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Florida Gators

Gators and Hurricanes lead state NFL Combine invites

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL announced its official invites Thursday to the upcoming 2019 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, And, it’s obvious that the league feels strongly about two state program, specifically and their depth of talent for the next level.

The biggest example are “the Boys from Ol’ Florida.” The Gators will have eight players on hand for NFL personnel evaluators to look over. That includes: perspective number one pick offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, potential first-round pick pass-rusher Jachai Polite (above) and and linebacker / Edge rusher CeCe Jefferson. The Gators also have running back Jordan Scarlett and another offensive lineman, guard Martez Ivey, who are likely to be second or third day selections.

Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes have six players who were invited, led by prospective number one pick defensive lineman Gerald Willis. Willis is out of the mold of previous Miami defensive line greats like Warren Sapp, Russell Maryland and the late Jerome Brown. Willis leads four other Miami defensive players to the Combine. They include: safety Sheldrick Redwine and fellow defensive lineman Joe Jackson. Running back Travis Homer also got an invite from the offensive side of the ball in Coral Gables.

Florida State has three invitees led by defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas. Christmas, who just participated in the Senior Bowl last month, is expected to be a day two prospect for the second or third round. Seminole wide receiver Nyqwan Murray, who will probably be a day three selection is also on the NFL’s list.

The FAU Owls of Lane Kiffin ended up with strong representation including the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year the last two seasons in running back Devin Singletary. Also linebacker and defensive leader Azeez Al-Shaair was also given a coveted invite, too.

The lone representative for UCF is defensive lineman Tristan Hill, who has been one of the keys the last two years for a Knights team that ended up winning 25 consecutive games before suffering a loss in the Fiesta Bowl LSU.

The only state prominent program shut out in the Combine will be the USF Bulls.

While wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling wowed everyone with his blazing speed a year ago in Indy and ended up being drafted by Green Bay, the NFL didn’t designate any of the Bulls as worthy to be looked over in their process.

Florida Gators

Vols Coach Pruitt- “Yes I hate Florida”

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee series with Florida has not been too kind to them as of late, but even as a heavy underdogs at the Swamp Saturday, they believe that they could change that. Oh, and then there’s your second year head coach wanting to make it clear he definitely dislikes the Gators.

Jeremy Pruitt, whose team suffered a humiliating opening-week loss at home to Georgia State and then followed that with another loss in heartbreaking fashion to BYU in overtime in week two, took to the radio airwaves Wednesday to answer questions from Volunteers fans. And, one wanted to make sure how much he despised Florida:

The caller asked a question about whether the Vols might be able to pull a shocker, like they did over Auburn in Pruitt’s inaugural season of 2018, but also very plainly put it to the former Alabama and Florida State defensive coordinator,  “do you hate Florida?”

Pruitt answered the question about the mentality going into Gainesville, as a 14-point underdog in their SEC opener. Then threw in the line,

“And yes, I hate Florida.”

And, while Gators fans might take that insult, as perfect “bulletin board material” to motivate their team, the dislike has been there from both sides for 25 years or more.

Encouraging for the Vols, and even though it was under previous coach Butch Jones, Tennessee should have a mentality should be that they can hang with Florida. As each of the last two meetings in Gainesville under Jones, Tennessee had the lead in the final minute of the game, only to let Florida dramatically score the game-winning touchdown on a huge pass play.

A year ago in Knoxville, the Gators used six turnovers and two defensive touchdowns to wipe out Tennessee 47-21 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final.

Meanwhile, instead of the “level of hatred, or not” Gators coach Dan Mullen has bigger concerns about using dual quarterbacks in Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. And, he must deal with the expectations that the Gators should, once again, wipe out “The Big Orange.”

Then, let the media and fans talk about insults, afterwards.

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Florida Gators

Gators coach Mullen likely to use two QBs against Tennessee

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing starting QB Feleipe Franks to an ankle injury on Saturday night against SEC rival Kentucky, the Gators have now found themselves with an unexpected decision as to who will be starting QB?

Franks was replaced by redshirt junior Kyle Trask, who was seeing his first significant action of his Florida career, especially trailing by double figures in a hostile SEC road environment. However, it’s likely that RS Freshman Emory Jones will also take some snaps at quarterback this season.

Mullens decision to potentially go with both QBs could be not only to determine which guy will be his offensive leader for the rest of the season, but to also give their next opponent, Tennessee, more to prepare for as the head into their next conference rivalry game.

The Gators second year coach announced on Monday that Franks is officially done for the season.

On a fourth-and-one scramble with 3:21 remaining, Franks was sandwiched between multiple Wildcat defenders and bent backwards. Even though replays weren’t shown, it was clear he had suffered a dislocated right ankle injury.

So bad was the injury, that trainers who came to assist Franks on the turf at Commonwealth Stadium immediately put an air cast on his right leg. Then he was eventually carted off to the locker room after nearly the entire Gator team had surrounded him and wished him well.

Frank’s has been a “lightning rod of criticism” throughout his Florida career, but did silence a lot of those critics with his play down the stretch last season. That included a late season comeback win over South Carolina, playing well in the rivalry victory over Florida State, and then, following that up with a good performance in the easy victory in the Peach Bowl over Michigan.

However, Franks and the offense struggled much of the first three quarters of Saturday night’s SEC opener at Kentucky. At the time he left with an injury he was an efficient 12-17 for 174 yards with a TD pass and 1 INT. Still, they had only put one touchdown on the board while trailing 21 – 10.

Trask went in for Franks and went on to pull out a come from behind win for the Gators, completing 9 for 13 passes, with 126 passing yards. He’ll be competing for playing time with Jones, the No. 85 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 and four-star dual-threat quarterback.

Jones saw limited action last season to maintain redshirt status, but completed 12-16 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the four games he play in. Jones is also more of a dual threat to run and that will give Mullen and staff more options on play calls, if/when he’s on the field.

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