged 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and shot 44.5 percent from the field.


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Jaye Howard becomes first Florida player selected in 2012 NFL Draft

Former Gator DT Jaye Howard was selected by the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday with the 19th pick of the fourth round (114th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, becoming the first Gator selected in this year’s Draft.

It is the first time since 2006 that the Gators have not had a first-round selection, but UF has now had at least one player selected in every NFL Draft since 1951.

“I'm happy to hear that Jaye has been selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “Jaye made tremendous strides during the last year to put himself in a position to be a valued pick in the NFL Draft.”

Howard joins a long line of UF defensive linemen selected in the NFL Draft - 15 have been drafted since 2000. He becomes the first selected since Jermaine Cunningham (New England Patriots) and Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals) were selected back-to-back, picks 53 and 54, respectively, in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Seahawks have drafted nine Gators in their history with the most recent being wide receiver Darrell Jackson in the third round in 2000. …

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Dunedin grad Casey Turgeon leads Gator rally for victory over Arkansas

No. 2 Florida rallied from a two-point deficit to with a three-run sixth inning to earn a 3-2 win over No. 17 Arkansas Friday night.

The Gators (33-10, 12-7 SEC) got three scoreless innings from their bullpen. Florida was held hitless into the sixth by Razorback sophomore Ryne Stanek (6-3), but the Gators tied the game on a two-out, two-run double by freshman Casey Turgeon - a graduate of Dunedin High, then took the lead on an RBI single by junior Austin Maddox. It was Turgeon's seventh double of the season.

“You have to tip your cap to (Ryne) Stanek,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was outstanding and left us hitless through five innings. I wasn’t quite sure when our offense was going to get going, and that had a lot to do with him on the mound. His stuff was really good tonight, but, equally I thought Hudson Randall was really good tonight. He gave us a great start and obviously our bullpen came in and did what they needed to do. We hung in there and battled and that was the most important thing.” …

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South Carolina loses 12 football scholarships for NCAA violations

The NCAA has fined South Carolina and given the Gamecocks three years fo probation for violations including failing to monitor its athletics program,  impermissible recruiting, extra benefits and preferential treatment.

The NCAA began investigating the Gamecocks in the fall of 2010 when it was uncovered that student-athletes - 10 from football and two from women's track and field - received reduced rates on housing.

The full story is here.


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Gators kick off pivotal SEC baseball series vs. Arkansas tonight

After splitting a pair of mid-week games - a loss to USF and a victory over Bethune-Cookman, No. 2 Florida (32-10/11-7 SEC) will conclude its nine-game homestand at McKethan Stadium with an important league series against No. 17 Arkansas (29-12/9-9 SEC) this weekend.

The first two games - tonight and Saturday- will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday’s finale will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

The Gators are currently two games behind No. 3 Kentucky (35-7/13-5 SEC) for the top spot in the SEC and in the Eastern Division, while the Razorbacks are three games behind No. 6 LSU (33-9/12-6) in the Western Division standings. 

Tonight, UF junior Hudson Randall (3-1, 3.52) will face Arkansas sophomore Ryne Stanek (6-2, 2.30). Randall will be making his first Friday night start since March 30 at Ole Miss. He  is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two career starts and appearances against the Razorbacks. In 12.2 innings, he has given up 12 hits and six runs (four earned), with seven strikeouts and one walk. …

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Former Gators get another shot at NFL Draft tonight

With the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft scheduled for tonight, former Gator RB Chris Rainey and DT Jaye Howard will still be among the former college players hoping to hear their names called.

No Florida players were selected in Thursday night's first round for the first time since 2006, but both Rainey and Howard are the players draft analyst believe are the most likely selections from Florida in this year's draft. Whether they have a chance to be selected in either of tonight's rounds remains to be seen.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., said he's confident both will be drafted.

"When you look at Rainey, I think there’s speed and versatility, and he gives you the ability to do some things with him in this game,'' Kiper Jr said. "This is today’s football. Today’s NFL is different. When you get a kid you can move around like Rainey can be moved around in offense and present some real matchup issues with his speed and help you on special teams, as well, I think he’s a third, fourth rounder.  I thought that all along.  Jeff Demps would have been in that third round mix certainly if he wasn’t pursuing another sport other than football.'' …

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No Gators, but nine SEC players taken in first round of NFL Draft

For the first time since 2006, the Florida Gators did not have a player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Gators weren't alone in the shutout. In fact, no players from Florida universities were selected on Thursday night, marking the first time since 1980 that no player from Florida, Florida State or Miami was selected in the first round.

However, the SEC continued its dominance in the draft with nine players selected in the first round. It is the sixth consecutive year, and eighth in the past 10 years that the SEC has had multiple selections in the top seven of the NFL Draft. The nine selections was third-highest for the league, behind 10 in 2011, and a record 11 in2007.

Of the top six selections in the past six NFL Drafts (36 selections total), 15 have come from the SEC. The league has had a top three pick in the NFL Draft in 10 of the past 15 seasons.

This is the second year in a row that the SEC has had six of the first 14 selections in the NFL Draft, and eight of nine from the SEC were defensive players.

During the last six NFL Drafts, the SEC has had 51 players taken in the first round, an average of 8.5 per season. …

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Gators' streak of NFL First Round Draft picks comes to a close tonight

Florida's streak of five consecutive seasons with at least one first round selection in the NFL Draft is expected to come to an end tonight.

No Florida players are forecast to be first-round choices in the NFL Draft, which begins tonight.

