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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 The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Leaving the Big 12 became an easy decision for the Texas A&M Aggies, which officially signed on as the 13th member of the SEC on Sunday effective July 1, 2012 for the 2012-13 athletic season. The first team to join the conference since Arkansas and South Carolina were added in 1991, Texas A&M will not only increase the SEC's reach (to the state of Texas) and athletic brand, it will also improve the league's academic standing. It will be the third school in the SEC (along with Florida and Vanderbilt) that is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, an organization that consists of just 59 select universities and helps develop national educational policy while receiving funding for research and education at all levels. Texas A&M will join the West division, though it remains to be seen how athletic scheduling will be adjusted going forward.
Instead of falling in the Top 25 polls for four-straight weeks like they did one season ago, the Gators actually continued their upward climb in the rankings, landing at a unanimous No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches and Associated Press polls on Sunday. Florida has been raised at least 10 spots from their preseason rankings and stands as the fourth SEC school in each poll behind LSU (T2/1), Alabama (T2/2) and South Carolina (9/10). UF is also at least 11 spots higher than Florida State - a preseason top 10 team that has lost consecutive contests to ranked opponents and has only defeated Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern so far in 2011.
Not able to land five-star point guard Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ), Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan have begun to hone in on five-star power forward Alex Poythress (Clarksville, TN) as their primary target to help round out the 2012 recruiting class. Early Monday morning, ESPN's Dave Telep reported that Poythress cut his list to a final four, removing Duke and leaving Florida, Kentucky, Memphis and Vanderbilt to contend for his services. The No. 19 player in the country and No. 8 player at his position, Poythress recently took an official visit to Vanderbilt and had back-to-back in-home visits with UF on Sept. 14 and UK on Sept. 15.
Involved in another final four, the Gators are also hoping to land a commitment from four-star center Willie Cauley (Olathe, KS), who is choosing between Alabama, Florida, Kansas State and Kentucky. A dual-sport athlete who will concentrate on basketball at the college level, Cauley has a scholarship offer from UK and plans to make an official visit to Kentucky on Oct. 14. He visited UF a week ago but many believe he is leaning toward playing in Lexington and Calipari is certainly making a strong push for that to happen.
Not necessarily having the standout weekend they were hoping for, No. 6 Gators soccer (8-3, 1-1 SEC) split the final two games of their four-game road trip, defeating Georgia 1-0 on Friday before falling to No. 12 Tennessee 4-2 on Sunday. Junior midfielder Erika Tymrak scored Florida's solo goal at 70' in the first contest and added another at 47' on Sunday, but it was too little too late. UT was already up 3-0 at the time and utilized a hat trick by forward Alexis Owens to confused freshman goalkeeper Taylor Burke, who allowed all four goals and did not make a single save on the evening.
Gators volleyball also put its No. 6/7 ranking in question by similarly splitting their weekend matches. Florida (9-3, 2-1 SEC), which hosted both contests, swept Kentucky 3-0 Friday behind a combined 26 kills from senior outside hitters Stephanie Ferrell and Kristy Jaeckel but dropped a five-set thriller to Tennessee on Sunday (21-25, 25-20, 21-25, 16-18). Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy accounted for the 26th triple-double of her career in Sunday's match, contributing 10 kills, 14 digs and 21 assists on the evening.