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October 9, 2012
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
London Olympians Christian Taylor and Will Claye, who combined for three medals in the 2012 games (one gold, one silver and one bronze), are two of six male athletes nominated for 2012 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year, an award that recognizes track & field's best male and female athlete. Taylor dominated the field and won gold in the men's triple jump at the Olympics while Claye captured silver in that event and also took home bronze in the men's long jump. Voting concludes in Nov. with the award officially being presented on Dec. 1.
In yet another showing of his aptitude as a big-time NFL playmaker, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had an explosive weekend with team-highs of eight receptions and 108 yards as well as two touchdowns. He scored rushing and receiving touchdowns for the first time in his career, and both came just one week after he set a franchise record with a 105-yard touchdown return. Harvin is quickly gaining respect throughout NFL circles and has already stood out as one of the league's most explosive playmakers this season. A few more outstanding performances could land him some Offensive Player of the Year (and perhaps even Most Valuable Player) talk for the NFC.
New York Giants safety Will Hill became the third former Gators player in as many years to be suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Hill, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (2012) and New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes (2010) have all been popped for testing positive for a substance found in common ADHD medication. Neither Haden nor Spikes had a prescription at the time of their positive tests (Haden admitted taking the drug as a stimulant while on vacation in Las Vegas), but Hill apparently has a doctor's note. The unfortunate circumstance is that he and the Giants supposedly failed to file the prescription correctly and therefore his appeal of the suspension was denied. New York picked Hill up off the scrap heap this summer after he spent what should have been his rookie year of 2011 away from football. This is unlikely to sway the Giants from keeping him on the team - he has played well and turned around his life - unless the team believes he was taking something other than Adderall (as is the suspicion with any of these positive tests).
In California participating in the 2012 Riviera/ITA All-American Championships over the last week, UF senior tennis player Lauren Embree was faced with the daunting task of potentially playing five matches in four days in order to win the first singles title of her career. After mowing through the competition in the first two rounds, Embree was faced with plenty of pressure in the final three but still managed to come-from-behind in the finals and walk away with the singles title thanks to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Already extremely accomplished as a member of the Florida tennis team, which is looking to win its third-straight national title this season, Embree's solo victory will only boost her confidence even more as she gets ready for the 2012-13 campaign. She may not have been ranked as the top player on the Gators the last two seasons, but Embree has undoubtedly been the straw that stirs the drink for the team.
Now the only former Florida player remaining in the 2012 MLB Playoffs, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day has been doing nothing but getting clutch outs and mowing down big hitters. Over the first three games of the 2012 postseason, O'Day has pitched 3.1 relief innings and registered three strikeouts while giving up one hit and not a single walk. Baltimore is the fourth team that O'Day, one of few submarine-style pitchers left in MLB, has played for in his short career. He has proven to be a reliable arm out of the bullpen and could go a long way to helping the Orioles in these playoffs.
Gators fans were treated to a very accomplished weekend as the No. 11 volleyball and No. 18 soccer teams went undefeated in four combined games. Volleyball (13-2, 7-0 SEC) kept its winning streak alive by staying at home and wining a pair of matches. Florida took down Arkansas 3-0 on Friday before coming back from a two-set deficit to beat Kentucky 3-2 on Sunday. Soccer (10-3-1, 7-1-0 SEC) has really come on in conference play after struggling at the beginning of the season. The Gators were on the road over the weekend, defeating LSU 2-0 on Friday and similarly fighting back from a one-goal disadvantage to defeat Texas A&M 2-1 on Sunday.