When former Gator center Mike Pouncey was selected at No. 15 overall last season, he continued a streak of five seasons for the Gators with at least one first round pick. He was the 43rd Florida player to be selected in the first round – the sixth offensive lineman. The Gators have had a player selected in the first round in 12 of the last 15 years.

In fact, it's a down year for Florida's Big Three - Florida, Florida State and Miami. It's possible none will have a first round selection, which would be a first since 1980. Florida coach Will Muschamp said he can't speak for the other schools, but he thinks it's a fair assessment when analysts and experts say Florida's program is in a down period. …

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Gator tennis player Lauren Embree named SEC Player of the Year

Florida junior Lauren Embreee has been named the SEC's Player of the Year in tennis, joining five other Gator teammates earning Coaches All-SEC honors. Three Gator men's players were also All-SEC honorees. …

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Preston Tucker named finalist for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

68.jpgPlant alum and Florida senior infielder/outfielder Preston Tucker is one of 10 baseball student-athletes to be named as a finalist for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, students must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

The award was won by former Gator Brandon McArthur in 2009.

An anthropology major, Tucker was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies last year, but  decided to return to Florida for his senior season.  At the time, Tucker said: “A lot of guys don’t have the opportunity to say that they got a college degree and I always want to have that to my credit. The bottom line is that I can go off and play pro ball next year and this is an opportunity that I really didn't want to pass up. It's playing baseball, it's the game I've always loved to play so in the end I'll still be doing what I love.” …

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After loss to USF, Gators return to the mound tonight against Bethune-Cookman

Florida will try to rebound from a Tuesday night loss to USF when the No. 2 Gators host Bethune-Cookman tonight at 7.

USF senior catcher Andrew Longley hit two solo home runs, and the Bulls held off a late rally to earn a 5-3 win over the Gators Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. The victory was the first for USF over Florida since 2005. Florida had won the past 12 meetings with the Bulls.

“It was a great win, a huge win for us and our program,’’ USF coach Lelo Prado said. “I’m so proud of this team, so glad for the seniors, and I’m just glad for USF.’’

After falling behind 3-0, the Gators (31-10) rallied to tie the game at three, but couldn't hold on.

"We couldn't get things going offensively,’’ UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. Matt Reed (USF pitcher) did a nice job. I think we hit 13 fly ball outs and we struck out four times so 17 of the outs were fly balls and strike outs. When you work with only 10 quality outs, it's tough to score runs.''

Tonight's game against Bethune-Cookman (24-17) will be the second meeting of the season for the two teams. The Gators earned an 8-6 win on Feb. 21.





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Gators and USF meet in early-week baseball game tonight

tuck-thumb.jpgIn the midst of a nine-game homestand, No. 2 Florida (31-9/11-7 SEC) will host USF (27-14/11-4 Big East) tonight at 7 at McKethan Stadium.

In the last meeting between the teams, Florida defeated USF, 8-1, on March 9, 2011, in front of a sellout crowd of 3,211 fans at USF Baseball Stadium. Florida has won the last 12 games against USF. The Bulls last defeated the Gators 11-5, on May 11, 2005 in Tampa.
*Kevin O’Sullivan is a perfect 10-0 versus the Bulls, 8-0 in Gainesville and 2-0 in Tampa.

This past weekend, Florida won two of three games against Georgia to remain two games behind Kentucky for the league lead. It was the sixth-straight year that the Gators have taken the series from the Bulldogs.

USF will face a tough challenge tonight, as McKethan Stadium has been good to the Gators this season. Florida is 21-3 at home this season and the Gators are 13-1 (.929) against in-state opponents this year: 3-0 vs. Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State and Miami; 1-0 vs. Bethune-Cookman, UCF, Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic; and 0-1 vs. North Florida.

The Gators will start freshman RHP Johnny Magliozzi against the Bulls tonight.


[Photo: University of Florida]


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Gators' Gabi Wiegand named lacrosse National Player of the Week

gabi-womenslax-pow.jpgJunior attacker Gabi Wiegand has been named the National Player of the Week for her outstanding performance in Florida's upset victory over then-No. 1 Northwestern this past weekend.

This is the first weekly honor for Wiegand as a Gator. She transferred to Florida this past fall from Richmond.

Wiegand scored a game-high four points, including the game-winning goal with 5:47 left in the second half, to lead the Gators past then-undefeated, top-ranked Northwestern, 8-7, and bring the ALC regular-season title to Florida for the second-straight year. Wiegand had a goal and two assists in the first half to help Florida take an early 5-2 lead. After the Wildcats forced their way back into the game and tied the score in the second half, Wiegand broke a 14-minute scoring drought with an unassisted goal to put UF back in front, 8-7, and help give the Gators their biggest win in program history. The win snapped the Wildcats' 23-game winning streak dating back to April 16, 2011, and handed NU just its second loss at Lakeside Field since 2004. …

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OL from Maryland joins the Gators

OL Max Garcia, a former starter for Maryland, is transferring to Florida, coach Will Muschamp announced Monday.

Garcia is a 6-foot-4, 290 pound player from Norcross, Ga. He started 12 games for Maryland in 2011. Per NCAA rules, he must sit out one season, but will have two years of college eligibility remaining.

“We are excited to have Max be a part of our 2012 signing class and our offensive line unit,” Muschamp said.

Garcia had also considered Mississippi, Clemson, Georgia and USC. Although the Gators announced Garcia's transfer today, he wrote about it on his Twitter account this past weekend, saying: "Once a Terp always a Terp, but it is a great day to be a Florida Gator"" !! #GatorNation.




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