PARTING THOUGHTS: 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.
Gators baseball saw six players get selected in the 2014 MLB Draft over the weekend, two of which have already decided to become professionals. All juniors, catcher Taylor Gushue (Round 4, No. 131, Pittsburgh), right-handed pitcher Justin Shafer (Round 8, No. 234, Toronto), RHP Karsten Whitson (Round 11, No. 344, Boston), second baseman Casey Turgeon (Round 24, No. 735, St. Louis), RHP Ryan Harris (Round 26, No. 794, Boston) and RHP Keenan Kish (Round 34, No. 1,025, Cincinnati) were each selected during the three-day, 40-round process. Whitson told MLB.com on Saturday that he has decided to turn pro (he had his mind made up before the 2014 college season), and Shafer signed with the Blue Jays on Saturday. Gushue is expected to ink a deal with the Pirates as well, and UF could lose a couple more players before all is said and done.
All the way over in France, former Florida point guard Taurean Green captured his first championship since his days at UF when he led Limoges CSP over Strasbourg 73-70 in game three of the Ligue Nationale de Basket Pro A finals. Green scored a team-high 19 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep and hit 5-of-6 free throws in the contest. He helped Limoges win its first French league crown in 14 seasons. Green has now played for six international teams since leaving the United States, spending time in Aragon, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Italy.
The New Orleans Saints have been experimenting with their defensive rotations early in the summer and spent time over the weekend working out former Gators linebacker Ronald Powell with the starting unit. Powell, the No. 169 overall selection in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, finished his injury-riddled career at Florida with 84 total tackles (19 for lost yardage) and 11 sacks. He should be a great fit in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's pass rushing attack with the Saints.
Organized team activities are not that important for veterans, which is why the New York Jets's decision to quarantine wide receiver David Nelson was absolutely for the best. Nelson, who spends much of his offseason during charity work, recently picked up an illness while in Haiti. According to the New York Post, Nelson came down with a "104-degree fever and strep throat." He returned to practice last week and is "in the mix for the No. 2 receiver job," according to the paper. After tearing his ACL in the first game of 2012, missing the entire season and bouncing around different teams early in 2013, Nelson found a home with the Jets and played 12 games (starting six). New York struggled offensively due in large part to its rookie quarterback, so Nelson hauled in just 36 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns in those contests.
Released by the New York Giants last week after being suspended for drugs for the third time by the NFL (twice for substance abuse, once for a violation of the performance-enhancing policy), former Gators safety Will Hill went unclaimed on waivers and is now free to sign with any team that wants to give him a third chance to be a professional football player. Hill could also turn to the AFL or CFL, though reports last week about him signing with the Arizona Rattlers (which inked him for the 2011 season) were old and incorrect. Despite being a screw-up off the field, Hill made a number of impressive plays for the Giants in 2013, starting 10 of 12 games (he was suspended for the first four) and racking up 77 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and two forced fumbles.
Staying in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, over the weekend, former Florida center Patric Young got a bit of a break from his intense pre-draft schedule. He now has nine team visits to take part in over the next 16 days with all but one of those trips being of the back-to-back variety. Young has already met with five teams at their respective facilities - Phoenix, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York - and will visit with another batch of top-tier teams this week including Oklahoma City, Utah and Dallas. He is expected to be selected in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, likely within the 30-40 range.