September 2, 2011

The Silver Lining: 9/1 Orange & Blue News

In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Lasting 13 years in the NFL, former Gators running back Fred Taylor officially called it quits on Friday, signing a one-day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in order to hang up his cleats with the team that selected him with the No. 9 overall pick. Jacksonville's all-time leader in rushing attempts (2,428), yards (11,271) and touchdowns (62), Taylor is also one of just 30 NFL players to have run for more than 10,000 yards in his career. His stat sheet will conclude reading a total of 11,695 rushing yards, 66 rushing touchdowns, 2,384 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. He is one of only three players in NFL history (Jim Brown, Barry Sanders) to average more than 4.5 yards per carry in an eight-year span and still holds Florida's single-season YPC record (6.0, 1997). "Fred Taylor is a remarkable person who has had a remarkable football career," Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said on Friday. "He made the extraordinary look ordinary every Sunday in the NFL performing against the world's best players."

Taylor, who led the Gators in rushing in 1994 and 1997, has the sixth most attempts in school history (537) and is fourth in both career (3,075) and single-season (1,292) rushing. He is a member of the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame (2008) and was inducted to the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2010. "One of the good things about retiring from the NFL is it doesn't end with a period. This is just a comma," Taylor said. "There will be more of me to go around, and I can't wait to get back in this community and do what's right."

In a bit of unfortunate and unexpected NFL news, former Florida defensive end Alex Brown was cut by the New Orleans Saints earlier this week. A nine-year NFL veteran, Brown plans to continue playing and, according to a radio interview he did mid-week, has already been contacted by at least three teams about helping out this season. "It saddens me to say that I have been released from the Saints because [they're] a first class organization and I will miss it," he wrote on Twitter. "Good luck to the guys and Who Dat Nation keep roaring… My family and I had a blast here.. Thanks."

Never having stopped being a Gators fan, alum Erin Andrews was back in Gainesville on Monday and sat down with head coach Will Muschamp for an interview that will air on the season's first College GameDay live on ESPN beginning at 10 a.m. this Saturday. I spoke with Andrews on Friday and she told me she had a great time speaking with Muschamp at length for the first time. She also said that, following her interview with him, the College GameDay analysts will discuss the impact he will have on the team this year and into the future, so be sure to tune in (or record) the show Saturday morning.

Invested in his second chance in the CFL after being traded by the Montreal Alouettes earlier this season, former Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker is set to start his first game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. After giving it a go in the NFL but failing to catch on, Baker spent some time in the AFL but thought he could really succeed in Canada. He is now finally getting his chance to see extensive playing time after a teammate got injured. "I've always been a guy who's been in a situation like this, so [waiting] really wasn't tough at all," Baker told The Regina Leader-Post this week. "It was all about being patient and that's something that I was used to."

No. 9 Gators volleyball (4-0) has continued their impressive start to the season by sweeping two more opponents (so far) this week. Florida topped No. 25 Florida State 3-0 on Tuesday and smashed Jacksonville 3-0 early Friday afternoon. The Gators have won all 12 sets in which they've played and have received a lot of help from some of the freshman newcomers. Florida will play Florida Atlantic at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening before taking on Clemson at 4 p.m. on Saturday

Gators soccer is set for their home opener Friday evening against Texas Tech. Florida, which fell from No. 8 to No. 13 after losing to UCLA last Sunday, looks to begin a new winning streak with a three-game home stand that lasts through Sept. 11. Florida (3-1) will take on Florida State next Friday and Florida Gulf Coast next Sunday before playing a rough slate of four-straight games on the road against Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Tennessee. The Gators will look to senior goalkeeper Brooke Chancey, who has given up a pair of goals in each of their last two matches, to right the ship going forward.

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