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April 22, 2011

The Silver Lining: Orange & Blue News

Florida Football & Recruiting: Dunlap returns to UF to finish degree, clear name | Muschamp talks Gator football in Lakeland | Early Enrollee Review: Expectations tempered for Driskel | Gators host 5-star defensive tackle | Spring Review: The Secondary | Scholarship Breakdown - Gators 10 under the limit | Coaches Recruiting Areas | 4/15 War Room - Football & Recruiting Edition

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.

Lost in the minutia and coach speak of head football coach Will Muschamp's spin through the "car wash" at ESPN on Thursday was a comment he made about redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose. Originally calling his ankle injury "nothing serious" during a post-practice media availability on March 29, Muschamp referred to it differently this week. "Andre had a very good off-season. Had a very severe sprained ankle in the spring," he said during an ESPN.com chat, remaining optimistic about his contribution level overall this season. "We expect him to be a good player in the fall."

In one of the first editions of this column, I related some comments new Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden made trying - but failing - to explain why Miami was a better place to play in Florida than Gainesville. Likely unrelated but equally interesting, Muschamp took a veiled shot at the Hurricanes during a Gator Gathering with the Polk County Gator Club in Lakeland, FL on Wednesday. Discussing wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill leaving Miami for Florida, he related a story he has told before but added something extra to it. "[Hill] called me more than I called him," Muschamp said. "He wanted to get out of Miami. I don't blame him."

Not being noticed nearly enough right now are the contributions of senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder to the Gators softball team. Bruder, who is second on the squad in home runs (15) and RBI (55), has hit a homer in four-straight games and five of the last six, helping to power Florida through its eight-game winning streak. She was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday and has the opportunity to extend her streak with a three-game weekend series at home vs. Alabama.

In a report from The Gainesville Sun, Gators basketball was found to have lost two recruiting visits for 2010-11 due to a self-reported minor NCAA violation. An unnamed student-athlete reportedly spoke to a number of former Florida basketball players during his recruitment; it is unknown if that player is currently on the team. The Sun also points out that the "NCAA bylaw that prohibits prospective student athletes from speaking to former players is being challenged in the courts. Lawyers contend the rule violates a PSA's freedom of speech rights." The Gators self-reported two other violations last year including an assistant contacting a recruit during a non-contact period in July (resulting in two lost evaluation days) and advertising of a basketball camp that was not permissible (no punishment).

Never one to let critics get him down, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been quite busy in the offseason but continues to stay focused and motivated, hoping that the NFL's lockout comes to an end and he can return to the field. When he gets back to the Dove Valley facility in Denver, chances are Tebow will not regain the starting role he held for the final three games of 2010. Instead, as new team president John Elway and new head coach John Fox have both said this offseason, Kyle Orton will get that nod. For Tebow, all that means is that he will have to work even harder to win the job. "I'm only worried about what I can control, and that is to go out there and be the best I can be," he told the Denver Post. One thing that can be counted on is that there is a split in the Broncos front office about Tebow. While he receives support publicly even though his president and coach say he is "not there yet," murmurs behind the scenes are that the brain trust does not believe in him long-term.

Gaining a serious fan base in Ohio right now is Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who is saying and doing all of the right things in a city that cherishes their sports teams but has been faced with plenty of negativity. In addition to embracing the fans, Haden has gone the extra mile to make himself visible and accessible to them. Appearing Wednesday on ESPN , Haden talked up Cleveland and explained how he loves living there and appreciates all of the support he's received from the fans. He was also a staple at Cleveland Cavaliers games this year, dressing in full costume as Baron Davis and Anderson Varejao and cheering the team on from courtside.

According to the Canton Repository, Haden took his support of the city to another level by deciding to sponsor a youth baseball team after a fan simply asked him via Twitter not necessarily expecting a response or anything to come of it. When his team's sponsor dropped out at the last minute, manager Mike Clapper asked Haden to step in and front the $325 league fee. The cornerback didn't flinch, responding immediately and making sure Clapper received a check. Haden's Nation will be playing in the Plain Local Baseball and Softball Association this year. The boys will probably see a special guest in the crowd from time-to-time, too.


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