Chandler Parsons’ quest to validate his four-year, $94 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies is on an indefinite hold.
Memphis announced Monday that Parsons is out indefinitely with a partial meniscus tear in his left knee. The former Florida Gators star saw his last two seasons cut short by surgeries on his right knee.
The Grizzlies are still evaluating to determine “the appropriate course of action,” but sources told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Parsons “will likely undergo season-ending surgery.”
“To suffer a setback like this after working so diligently to rebound from the injury to his right knee is obviously tough,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. “That said, we know he will continue to work tirelessly to return to the court with his teammates and contribute.”
He was shooting career-worst rates from the field (33.8 percent) and from three (26.9). His vast list of personal lows included 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 19.9 minutes.
He had hybrid micro-fracture surgery on his right knee in May 2014, then a meniscus repair less than 12 months later. The Dallas Mavericks opted not to re-sign him last summer, instead giving the same max deal to Harrison Barnes.
Parsons missed the first six games of this season and had his minutes managed throughout.
His left knee began bothering him after his debut, and he missed a month with a bone bruise after only six appearances.
His four-year run with the Gators culminated with the 2010-11 SEC Player of the Year award. The Houston Rockets drafted him 38th overall in 2011, and he spent his first three NBA seasons there before signing in Dallas.
Entering this season, he owned career averages of 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Luke Del Rio, the leader in Florida’s open quarterback competition entering preseason camp, heard along with everyone else last week the strong endorsement he received from former Gators coach and newly minted ambassador/consultant Steve Spurrier.
And he was no doubt ready for the inevitable question Wednesday at the Gators’ media day on the eve of the team’s first practice.
“That kind of blew up,” Del Rio said playfully of Spurrier’s comments. “I appreciate the insight, but it’s still an open competition.”
In talking with reporters last Friday about returning to his alma mater, Spurrier made headlines by inadvertently declaring Del Rio the Gators’ new starting quarterback.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have yet to make the same declaration, though, and didn’t offer anything new Wednesday while saying they want to see how the team’s offensive players feed off both Del Rio and Austin Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, during camp.
“We’ll make the decision when we’re ready to make the decision and when we think the timing’s right,” Nussmeier said. “I don’t think you can sit here today and say it’s this day or that day.”
Said McElwain: “I really believe, to play successful football at the quarterback position, the people around you, A, have to believe; and B, they have got to trust in everything you’re doing; and C, their play is elevated based on how you go about playing the position. …
“So I’ll see how the guys respond to them when they are in the huddle, when they are into the situations that we, you know, set up during practice. That really is kind of, to me, the key to success at the position.”
Pressed for any further commitment to Del Rio’s grip on the job, McElwain wasn’t biting.
“Has anything ever changed here?” he joked, keeping whatever deeper opinions he has to himself.
So the competition continues as the Gators look to find stability at quarterback. They’ve struggled to find any such stability since Will Grier’s season ended with a suspension for a positive PED test, and Treon Harris was inconsistent in replacing him. Both Grier and Harris have since transferred out of the program.
Del Rio, meanwhile, is about as well traveled as a redshirt sophomore can be.
The son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, he spent the 2013 season at Alabama as a walk-on, before joining Oregon State in 2014 and then sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after arriving at Florida. But he had that year to absorb the Gators offense
On Wednesday, he thought back to the circuitous path that has brought him to this opportunity now.
“It was tough. It definitely was, going to three different schools,” he said. “I basically went to Alabama because it was a dream of mine. I wanted to play for Coach [Nick] Saban, I wanted to play with the best in the country, they were the national champions at the time. It was a mixture of things [causing me to leave] Alabama, and then at Oregon State it was pretty much strictly coaching staff changes. But I couldn’t be happier to be here.”
Del Rio recounted how he was told during spring practice in 2015, after Oregon State head coach Mike Riley had left for Nebraska and a new staff had taken over, that he was not part of the Beavers’ future.
“It was a Tuesday, it was like 6:50 in the morning when they told me and I still had to go practice because it was during spring practice. It hurt a lot,” he said. “I asked them, ‘So you want me to transfer?’ And they basically said, ‘Look, we’re not telling you to do anything; we’re just telling you you won’t play here. …
“Alabama was more complicated, but Oregon State was very difficult. I had a good thing going, I was settled, but once again, I’m happy to be here.”
Del Rio said McElwain had recruited him “very hard” when he was the head coach at Colorado State. He didn’t want to play in the altitude of Colorado, though.
Instead, they find themselves together now in Gainesville trying to jumpstart an offense that averaged just 12.8 points over the final six games of last season.
Del Rio has only thrown 18 passes in college — all in 2014 with Oregon State — but he’s had that extra year in the program to get up to speed with the offense here. Now he has this preseason camp to finally prove whether he’s indeed the best option.
