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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Former Gator Tim Tebow hired as analyst for new SEC Network

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is about to change professions. At least for now.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner has been hired as a college football analyst for the new SEC Network, which launces in August 2014. He is the first analyst hired by the new network.

Tebow will work as a college football analyst for ESPN during its coverage of the BCS National Championship game.

"I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity," Tebow said. "When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be a part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC."

As part of a multi-year agreement, ESPN said Tebow’s primary role will be as an analyst for SEC Nation, the network’s traveling pregame show that will originate from a different SEC campus each week beginning August 28, 2014. …

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Gators center Patric Young joins Florida's elite 1,000 point club

VIDEO BELOW: Patric Young talks reaching the 1,000 point career milestone.

Florida center Patric Young tried his best to ignore the impending career milestone that was within his reach Sunday afternoon, but he just couldn't.

The Gators fans wouldn't let him.

“The fans kept reminding me," Young said. "Four more Pat. Two more. Before last game, I didn’t even know how close I was, I didn't care about it until they told me, then I was more conscious of it."

With 7:15 remaining in No. 13 Florida's 76-34 win over Savannah State, Young hit a layup off an offensive rebound that gave him 1,001 career points – becoming the 50th Florida player and the 21st under coach Billy Donovan to reach the 1,000 point milestone. It was part of a 15-point, game-high performance that also included six rebounds.

“It was a great experience,” sophomore guard Michael Frazier said. “Just to see a guy like that who’s been here for four years, a guy that’s done a lot for the school, a great citizen, whenever somebody like that achieves a feat like that it’s always great to experience it with him.”

As Young left the floor with 5:3 remaining, he received a standing ovation from the O’Connell Center fans. …

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Gators officially announce Kurt Roper as new offensive coordinator

After spending all but one season of his 18-year coaching career under the tutelage of veteran coach David Cutcliffe, Kurt Roper is stepping out on his own.

Roper, who was one of five finalists this year for the Broyles Award given annually to the top assistant coach, was officially announced on Thursday as Florida’s new offensive coordinator, replacing Brent Pease who was fired one day after the Gators’ 4-8 season ended.

"He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced. He has had success calling plays in the SEC and has tutored three NFL quarterbacks. He has had players produce at every offensive position and he is one of the most well-respected coaches in the country."

The 41-year-old began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1996 under then-offensive coordinator Cutcliffe, and has been the quarterbacks coach on every staff with Cutcliffe as head coach since. Roper spent six years at Duke where he was assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. …

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Duke's Kurt Roper a candidate for Gators' vacant OC position

Duke assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is in Gainesville today interviewing for the vacant offensive coordinator's position.

Roper, 41, arrived in Gainesville early Monday morning.

The former three-year letterwinner at Rice began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee. He has been at Duke since 2008.

In 2012 under Roper, the Duke offense set a school single-season record 410 points and 31.5 points per game, the fifth-highest total in school history. 

This past season, Duke won 10 games for the first time in school history and advanced to the ACC Championship game before losing to Florida State.

Duke's offense averaged 31.6 points per game - sixth in the ACC. The Blue Devils were also sixth in the league in total offense, averaging 408.1 yards per game.

The Gators' offensive coordinator's search took an interesting turn this past weekend. USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton was regarded to be among the top contenders for the job, but after USC defeated Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl this past Saturday, new Trojans' coach Steve Sarkisian announced Helton would be staying at USC. …

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Gators preparing to handle strong 3-point shooting Fresno State

(Billy Donovan breaks down the matchup in video below)

Florida will play Fresno State today in the Orange Bowl Classic, the fourth out of six games away from the O’Connell Center so far this season and the second straight neutral site game.

Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on FSN/Sun Sports.

The Gators are competing in the Orange Bowl Classic for the 15th time and are going for their fourth consecutive win.

The Gators are coming off a three-game stretch against Top 15 opponents in which they went 2-1.

Although Fresno State is just 6-4, Florida coach Billy Donovan said that doesn’t mean the Gators aren’t facing a team as good  as some they’ve already played. …

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More changes for Florida Gators football coaching staff

Florida's football coaching staff is undergoing more changes.

Gators' special teams coach Jeff Choate is the latest to leave the program, which is the third departure since the end of the regular season. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis were fired one day after the regular season ended.

