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August 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 fans concerned about the status of five-star 2013 forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) based on "breaking news" released Tuesday need not worry. Though phrases like "ineligible for the season" were incorrectly thrown around and news that he will not enroll for the fall semester was treated as new, readers of Inside the Gators know full well that Walker remains on pace to join the Florida basketball team in December at the start of the spring semester. Specifically, as long as Walker gets the necessary test scores and grades to qualify, he will be able to begin practicing with the Gators on Dec. 13 and could be eligible for UF's showdown with Memphis at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, as part of the Jimmy V. Classic. Head coach Billy Donovan could also decide to hold Walker out until the Southeastern Conference slate, which begins for the Gators on Jan. 8, 2014.
To his credit, Walker told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he seriously underestimated the importance of doing well in school and is laser-focused on qualifying to play at Florida this season. "Now I understand how serious high school is and that you can't take the work lightly," he told Jeff Goodman. "I didn't do well and work as hard as I should have early in high school. It's definitely a minor setback, and every day I'm working hard to get to Florida. My plan is to definitely be at Florida. I'm working every day to make sure I get to Gainesville."
A pair of undrafted former Gators - wide receiver Omarius Hines and defensive end Earl Okine - were released by their respective NFL teams in the first major round of training camp cuts. The Green Bay Packers were the second team to give Hines a chance - he was first signed by the Baltimore Ravens - but deemed him unable to contribute this season. Okine was picked up by the Houston Texans but put on the team's physically unable to perform list after minicamp. He was activated at the end of July but did not play in a preseason game with the team.
The one notable Florida player that survived the first round of cuts was New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow, who many believe will be released by the team before the season due to a lack of impressive performances both in training camp and preseason games. Tebow will likely get one more chance to prove his worth in New England's next preseason game when he is expected to get all of the second-half snaps for the Patriots. Even if he does not look like he can contribute as the No. 3 quarterback, Tebow has two big fans in the organization in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and owner Robert Kraft; that could keep him around in another role as long as head coach Bill Belichick is willing to give it a go, of course.
Outstanding is one word that appropriately describes the Gators' decision to have celebrities related to the University of Florida honor George Edmonson by performing as Mr. Two Bits before home games. Former running back Errict Rhett (1990-93) will be the first to (assumingly) don the famous orange-and-blue-striped tie and pastel clothing when he steps on the field for UF's season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31. Though not all of the celebrities will be football players, there is a good chance former quarterback Danny Wuerffel steps up to the challenge as he will already be honored by the Gators for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame during the Florida-Tennessee game on Sept. 21. It would make sense to have one of the greatest players in school history step up to the plate and lead in a long-held tradition.
Rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd - sporting a blue Gators hat - took his family and friends to six different pizza places in New York in a trip that was chronicled by the Minnesota Vikings' official website. Check out the video HERE
Savannah Jordan is not a name most will recognize, but she may very well be breakthrough player for Florida's soccer team if her play during her first two career collegiate matches is any indication. Over the weekend, Jordan scored five-straight goals in two games, punting in two to break a 1-1 tie and push the Gators ahead of the FGCU Eagles 3-1 on Friday before registering a hat trick as Florida defeated the Oregon State Beavers 3-1 on Sunday. "She's just a natural finisher and we knew that when we were recruiting her and she has done a great job taking care of her opportunities," said Gators head coach Becky Burleigh after Sunday's match. Jordan received SEC Freshman of the Week honors (unbelievably she was not voted SEC Offensive Player of the Week, too) and has also picked up numerous national Player of the Week awards.