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.
Getting placed on injured reserves during the AFC Playoffs was not an ideal scenario for linebacker Brandon Spikes, who played all season on an injured knee for the New England Patriots before getting unceremoniously dumped. The team's second-leading tackler with 134 takedowns on the 2013 season, Spikes was not expecting to be retained by New England despite his close relationship with owner Bob Kraft. In fact, according to the Boston Herald, the Patriots may not even make an offer to Spikes for more than the veteran minimum, which would certainly be a slap in the face. He should be able to find a deal worth $4-5 million per season in free agency with injury concerns likely limiting the number of years he will receive.
An AFC East of New England, the Miami Dolphins are reportedly found of how 2013 fourth-round draft choice Jelani Jenkins played at linebacker during his rookie season. Jenkins played so well that he actually took snaps away from Phillip Wheeler, one of Miami's high-priced free agent signings, toward the latter part of the season. "He has the potential to be a weakside linebacker starter and can be a starter when you open in the nickel package," a Dolphins official told the Miami Herald this week. Jenkins could very well wind up starting for Miami next season as the team looks to rid itself of some dead weight with Wheeler being a top candidate to be cut.
The punishment handed down by the NCAA to Florida freshman forward Chris Walker struck many as odd, especially because the organization tacked on 80 hours of community service to a $270 fine and 12-game suspension. Considering Walker did not commit a criminal act and community service is not a punishment usually levied by the NCAA, ESPN's Andy Katz asked Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley why Walker received that penalty and how exactly he will serve the community service. According to Foley, Walker will fulfill those 80 hours while taking part in normal activities scheduled by Florida for the team and its players and is not going to be required to do anything above and beyond on his own.
Obviously Gators fans loved Tim Tebow's T-Mobile Super Bowl commercials, but the public in general apparently did not find them as comical or entertaining. According to USA Today's annual Ad Meter poll, Tebow's commercials rated 5.59 and 5.52 out of 10, respectively, putting them right in the middle of the pack. Some of the commercials rated just above Tebow's include the Jaguar "British VIllians" commercial, Audi "Doberhuahua" spot and M&M's "delivery" ad.
Right after Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced Sunday night that he was a homosexual, the response appeared to be mostly positive in support of his bravery to be not just himself but potentially a pioneer for professional athletes as the first openly gay NFL player. However, it only took an hour or two for anonymous NFL executives, general managers and coaches to chime in on Sam's announcement and the response was very mixed. According to an SI.com report, eight anonymous NFL personnel expect Sam's NFL Draft stock to take a "significant" plunge because "at this point in time it's still a man's man game" and "do you want to be the team to quote-unquote 'break that barrier?'" Sam, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, gave Florida fits when the teams squared off this season. He sacked quarterback Tyler Murphy three times in the game and did so wearing rainbow wristbands that were apparently not noticed prior. According to Sam, he came out to his Missouri teammates before the season began.
Steadily proving themselves as the dominant program in the nation, No. 1 Gators gymnastics had a student-athlete post a 10.0 in an event for the third-straight meet on Friday with Florida pulling out a 197.175-195.45 road victory against Kentucky. Sophomore Bridget Sloan registered the perfecto this week, scoring a 10.0 on the balance beam and becoming just the second gymnast in school history to achieve that mark on the discipline. She also became the first Gators gymnast to score a 10.0 in more than one event, doing so first in floor exercise on Jan. 24. Florida improved to 5-0 on the season with a 3-0 record in league action.