Gator Report

Antonya English

Rutgers star guard Eli Carter to transfer to Florida

Florida coach Billy Donovan has landed another star transfer from Rutgers University.

Eli Carter, a star guard for the Scarlet Knights, announced via Twitter this afternoon that he plans to transfer to Florida. Former Gators guard Mike Rosario also joined the Florida team three years ago after transferring from Rutgers.

"Proud to announce that I will be continuing my career at the University of Florida!!, Carter said via Twitter.

Carter had narrowed his choices to Maryland and the Gators, but cancelled his visit to College Park. He visited Gainesville this past weekend.

Carter is a 6-foot-2 guard who received his release from Rutgers after controversial head coach Mike Rice was fired amidst allegations of abusing his players.

Carter led the Scarlet Knights in scoring as a freshman (13.8 points per game) and a sophomore (14.9) before he suffered a season-ending broken leg in February. He has two years of eligibility remaining, and could be eligible to play immediately. He is expected to seek a waiver from the NCAA due to the unusual nature of his need to transfer. …

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Gator gymnast Bridget Sloan wins prestigious Honda Award

Florida freshman gymnast Bridget Sloan has been named the 2013 recipient of the Honda Award for gymnastics, an award presented annually to the nation’s top female in the sport. 

She is the second consecutive UF gymnast to win the prestigious award, joining teammate Kytra Hunter, who won the 2012 Honda after winning a pair of individual titles at last year’s NCAA championships. 

Sloan helped lead the Gators to their first NCAA title, and also won the meet’s all-around and balance beam individual titles, becoming the second UF gymnast to win multiple NCAA events in the same year.

Sloan is only the fourth freshman gymnast to collect the Honda Award. Three Gator gymnasts have received the honor, led by Ann Woods wh won Florida's first in 1982.

"What a freshman year it has been - being a part of the University of Florida's first NCAA Championship team and now this," Sloan said. "I am so honored to receive the Honda Award. This whole season has been one highlight after another and I feel so fortunate to be a part of the collegiate experience. I am happy to share this award with my teammates, coaches and the Gator fans as their support is so important." …

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Florida women's golf team receives NCAA regional tournament bid

The No. 5 Florida women's golf team received an invitation to be a part of the field for for the 2013 NCAA Central Women's Golf Regional tournament, at the Oklahoma University Golf Course in Norman, OK.

The Gators, who will compete as the three-seed in the regional field, will be attempting to advance to the NCAA Championships for the 24th time in school history and have its first back-to-back-to-back appearances since the 1996 through 1998 seasons.

Florida has now received a bid to participate in an NCAA regional in 20 of the 21 years that the current format began in 1993, only missing out in 1999.

The Central Regional will include seven teams that won its respective conference tournaments and nine teams that are currently ranked in the top-25 of the GolfWorld/WGCA Coaches' Poll including: No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 10 Washington, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 18 Texas Tech, No. 20 UC Davis and No. 25 Iowa State.

Eight teams and two individuals from each of three regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga. The championship finals will be held May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course.

 

 

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Six former Gators sign free agent NFL contracts

In addition to the eight Florida football players who were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft this past week, six more signed free agent contracts with NFL teams.

Wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., (Kansas City Chiefs), WR Omarius Hines (Baltimore Ravens), DT Omar Hunter (Pittsburgh Steelers), LB Lerentee McCray (Denver Broncos) OL Xavier Nixon (Washington Redskins), and DE Earl Okine (Houston Texans) all agreed to free agent contracts following the draft.

Hammond appeared in 48 games, starting 19. He had 63 catches for 809 yards and six touchdowns in his career.

Hines appeared in 51 games as a Gator with nine starts. He had 61 career receptions for 767 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 323 yards on 31 carries (10.1 avg.) and four touchdowns. His 323 career rushing yards is third-most in school history by a wide receiver, trailing only Percy Harvin (1.852 yards) and Wes Chandler (356 yards).

Hunter saw action in 56 games at UF during his career, starting 31. He had 111 tackles, 55 solo and 56 assisted, 11.0 TFL, a sack, five pass breakups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal. …

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Former Gator Tim Tebow released by New York Jets

Getty Images (2012)

Former Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow's tumultous 13-month stint with the New York Jets has ended.

Tebow was released by the team this morning, making him a free agent. He must pass through waivers, and NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to claim him.

