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May 4, 2012

The Silver Lining: 5/4 Orange & Blue News


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GUERRY SMITH RANDOM THOUGHTS: The Great Tebow Debate | It's no lie, winning mattered most | Pease is an improvement over Weis | Gator Nation - Be thankful for Donovan

FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING: Spring Tour - Fulwood talks commitment | Gators offer out-of-state linebacker | Gators coaches hitting the road | Muschamp Notebook: Changing the plan | Early Entry Review: Dunker exceeding expectations | Early Entry Review: Pittman has a bright future | UF drops in on nation's No. 1 rated defensive tackle | Gators visit high school of Rivals100 wide out

In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Lexington, KY is playing host to one of the biggest college baseball series' of the year as No. 5 Florida is in town Thursday-Saturday to take on No. 6 Kentucky. The Gators (34-12, 13-9 SEC) took game one on Thursday with an impressive 5-3 victory over the Wildcats (36-10, 14-8 SEC) as junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall improved to 5-1. Randall (6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 4 K) was stellar through six innings before giving up a two-run bomb in the seventh as head coach Kevin O'Sullivan left him in just a bit too long. However, junior lefty Steven Rodriguez closed things out and earned his first save of the season by striking out three and allowing just two hits in 2.1 innings. Florida held a substantial lead most of the game thanks to a great performance at the plate from senior right fielder Preston Tucker (2/4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), but Kentucky got within a run in the bottom of the seventh. The Gators added an insurance run in the top of the ninth and closed things out. O'Sullivan has never won fewer than 34 games in a season during his time at UF, and Florida baseball has now won 34 or more games in 11 of the last 13 seasons dating back to 2000. The final two games of the series will be played on Friday at 7 p.m. on CSS and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Instead of relaxing over the summer, Gators redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario will try out for the Puerto Rico Senior National Team. Rosario - one of four American college players invited to earn a spot on the team - has a very good chance to make it and has the full support of Florida head coach Billy Donovan while doing so. "Coach Donovan was incredibly supportive of Mike coming down to Puerto Rico. He knew how important this was to Mike and his family," Puerto Rico Playmakers founder Todd Washington said. "Mike is in Jersey City working out twice a day and doing everything he can to get in the best shape of his career."

Not only hosting the event but also the No. 1 overall seed, Gators lacrosse (15-2, 5-0 ALC) will begin 2012 ALC Tournament action on Friday by taking on No. 4 Ohio State (11-5, 2-4 ALC) in the semifinals. Florida is 3-1 all-time against OSU and undefeated against their conference rivals (3-0) over the last two seasons). The Gators are also riding an 11-match winning streak heading into the contest and are looking to advance to the championship game for the second year in a row.

Instead of being traded, former Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney was cut by Washington on Monday. Less than 48 hours later, Gaffney decided to return to New England on a two-year deal with the Patriots. It will be his second stint with his team even though his first (2006-08) did not yield the best statistics of his career. While with New England, Gaffney never caught more than 38 passes or amassed more than 468 yards in a single season. Over his last two years, however, he has flourished with Denver and Washington, respectively. With the Redskins in 2011, Gaffney registered career- and team-highs in receptions (68), targets (115), yards (947) and touchdowns (5). Gaffney will be the fifth former Gators player on the Patriots this season joining tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham and defensive tackle Gerard Warren.

NFL Network's Chad Reuter is already looking ahead to the league's 2013 draft and compiled preseason rankings in which he lists the top five prospects by position for next year. He placed three Florida players - redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (No. 2 specialist), junior DT Sharrif Floyd and junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (No. 5 defensive end) - on his top-five lists though it is unknown if either of the latter two players will even declare for the draft. Powell, out until October or possibly longer with a torn ACL, has yet to be consistently productive on the field and Floyd has yet to spend a full season at his natural position of defensive tackle. Both are obviously extremely talented and, should they reach their potential, may be even higher on Reuter's list following the season.

Gators softball (43-8, 20-5 SEC), ranked No. 6/7 in the latest polls, is also in action this weekend as they are set to compete for the 2012 SEC regular season title in a three-game road series against No. 3/4 Alabama. In a matchup of two of the best teams in the country, Florida is looking for the school's fourth SEC title as well as a No. 1 seed in the upcoming 2012 SEC Tournament. The Gators need to win two of three games to be in a three-way tie for the regular season title otherwise Florida will finish in third place. The final two games of the series will be televised nationally on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU and Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.


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