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 men's track & field on Saturday won the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championship, coming from behind to capture a national title in the event for the second-straight year. Nine points back of Texas A&M heading into the final event, the men's 4x400-meter relay, Florida gutted out a victory in 3:01.34 and benefited from TAMU dropping the baton during the race. The Gators closed the nine-point gap exactly, matching the Aggies with 53 points and sharing the championship. Florida also won the men's 4x100-meter relay in 38.54 seconds and captured the men's triple jump national title for the seventh time in the last four season (indoor and outdoor). UF has won five of the last eight NCAA Championships in track & field with a three-peat in indoor competition from 2010-12 and consecutive outdoor titles from 2012-13.
As Saturday's event concluded, so did the 2012-13 athletic season. The Gators captured two NCAA titles during the campaign (gymnastics being the other), eight regular-season Southeastern Conference titles (basketball, women's cross country, gymnastics, soccer, softball, men's swimming, women's tennis, volleyball) and the American Lacrosse Conference regular-season crown. UF also picked up two SEC Tournament titles, seven individual national championships and 12 individual SEC titles. The 19 individual titles were spread across gymnastics, swimming and track & field.
The 2013 MLB Draft was held at the tail end of the week with five current Gators, 10 signees, a transfer and even junior quarterback Jeff Driskel selected during the 40-round event. Junior right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford (Round 1, No. 20 overall, Detroit Tigers), junior lefty Daniel Gibson (Round 7, No. 210 overall, Arizona Diamondbacks) and senior shortstop Cody Dent (Round 22, No. 676 overall, Washington Nationals) are headed to the big leagues while sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (Round 17, No. 506 overall, New York Mets) and junior RHP Karsten Whitson (Round 37, No. 1,126 overall, Washington Nationals) are likely returning to school. Of Florida's 10 signees that were drafted, only SS Christian Arroyo (Round 1, No. 25 overall, San Francisco Giants) and RHP Tyler Danish (Round 2, No. 55 overall, Chicago White Sox) appear ready to try luck at pro ball right out of high school, though others could choose to go as well.
Driskel (Round 29, No. 863 overall, Boston Red Sox) will be staying put and playing football for the Gators in 2013. Incoming four-star defensive back Nick Washington reportedly had interest from teams picking in the first and second round of the draft but told the interested parties not to select him because he is focused on playing football and baseball in college at Florida.
One-by-one, top-tier non-conference matchups are being announced for the Gators basketball team but many fans are still wondering whether or not Florida will try to give the Navy-Marine Corps Classic a second shot this year. The event, which was held for the first time last season, was deemed a success despite condensation on the court forcing the game to end at halftime and the fact that it did not turn a profit for the city. A number of adjustments have been made to the city's proposal for 2013, and Jacksonville is currently in the final stages of talks with the Navy to hold the event again. However, chances of it happening are 50/50 at this time. Should the game be approved by all necessary parties, Florida would once again be a target for the City of Jacksonville though no guarantees have been made by the school as of press time.
Right-handed pitcher Tucker Simpson will transfer from the Gators baseball team, the school confirmed on Monday. Simpson, who went 1-2 in eight starts and 13 total appearances as a freshman, finished the year with a 4.79 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. Neither Florida nor Simpson has spoken about his decision as of press time. In other baseball news, UF signee A.J. Puk, a talented left-handed pitcher and first baseman, told Metro Sports Report that he will decline a contract offer from the Detroit Tigers, which selected him in the 35th round of last week's draft. Puk would have been a higher draft choice had he committed to only being a pitcher, but he told teams that he also wanted to play first base, and the Gators are happy to provide him with that opportunity.
Still pursuing track and participating in international events despite NFL mandatory minicamp beginning this week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps is not at risk of losing his roster spot with the team just yet. Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik confirmed Monday that Demps has been excused from the mandatory practices (Tuesday-Thursday) but would not go into greater detail as it pertains to his chances of making the 53-man roster by the time training camp and preseason games come to an end. Demps's track schedule could force him to miss all of training camp and each of the Bucs' four preseason games. Tampa Bay had interest in Demps dating back to when he was an undrafted free agent before last season but cannot simply hold a roster spot for a player who could potentially miss every single off-season practice.