“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I can really only control what I can control. I feel if I play to the best of my ability then I’ll have a good shot at winning the job.”
As for Appleby, he said he had far easier paths to playing time when he decided to leave Purdue for his final year of eligibility.
He started 11 games and played in 17 over three seasons with the Boilermakers, passing for 2,777 career yards, 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Appleby said he had about two weeks to find a new home in-between getting his release from Purdue and a recruiting dead period, but that was enough time to drum up considerable interest — including several schools that could have offered him a better guarantee of playing time.
“There was a number of them. People in this conference, people in MAC-level conferences, all the way in between, but for me, I want to be the very best I can be,” Appleby said. “And Coach Mac, Coach Nuss, these teammates, for me there was something about this place that I couldn’t pass it up. …
“It didn’t take long for me to be 100 percent sold on what the Gators were offering and what a special thing we have brewing here and how I can be a part of that.”
While Del Rio exited the spring as the leader in the quarterback competition, Appleby says he’s had the best summer of his collegiate career. He said he has come a long way in terms of his understanding of the offense and his chemistry with the receivers.
“I have a world of confidence. I had one of my best summers I’ve ever had since becoming a college football player, really taking the opportunity to learn and develop my plan within the plan — not just understanding the plays, but understanding why we’re calling them, what we’re trying to accomplish, who runs it the best, where do my eyes need to be …,” he said.
“Those were things I was a little behind in the spring time, trying to catch up. I didn’t even know where to run from drill to drill in practice. Now I’ve got my feet under me, I understand what we’re trying to accomplish as an offense, I understand the coaches and I can just go be an extension of them and affect my teammates in positive ways.
“I’m right where I need to be. I couldn’t be more confident.”
Between those two options, Nussmeier said he feels good about the depth the Gators have this year at such a crucial position.
“Obviously as we came out of spring, we talked about Luke had a slight edge, and we’re going to let them compete and see where we end up,” he said.
And eventually somebody on the current coaching staff will make a declaration as to who will actually get the first shot at the job.
Florida’s equipment staff gave fans a sneak peek at the shoes they can expect the Gators to have on when they take the field this season.
In a tweet, the staff sent out photos of cleats that will be worn by some players. The white Nike shoes feature a gator skin pattern, an orange swoosh and orange designs along the side. A large Florida Gator logo is also featured on the inside of the shoe.
It depicts an incident at Keys Residential Complex, involving freshman Gators receivers Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland, who appear to be shooting pellet guns into the building at freshman wide receiver Joshua Hammond, who appears to place a broom in the door during the video.
The video, which contained two different camera angles, can be watched here.
Wells and Cleveland were arrested following the July incident, and were both charged with criminal mischief for damaging property worth $1,000 or more (third-degree felony) and shooting a missile inside an occupied dwelling (second-degree felony).
The Gators landed a huge verbal commitment Monday from 4-star cornerback Quincy Wilson from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He chose UF over Miami, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern Cal.
“I love Florida,” Wilson told SEC Country. “I have a really strong relationship with the coaches. They talk to me almost every day. I love that about them. I see what they’re doing over there.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound prospect is ranked No. 27 nationally at his position, but appears to be much more elite with an offer list of more than 30 schools. His missed his entire junior season due to a torn ACL, which hurt his rankings.
Wilson is the younger brother of Florida junior cornerback Quincy Wilson, a former Under Armour All-American who has played in every game the past two seasons with 11 starts.
UF is up to 13 members in its 2017 class, and nine of them are rated 4-star prospects by at least two recruiting services.
What it means: Cornerback may the biggest priority for the Gators in this cycle, and they now have a pair of 4-star commits (Elijah Blades and Wilson). Florida is expected to land two more cornerbacks this month in Shawn Davis and Brad Stewart, which would certainly fill the needs at the position from both a quality and quantity standpoint.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida football team begins fall training camp Wednesday, exactly one month from the season opener against UMass.
When the Gators take Steve Spurrier Field on Sept. 3, they could be one of few reigning SEC division winners to start a year unranked. But with a total of 11 starters gone from 2015, it’s understandable why prognosticators have their doubts about UF.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said at SEC Media Days. “And yet, it’s kind of part of the fun of it.”
McElwain won SEC Coach of the Year last season after his team won 10 games and played for the conference title for the first time since 2009. But UF will have to beat the odds — and preseason predictions — to make it back to Atlanta this year.
The Gators were picked to finish second in the Eastern division behind Tennessee, and only one media outlet (Athlon Sports) has them in the top 25. Phil Steele, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and Lindy’s Sports all left Florida out of their preseason rankings.
Since the first SEC Championship Game in 1992, the conference champion has always been ranked the following year. Only four division winners on the losing end of the title game (Arkansas twice, Auburn, Mississippi State) entered the next season unranked in the AP poll, and it hasn’t happened since 2003.
UF would be the first defending SEC East champion to miss the top 25. The AP poll comes out later this month.
