LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Vernon Hargreaves III leaves a news conference Friday at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, His father, Vernon Hargreaves Jr., can be seen behind him.
Vernon Hargreaves' homecoming became official today when the Bucs introduced the former Florida/Wharton High star cornerback as their newest draft pick.
Among the happiest in the crowd: Hargreaves' mother, Jackie.
"There's no better joy, no better feeling than to have your son come home," Jackie said.
At UF's pro day, Jackie said she was trying to make sure Hargreaves was staying out of trouble and eating right. Jackie and her husband, also named Vernon, talked about how it couldn't get any better than Hargreaves playing for his hometown Bucs.
That finally began to feel real Friday, when Hargreaves walked in front of the media and posed for photos with his new No. 28 jersey.
"It means everything to him," Jackie said. "He's just a Florida kid. He loves the state of Florida, so it means everything to be able to stay home, be around his friends and family. It's a dream come true. I don't even know how to explain it."Full Story
As expected, Thursday was a busy day for NFL draft prospects with state ties. Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey went fifth to the Jaguars. Two Florida defensive backs, Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal, went in the top 17. Miami had a first rounder, too; the Steelers picked CB Artie Burns at No. 25.
So what's in store for today?
FSU K Roberto Aguayo could hear his name called. Aguayo is the first kicker to leave school early for the draft since Sebastian Janikowski (Aguayo earned his degree). ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has projected him to go between rounds 3-5, but some analysts think he could be the first kicker picked in the second round since 2005.
DL Jonathan Bullard is the most likely Gator to be drafted today. He made himself a lot of money by returning for his senior season and having a disruptive year as one of the Gators' top defensive players.
Hillsborough County could produce another draft pick: Cincinnati WR Chris Moore. I've seen the former Jefferson High star as a potential third-round pick, although he might last until Saturday.
The NCAA has overturned its ban on satellite camps, allowing more colleges to hold scouting opportunities in Florida and the Tampa Bay area.
The NCAA's Division I board of directors rescinded a rule adopted earlier this month by a council of conferences.
"The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle," said board chairman Harris Pastides, who's also South Carolina's president. "We share the Council's interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the Council's efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes."
Satellite camps have become one of the most controversial offseason stories in college football. They allow staffs to hold recruiting camps away from their campuses, often allowing multiple schools - sometimes in different states - to evaluate and coach prospects. Michigan had one scheduled at USF in June. USF still plans to hold that session, along with three other Bulls satellite camps. Within an hour of the ruling, Arizona announced that it will be having a satellite camp in Tampa. …Full Story
TAMPA - Florida coach Jim McElwain is in town tonight to address the Gator Clubs of Tampa and Pinellas at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Before his speech, McElwain met with a handful of reporters. A few quick notes:
There's "nothing new" regarding the status of suspended receiver Antonio Callaway and quarterback Treon Harris, McElwain said. According to Callaway's lawyer, the Gators star was suspended by the university in January while it conducts a code of conduct investigation for unspecified reasons.
Offensive lineman Martez Ivey continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. McElwain said Ivey is doing some modified weightlifting but hasn't been fully cleared.
McElwain certainly sounds like a fan of Tampa Bay; he referenced the Lightning's playoff run and the upcoming national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.
"I'll tell you what's pretty cool, though, is the championship game being right here in Tampa," McElwain said. "You talk about a great city and what the Bolts are doing right now. This is sports heaven, right here in Tampa."Full Story
Only Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have more commits among ESPN's top 300 national recruits than Florida State.
ESPN unveiled its top prospects for the class of 2017 Wednesday. FSU's four-star commitments are: S Cyrus Fagan (No. 59), WR D.J. Matthews (69), RB Zaquandre White (146), DT Ja'len Parks (166) and QB Bailey Hockman (176). I'll also insert the standard disclaimer that oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent during their senior years.
The Gators have four commitments on the list: Tampa Bay Tech WR Daquon Green (79), QB Jake Allen (147), TE Kemore Gamble (237) and OT Kadeem Telfort (258).
Miami's top commit is RB Robert Burns (62).
Local players on ESPN's list are, aside from Green, are: Hillsborough DE Zachary Carter (129), North Carolina commit Clearwater RB Adarius Lemons (148), Plant WR Juwan Burgess (221), Clearwater Central Catholic RB CJ Cotman (228), former Tampa Catholic TE Tre McKitty (233) and Tampa Catholic ATH Devan Barrett (286).
Check out ESPN's full rankings here.Full Story
Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times
The College Football Playoff championship trophy has already spent some time in Tampa Bay.
