Last season New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez did everything right, catching 98 balls for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns while also carrying the ball 13 times for 115 yards. However, it was teammate Rob Gronkowski who received a huge six-year, $53 million contract extension in early June. There was much speculation at the time that New England would not lock up Hernandez for multiple reasons but primarily because of the money they invested in Gronkowski and the fact that Hernandez could be kept through 2015 by being forced to play out his contract and being given the franchise tag twice. However, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday morning that Hernandez has indeed been extended through 2018 though monetary figures have not yet been released. This comes after Hernandez appeared to be the top option for quarterback Tom Brady throughout the preseason.
In Redondo Beach, CA on Tuesday more than 25 former college football players will participate in the inaugural Australian Football U.S. Combine. Among them will be former Florida running back Emmanuel Moody, who is hoping to impress some of the league's officials with his athleticism and potential. According to an organizational release, "The schedule for the three days of the Combine will include a presentation by the AFL on the opportunities and pathways that lay ahead, an introduction to the basic skills of the game and the combine testing for skills and endurance."
North Carolina is usually known for its college basketball teams but both of the major in-state schools happen to be highly-ranked as far as women's soccer is concerned, too. That is what UF learned over the weekend as the Gators took on both No. 19 UNC and No. 2 Duke on the pitch. Florida started the season on a sour note with an embarrassing 4-1 upset loss to Miami at home but rebounded quite nicely over the weekend. After fighting North Carolina to a 0-0 tie through two overtimes, the Gators took on Blue Devils team that finished as the runner-up in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Florida fell behind 2-0 through 29 minutes but fought back to cut their deficit in half just 10 minutes later and ultimately tie the match at 65'. Then, just minutes into extra time, senior midfielder Erika Tymrak booted the golden goal sending UF to a hard-earned upset victory that could fuel the team for the remainder of the season.
It may only be the preseason but former Gators running back Chris Rainey has already been impressive, scoring his second long touchdown in three games on Saturday. After taking a short pass 57 yards into the end zone in the Pittsburgh Steelers' preseason opener, Rainey added to his highlight film by taking a handoff to the right, making one cut and exploding 41 yards for a touchdown on Saturday. Though Rainey will never get the majority of carries out of Pittsburgh's backfield, he can still be a big-time playmaker for the Steelers as long as he is given enough opportunities on the field (which it seems like is what the coaching staff has planned for him).
Never too early to look ahead, ESPN released player rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft over the weekend. Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is the highest-ranked player at No. 91 overall (grade: 74), followed in the top 150 by only redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins at No. 108 overall (grade: 71) and senior LB Jon Bostic at No. 137 (grade: 64). All three players should have the opportunity to move up the board significantly if the Gators defense produces in the way the coaches and fans expect. Of course two of those players (Floyd, Jenkins) are not done at Florida until 2013 anyway.
Gators volleyball, ranked No. 18 in the nation heading into the weekend, swept the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational with three dominating victories on Aug. 24 and 25. Florida swept Florida International, Florida A&M and Florida Gulf Coast 3-0 over the two-day event. Junior middle back Chloe Mann led the way for the Gators with 42 kills and 48 points and was joined by impressive performances from freshman outside hitters Ziva Recek (29 kills, 30 points) and Berkley Whaley (21 kills, 27.5 points). In attendance at the event was Gigi Meyer, the daughter of former UF head coach Urban Meyer, who is also a volleyball player for FGCU. She had a nice weekend with 60 assists over three matches including 10 against Florida.