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September 13, 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 got more playing time than previously expected during Washington's Monday night loss to Philadelphia and Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan praised Reed's efforts when speaking to the media on Thursday. "He showed us out on the field [that] he's going to be a hell of a player," Shanahan said. "He showed on Monday Night Football that the game wasn't too big for him." Reed caught five passes on six targets, racking up 38 yards with a long of 11 while also performing his signature jump-for-no-reason on one of his receptions. He will fight for playing time with Fred Davis all season but indications are that Washington has big plans for Reed going forward.
A member of the UF Athletic Hall of Fame and a former city commissioner of High Springs, FL, former Florida lineman Larry Travis passed away on Tuesday at the age of 72. Travis was diagnosed with bladder cancer in May and eventually succumbed to the illness. A native of Indiana, Travis played on both sides of the ball for the Gators over his four years and also coached at Florida from 1964-67 after his playing career was over. He was inducted into the hall of fame just last year as a member of the Class of 2012. A celebration of life ceremony will be held in Travis's honor on Saturday from 3-6 p.m. at the Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It is open to the public.
The Pounceys are obviously extremely close as brothers, which makes an injury to one of them feel like it affects both twins. Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee on Sunday and underwent season-ending surgery on Thursday that will keep him out of the Pro Bowl for the first time in his young career. Asked about his brother's injury and upcoming surgery, Miami C Mike Pouncey - who was playing at the time and did not learn about what happened until after his game - said the two had a heartfelt conversation on the phone. "I couldn't stop crying. It was very deflating. I hate to say it, but I wish it had been me instead of him," Mike told the South Florida media this week. "I love my brother to death. I look up to him. He made me the player I am today. It hit me hard. I wish I was in his place instead."
On Monday, former Gators running back Jeff Demps joined Tampa Bay for the first time since the team acquired him from New England. He quickly made waves in practice, showcasing his world-class speed by outrunning the entire team on a play and drawing some praise from coaches and teammates. Unfortunately for Demps, joining the Buccaneers during the season may put him a bit behind the eight ball. Tampa Bay is only allowed to carry 53 players on its roster each week. Demps does have an exception, meaning the Bucs have until Sept. 23 to decide whether he should be one of those 53 players, but it certainly is a short period of time in which to prove that you deserve a spot on a roster filled with players that have earned their chance to play and compete all off-season.
Released by the Patriots, quarterback Tim Tebow has not yet been picked up by another NFL franchise but continues to work at improving his game and earning another opportunity. Though some analysts - like former QB Kurt Warner - strongly suggested that Tebow give the CFL or AFL a shot in order to improve his game and get another chance, he remains steadfast in only playing for the NFL and is currently in California training towards that goal. Tebow has spent a lot of time recently at USC both using the weight room and training with an as-of-press-time unknown throwing coach. Ironically, a California-based AFL team, the L.A. KISS, offered Tebow this week a three-year contract with the "possibility to earn millions" from the deal. Tebow has not addressed that contract offer, which was somewhat seen as a publicity stunt by a team owned by the band KISS and frontman Gene Simmons.
Spring is when Florida fans can expect to see five-star forward commitment Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) finally suit up in an orange and blue uniform, but many analysts including ESPN's Chad Ford are already looking ahead at his prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft. Ford released his first mock draft this week and listed Walker as the No. 8 overall pick. He noted that Walker "could be a lethal combo forward in the NBA" as long as he "improves his handle and jump shot." Walker is listed by Ford as the 10th best prospect in the top 100 players available; senior center Patric Young checks in at No. 46 and freshman point guard Kasey Hill is pegged at No. 58.