Choate, who joined the staff this past spring, is leaving to join Chris Petersen's staff at Washington, first reported by Florida did not release an official statement.

Choate was the special teams coach under Petersen at Boise State from 2006-11. He left the staff last season to join Mike Leach at Washington State, then came to UF this past April.

Choate will be replaced by Coleman Hutzler, the 29-year-old New Mexico special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. New Mexico athletic officials confirmed Hutzler's departure.

Hutzler is a former UF defensive/special teams assistant who has also worked with current UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin at Stanford. …

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Gators get history lesson on trip to New York

As the Gators prepared to leave earlier this week for Tuesday night's game against Memphis at Madison Square Garden, Florida coach Billy Donovan lamented that many of his players wouldn't have the emotional attachment that he has returning to his hometown of New York.

Donovan pointed out that several had never been to the city, and said he wasn't sure how much they would be affected by the trip.

Turns out, it was history lesson for both Donovan and the Gators.

“I said to our guys, ‘Do you want to go to Ground Zero?’," Donovan said today. "One of those guys asked if it was the subway system in New York. But you’re talking about guys who were 9 or 10 years old and not from New York, and we’ve got guys on our team who have never been to New York before in their entire life. You say ‘9-11’ and “Twin Towers going down,” they know that. But the reference to Ground Zero, they didn’t understand that term. It’s probably my fault for saying it the way I did."

Donovan said he knows his players know the tragic history of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and believes they came away with a new understanding of that period in history. …

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Gators to open 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium

Florida will open the 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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Florida will open the 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Florida will open the 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The game will be played on Sept. 2, and will be the first time the Gators have played a nonconference game away from the state of Florida since a loss at Syracuse in 1991.

The game, which will be referred to as the "Cowboys Clasic" will be nationally televised in prime time.

"You don't get these opportunities very often,'' Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said on the school's website. “Our schedule has been pretty consistent through the years. We were presented this opportunity and just thought it was something that our fans would embrace, our program would embrace. It would give us great national visibility. Obviously, a very difficult ballgame against a storied program - that excites us."

Florida and Michigan have met twice, but both times were in bowl games.

"Florida has been one of college football's best programs over the past 20 years, and we are excited to face the Gators in a regular season football game for the first time ever," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. …

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Gators sign JUCO OL Drew Sarvary

The Gators are getting some immediate help for their desperate offensive line needs.

Junior college OL Drew Sarvary signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday to play for the Gators. Sarvary will enroll in January, and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

"We are excited to have Drew join the Gator football program," Florida caoch Will Muschamp said.

Sarvary, who is 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, graduated from Tallahassee North Florida Christian in 2012. He played in 11 games as a freshman at Florida A&M, where he started the final 10.

Sarvary spent the 2013 season at Tyler (Texas) Junior College and was a First Team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference selection. TJC finished 10th in the final junior college rankings after going 9-2 and winning the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl.

Sarvary was part of a rushing game that averaged 277.9 yards per game and had 35 rushing touchdowns.

Florida will need to replace four offensive lineman who saw significant playing time during the 2013 season: Jon Halapio

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Duke transfer Alex Murphy will play for the Gators

Alex Murphy, the younger brother of former Florida basketball player Erik Murphy, is transferring from Duke to Florida.

Murphy is a redshirt sophomore who is expected to enroll at UF in January.

Murphy announced his decision to join the Gators on his Twitter account: "It's official, I'm a Florida Gator! I'm more than excited and can't wait to get down to Gainesville soon!!!

The 6-foot-9, 230 pound forward averaged 2.1 points and 1.0 rebounds in 31 games in a limited role as a redshirt freshman for Duke last season. He shot 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the field.

According to Duke's basketball website, Murphy gained 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which he expected to make him a better defender in the paint.

His bio says: "at his best when filling the lane on the break or attacking the offensive glass."

He will be eligible to play next December.

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Former Florida OC Brent Pease reportedly headed to Washington

Former Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease has reportedly found a new job.

According to, Pease is reuniting with his former boss Chris Petersen, who is the new head coach at Washington.

Pease was fired one day after the Gators' regular-season finale against Florida State. The Gators' offense was ranked No. 114 nationally in total offense. He spent two seasons as the Gators' offensive coordinator.

Pease worked with Petersen for six years at Boise State, the final year as offensive coordinator.

