FOUR BITS: baseball, Tebow, Watkins, Mincey

By Adam Silverstein
April 16, 2014

1 » No. 18 Florida Gators baseball (24-13) smacked the ball around Tuesday on its way to a 7-1 victory and regular-season series win over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (24-14) at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, FL. The Gators were embarrassed in a Gainesville, FL round robin from Feb. 27-March 2, splitting a pair of games with the Eagles, but came up big Tuesday. Junior catcher Taylor Gushue (3/4, 2 RBI, R) was one of six Florida players to drive in a run, and sophomore shortstop Richie Martin (3/5, RBI, 2 R) did his job in the batter’s box as well. UF used four pitchers to seal the deal against FGCU with junior right-hander Ryan Harris (2.0 IP, H) earning the start and victory. Freshman lefty Kirby Snead (4.0 IP, H, K) ate up the most innings, and freshman RHP Shaun Anderson (1.0 IP) closed the door. The Gators have now won three-straight and four of their last five games.

2 » Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow last week spoke at the Mississippi Coliseum as part of a fundraiser to help support Afghanistan war veteran CJ Stewart. Not only did Tebow himself pledge $10,000 and get four more audience members to do the same – meeting Stewart’s $100,000 goal – he also fielded questions about his life and football. Tebow said he hopes people won’t “talk about football when they talk about me in 50 years,” preferring his legacy to be “how I cared about people, and that I did something to make their lives better.” Seeing as he was in Mississippi, he also discussed UF’s loss to Ole Miss in 2008. “I consider that one of our biggest blessings,” he said, according to The Clarion Ledger. “We were a very talented team, but we needed more motivation. We went to practice in full pads that Sunday, and it was the most intense practice I’ve ever been in. So, thank you very much, Ole Miss.”

3 » analyst Dane Brugler, looking at needs for a number of teams ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft, is not only high on Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins but also believes he might be the cream of the crop when it comes to Florida’s secondary.

Florida’s deep secondary will be well represented in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the best pro of the group might be Watkins, who is the older brother of Sammy Watkins. After lining up at cornerback and safety in college, he offers the intriguing versatility that will be attractive to NFL teams, appearing comfortable in off man, press and zone coverage. Watkins has light, controlled feet and does an excellent job in his pedal and hip flip to stay in the hip pocket of receivers down the field. His game needs some refinement, but the natural talent seems to shine through and would make an excellent draft choice in the third round.

Watkins has been receiving projections as high as the second round and may wind up being the first Gators cornerback off the board, ahead of presumed preseason first-round locks like Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson.

4 » New Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey, the first former Florida player to play for “America’s Team” since Emmitt Smith, still has business interests in Jacksonville, FL, after playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars over his first eight NFL seasons. In this new commercial, Mincey (a.k.a. “Mr. Mince”) promotes Wing King.

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