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 thirsting for football have three important dates to remember going forward: March 12, March 13 and April 6. On March 12, Florida will be hosting Pro Day inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Most, if not all, of the Gators' potential draftees will be on the field performing and working out in front of NFL scouts. Fans can sit in the stands and watch the proceedings on the field though, in the past, concession stands have not been open. One day later, Florida officially begins spring practice in preparation for the 2013 season. UF has yet to announce any policies on spring practice but may decide to have one or two days open so fans can watch the team. Finally, April 6 is the date of the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut. A time has not yet been announced for the game but probably will be after it is decided which television network will carry the contest.
After revenge stemming from a 0.075 defeat in the NCAA Super Six at the hands of Friday's opponent, No. 1 Gators gymnastics improved to 5-1 (4-1 SEC) on the season with a definitive 198.100-196.850 win over the No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide. The team score was Florida's second-highest ever and it was registered without UF's best lineup on the mats. Senior Ashanee Dickerson led the way with a career-best 9.975 score on the floor and Gators overall won four events including the all-around, which was captured by freshman Bridget Sloan with a 39.675. Florida gymnastics is on a roll and looking to win the first NCAA title in team history this season.
The hashtag started by his brother (#LetBonnerShoot) apparently worked as San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner has been named as a participant for the Three-Point Shootout at NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 16. Bonner is the second former Gators player to shoot in the event's history, joining Mike Miller who has participated in it twice. Bonner has a great chance to win the whole thing as, even in limited minutes, he is one of the best three-point shooters in the league. Other former Florida players competing in All-Star Weekend include power forward David Lee (Golden State) and center Joakim Noah (Chicago) in the actual All-Star Game and guard Brad Beal (Washington) and forward Chandler Parsons (Houston) in the Rising Stars Challenge featuring rookies and sophomores. Some Gators fans may also remember former guard James White (New York), who transferred to Cincinnati after one season at UF; he will be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest.
On the second version of a NFL.com mock draft compiled by former league scout Daniel Jeremiah, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is projected to go No. 3 overall to Oakland. Floyd is quickly rising up draft boards and is considered to be a sure-fire top-15 pick. After teams get a look at him at the 2013 NFL Combine, personal workouts and perhaps even at Pro Day, Floyd's stock could explode. That is likely what Jeremiah is counting on with his projection. Gators safety Matt Elam's stock, on the other hand, is holding pretty steady. He continues to be projected from 25-35, which would put him at the end of the first round or beginning of the second round.
Recovered from his ankle, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is entering the last year of his rookie contract and may be forced to deal with another uncomfortable offseason with his team's front office. Last year, Harvin sat out some offseason practices as he was unhappy with both his role on the team (not getting nearly enough touches on offense) and his contract. Head coach Leslie Frazier calmed his concerns about the former, which got Harvin on the field. He performed through the first half of the season like an MVP candidate before getting injured and strangely never returning to the team for the duration of the campaign. Now the team's front office must decide what to do with Harvin - appease him and sign him to a new, lucrative contract in the offseason, trade him or keep him miserable while he plays for peanuts and awaits a potential franchise tag in 2014. "I'm not going to say what's going to happen in the offseason, because he is going in to the last year of his contract," the team's general manager said this week. "But right now, where we're at, Percy Harvin is a member of this football team and he's a very good football player. We don't like to get rid of good football players."
Softball, which is likely in for a rough 2013 campaign, began the season with a hot start, winning its first two games of the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, AZ. No. 14/15 Florida (2-0) beat Creighton 13-3 before defeating No. 5 Oregon 1-0 in a doubleheader on Friday. Freshmen second baseman Kelsey Stewart (2-3, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB) and centerfielder Kirsti Merritt (2-3, 5 RBI, R) powered the Gators to victory in the first game, while senior pinch hitter Ensley Gammel (0-1, RBI) hit a bases-loaded groundout to score the game-winning run in the second contest. Florida has three more games over the next two days in the event before returning home.