PARTING THOUGHTS: 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.
Gators center Patric Young began competing in the 2014 NBA Draft Combine on Thursday by getting measured and taking part in on-court shooting drills. Scouts in attendance were happy to see Young check in at 6'10" while wearing shoes but not as pleased with his 7' 1.75" wingspan. While participating in spot up shooting drills, Young went 6-for-25 (.240) from NBA three-point range and 15-for-25 (.600) from 15 feet out. He also shot 8-for-18 (.444) off the dribble and 14/35 (.400) on the move all from 15 feet out. On Friday, he will participate in a number of agility drills including running the lane, shuttle run, standing vertical leap, maximum vertical leap and three-quarter court sprint.
Anthony DeSclafani, a Florida right-handed pitcher who was playing in the minor leagues earlier this week, got called up to the bigs as a spot starter for the Miami Marlins. He earned his first professional victory in his MLB debut, leading Miami to a 13-3 win and even getting things done at the plate by going 1/4 with two RBI and a runs cored. DeSclafani (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K) is expected to stay up with the Marlins, at least for now, as team ace Jose Fernandez has been ruled out for the season with an elbow injury.
Three suspensions in as many seasons and a road out of the NFL is what New York Giants safety Will Hill is currently facing as the league this offseason found that he tested positive for a substance of abuse. Hill, however, has appealed the positive test and is strongly denying to teammates that he used anything illegal this offseason. "Will is a guy that has definitely had his struggles, as well as anyone of us within the league," teammate Antrel Rolle told NJ.com. "Right now, I've spoken to Will several times and he's said, 'Antrel, I've been clean.'" Rolle is aware of Hill's past transgressions (drug use in college, a positive test for Adderall as a rookie in 2012, a positive test for marijuana in 2013) and believes only Hill can help himself. "At the end of the day, an adult has to be an adult," he said. "Will has to be accountable for his own life. Will has to be smart enough and alert enough to know the dos and don'ts of the league." Those on the Giants beat believe Hill is as good as gone from New York, but the team is obviously waiting until the NFL responds to his appeal.
On Tuesday, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden inked the richest deal in NFL history for a secondary player, agreeing to a five-year, $68 million contract extension that includes a whopping $45 million in guaranteed money. Haden was given a $12 million signing bonus, meaning he will haul in approximately $21 million in 2014 as he is also set to earn $9 million in the final year of his rookie contract. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he has spent his entire career with Cleveland, playing in 57 games over his first four seasons and racking up 13 interceptions and 67 pass defenses. Haden, who has become a true member of the community and is often seem supporting a variety of local teams, charitable efforts and youth activities, was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2013. At just 25 years old and the star of the Browns' defense, he could absolutely play out his extension and see every penny of his new deal.
Reigning on Thursday was No. 13 Florida baseball, which fought hard for a 6-5 victory over Tennessee in 11 innings to clinch the SEC East title and at least a share of the 2014 SEC regular-season championship. The Gators also ensured they would win 20 conference games in a single season for just the eighth time in school history. Additionally, Florida's 22nd baseball division title gives it the most in SEC history (five more than LSU's 17). UF has two more games at UT before the regular season is out, facing its rivals on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. After that, the 2014 SEC Tournament will begin in Hoover, Alabama, on May 20.
Some undrafted free agent contracts have yet to be signed or have details released, but a pair of Gators who inked priority deals will basically be earning the same amount of money through their first three years in the NFL (if they make it that far, of course). Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Solomon Patton and Philadelphia Eagles "tight end" Trey Burton each signed up for $1.54 million over three seasons. Patton received a signing bonus of $9,000, but Burton pulled in a bit more guaranteed cash, getting a $7,500 signing bonus and $20,000 guaranteed overall. Both players should be good fits with their respective teams as Tampa Bay will put out a pair of tall wideouts on the outside (leaving space for smaller, faster guys to make plays underneath) and Philadelphia will once again creatively use its talent under head coach Chip Kelly.