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May 9, 2014
5/9 Orange & Blue News
PARTING THOUGHTS: 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 defensive tackle Dominique Easley became the team's second defensive lineman selected in the first round in as many seasons when the New England Patriots picked him up with the No. 29 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Thursday evening. It marked just the second time in school history that Florida has seen a defensive lineman get picked in the first round of back-to-back drafts (2007-08). Though New England has now selected 12 UF players - including eight since 1999 - Easley will be the only Gators player on the Patriots' roster. Overall, he is the 11th Florida player to be drafted in the first round in the last eight years and 46th in school history dating back to 1936. The Easley selection was widely praised on Thursday with ESPN analyst and future Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis lauding Easley for his relentless effort on the field. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called him "one of the best value picks in the draft." Even if New England had not picked Easley, he would have been a first-round selection. Seattle, with Dan Quinn leading the defense, was prepared to take him at No. 32 overall but subsequently traded out of the pick after Easley was plucked.
Although Easley was the only Florida player to go in the first round, a couple other Gators saw the draft unfold in their favor. Cornerbacks Jaylen Watkins, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy have each been bumped up due to the fact that five players at their position (plus a couple safeties) were chosen in the first round. Watkins and Roberson specifically, each of whom is expected to be a second-day pick, could go off the board earlier than their respective value would dictate due to the list of players ahead of them suddenly dwindling. Multiple NFL scouts have told ITG over the last two months that Watkins is graded higher than Roberson by most teams and could very well be picked in the second round on Friday evening.
The No. 8 Gators baseball team made history on Thursday night, setting a new school record by winning its 12th consecutive Southeastern Conference game. Florida topped No. 10 Vanderbilt 1-0 behind a stellar effort from freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Shore, who tossed 7.1 innings of two-hit baseball. Junior lefty Bobby Poyner (1.2 IP, 3 K) closed things out, preserving the shutout and earning his fourth save of the season. UF's sole run came in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by junior catcher Taylor Gushue. The Gators also clinched at least a share of the SEC East regular-season title with the victory and are now the favorites to win the league's regular-season crown outright.
On Wednesday, Florida basketball's 2014-15 non-conference slate finally began to take shape as it was announced that UF would travel to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on Friday, Dec. 5 for a showdown with Kansas. It will be the first time UF visits KU since 1994 and the second-straight season that the Gators and Jayhawks will meet in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge after Florida earned a 67-61 win over Kansas last year. A total of 10 games will be played as part of the event, all of which will air on ESPN networks and be available for live streaming both online and on mobile devices. The rest of the Gators' non-conference schedule is equally impressive with Florida set to host UConn, face Florida State on the road, take on Wake Forest in Sunrise and participate in the fourth annual Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas. There, UF will take on at least three of the following teams: Butler, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and UAB.
Readying for his career at the next level, Gators center Patric Young has begun training at IMG Academy in Bradenton and recently accepted an invitation to the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Camp, which is the basketball version of the NFL Combine. He also signed with Jim Tanner of Tandem Sports, an agency that also represents Tim Duncan, Ray Allen and Jeremy Lin, among others. Young graduated last weekend with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications and is now solely focused on his NBA career. He has even jumped off of Twitter in order to not be distracted. He is one of two Florida players who could be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 with point guard Scottie Wilbekin being a potential late second-round flier for a couple of teams.