Found August 07, 2013 on
To say it has been a rough offseason for the Florida Gators football program would be a bit of an understatement. On and off the field present and former Gators have been all over the national headlines.
It all began June 16 when sophomore linebacker, and expected starter, Antonio Morrison was arrested for battery after striking a bouncer at a Gainesville bar. However, Morrison’s tumultuous offseason would not end there. July 21, about a month after his first arrest, Morrison was arrested again, this time for barking at a police dog and resisting arrest. Head coach Will Muschamp immediately suspended him for the first two games of the season, and although the charges from the second arrest were dropped just a couple of days later, Morrison remains suspended.
Easily the most newsworthy of all the negative headlines for the Gators has been the Aaron Hernandez saga. Just days after the first Morrison arrest, on June 18, the New England Patriots tight end was questioned by Massachusetts State Police in connection with the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. Roughly a week later, on June 26, Hernandez was arrested and subsequently released by the Patriots after being charged with first-degree murder. Since then, more details have emerged about Hernandez’s past. Including a couple of incidents that occurred in 2007 in Gainesville. One in which he was almost charged with battery at a local restaurant and the other involving a shooting incident in which police questioned him and another former Gator, Reggie Nelson.
All had been quiet on the Hernandez front for a couple of weeks until a letter surfaced recently in which the former Gator proclaimed his innocence and wrote, ‘all the people who turned on me will fell like crap.’ Time will tell if Hernandez’s is telling the truth, but for now he remains in jail with a large amount of circumstantial evidence piled against him.
The rough offseason continued into July, when the Gators on-field product hit a slight bump in the road just before the start of fall practice. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel underwent appendectomy surgery July 30. The team announced that Driskel would be sidelined for a couple of weeks while he recovered. On top of that, sophomore running back Matt Jones, who was expected to be the Gators workhouse back this fall, is out indefinitely with a viral infection. Obviously injuries and things of that nature are not as controversial as say a former player being charged with murder, but that are still newsworthy. If these injuries had happened a few months ago they may not have been a big deal, but with fall practice underway and the season opener just a few weeks away, the timing could not be much worse.
The most recent of the negative headlines surrounding the Gators involves yet another former player, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper. About a week ago, a video was released with Cooper dropping a racial slur (the N-word) after being denied backstage access at a Kenny Chesney concert by an African-American security guard.
Since then Cooper has released a public apology:
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself,” he said. “I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman, and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
Cooper was also fined an undisclosed amount by the Eagles, addressed his actions with his Eagles’ teammates and took a leave of absence from the team for a few days before returning to practice Tuesday.
So, the negative headlines have dominated the summer for the Gators. But luckily for Gator fans the season opener against Toledo is just a few weeks away. I think I can speak for all of us when I say August 31 can’t get here fast enough.
BEST OF MAXIM
Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison rejoined the team on Thursday after missing the first week of camp as part of his punishment for two arrests in the offseason. Linebacker Michael Taylor said Morrison was in meetings and is expected to return to practice on Thursday night.
Florida has cleared quarterback Jeff Driskel and partially reinstated suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison.
The school said Driskel returned to practice Thursday night, throwing passes and taking part in team drills.
Driskel missed the first week of fall practice following an appendectomy, but coach Will Muschamp expected him to return early in camp.
It had been less clear when...
Florida has cleared quarterback Jeff Driskel and apparently reinstated suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison.
The school posted a photo on its Twitter page of Driskel throwing passes at practice Thursday, saying ''Good to see No. 6 back out on the field in action tonight!''
Driskel missed the first week of fall practice following an appendectomy, but coach Will...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The full-throttled panic that raced across social media platforms has quieted since Jeff Driskel's appendix became talk-radio fodder last week.
Driskel's surgery was a success. Florida's junior starting quarterback, still recovering from his emergency appendectomy, is on track to rejoin his teammates in the huddle soon.
Meanwhile, backup Tyler Murphy...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Senior receiver Andre Debose appeared intent on making his final season with the Gators his best one.
According to Florida coaches and teammates, Debose had an excellent summer of training and was ready to make a difference in the passing game. One unfortunate step Tuesday night at practice spoiled the plan as Debose suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament...
Michael Taylor knows it isn’t the ideal situation. With sophomore middle linebacker Antonio Morrison suspended for the first two games of the season against Toledo and Miami, it’s Taylor that will likely slide into the role as Florida’s middle linebacker. The absence of Morrison is opening new roles for other linebackers to step up as leaders.
Andre Debose was drawing rave reviews in the first week of fall camp. The Gators waited throughout his career for the breakout season to happen. Two different coaching staffs at Florida questioned his work ethic in practice. Debose admitted last week it was an issue and had put in extra time working off the field this fall. The Gators are now forced to find players to make up for his presence.
The Gators were searching for improvement at the wide receiver position in 2013, but they’ll have to do it without Andre Debose. The redshirt senior tore his ACL during a non-contact portion of practice on Tuesday night and will miss the entire 2013 season.
Florida Gators redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose has suffered a torn ACL and will the miss the 2013 season, according to GatorCountry.com.
Cody Riggs isn’t a traditional safety. His 5-9, 184-pound frame keeps him from playing in the box to stop the run as often as other safeties, but what he lacks in size, Riggs make up for with his knowledge of the defense and aggressive mindset. The Gators will need him to take one of the starting safety positions after losing both from last year, and Riggs is already turning heads in camp.
Florida senior H-back Trey Burton has done a lot for the Gators in his time on campus. Burton talked the media on Tuesday and was asked a myriad of questions about himself and his teammates. We have a good portion of that interview session here.
Quinton Dunbar didn’t always understand what it took off the field. He put in the effort expected of him on the practice field and spent the necessary time in the playbook, but when it came to the weight room, he only wanted to do the minimum. That’s no longer the case. The redshirt junior has changed his mindset and could be headed for the breakout season the Gators have been waiting for.
With an added 12-15 pounds, redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell believes he is better suited to line up and play some SEC football in 2013. Speed is the name of the game for Powell and he talks about his hopes for the season and more with FightinGators.com.