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Billy Donovan returns to New York filled with fond memories

VIDEO BELOW: Billy Donovan on the challenges the Gators face in Memphis

No. 16 Florida will play No. 15 Memphis tonight in a place that holds fond memories for Gators coach Billy Donovan: Madison Square Garden.

Donovan, a native of New York, said this week he gets a special feeling every time he walks into the arena.

“For me it is (special), yeah, because I was a kid that being in elementary school, high school, would jump on the Long Island Railroad and go into Penn Station and go buy a $5 ticket (to sit) in the rafters," Donovan said.  "It’s definitely special. There’s just something special about it to me, it really is. And I think for some of our guys, they really don’t understand that part of it. A guy like Casey Prather has never been to New York. There’s guys on our team that have never been to New York City.”

The Gators and Tigers will play the nightcap in tonight's Jimmy V Classic. The game will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m.

The New York Knicks - and the Garden - remind Donovan of his youth and his brief NBA playing career with the Knicks. The return tonight conjured up one of his favorite childhood stories about MSG.

"When I was like in 5th or 6th grade they used to have this sportings goods store," he said. "They had these shirts that had a picture of an NBA player. It was a mug shot and like an action shot. And growing up, I loved the Knicks and I loved Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe. I loved those backcourt guys. My mother took me down to get one of these shirts, a big thing back then. And I think I got a picture, the shirt of Walt Frazier. I said to my mother 'Do you still think Walt Frazier will be playing when I make it to the Knicks?'. You know, so you think about how crazy it is to just say that, and actually have the opportunity to do that."

Hear Donovan's take on what type of challenge Memphis will be: …

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Playing for Gators no longer an option for Damontre Harris

The promising career of Florida F Damontre Harris has come to an end at Florida before it ever started.

Harris, a F/C who sat out last season after transferring from South Carolina, has struggled with personal issues and hadn't been with the team since the season began.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said Monday he doesn't expect him to rejoin the Gators.

"I talked to Damontre a little bit last week," Donovan said. "Nothing has changed at all. Right now he's not part of our team. I don't anticipate him coming back to be a part of our team. Like I said earlier I think he has shown no signs of wanting to do the things necessary to come back. So I really don't know what his plans would be or where he'll go but right now I don't ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.''

Donovan said this past week that Harris indicated he wanted to rejoin the team, but repeatedly failed to show up for scheduled meetings with coaches, trainers and various support staff. Although he continued to attend classes, Donovan said the missed basketball activities were an indication to him that Harris wasn't serious about returning. …

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Billy Donovan, Gators excited to have Chris Walker in practice

Florida forward Chris Walker will not travel with the team to New York to face Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday, but just having the McDonald's All-American on the practice court with the rest of the Gators is a huge boost, coaches and players said today.

Walker enrolled in UF last week, but is still awaiting final clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse, so he will not play until then.

He had his first practice on Saturday.

"Just him being here is good for us finally because he's worked pretty hard to be here,' senior forward Will Yeguete said. "I think so far he's been good. He's plays really hard and he really wants to learn so that's really good."

Hear what Florida coach Billy Donovan had to say about having Walker on the team:


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Land O'Lakes alum Kent Taylor among five Florida Gators transfters

Kent Taylor played in six games in 2012 and had two receptions for five yards, including a 5-yard TD catch in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville.


Kent Taylor played in six games in 2012 and had two receptions for five yards, including a 5-yard TD catch in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville.

Florida TE Kent Taylor will spend the holidays looking for a new school to play for. Taylor is among five Gators players who have decided to transfer from the program.

A Land O' Lakes alum, Taylor did not see action this season. He played in six games in 2012 and had two receptions for five yards, including a 5-yard TD catch in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville. Taylor said he's unsure of his next move.

"I have no idea at this point," he said. "I'm just weighing my options at this point."

Also transferring are: OL Quinteze Williams, RB Rhaheim Ledbetter, OL Travon Young and OL Ian Silberman. Silberman, who will graduate this weekend, will be eligible to play immediately next season. Only Silberman and Ledbetter saw action this season. Ledbetter played in two games, Silberman in 12 with four starts.

“These young men felt it was in their best interest to look for an opportunity to play somewhere else,’’ UF coach Will Muschamp said. “We wish all of them the best of luck.” …

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