VETTEL: Gator Draftees in Good Situations

When Channing Crowder and Ciatrick Fason decided to end their college careers early I thought both would be chosen somewhere between the 20th and 50th picks in the draft. So I guess I was wrong, huh?! Crowder going to Miami at # 70 and Fason to Minnesota at # 112 will certainly cost the former Gators a lot of cash in their initial pro contracts, but it looks to me like both got pretty good situations to walk into.

Crowder Should Step Right In

The Miami Dolphins lost the guy I considered their best young linebacker last month when Morlon Greenwood signed with the Houston Texans. His departure combined with the advancing age of Junior Seau leave Zac Thomas sorta alone in the ‘Fins linebacking corps. That's where Crowder fits in. While many project Channing to be a middle or strong side linebacker in the NFL I believe his speed and aggressive nature make him ideal for the weak side spot. He may be a little bigger than some weak side guys, and perhaps a half step slower, but Crowder plays best "in space" and letting him run will get the best out of him.

Plenty of Company for C-4

Ciatrick Fason's fall to round four surprised me, especially considering some of the backs like Frank Gore and Maurice Clarett that went ahead of him. It's a good sign that Minnesota traded up to get him after two other backs had been chosen in round four. The top guy at Minnesota is kind of tough to define. Onterrio Smith led the team last year with 544 yards but Michael Bennett made the Pro Bowl just two years ago. Add in Moe Williams and Mewelde Moore and there's a traffic jam in the Vikings' backfield. Fason is likely the fastest of the four and Minnesota has long been all about big plays.

Hill Only Other Gator

It's not a big surprise that Reynaldo Hill was the only other member of the 2004 Gators to be chosen. Hill has speed and you can't coach that. I would be shocked if he made the Titans' roster or at least the practice squad while they try and teach him the game. He improved throughout last season and had he been redshirted would have been a plus for the Gators next season.

Free agent opportunities should be coming for a number of guys including O.J. Small, Jonathan Colon and Mo Mitchell. If I were an NFL team I would snag Mitchell as a defensive line prospect. If he can get himself down to about 325 he might be able to help someone. Colon's chronically balky back obviously scared teams off. Small's lack of speed is a shame because he can get open and catches everything. Plus he's a high character guy.

Dolphins Win among State Teams

With Ronnie Brown and Matt Roth ahead of Crowder the Dolphins win the state NFL team rankings for their choices on draft day. Brown seems to have every tool to be a top tailback, while Roth is one of those relentless defensive ends you love to suit up on game day. I also like Travis Daniels from LSU in the fourth round as a possible nickel back.

Tampa Bay scored with Cadillac Williams in round one, but I'm not thrilled with taking Nebraska's Barrett Ruud with the 36th pick. Kevin Burnett, Odell Thurman and Crowder are all better in my mind. Stanford tight end Alex Smith in round three was an excellent pick. The key might be the level of play they get out of offensive linemen Chris Colmer and Dan Buenning.

Jacksonville basically tried last year's draft all over again. Matt   Jones in round one is basically an admission they blew it with Reggie Williams last year. Alvin Pearman in the fourth round is a similar sign regarding 2004 second rounder Greg Jones. Pearman is the third potential backup to Fred Taylor the Jags have used a top four pick on in the last three years. The first four rounds are supposed to be for starters. Jax did get a steal in round two when Washington offensive tackle Khalif Barnes slipped to them.

Rex Grossman Did Well Too

Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman had to like what his team did this weekend. Grossman's offense gets a big boost with the addition of Cedric Benson, the most proven running back in the draft. Then the Bears added Oklahoma's Mark Bradley and Airese Currie from Clemson---- two speedy deep threat receivers. There's no reason for the former Gator to be concerned about the fourth-round selection of Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton.

Three other Gators in Chicago had to be pleased with the draft. Ian Scott, Alex Brown and Todd Johnson all looked on, as the Bears chose nothing but offense in the first five rounds. There's one thing I've found that all NFL players have in common. They all want their teams to have great drafts… just not at their position.

Baseball Season Looking Special

When the Gator baseball team dropped three of its first four SEC games it seemed Florida was on its way to a .500-type season in conference play—good enough to ensure SEC and NCAA Tournament opportunities but nothing special. Well since then Pat McMahon's crew has won 12-of-14 SEC games and the Gators are in great shape to try and win the SEC Championship.

Florida is 13-and-5 in conference play, which is two games better than second-place Alabama. Tennessee is third at 10-and-7, which makes this weekend's series between the Gators and Vols something special. With four weekends of SEC action to go the teams pursuing Florida are under the gun to make a move quickly.

Gators Thankful for Charlotte High School

The two big bats for the Gators this season both hail from Charlotte High School in Port Charlotte. For average, the star has been senior Jeff Corsaletti who is hitting .411 with six homers and 36 RBI. As for power, the big bat for the Gators belongs to sophomore Matt LaPorta who has slammed 16 homers and driven in 50 runs already. LaPorta has a legit shot at the UF single-season record of 23 held by Brad Wilkerson (2X) and Ryan Shealy.

Charlotte High School Coach Dave Tollett doesn't only send hitters to Gainesville. Junior right hander Brian Ball is a five game winner and boasts a 2.67 E.R.A. Anyone else out there?

Men's Tennis Comes Through

After sharing the SEC regular season title with Ole Miss, Florida Men's Tennis Coach Andy Jackson was in no mood to share this weekend. Jackson's Gators won the SEC Tournament for the third time in school history with a 4-2 win over Tennessee in the title match. The Gators toughest match in the tournament came in the semi-finals against the home standing Georgia Bulldogs.

Florida Junior Ryan Sherry was named MVP after posting the clinching singles win in all three matches. Ironically the Gators last won the SEC Tournament Title in 2000 when won in Starkville. The tournament was hosted by Mississippi State – which was coached by Andy Jackson. You want some more irony? Florida's other SEC Tournament Title came in 1994 when they beat Jackson and the MSU Bulldogs in the final.

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