"We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason (losing weight). We wish him the best moving forward."

The decision was not surprising. On Friday the Jets drafted former West Virginia QB Geno Smith in the second round, meaning New York would have five quarterbacks competing for the starting job. Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Smith remain on the roster.

Tebow was acquired by the Jets from the Broncos in March 2012 for a fourth-round draft pick.  At the time, Tebow was coming off a season in which he took over as the starter for the Broncos in midseason and helped lead them into th playoffs. …

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Eight Gators selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, four on final day

Four former Florida Gators players were selected on the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, bringing the total numbers of Florida players drafted to eight - the largest number of players the Gators have had selected in the draft since 2010.

On Saturday, LB Jelani Jenkins, RB Mike Gillislee, K Caleb Sturgis and S Josh Evans were all among the players drafted.

Jenkins (4th round, No. 104) Gillislee (5th round, No. 164) and Sturgis (5th round, No. 166) were all selected by the Miami Dolphins.

Evans was a sixth round (No. 169) selection by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jenkins was the second linebacker from the Gators' 2012 team taken in the draft, joining Jon Bostic. Both are the first linebackers from UF to be chosen in the NFL Draft since Brandon Spikes was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In addition, this marks the first time since 1999 that two Gators were selected in the same draft. …

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Sharrif Floyd surprised by Vikings selection

Former Florida DT Sharrif Floyd said he was caught by surprise when the Minnesota Vikings decided to draft him at No. 23 in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Floyd, who had been projected by some analysts as a top five pick, watched two other DT's get drafted before he was selected.

"I got out there for the combine, met them out there,'' Floyd said. "Pro Day, he (coach Leslie Frazier) came. A member of the Vikings came to my Pro Day, and I got out there for a 30‑30 visit. I sat down with Coach Frazier. We talked a little bit. This pick is shocking to me. I didn't know, but I'm glad to be a part of it."

Floyd insisted he doesn't view the 23rd selection as a dramatic slide, but considers being a first-round selection an overall blessing.

"Extremely blessed to be with the Minnesota Vikings,'' he said.  "I'm not looking at it as if I fell or anything.  Coming in, I didn't look at it as I'm going one or going three or anything. I looked at it I'm going to the club that sees me best fit."

 

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Gators get two first round selections in 2013 NFL Draft

It took much, much longer than most draft analysts had anticipated, but former Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd became the 44th Gator player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft when he was chosen No. 23 overall by the Minnesota Vikings Thursday night.

"I couldn't be a part of a better ball club, and I am excited to get out there and get started," Floyd said.

Later in the evening, former Gator safety Matt Elam was the final first round selection, taking at No. 32 overall by the Baltimore Ravens, bringing the Gators' overall total of first round picks to 45. It was the first time the Gators have had two players selected in the first round since 2010.

"I'm real happy for those two young men," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "Both of those organizations got better with those guys today."

Floyd is the highest Gator drafted since offensive lineman Mike Pouncey was taken No. 15 overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2011, and is the first Florida player drafted by the Vikings since Percy Harvin in 2009. …

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Gators' Lauren Embree becomes first three-time SEC Player of the Year

Flroida senior tennis player Lauren Embree on Wednesday was named the SEC Player of the Year, becoming the first player in the 21-year history of the award to receive the league's top individual honor three timesin a career.

She also won in 2012 and 2010 - when she became the first freshman to win the award.

Florida coach Roland Thornqvist was named SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his 11-year tenure. Five members of the Gators' squad were recognized by the league.

“It’s really special to me,” Embree said. “I never thought I’d be the first player to win this award so many times because there are and have been so many talented and great players in the SEC. I’m not really focused on awards. I just try and come out every day and win for the team and for my teammates. It’s an extra cool award to get and it’s something I want to thank my coaches and teammates who have helped me.”

Last year Embree joined former Gator Jill Craybas as the only two-time recipients; Craybas was honored in 1995 and 1996. …

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Gators assistant Jeff Choate says joining staff an opoportunity he couldn't pass up

VIDEO BELOW: Jeff Choate talks about joining the Gators' staff:

Jeff Choate had been at UTEP just over three months when Florida coach Will Muschamp came calling.

Choate, who joined the UTEP staff in Jaunary as the defensive coordinator, said although it was a tough position to be in, he had no choice but to listen.

