Jerome Miron/ USA TODAY Sports

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; April 24

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning...

You can figure Caleb Brantley has cost himself at least a couple million dollars after he was charged on Friday with misdemeanor simple battery after allegedly striking a woman and knocking her unconscious earlier in April.

ESPN ranks Brantley the #4 defensive tackle in the NFL Draft, which begins in Philadelphia Thursday night. Most mock drafts had Brantley going either late in the first round or early in the second but given the NFL’s stance on violence against women his draft stock likely takes a very serious plunge. Because it was a misdemeanor charge, Brantley might still get drafted but the timing of the charges gives him no time to mount any kind of defense that could result in charges being dropped. No matter what happens in the future the damage has been done.

I’m reminded of La’el Collins of LSU back in 2015. Collins was thought to be a top 10 draft pick but when the Louisiana State Police announced that he was scheduled to talk to them about the shooting death of a pregnant woman with whom Collins once had a relationship, every NFL team backed off. Collins was cleared and he eventually signed a three-year free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys worth $1.5 million that included a signing bonus of $21,000. Had he gone early in the first round he would have gotten a deal for much more and a much larger signing bonus.

I could see something similar happening with Brantley.

Back in 2012 when he was still a high school junior, I did a lengthy interview with Brantley at Crescent City’s spring football game. He sounded excited when he talked about maybe one day playing in the NFL and being able to pay back his family, which had always been so supportive of him. Brantley will play in the NFL – of that I’m certain – but his ability to pay back his family has taken a very serious hit. He’s got to understand that he’s 6-2, 307 pounds of bulging muscles and a talented enough athlete that an NFL team is willing to invest millions of dollars to secure his services. Anything he does that is remotely aggressive toward any non-football player but especially a woman is going to make most NFL teams back off completely.

WILL THIS GRAND SLAM GET JJ SCHWARZ UNTRACKED?   

The poster child for the season-long hitting slump endured by Florida’s baseball team has been JJ Schwarz, who hasn’t come close to resembling the freshman who hit .332 with 18 homers and 73 RBI or even the sophomore who hit .290 and hit seven homers while driving in 60. Coming into the weekend series with South Carolina, Schwarz was hitting only .237 with four homers and 26 RBI with a penchant for hitting the ball to the warning track but not out of the ball yard.

That grand slam he hammered Saturday to clinch the weekend series for the 10th-ranked Gators (27-13, 10-8 SEC) was a monster in so many ways. Not only did it beat South Carolina (24-15, 9-9) and give the Gators two out of three against their most intense SEC rival, but it was a sign that the JJ of old might be about to erupt. Remember last year when he hit that grand slam against FSU in the NCAA Super Regional game three? Or how about his freshman year when he went 7-13 in the Gainesville NCAA Regional and followed that up by going 5-7 against FSU in the Super Regional with three homers in two games?

When JJ gets hot he has this contagious effect on the team and if you’ve followed baseball over the years then you are well aware how one player can be the spark that turns an entire team red hot.

Florida doesn’t have the pitching depth it had last year but the pitching is exceptional especially now that Kevin O’Sullivan is finding all the missing links in his bullpen. He’s got the lefty killer in Nick Horvath. Freshman Garrett Milchin (3-1, 0.86 ERA) is starting to look like the perfect setup man and Michael Byrne (2.18 ERA) has eight saves including games one and three against the Gamecocks.

If the Gators can just start hitting the ball, they could become that hot team nobody in the SEC wants to play in the final four weeks of the regular season.

Next up for the Gators is a road trip to Athens to face Georgia next weekend.

WEEKEND SOFTBALL REPORT: FLORIDA 10, OLE MISS 0

That 10-0 represents Florida’s 3-game total over Ole Miss this weekend. The #1-ranked Gators (44-3, 18-2 SEC) shut out the 20th-ranked Rebels (31-16, 6-12 SEC) three straight games  -- 2-0 Friday night, 3-0, Saturday afternoon and 5-0 Sunday afternoon. The Gators outhit the Rebels 24-7.

The story of the weekend was Florida’s pitching. Ace Kelly Barnhill (20-0, 0.17 ERA) continued to stake her claim for national player of the year with a 2-hit, 16-strikeout shutout on Friday and five innings of 2-hit ball (9 strikeouts) on Sunday. Aleshia Ocasio pitched the final two innings Sunday, giving up one hit while striking out three. Delanie Gourley (14-3, 0.94 ERA) went the distance Saturday while striking out 11. The Gators boast the nation’s top ERA of 0.70. Florida has shut out 29 of 47 opponents.

The hitting star of the weekend was All-American first baseman Kayli Kvistad, who wore out Ole Miss pitching with a 5-7 effort that was good for five RBI. It was Kvistad’s 3-run double on Sunday that put the game out of reach for Ole Miss.

Next up for the Gators is a 3-game road trip to Knoxville to face Tennessee (41-6, 13-4 SEC), which saw its 20-game winning streak end Sunday when LSU hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 1-0 win. If the Gators win two out of three in Knoxville they will at least tie for the SEC regular season championship.

GATORS WIN SEC WOMEN’S GOLF TITLE

The Gators won their ninth SEC women’s golf championship and first since 2008 Sunday in record-setting fashion. The Gators tamed the Greystone Legacy Course in Birmingham for a 10-under 278 on Sunday to complete an SEC record 22-under for the 3-day tournament. Georgia and Alabama tied for second, 13 shots behind the Gators.