While the Gators can’t control where they start the season, they’ll determine how they finish. To exceed expectations, several new faces in the starting lineup will need to set up.
Florida has to replace its starting quarterback, running back, tight end, team-leading wide receiver, kicker and six of 11 starters on defense.
“It will be interesting to see how this year’s team responds,” McElwain said. “We lost some really, really fine players, and I’m excited for them to move on into the National Football League.
“I think we learned a lot of lessons (from 2015). And yet, we’ve got a bunch of new guys. In fact, I think the happiest people on our campus are the people that are going to sell programs, because there’s a whole bunch of new jerseys out there. That will be a lot of fun for people to figure out who they are.”
Week 1 rankings of reigning SEC division winners:
*Conference champion in bold, AP ranking in parenthesis
Former Florida quarterback and head coach Steve Spurrier is coming home.
The Head Ball Coach has been named Ambassador and Consultant for the Florida Gators Athletic Department, Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley announced on Friday.
“It’s a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home,” Foley said, according to a release from the university. “He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the University and the athletic department for 50-plus years and it’s only fitting that at this point in his career, he is back in Gainesville. Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much to us have him come home.”
Spurrier, who won the 1996 national championship has the Gators head coach and 1966 Heisman Trophy as the Florida quarterback, released the following statement in the Gators release on Friday:
“My wife, Jerri, and I are extremely thrilled to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus over 50 years ago,” Spurrier said. “I’m very appreciative to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Head Coach Jim McElwain and Phil Pharr of Gator Boosters for their role in making this happen.
“I also want to say thanks to the University of South Carolina for allowing me to be their coach from 2005 to 2015. Also a special thanks to all of the Gamecock players, coaches and fans that allowed our teams to set so many school records. I will now pull for South Carolina to win every game but one, just as I did when I pulled for Florida to win every game but one as the Gamecock coach. I will try my best to promote and assist in any way I can to help the Gators to continue to be one of the very best athletic programs in America. I admire what Coach McElwain and his staff accomplished last year. I’m anxious to watch the Gator football team as they strive to be the best in the SEC and the nation in the years ahead.”
After Spurrier spent the last decade involved with South Carolina athletics, second-year Gators football coach Jim McElwain welcomed the Hall of Famer back into the Gators football family, indicating that he’s ready to use the 71 year old’s experience to his advantage.
“I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues,” McElwain said. “It’s a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”
Spurrier led Florida to six SEC championships and was named the conference’s coach of the year five times while with the Gators. He retired midway through the 2015 season, finishing his career with a record of 228-89-2 as a collegiate head coach.
In early June, the Gators announced that Florida Field was to be renamed Steve-Spurrier-Florida Field in his honor, with the unveiling of his namesake set for the season opener against UMass on Sept. 3.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s important for a quarterback and his position coach to be on the same page.
Florida commit Jake Allen has developed that kind of rapport with Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier over the past year. Allen, who pledged to UF last summer, worked with Nussmeier and Florida coach Jim McElwain at this past weekend’s Friday Night Lights event.
“Nuss was talking some trash to me,” Allen said. “We were doing the first drill when you have to throw it through the net, and he told me I couldn’t do it. He goes, ‘Jake, don’t throw it to the ground.’ It was funny. But of course I made it.”
The nation’s No. 10 pro-style quarterback also recruited some offensive skill players during his trip, such as 4-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and 4-star running back Adarius Lemons, who committed to Florida on Monday. Allen threw a long touchdown pass to Jeudy after he shook a cornerback to the ground on a juke move that went viral.
“You have to find little niches in their recruitment,” Allen said when asked how he approaches other prospects. “Everyone has something that they want to hear and they want to have in a college. So you have to find that out and keep stressing it.
“It’s not easy going to random guys and talking to them. But I like doing that and I enjoy it.”
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow refused to say he considers himself retired from football in an interview with the Associated Press, but he did talk about a possible future in coaching or politics.
Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010 and traded to the New York Jets in 2012 after leading Denver to a playoff victory the previous season. He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012, aside from preseason stints with New England in 2013 and Philadelphia in 2015. He will be 29 when the NFL season begins in September.
“I love what coaching is,” Tebow told Ralph Russo from the AP. “I love the fact that coaching is teaching and it’s helping and it’s mentoring and it’s loving and it’s being a father figure. That is something that has always intrigued me.”
Tebow is scheduled to work as analyst for the SEC Network again this season and was rumored to be a speaker at the Republican National Convention last week, but that never materialized. He did not rule out a future in politics in the interview with AP.
“My goal has always been able to make the biggest impact that I possible could in people’s lives,” Tebow told the AP. “If I thought this is the right avenue, this would work, then I would be totally up for going down that path. Do I feel like that’s right now? No, not necessarily,” he said. “Could it happen in the future? Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t right that off.”