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July 15, 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 will likely see plenty of field time with the Miami Dolphins this season after the organization chose three in the 2013 NFL Draft to go along with one - center Mike Pouncey - already on the roster. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, who is very clued in with the Dolphins, dropped some tidbits on each former Florida player in his Sunday column. As noted previously here by yours truly, kicker Caleb Sturgis, a younger and cheaper option, is still the favorite to win the starting job. He has impressed the coaching staff with his leg and has at least equaled veteran Dan Carpenter during practice. Also likely to get a significant amount of time this season is linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who will probably start on special teams and compete to play on passing downs as one of the team's top three back-ups at his position. Running back Mike Gillislee has a bit more work ahead of him. Though it looked at times during the organized team activity sessions I attended that he was inching ahead of veteran Daniel Thomas, Jackson reports that Thomas "so far clearly has held off" Gillislee for the second-string job. He does, however, have the rest of the summer and multiple preseason games to try and surpass Thomas on the depth chart.
A "Free Hernandez" hat worn by Pouncey and his twin brother Maurkice Pouncey while both were at a club on Saturday made an understandable stir online. Though both were obviously trying to support a friend and former teammate (and in Mike Pouncey's case, also an ex-roommate), it is apparent that neither fully understands the position they are in right now and how wearing a hat supporting someone in jail facing six charges, including first-degree murder, makes them look. According to ESPN's John Clayton, both brothers have already begun to hear from their respective NFL franchises and will likely be sat down and talked to further in the coming days. "According to a source [the Pittsburgh Steelers] plan to talk to Maurkice Pouncey about the photos. A source close to Mike Pouncey expects the Dolphins to have a similar talk with the team's starting center," he wrote on Sunday.
Maurkice Pouncey released the following statement Monday morning: "I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions."
Tennis star Lauren Embree was named the 2013 ITA National College Player of the Year on Wednesday. One of the most accomplished women's tennis players in school history, Embree's latest individual honor is her second this season as she was also named the 2013 ITA National Senior Player of the Year. The two-time NCAA national champion, four-time SEC regular-season champion and four-time SEC tournament champion (all team titles with the Gators) is also the 2012 ITA/Riviera All-American Singles Champion (a collegiate Grand Slam title), a two-time NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, three-time SEC Player of the Year and was the 2010 ITA National Rookie Player of the Year. Embree has spent the summer working on her game in Boca Raton, FL, and California as she gets set to begin her professional career.
One Florida player is competing in NBA Summer League action and that is Chicago Bulls rookie forward Erik Murphy. Unfortunately for Murphy, the stat line in his first game (3-for-9, 0-for-6 from three for six points with 10 fouls in 18:46) left much to be desired. Murphy fouled out of the game, which is impressive considering he hit the 10-foul limit in under 19 minutes. The news was even worse for guard Kenny Boynton who had a nearly two-week tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers but was cut when the team finalized its summer league roster. Boynton was not picked up by another team and is now most likely looking overseas to continue his career.
Recently announcing that he will need to have offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus that he played on through much of the second half of the NBA season, Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem did not let the injury hamper his ability to actively participate in a charity event with teammate Mike Miller over the weekend. Miller, whose Let It Fly Energy (drink) company hosted the event, called Haslem up on stage to dance to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean with a child. The three all danced for a short while before returning to their chairs. Haslem's surgery date is not yet scheduled but will occur within the next week or two, according to multiple reports.
Some downtime over the summer has allowed me to take a closer look at a position I normally would not concentrate on until late in training camp: kicker. While researching the position at Florida, some statistics stood out to me in regards to Sturgis. According to UF's record books, Sturgis is third for most points scored in a career (340) and second for most in a single season (110, 2009). He also, just last year, registered the seventh-highest scoring season in team history when he accounted for just about one-third (106-of-344) of the Gators' points. While replacing a starting running back, three linebackers, two defensive tackles, two safeties and a bunch of other players (including offensive linemen and wide receivers) will be difficult for Florida, finding someone as reliable and consistent at kicker as Sturigs was may very well be a battle the Gators will lose this offseason. That is?unless either senior Brad Phillips or redshirt freshman Austin Hardin made a sudden and drastic improvement over the last few weeks.