There wasn't any major news in Tuesday's news conference regarding the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.
One takeaway came from Bill Hancock, the CFP's executive director. As I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times, Hancock first got to know Tampa Bay when he worked with the Final Four before it came to Tropicana Field in 1999. He said he was struck by the area's sincere excitement for landing the big event.
Two decades later, the positivity remains, even as the area exploded.
"That passion is still here," Hancock said. "Downtown Tampa is just almost a different place. When I first came here, we were looking at the bid for (the title game), I thought, what an awesome job you guys have done in downtown Tampa. It's remarkable.
"What a great success story you have. Please, please, don't take it for granted, and don't be ashamed to talk about it."
Hancock said events like the Final Four, Frozen Four or national championship can help bring pride to a city as visitors see the city in a different perspective. …Full Story
TAMPA -- The College Football Playoff unveiled a detailed schedule centered on the Riverwalk for this the Jan. 9 national championship game at Raymond James Stadium.
As I wrote three months ago, the national title game has evolved into an event, not just a game.
Here's the schedule, which was announced by CFP executive director Bill Hancock during Tuesday's news conference at the Tampa Convention Center:
The Playoff Fan Central (a centralized event for fans, as the name suggests) will be from Jan. 6-8 at the convention center.
The Playoff Playlist Live! outdoor concert series will be from Jan. 6-8 at Curtis Hixon Park. Last season's event in Phoenix included Walk the Moon and Ciara, and performers for the Tampa event will be announced in November.
Media day will be Jan. 7 at Amalie Arena and open to fans.
The Extra Yard for Teachers charity 5K race will be Jan. 8 in downtown.
The Taste of the Championship food festival will be Jan. 8 at The Florida Aquarium. Restaurants participating include: 717 South, Ava, Cigar City BrewPub, The Columbia, Datz, Goody Goody, Haven, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Mise en Place, Parkshore Grill, The Refinery, Roux and Ulele. …Full Story
Florida and Miami will officially open the 2019 season with a neutral-site game against each other at Orlando, the Gators announced Tuesday.
The game will be at the newly renamed Camping World Stadium - which was the Citrus Bowl.
Ticket information and the date for the game has not yet been announced.
"We are pleased to have partnered with Florida Citrus Sports and ESPN events to kick off the 2019 season against Miami" UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. "Orlando is a great Gator city and we look forward to playing in front of our fans from all over the state of Florida and beyond."
Tuesday's official announcement was expected; both schools had talked about nearing an agreement in the last few months.
UM leads the all-time series 29-26, but the two teams have split neutral-site matchups 3-3. The teams last met in 2013. …Full Story
If a report from Eastern Michigan University's faculty and students has its way, the school will drop out of Division I football.
That report, as covered by the Detroit Free Press, is startling: Faculty member Howard Bunsis told the school's board of regents that "EMU football will simply never succeed" and that it "is a losing proposition - always has been, and always will be."
Well then. You can (and should) read the Free Press' full story here.
In the meantime, here's why the future of football at a program in Ypsilanti, Mich. matters locally: Recruiting.
Eastern Michigan is in the Mid-American Conference - a league that pulls many of its top athletes and skill players from Florida.
Obviously Florida's major colleges recruit Tampa Bay well, but there aren't enough spots for all of the state's D-I players. While the top-tier players go anywhere - usually the SEC or ACC - the second- or third-tier players need somewhere to go. That somewhere often turns out to be the MAC. More specifically, that somewhere is Eastern Michigan. …Full Story
We're at the point in the year where publications stop dropping "too early" from their Top 25 preseason rankings. So it is with the Sporting News, which unveiled its Top 25 Monday morning.
Florida State is the only state program that cracked the list. The Seminoles come in at No. 6, one spot ahead of Ole Miss, its Week 1 opponent at Orlando's Citrus Bowl on Labor Day. Defending national champion Alabama was No. 1 and the publication's favorite to win the national title in January at Raymond James Stadium. Clemson was No. 2, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State and Baylor.
You can see the full rankings here. Full Story
The Bucs' most likely target seems to be Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves.
NFL draft week is finally upon us, and not much has changed (locally) since the first Mock Draft Monday back in February.
The Bucs' most likely target seems to be Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves. He's the only unanimous pick among CBSSports' and NFL.com's pundits, although some analysts still think Tampa Bay could choose a defensive lineman or offensive tackle. One interesting wrinkle: ESPN's Todd McShay thinks the Titans could trade up to grab an offensive tackle, letting the Bucs slip back six spots to still land Hargreaves.
Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey will almost certainly go somewhere in the top five, and most pundits don't expect him to fall past the Cowboys at No. 4.
Miami CB Artie Burns, Gators DL Jonathan Bullard and his teammate, S Keanu Neal, are also possible first-round picks. Burns is gaining the most momentum but isn't a lock to hear his name called Thursday.
Without further ado, here's our final weekly summary of potential Bucs targets and local players among noted mock drafts: …Full Story
It's only April, but it's not too early to look ahead to one of the marquee games of next season: Miami at Notre Dame on Oct. 29. That's part of a crazy day in the state; rivals Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville, and Florida State hosts Clemson in what will likely be a top-10 (or top-five) matchup.
Irish coach Brian Kelly said he expects the game against the Hurricanes to be "hyped up pretty big" because of the teams' rich histories.
"We always look toward the Miami game as one that has some good tradition to it and a lot of respect for Miami's tradition..." Kelly said Wednesday in the ACC spring football coaches' teleconference with reporters. "It'll be a little bit different - different coaches, different styles of teams - but one that still when it's the U and it's Notre Dame, it will kind of take on a life of its own from coast to coast."
First-year 'Canes coach Mark Richt, for what it's worth, said he hasn't thought that far ahead yet.
"I know it'll be an exciting time for everybody," Richt said. "Hopefully we have a team that's worthy of playing on that day."Full Story
Sean Maguire threw for 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping FSU to four wins in his six biggest game.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Sean Maguire's experience will be part of the equation when the Seminoles decide their starting quarterback - but it's only one part.
Fisher said Maguire is more talented than he gets credit for. Maguire, a 6-foot-3, 224-pound redshirt senior missed the spring as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery. He threw for 1,520 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping FSU to four wins in his six biggest game, but he continues to be challenged by redshirt freshman Deondre Francois.
"We'll wait and see how it comes out," Fisher said during Wednesday's ACC football coaches teleconference.
A few other things from Fisher:
DE Lorenzo Featherston's career is likely over due to a knee injury. The 6-foot-7 Featherston had five tackles for a loss during his freshman season in 2014.
RB Dalvin Cook is "doing fine" as he recovers from shoulder surgery. The Heisman Trophy candidate will likely be in a sling for another week or so but is expected to be running at full speed in June and ready for fall camp in August. …Full Story
Vernon Hargreaves, a three-time all-SEC player at UF, is a likely first-round pick and a possible target for the Bucs with the No. 9 overall pick in next week's draft.
ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said he does not believe Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves can be a top cornerback in the NFL.
Hargreaves, a three-time all-SEC player at UF, is a likely first-round pick and a possible target for the Bucs with the No. 9 overall pick in next week's draft.
"He doesn't have great height, doesn't have great length," Kiper said Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters. He only ran a 4.5 40 (-yard dash). But he's a tough kid. He supports the run. He tackles well. He does a decent job in coverage, not a great job..."
Kiper said Hargreaves was beaten on a few deep balls in pass coverage. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound prospect bites on plays and doesn't have the ability to recover quickly enough.
Although Kiper said he likes Hargreaves' experience and confidence, he doesn't believe he can be a lead cornerback for an NFL team.
"I think he's a No. 2 corner," Kiper said. "I don't think he can be a lockdown corner. I don't think he's a guy you want on the best receiver on the opposition all the time, but I think he's a good football player."
A few other draft notes from ESPN's teleconference with Kiper and his colleague, Todd McShay: …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Former Florida Gators cornerback and Jefferson High star Deiondre Porter was arrested late Monday evening in Hillsborough County relating to an armed robbery case, according to public documents.
Former Florida Gators cornerback and Jefferson High star Deiondre Porter was arrested late Monday evening in Hillsborough County on a warrant related to the armed robbery of a cell phone shop in Jacksonville earlier this month.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, two black males with handguns approached a T-Mobile store just after employees were closing it on April 4.
The suspects told the store's employees to reenter the building and ordered them to open the safe. A third suspect also entered the scene, and the group stole an unknown number of cell phones before leaving through the back door.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested Porter at his home in Riverview at 10:07 p.m. Monday because of the warrant in Jacksonville.
This is the second police incident involving Porter in the last six months. The 20-year-old was arrested in October after police said he fired a handgun near his then-pregnant girlfriend in Gainesville. The four felony charges and one misdemeanor charge remain pending, according to Alachua County court records.
Porter was indefinitely suspended after the October arrest and is no longer listed on UF's roster. …Full Story