Ultimately, he decided the opportunity to join the Gators as the new special teams coordinator/LB coach "was an oportunity I couldn't say no to."

Choate, who previously worked with UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease, said he spoke with Pease before taking the job, and that helped in his decision.

On Wednesday, Muschamp said he appreciated the way UTEP coach Sean Kugler handled the situation.

"Sean Kugler handled this with about as much class as you could in this situation,'' Muschamp said. "I really appreciate him and the way he handled the situation for Jeff and his family."

Choate met with the media on Wednesday. Here's some of what he had to say:

 

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Florida Gators OL Jessamen Dunker leaving the program

Florida sophomore OL Jessamen Dunker has decided to transfer, Florida coach Will Muschamp said today.

Dunker, of Boynton Beach, was arrested in January for driving with a suspended license, a second degree misdemeanor, and grand theft of a motor vehicle, which is a third degree felony. He was driving a motor scooter that had been reported stolen, but Dunker's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Dunker paid for the scooter was not aware it was stolen.

The case is still pending.

"I met with Jessamen Dunker about an hour before I came in here (for a Wednesday afternoon press conference) and he's decided to transfer,'' Muschamp said. "He and I just felt like he needed a fresh start. He felt like he needed a fresh start and I didn't disagree with him. I appreciate his time here. We didn't really get into where. We're going to continue to work through that. It's his job now to finish up strong here academically at Florida."

Dunker redshirted last season, but before his arrest was expected to battle for a starting position on the offensive line. …

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Florida men's track team rises to No. 1

The Florida men’s track and field team has regained the No. 1 spot in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Team Computer Rankings.

The Gators spent six weeks of the 2012 season on top of the rankings en route to a national title, but this marks the first appearance atat No. 1 this outdoor season.

The USTFCCCA decided to remove preseason 2012 marks from the rankings formula, and with a number of Gators already having recorded nationally-ranked marks this season, Florida was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new formula, gaining 57.75 net points for a total of 352.67.

Eighteen Gator men and two relays have scored in the top 50 of the NCAA individual event standings compiled by TFRRS, including four No. 1 rankings. Sophomore Dedric Dukes leads the NCAA in the men’s 200 meters with a wind-aided 20.38 (+3.5). Dukes ran the opening leg on the SEC and NCAA Outdoor Champion men’s 4x400-meter relay a year ago and is now the anchor for this year’s NCAA-leading men’s 4x400-meter relay. …

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Officials may consider reducing shot clock in college basketball

ESPN.com is reporting that the NCAA Men's basketball rules committee will consider reducing the shot-clock by five seconds - from 35-30 seconds.

Following the Gators' season, Florida coach Billy Donovan said the NCAA needed to address several issues including extremely physical play and the possibility of shortening the shot clock. But he said the latter comes with more problems.

"Here’s the alarming thing for me where I see the problem is in college basketball," Donovan said. "One, we can take the shot clock down, that would be good, but the difference is in the NBA you have a much wider lane. You are playing with a deeper 3-point line, so immediately there is more spacing on the floor, the NBA hand-check rules with what they do there and with zoning rules, there’s less contact. Our game in college has way more contact than in the NBA. I’m not saying we have more physical players, but there’s more contact in our game that’s allowed that you can’t do in the NBA. And I’m not saying we should model ourselves after the NBA. I’m just saying it as an example." …

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Florida lacrosse earns No. 1 seed in upcoming conference tourney

The Florida lacrosse team earned its second-consecutive No. 1 seed for the upcoming American Lacrosse Conference tournament, which will be held May 2-5 at Johns Hopkins. 

The Gators earned a share of their third-straight regular season conference title with Northwestern and Penn State - all finishing 4-1 in league action.  Florida won the No. 1 seed via tiebreaker rules that favors the team with the least goals scored against them in conference play. Florida had 46 goals scored agaisnt, Northwestern 49 and Penn State 62. 

Florida (16-1, 4-1 ALC) will face the winner of the John Hopkins/Ohio State game on May 3 at 4 p.m.


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The Sporting News ranks Gators' coach Will Muschamp No. 24

Florida coach Will Muschamp is ranked No. 24 in this year's annual ranking of coaches by The Sporting News national college writer Matt Hayes.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is considered the top college football coach by former UF and current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is ranked No. 19.

You can see the full Sporting News coaches ranking list here.

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