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 fans will have 10 former players to watch when the 2013 NFL Combine begins on Feb. 20. The six-day event will feature more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while twice as many NFL personnel in attendance look on and evaluate each of them. Florida players invited to participate this year include: linebacker Jon Bostic (LB04), safety Matt Elam (DB12), S Josh Evans (DB13), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (DL11), running back Mike Gillislee (RB13), LB Jelani Jenkins (LB12), LB Lerentee McCray (LB20), offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (OL41), tight end Jordan Reed (TE15) and kicker Caleb Sturgis (PK12). Notable names left off the invite list include wide receivers Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines and defensive tackles Omar Hunter and Earl Okine.
According to a release from USA Basketball, Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan has been tabbed to return to the organization as head coach of the United States' under-19 team for the 2013 FIBA World Championship this summer. The event - set to take place from June 17-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic - will feature the best teams from around the world, all of which had to finish in the top-three of their continental events last summer. The Americans will begin the event in Group D along with China, Ivory Coast and Russia. Donovan led the United States to the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, sweeping the event (5-0) and averaging a 38.6-point margin of victory in the five games. He will once again be joined on his coaching staff by Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart (a former UF assistant) and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. "It's such an honor to have this opportunity to represent our country with USA Basketball once again, and I'm really looking forward to it," Donovan said.
Though National Signing Day went well for Florida, an issue that occurred off the field on Sunday certainly has head coach Will Muschamp shaking his head. Alachua County records have Gators sophomore cornerback/wide receiver Loucheiz Purifoy arrested over the weekend for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams). He was booked and released from Alachua County jail, served with a notice to appear in court on Wednesday and has his arraignment set for Thursday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. Purifoy is the eighth player to be arrested for possession of marijuana since Muschamp took over the team in Jan. 2011. Ironically, Muschamp told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that Purifoy will be playing wide receiver during spring practice though he did not say if that move would be permanent. With this recent arrest news, how much Purifoy will even be on the field this spring is currently in doubt.
On Thursday, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay released their latest evolutions for the 2013 NFL Draft. Kiper's latest Big Board (listing the top 25 prospects available) has Floyd up to No. 15 overall and Elam entering for the very first time at the No. 25 slot. McShay has rocketed Floyd up to No. 7 overall on his Top 32 but does not have Elam anywhere on the list. Both analysts believe that Floyd will be selected somewhere around the middle of the first-round. Kiper has Elam going at No. 29 to New England, while McShay does not have him listed in his mock draft.
Reserved most of the time when discussing his team's quarterback situation, Muschamp was open and honest on Wednesday when he said that he is a bit concerned with the team's reserves heading into the 2013 season. "I don't have a very high comfort level, obviously," he said. "Those guys haven't played a lot but they're going to get opportunities this spring to continue to develop within what we do." Those guys Muschamp is mentioning are current redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy and freshman Skyler Mornhinweg. Neither player saw the field as signal caller in 2012 and both were far behind Jacoby Brissett during camp last year. Murphy, Mornhinweg and three-star QB commit Max Staver will all be competing for the No. 2 role heading into the season with Muschamp noting previously that Murphy will have that job at the start of spring practice.
Seen on campus Wednesday during signing day was former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard who is better known these days as "Titus O'Neil" from the WWE tag team Prime Time Players. Bullard, who was back in Gainesville, FL late last year to film a segment for WWE, spent time in the Florida football and basketball offices. He even sat down with Muschamp and Donovan for some one-on-one time and filmed short segments for his social media followers. "O'Neil" is slowly making his way up the ranks in WWE and should at some point soon win the Tag Team Championship with his partner Darren Young.