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December 7, 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.
Gators specialists were up for a pair of major awards on Thursday evening though both redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis and sophomore punter Kyle Christy walked out of the 2012 Home Depot College Football Awards empty handed. Sturgis, up for the Lou Groza Award, was beat out by Tulane's Cairo Santos, who became the second player in NCAA history to not miss a field goal over the course of a season (21-of-21). Sturgis himself went 23-for-27 with three of his four misses resulting from blocked kicks. Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen won his second-straight Ray Guy Award, beating out Christy after posting a line that was more impressive than that which won him the 2011 award. Allen averaged 48.0 yards per attempt with a long of 85, while Christy averaged 46.1 yards with a long of 62 yards. Florida has only won each award once with Judd Davis (1993) earning the Lou Groza Award and Chas Henry (2010) winning the Ray Guy Award.
A candidate for league MVP through the first half of the season, wide receiver Percy Harvin has been shut down for the Minnesota Vikings for the remainder of the 2012 campaign. Harvin, who severely sprained his ankle in Week 9, learned recently that the sprain was the result of a torn ligament. His recovery has gone much slower than the team expected and now he will head into the 2013 campaign on the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin missed practice during the preseason in order to take a stand and let the coaching staff and administration know that he wanted to be more involved in the offense - he only played in about 50 percent of the plays in 2011 and was not used often enough in the red zone. Head coach Leslie Frazier agreed with Harvin and ensured he was more involved in 2012, a move which the player hoped would have the side effect of raising his value so his contract demands after the season could be greater. Now injured and missing time yet again, Harvin may be between a rock and a hard place when it comes to his contract next year.
The 2013 Under Armour All-American Game is set for Jan. 4 on ESPN. Earlier this week, six Gators commitments were named to the team, all of which will play on the black team. The Florida pledges that will suit up include four-star wide receiver Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL), four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), four-star DB Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL), four-star DB Keanu Neal (Bushnell, FL) and four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL).
On the field he is not, but New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is still making a difference off of it. This week, after noticing the hashtag #TebowCallMatt trending on Twitter, Tebow found out what it was about and decided to heed the request. The hashtag began as an effort from friends and family to get Tebow and Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin to call Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind, a pair of teenagers who were hospitalized after being hit by a drunk driver in an accident that killed two of their classmates. Tebow called Hardy on Monday while he was still in the hospital; Franklin also called Wind to give her well wishes and express her sympathies.
Receiving a big-time contract offer from Tennessee, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong made the difficult decision to turn down the job and remain with the team that gave him his first shot at leading a program. Strong, who has a high level of love and appreciation for the Cardinals and athletic director Tom Jurich, once thought he would never be a college football head coach. Since getting the Louisville job, he has done nothing but positive things for the program and now has it back in the BCS. With the Cardinals set to move to the ACC, leaving for an SEC team would have been a step to the biggest league in the land but was not a necessity considering he will likely have just as good of a chance to get into the new playoff coming out of that conference. Eventually, if Strong continues to succeed in a big way at Louisville, he will get top-tier job offers that will probably be too much to turn down. As of now, he has decided to stay put and get ready for the Sugar Bowl.
Sporting action is scarce this weekend for Florida fans though there are two teams in action on Friday. Women's basketball (6-3) will kick off the evening by hosting Pacific at home at 7 p.m. The main event occurs one hour later when volleyball (27-4, 19-1 SEC) takes on Texas in the Sweet 16 round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Austin, TX. That match will air live online on ESPN3.com. The entire athletic program will have a full week off with the No. 5/6 men's basketball team restarting action on Saturday, Dec. 15 against top-10 Arizona in Tucson, AZ.