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June 14, 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.
Getting the most coverage this week, understandably so, is quarterback Tim Tebow signing with the New England Patriots. Tebow, now on his third NFL team in four seasons, may have his final opportunity to prove himself in New England despite all the success he had during his breakout 2011 season. Re-watching some of Tebow's highlights from that year, it is hard to believe he is even in this position at this time. From his comeback against the Miami Dolphins (down 15 in the fourth quarter, forced overtime, won the game) to what he did against the New York Jets and in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one wonders how successful he would have been if he was able to play consistently through four quarters rather than just at the end of the game. Tebow will not be expected to do much with the Patriots this season, but if head coach Bill Belichick does figure out a way to get him on the field, expect him to be a red zone monster.
As the weekend begins, Florida Gators fans should keep an eye on golfer Billy Horschel as he competes in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. Horschel, ranked No. 4 in the FedEx Cup heading into the event, shot +2 (72) in his first round. Should he make the cut (which is likely) and advance to the final round on Sunday, Horschel plans to don navy pants covered in octopi. Seriously. Horschel won his first PGA Tour event on April 28 as he took the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a four-round total of -20 (he only won by a single stroke).
The final pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, safety Matt Elam is already turning his Baltimore Ravens teammates' heads in minicamp. Elam is expected to see plenty of playing time as a rookie, and apparel brand Under Armour is banking on his success, inking him to a multi-year endorsement deal that was announced on Thursday. Elam will be wearing Under Armour products (every piece of apparel that does not have to be a league-sponsored Nike product) during NFL games and practices. He is also expected to be featured on commercials, online advertisements, print material and more.
One-by-one, players will fill the gym at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO on Friday as Florida head coach Billy Donovan begins leading the USA Basketball Men's U19 National Team as it prepares to compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship from June 17-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. Donovan led the American under-18 team to gold last summer and returns looking to match the 5-0 record and 38.6-point margin of victory his team achieved a year ago. A total of 25 players, including Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier, will open the five-day training camp on Friday with only 12 earning spots on the Team USA roster. The United States will begin the event in Group D along with China, Ivory Coast and Russia.
Relieved to learn his friend had been picked up by a team, New England linebacker Brandon Spikes quickly became thrilled when he learned it had been the Patriots that signed Tebow. "He got to get his job back and come out here and compete," he said. "So that's good to see him smile, you know that big smile I'm used to seeing for the last few years down in Florida. ? He's a hard worker, a competitor, and he loves the game and you need guys like that." Despite being on an AFC East division rival, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was also positive about Tebow's signing. "I love Timmy. I'm proud of him. I think it's a great opportunity for him," he said. "He's a guy that deserves it. He's a guy that goes out and practices hard every day. He's a natural-born leader, so I think it's good for him."
Standing out in Miami is kicker Caleb Sturgis, who may actually be the favorite to win the Dolphins' kicking job despite the fact that he is going up against an eight-year veteran in Dan Carpenter. Sturgis has been just as reliable during OTAs and minicamp over the last few weeks but also comes much cheaper with a greater learning curve. Additionally, Carpenter had his worst season in 2012 and Miami definitely got tired of some of his misses during the latter part of the year. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin addressed the media Tuesday and noted that he liked how Sturgis has been progressing. "He looks good. I like the way he handles his business," Philbin said. "He seems to be very professional, even though he has only been in the profession since April 15th for about two months. I like the way he moves about the building; he is quiet. He seems to be a hard worker, and he seems to have a pretty strong leg."