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January 20, 2014
1/20 Orange & Blue News
MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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 made their mark in NFL Championship-round games over the weekend with four (three active) advancing to Super Bowl XLVIII in two weeks. Wide receiver Percy Harvin, who missed Sunday's game and has only played in a total of 39 snaps over two weeks all season long, represents the Seattle Seahawks, while wide receiver Andre Caldwell, defensive end Jeremy Mincey (a late-season signee) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (injured reserve - ankle) are all on the Denver Broncos. Harvin is expected to be cleared from the concussion he suffered last week and play in the game. Two former Florida players were eliminated after this week's games in San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald and New England Patriots LB Brandon Spikes (injured reserve - knee).
A former Gators coach will also be on the field two Sundays from now as Seattle's Dan Quinn helped his team advance to the Super Bowl in his first and only season as an NFL defensive coordinator. Quinn had never served as a defensive coordinator until Florida head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011 but there is no questioning how effective he has been both with the Gators and the Seahawks. In fact, Quinn continues to be a name discussed for the Cleveland Browns head coaching opening. The team interviewed Quinn before the playoffs began and is believed to be waiting until after the Super Bowl to meet with him once more and presumably offer him the job if things go well.
Though he will be good to go for spring football practice after being ruled out for the 2013 season with a shoulder injury, Florida redshirt freshman cornerback Nick Washington will not join the baseball team. Washington, a dual-sport athlete who likely would have been selected in the first couple rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft had he not told interested parties that he was 100 percent focused on college football, was originally expected to play baseball in the spring/summer. That is no longer the case, according to the school, which would not confirm whether this was a decision by the player, coaches or team doctors.
On the road at Auburn, Florida picked up two big victories over the weekend with basketball winning 68-61 on Saturday and gymnastics topping its second-straight ranked opponent on Friday. The Gators topped the Tigers 197.075-196.225 thanks in large part to sophomore Bridget Sloan, who collected her seventh all-around title while matching her collegiate-best with a 9.95 in the vault. Senior Mackenzie Caquatto contributed with a 9.95 on balance beam, helping send Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) to the victory. The meet on ESPNU (Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m.) and ESPN2 (Jan. 26, 6:00 p.m.).
Rough has been the best way to describe the start to Gators freshman forward Chris Walker's college career. Though most of his in-practice struggles are over - it took him a while to catch up to the speed of the game and size/strength that he will have to deal with in the post - Walker is still dealing with the external pressure of not knowing when he will eventually be cleared by the NCAA. A source close to the program tells ITG that though Walker is understandably frustrated, he projects positivity in practice and is nevertheless happy to be on the court helping Florida. An extremely loyal player who could easily have given up on college and instead spent a year making great money in Europe, Walker badly wants to play for the Gators. In fact, he is so serious about it that while there was always a consideration he would stay for his sophomore season, a source close to the player said he believes it is more likely than not that Walker returns. As with his NCAA clearance, everything about Walker remains to be seen at this point. But fans should certainly realize this is a solid kid with a good head on his shoulders who has gone through a lot of adversity in order to play college basketball.
Still out of work following the 2012 season, in which he was fired by the New York Jets, former general manager placed a lot of the blame for his dismissal on Tim Tebow while on a CBS Sports Radio show last week. "Obviously we made a couple mistakes - trading for Tim Tebow most notably - but I would say beyond that, but we [could have done a better job with our roster], especially towards the end," he said. In actuality, the Jets gave up very little for Tebow - a fourth- and sixth-round pick - but the coaching staff could not figure out how to use a player that can obviously be effective on the football field even if he is not throwing the football. Tannenbaum seemed to somewhat realize this later in his interview when he said he thought the player would eventually get a shot elsewhere. "[Tebow] is incredibly passionate about his career," he said. "I would never bet against Tim. We used to have an expression that Tim's the type of guy who's either going to be successful or die trying. His relentlessness and passion - I would think he'll get another opportunity."