It was the first SEC title for UF coach Emily Glaser, now in her fifth season at the helm. Next up for the Gators will be the NCAA Regionals (site to be determined) beginning on May 8.

The Florida men were knocked off by Vanderbilt in the semifinals of match play at the SEC Men’s Golf Championships at Sea Island. Vandy will face Texas A&M for the SEC championship today. Florida’s Alejandro Tosti won the SEC individual championship.

VANDY KNOCKS OFF GATORS FOR SEC

For the second straight weekend, the Gators fell to Vanderbilt in Nashville. Last weekend it was for the SEC regular season championship. Sunday it was for the SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt won Sunday, 4-3, against a Florida team that was without Josie Kuhlman (14-2 in 2017, 90-25 for her career). Kuhlman spent Saturday night in the hospital with a stomach virus.

SOME SEC FOOTBALL STUFF

Alabama: Jalen Hurts threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the Alabama spring game which saw the two teams combine for 730 yards including 661 through the air. Freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa three for 313 yards and three TDs against the second team defense and 1-3 for two yards against the first team.

Arkansas: As the Razorbacks get ready for their spring game next week, the offensive line seems set with LT Brian Wallace, LG Johnny Gibson, C Frank Ragnow, RG Hjalte Froholdt and RT Colton Jackson.

Georgia: Jacob Eason threw for 311 yards in the G-Day game but he completed only 44% of his passes. He was 16-36 with two touchdowns, an interception and he took five sacks.

LSU: Was it a case that the defense is that far ahead of Matt Canada’s new scheme offense or will LSU’s offense stink once again? In the spring game the offense averaged less than two yards per carry and three yards per play and that was against a defense missing four key starters.

Missouri: Apparently Mizzou has found its backup QB for Drew Lock in juco transfer Jack Lowary, who three for touchdowns of 43 and 38 yards in the Tigers spring game.

Tennessee: Quinten Dormady played better than the other quarterbacks at the UT spring game but by no means has he locked down the starting job for the fall. Jarrett Guarantano is a dual threat and he could emerge as the starter in the fall, especially since the offensive line is a work in progress … and that’s being kind.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Warren Sapp, who is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, doesn’t think Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett rates being the #1 overall pick when the NFL Draft begins on Thursday in Philadelphia. Sapp said on ESPN, “I don’t see it from this kid. I see the splash plays; everybody gets those. Where’s the game he took over? Where? Any defensive lineman who is the #1 pick, you turn up and you say, ‘There it is!’ This kid, no, I don’t. I’m a pretty plain and frank guy and I watch the tape and he disappears. I watch the tape and he completely disappears.”

Is there a better candidate for the 2017 Mouth That Roared Award than LaVar Ball, who has claimed (a) son Lonzo is “better than Steph Curry,” (b) that in his younger years he (LaVar, not Lonzo) would “kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,” (c) claimed UCLA didn’t win the national championship because Steve Alford played too many slow white guys,” and (d) that Nike and the shoe companies should pay $1 billion to have his three sons (Lonzo to the NBA, one son a freshman at UCLA this fall and a third son in high school) in shoes and apparel? Now LaVar is telling everybody that Nike should be quaking in its boots because he’s starting the Big Baller Brand of shoes and apparel for his sons. There are some people in this world who make you think that when no one is looking, they take their brains out and play with them.

Thaddeus Moss, tight end and son of former NFL great Randy Moss, is transferring from North Carolina State to LSU. As a freshman in 2016, Moss caught six passes for 49 yards and a TD. Moss will sit out 2017 but because he had offseason shoulder surgery he was going to have to miss the entire season anyway.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey will not recuse himself from the NCAA infractions committee that is in charge of the organization’s ongoing investigation into academic fraud at the University of North Carolina. A Raleigh attorney representing one of the former UNC staffers charged with violations, sent a letter to the NCAA saying that Sankey had “a personal, professional and institutional interest” in the outcome of this case because of the SEC-Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry. Sankey’s response: “There will be no further delays and the case will be heard on schedule.” UNC has until May 16 to respond to the latest charges by the NCAA and the NCAA has until for its own response. The final case is expected to be heard August 16-17.

Frank Jackson is the fourth Duke underclassman to declare for the NBA Draft. With Jackson leaving it could open the door for the Blue Devils to sign point guard Trevon Duval.

Jontay Porter, younger brother of Larry Porter Jr., will take his official visit to Missouri today and then make a decision about reclassifying to 2017. The 6-9 Jontay averaged 14.7 points per game as a high school junior while older brother Larry averaged 37.8. Missouri has an exceptional chance to land Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox, who is also considering Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and FSU.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

If you are an NFL general manager, do you pass completely on Caleb Brantley or do you let him slide a few rounds and take him either on day two or day three?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Jackie Greene, who’s had a very good solo career mixed in with gigs with Bob Weir and Chris Robinson and as the lead guitarist for the Black Crowes for a couple of years, is currently touring with his own band (Jackie Greene Band) but he will be joining Anders Osbourne, Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat and Brady Blade at the New Orleans Jazz Fest next weekend. Today’s music is a recent (April 12) live show at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9sEBBznI10


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