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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 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.
Gators head coach Will Muschamp made another superb hire on Monday when he added former Kentucky top man Joker Phillips to his star-studded staff as the new wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Phillips, who has 25 years of coaching experience spent across the nation but mostly in Lexington, KY, is exactly what Muschamp looks for in a coach. He's experienced, a good recruiter, relates well to young people and has a pedigree of knowing how to get the job done. In fact, Phillips has coached the No. 2 (Craig Yeast), No. 5 (Derek Abney) and No. 7 (Keenan Burton) pass catchers in SEC history (dating back to 1999) based on career receptions. He also has three notable players - Stevie Johnson, Randall Cobb, tight end Jacob Tamme - shining in the NFL.
Although Florida moving up to No. 5/6 in the latest men's basketball top 25 polls is a big deal on its own - the team's highest ranking since 2007 - it also marks a shift in the entire athletic program back to the immense success it experienced half a decade ago. In fact, with Gators basketball ranked so high and football coming in at No. 3 in the BCS and No. 4 in the human polls, it is the first time since Jan. 9, 2007 that both programs have been simultaneously ranked in the top five of the USA Today Coaches' Polls. It was only going to be a matter of time before Donovan got the basketball program back to these heights but for Muschamp to be standing alongside him in his second year is certainly a noteworthy accomplishment.
The Gators currently playing in the NFL had a great week, combining for three turnovers, three touchdowns and some big-time plays. However, it was the Florida players currently on the Cincinnati Bengals that combined to have the best week of all. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap registered five tackles (four solo, two for loss) along with two big sacks, a pass defense and an opportunely timed fumble recovery. Safety Reggie Nelson joined him with six tackles (five solo, one for loss), a pass defense and an interception in the end zone with just seconds left that ended the game and saved the day for the Bengals.
One 2015 recruit can be crossed off of Donovan's list as five-star center Karl Towns made two big announcements Tuesday, neither of which concerned the Gators. Towns first decided to attend Kentucky over Duke and Florida (later noting that his decision was between the first two schools) and then announced that he would be reclassifying for the 2014 class in hopes of playing for head coach John Calipari following his junior year of high school. Towns is widely regarded as the No. 1 player in the 2015 class; where he stacks up in 2014 remains to be seen. UF, as of press time, does not have a single 2014 commitment yet.
Relegated to a reserve role all season, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler got his first start of the year on Sunday but under circumstances he certainly never would have wished. It was Siler who replaced Jovan Blecher, the player that was involved in a murder-suicide on Saturday. "All I know is there are two families out there, and there's a little baby girl out there who is going to get my prayers every day for the rest of my life," he said per the Kansas City Star. "That's what's really important to me." Siler finished with two tackles on the day and the Chiefs pulled out a tough win. It was his first start since 2010 as he missed all of 2011 with an Achilles' injury, a year in which he was supposed to be a starter for Kansas City.
Surprisingly listed as inactive with a rib injury despite being active with it one week earlier, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow watched from the sideline as his head coach finally decided to make a change at signal caller and inserted Greg McElroy into the game (he was serving as the No. 2 with Tebow out of action). Then on Monday, to add insult to injury, more players came out talking about how Tebow is not fit to be a true NFL quarterback - this time from his former team, the Denver Broncos. "This year we won the division with four games left. That's all Peyton Manning. If Tebow was here, we'd still be speaking out wins or losing games we shouldn't be losing. The division would be coming down to the last game," an anonymous player told CBS Sports. "I've been following Tim in New York and I feel horrible for him. Everyone here, I think, wants the best for him. He's a good guy. But you can't turn Tim into something he's not, and he's not really an NFL quarterback. He's more of a gimmick player."