Kelvin Taylor

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Florida’s Kelvin Taylor, Demarcus Robinson and Alex McCalister entering 2016 NFL Draft

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Add three more names to the list of underclassmen declaring early for the 2016 NFL Draft. On Monday, Florida announced the early departures of running back Kelvin Taylor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive end Alex McCalister. All three will join teammate Vernon Hargreaves III as early entrants to the NFL Draft next spring.

“I’m expecting those guys to play all-out,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said in a released statement. “They’ve been working out. I think these guys have a pretty good feeling of they’ve got one more opportunity to be proud of what they put on film, to show their worth.”

Taylor, the son of former NFL running back Fred Taylor, has rushed for 985 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Robinson is Florida’s second-leading wide receiver this season, catching a team-high 47 passes for 505 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Antonio Callaway is the only receiver on the team with more receiving yards.

McCalister has appeared in nine games, missing the last three games due to a foot injury. In his time on the field, he has recorded 26 tackles, six and a half sacks and recovered two fumbles. He was already ruled out for Florida’s appearance in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan as a result of his foot injury.

Floria is also losing quarterback Will Grier to a transfer. Grier, suspended for one calendar year for a banned substance, was granted a release from his scholarship by Florida, McElwain confirmed.

“The one thing I’ll never do is make someone do something they don’t want to do,” McElwain said. “In life, sometimes a change of scenery is good. In this case, he’s going to go have a successful career and go on to play in the NFL. We’ll help him and support him in every way we can.”

Between the transfers and early NFL Draft entries, Florida will have some key spots to fill in the coming year.

Defense the story of the half for Seminoles and Gators

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No. 12 Florida is already locked into playing for the SEC championship next week, but any thought of potentially playing in the College Football Playoff could be in some serious danger at home. At halftime in Gainesville, the Gators are trailing rival No. 13 Florida State 10-0 and struggling to keep drives alive.

Both teams have played well on defense, as demonstrated by the combined third-down conversion success between the two offenses. Florida has converted just three of 10 third-down attempts, while Florida State has gone without a third-down conversion despite having seven tries. The Seminoles did convert a fourth down play, and it was a big one.

Sean Maguire had one of those “no, no, no, yes!” moments midway through the first quarter. On fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Maguire rolled right and looked for an open receiver. As he ran out of room on the right side of the field, he threw against his body to a covered Jeremy Kerr in the end zone and somehow managed to thread a needle for a touchdown. The score lifted the Seminoles to a 10-0 lead.

Florida  was dealt a scare in the final minutes of the half. Running back Kelvin Taylor needed to be helped off the field after appearing to injure his left ankle. He returned after missing just a couple of plays for the Gators.

No. 25 Florida the new beast of SEC East after dismantling No. 3 Ole Miss

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It is typically unwise to go overboard with reactions based on any one week of the college football schedule, but something learned on Saturday in the SEC is the No. 25 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0 SEC) just might be the team to beat in the SEC East Division. The Gators were not in need of last-minute heroics the way they were a week ago. With No. 3 Ole Miss rolling into Gainesville, the Gators stomped and drowned the Rebels in The Swamp the way Florida teams of years past used to do their opponents, 38-10.

The offense was locked in. Quarterback Will Grier, flu and all, completed 24 of his 29 passing attempts for 271 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Kelvin Taylor picked up 83 yards on the ground and Demarcus Robinson had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Gators offense played the game without a single turnover and they had the edge in time of possession.

The defense incredible. There was nothing Ole Miss could do about the outcome of the game because for the first time in years it was the Florida Gators setting the tone from the start and following through until the clock expired in the fourth quarter. By the time the Rebels reached the end zone, which they had done plenty of times leading up to this game, the Gators were already ahead 38-3 in the fourth quarter. Chad Kelly had 259 passing yards and a touchdown and he was also the leading rusher for Ole Miss with 40 yards. Turnovers doomed Ole Miss, with four turnovers leading to 20 points for the Gators.

Jim McElwain has Florida heading in the right direction, and it’s been a long time coming for the program. Now we will see if McElwain can keep this momentum going. Next week Florida visits Missouri, who has represented the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game each of the past two seasons. After that is the annual rivalry game with Georgia in Jacksonville. These next two weeks will help Florida prove itself as the new top threat in the SEC East. Right now, at this point in time, there should be no arguing that is the case after Missouri has lost to Kentucky and Georgia went down in flames at home against Alabama.

