MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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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.
Graded out as the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals100, four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley committing to Florida on Tuesday was a huge boost for the Gators' 2014 recruiting class. In fact, he is the fourth player UF has flipped from another school since Jan. 5 and the fifth overall commitment Florida has added in the new year. Holley also happens be the first Gators commitment from the state of New York since DT Dominique Easley in 2010 though both are from different boroughs; Holley lives in Brooklyn and Easley's family is located in Staten Island.
Although Florida's 4-8 record was worse than anyone could have expected in 2013, head coach Will Muschamp took a huge step towards success - cleaning up the program. UF's number of arrests declined for the third-straight year under his watch, dropping from nine in 2011 to six in 2012 to five in 2013. Putting it in greater perspective, of the five arrests in 2013, two were completely thrown out (Loucheiz Purifoy for marijuana possession, Antonio Morrison for harassing a K9 officer). Of the three remaining arrests, two led to the dismissal of Jessamen Dunker (grand theft, driving with a suspended license), while Morrison (simple battery) served a suspension. The Gators have not had a player arrested in six months.
The No. 38 overall pick in his draft, Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons is earning All-Star buzz for the first time in his young career as a big contributor for one of the best teams in the NBA. But it is Parsons's pump fake that has recently gotten the attention of those that cover the league. In fact, SLAM Magazine recently described it as "quietly one of the most dangerous weapons" in the NBA. "You have to throw it at them early and see who's going to jump," he told the publication this month. "Then once you know who's gonna jump, you can take it by them all the way and finish. And if you know they're gonna stay put, you're gonna have a wide-open jumper all game." Parsons picked up the move at Florida and has since practiced it to perfection.
One player who should rightfully be excited by the introduction of Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator is Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who told The Gainesville Sun this week that he expects to be "100 percent full-go by spring" practice. He also noted that he is comfortable running the zone read and is excited to get back to some of the plays that made him such a respected and highly-regarded high school signal caller. Most importantly, he is not concerned that his injury will get in the way on the field this season. "If you worry about injuries, you can't play full speed. And if you're not playing full speed, that's when injuries happen," he said. "You've got to trust in your rehab and trust you're good to go if the doctors clear you."
Raking in some coin in the NFL this season will be two former Florida defensive coordinators, both of whom were hired from their jobs as position coaches to lead defenses in 2014. Miami Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards, whose unit has struggled mightily over the last two seasons, somehow got named defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Edwards was named the Gators' defensive coordinator in 2010 but served in the role for less than two months during the offseason before moving on and taking the same job with the Buffalo Bills, a position he was fired from one year later. Baltimore Ravens defensive backs coach Teryl Austin, who replaced Edwards at Florida in 2010 and put together a lackluster defense that season, was hired to be the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions on Friday. Both are the first coordinator hires for brand new head coaches that took over the respective teams.