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 defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd revealed during his NFL Combine interview that he did not start watching professional football until 2007 and instead spent his time watching the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. "It wasn't that there was no interest, I just didn't know nothing about it, so there was no reason to watch it," he said. "Even when I started playing there was no interest in watching it because I liked to play it instead of sitting down and being still and watching a game while all my friends were jumping around and getting excited for no reason. It just wasn't a preference of mine, but now it is so I watch it and play it now." Floyd put together an impressive workout at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine on Monday and is now all but assured of going in the top five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, perhaps as high as No. 3 overall.
Also opening eyes at the combine was Florida safety Matt Elam, who may very well have locked up being a first-round draft selection with his workout on Tuesday. Elam ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, the fifth-fastest time and put up more than respectable figures in the other events. Though his height (5'9 7/8") is a concern, his versatility and ability to play both safety and nickel cornerback make him a high-value pick at the end of the first round. As the consensus No. 2 overall safety available, Elam only helped his cause during his four days in Indianapolis, IN.
The baseball team is on an epic slide right now with the Gators losing four-straight games and getting swept at home over the weekend by Florida Gulf Coast. Florida was outscored 23-9 over the three-game series and fell out of the newly-released top 25 on Monday. The Gators relief pitching is awful and playing small ball is a huge adjustment for a Florida team that led the nation in homers by a large margin in 2012. Things do not get any easier for UF, which continues its non-conference schedule with a series against Miami on March 15. Florida then has to look ahead to its SEC schedule, which features seven teams ranked in the top 17 nationally as of press time.
On Monday, Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford delivered a fantastic performance on the court, going 10-of-13 from the field for 23 points to go along with a career-high-tying 22 rebounds. Horford also hit his first three-pointer of the season late in the fourth quarter and added three assists, two steals and two blocks. Though he was not named to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, Horford is having a fantastic season after missing nearly the entire 2012 campaign with a torn pectoral muscle. Also excelling in the NBA as of late is Washington Wizards guard Brad Beal, who is following the schedule he set in Gainesville, FL and improving on a month-by-month basis. Beal has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games and has combined for 41 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in his last two contests (15-for-28 from the field, 4-for-7 from downtown).
Receiving a bit of revenge from a regular season loss last year, No. 4 Gators women's tennis took down No. 13 Stanford 4-2 in front of the second-largest crowd in program history (1,033) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. Florida lost the doubles point in the early going but fought back to win three of the next four singles matches on its way to a huge victory against, historically, the only program in the country that can match UF's success in the sport. Also coming up big over the weekend was No. 3 Gators lacrosse, which defeated Albany 17-7 and saw three players combine to score 12 goals.
Swimming (eight) and track & field (six) combined to win 14 individual SEC Championships for Florida over the weekend. Though the track & field squads did not capture any team honors or year-end conference awards, the men's swimming team ended a 20-year drought to win its first SEC title since 1993. It was the 34th SEC Championship in the history of the program, one that ended a 16-year winning streak for Auburn. (UF has finished second to Auburn the last 11 years.) Gators picking up year-end awards included Gregg Troy (SEC Men's Swimming Coach of the Year), junior Elizabeth Beisel (SEC Commissioner's Trophy), Natalie Hinds (SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year) and Cassie Weil (SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year).