Florida may not be back as a national title contender, but they are certainly more than capable of making a run back to the top of the SEC East and getting back to Atlanta. This division is Florida’s to lose.

Ole Miss will get a chance to regroup and put up 60 points next week at home against New Mexico State before a road game at Memphis.

Déjà Vu all over again for Vols; Gators’ win streak vs. Tennessee goes to 11

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For the second time in three weeks, Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) let a double-digit lead in the second half waste away, leading to a heartbreaking loss. Down 27-14 in the fourth quarter, Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) rallied for a thrilling 28-27 win against the division rival Vols. Gators quarterback Will Grier threw two touchdowns in the comeback that saw the Gators keep their perfect record in play and extended the school’s winning streak over Tennessee to 11. Grier’s 4th and 14 pass to Antonio Callaway went for 63 yards and the winning touchdown with 1:26 left in the game. Tennessee missed a 55-yard field goal as the clock expired.

Florida got a number of breaks to get the win, but they earned them. The Gators were a perfect five-for-five on fourth downs, making up for a 3-for-15 third down success rate. Tennessee even had the advantage in total offensive yards (419-392) and the Vols rushed for more than twice as many yards on the ground (254-109). Tennessee also had the slight edge in time of possession. Talk about a bit of a gutsy win for the Gators.

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs led all players with 136 yards and Jalen Hurd added 102 yards and two touchdowns for the Vols. Florida’s Grier overcame some tough moments earlier in the game to shine in the clutch. He ended the game with 283 passing yards and two touchdowns. Kelvin Taylor had 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Callaway ended his day with 112 yards.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain nearly cost his team a win when he chose to freeze Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley on the final play of the game. Hedley was setting up for a 55-yard field goal and missed his first attempt wide right by a good margin, but McElwain called a timeout (probably because college kickers have such a great track record with long field goals, I guess). After the timeout, Medley got a second chance and nearly made McElwain pay for the timeout tactic. Medley’s kick certainly had the distance but once again flew by the goalpost wide right, by an extremely narrow margin.

McElwain escaped his over-coaching moment, but Butch Jones left some scratching their heads over a decision not to go for a two-point conversion. In the fourth quarter, Tennessee took a 26-14 lead on a Hurd touchdown. Rather than attempt the two-point conversion to make it 28-14, Jones kicked the extra point. To say that may have cost Tennessee a win would be an understatement.

So for Tennessee, it is one more year of waiting before snapping the long losing streak to the hated Gators. It has been 11 years since the last time Tennessee defeated the Gators, which means nearly three full recruiting classes have come and gone in Knoxville wihtout celebrating a win over Florida.

Florida is now sitting in first place in the SEC East with a 2-0 conference mark. Tennessee, despite another year of promise and potential, is off to a start of 0-1 in conference play.

Vols score 17 straight points for halftime lead in The Swamp

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Florida drew first blood, but the Vols are on the attack down in Gainesville. It has been a while since Tennessee defeated the rival Gators, but they look to be on their way to snapping the losing streak if they can keep it going. Tennessee leads Florida 17-7 at the half after scoring 17 straight points.

Florida opened the scoring with a Kelvin Taylor touchdown run to cap a drive that was highlighted by a 47-yard run by Taylor just two plays earlier. Butch Jones, as he has been known to do from time to time, went into the bag of tricks to help get the Vols on the scoreboard. The call was for a double pass from wide receiver Jauan Jennings to quarterback Josh Dobbs. Once he got his hands back on the football, Dobbs raced up the field for a 58-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7.

Later in the second quarter Tennessee may have been given a gift by the lack of an instant replay review. Alex Ellis lost control of the football on a short pass down the right sideline. He lost control of the ball before stepping out of bounds, and the ball was spotted at the one-yard line by the officials after rolling out of play. The ball actually hit a Tennessee body before hitting a pyline, so Tennessee would have kept control of the football, but the spot would have been pushed back a few yards. Jalen Hurd picked up the short touchdown run on the next play to give the Vols a 14-7 lead. A 34-yard field goal from Aaron Medley later in the half gave Tennessee the 17-7 lead.