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May 28, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators tight end Jordan Reed inked his four-year rookie contract with the Washington Redskins on Friday, becoming the fifth of Florida's eight draftees to sign on the dotted line with his respective team. Reed, who will be used mostly as a pass catcher by Washington, signed for $2.71 million (max value) with a $549,112 fully guaranteed signing bonus. He will average $677,278 per season before becoming a free agent in 2017. Only first-round defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Minnesota), first-round safety Matt Elam (Baltimore) and sixth-round S Josh Evans (Jacksonville) remain unsigned as of press time. It is common for first-round picks to be the last to sign.
After coming from behind to walk off with a 4-3 victory on Saturday, No. 2 Gators softball kept its grip on a one-run lead Sunday to come away with a seep in the best-of-three Gainesville Super Regional over the weekend. Florida topped UAB in consecutive games to advance to the Women's College World Series for the fifth time in program history, all of which have come since 2008 (six years). The Gators (57-7) are one of the most surprising teams in collegiate softball this season, looking like a top-tier squad all year despite losing a number of extremely talented players in the offseason. In fact, Florida was picked to finish seventh *in the Southeastern Conference* during preseason polling but wound up sweeping the league's regular season and tournament titles. UF is 8-0 in postseason play, outscoring opponents by a combined 52-18 thus far. The Gators will begin the WCWS on Thursday against Tennessee; the WCWS is a double-elimination bracket play event.
That Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan was able to reel in Brad Beal two classes ago was not much of a surprise considering the coach's acumen for recruiting St. Louis, MO. So with another top-tier talent, 6'6" 180-pound point guard Jayson Tatum set to graduate from high school in 2016, Donovan has already sunk his teeth into the process and made it be known that Gainesville, FL would be a soft landing spot for the talented youngster. Currently attending Chamindale College Preparatory School, where Beal and David Lee both graduated, Tatum is entering his sophomore season but already has offers from Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Marquette, Memphis, Missouri and Saint Louis, among many others. Though he appears to be intrigued by the "celebrity" of UK coach John Calipari, Tatum is undoubtedly a prospect Donovan will be keeping close watch on over the next few seasons.
One contest each postseason, it seems, Miami power forward Udonis Haslem makes his presence felt in a big game and comes away with a big-time performance for his team. This year, Haslem did just that on Sunday as he played 23 minutes but went 8-for-9 to post a season-high 17 points (more than he has scored in a game since Nov. 11, 2010) to go along with seven rebounds. Haslem will enter the last season of a five-year contract he signed with Miami in 2014 and could very well hang things up after he earns the final $4.62 million of his under-market-value five-year, $20.3 million contract signed in 2010. He has never played for another team during his tenure in the NBA and accepted less money annually to re-sign with Miami last time.
Rife with criticism all season, attendance at Florida football games was a big point of contention for many fans in 2012. By UF's standards, the 87,597 fans that showed up on average was low, especially considering the fact that the Gators had an extremely successful season on the field for the first time since 2009. (Not to mention that paid attendance figures do not always accurately reflect the number of bodies in the stands, especially in the student sections.) Yet while the attendance figures were not pleasing, Florida did still rank 10th nationally and fifth in the SEC (behind 3. Alabama, 6. Georgia, 7. LSU and 8. Tennessee). In fact, eight of the nine stadiums on the list above UF averaged a higher attendance than Ben Hill Griffin Stadium's official capacity (88,548).
SEC annual honors were announced for baseball on Monday with outfielder Harrison Bader the only member of the Gators to be selected to a team this season. Bader was chosen to the SEC's All-Freshman Team, continuing head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's streak of having a first-year player on the team every year of his Florida career. One year ago, Florida had five All-SEC selections, one All-Freshman pick and two All-Defensive placements on the SEC's year-end teams. Every player but Josh Tobias was subsequently selected in the 2012 MLB Draft.