Notebook: Who is NFL bound?


Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS — While the UF program saw a talented senior class play its last game in Friday's Sugar Bowl, some underclassmen may be joining them out the door.

Cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, tight end Aaron Hernandez, running back Chris Rainey, safeties Ahmad Black and Major Wright, and offensive linemen Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey, Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert have submitted paperwork to see where they project in the NFL Draft.

Johnson announced he will return for his senior season following the Sugar Bowl.

Haden, Dunlap, Hernandez and the Pouncey twins are considered the most likely to turn pro.

“We'll wait until after the game, maybe a couple days,” Maurkice Pouncey said about announcing their plans.

Cornerback Markihe Anderson said after the game that Haden told him he plans to make himself available for the draft.

One of Florida's many juniors considering the jump to the NFL might have already leaked his intentions to his teammates.

"He's gone," Anderson said. "Joe's going to be great (in the NFL). He's going to do well. The kind of player that he is and the competitive edge that he has and the expectations he has for himself, he's going to do real well."

Anderson said he and Haden are planning to train for the draft together in Maryland with Joe's father, who trains athletes of all ages with his popular "Body by Haden" training service.

Haden denied he had made a final decision on his future and plans to make a final decision with his family Saturday.

"I don't know for sure yet," Haden said. "I don't know what Markihe's talking about. He probably thinks I am because of what he's seen in the papers, but I don't know yet."

Haden is considered by most experts as the top cornerback in the draft.

Bedford off to Louisville

Friday's game marked the final time Vance Bedford served as Florida's cornerbacks coach.

New Louisville head coach Charlie Strong confirmed to The Sun on Friday evening that Bedford will follow him to be his defensive coordinator.

The Associated Press reported Thursday night that Strong, who served as Florida's defensive coordinator one last time Friday, hired Bedford despite saying last week that he didn't plan to take any of Florida's assistants with him to Louisville.

CBS' Tony Barnhart said earlier Friday that there were reports that running backs coach Kenny Carter could leave with Strong and Bedford as well.

When asked about Carter's possible departure as well, Strong told The Sun, "(Carter) hasn't told me that."

Bedford's departure means Florida could have to replace three assistants before next season. Florida coach Urban Meyer, who is taking an indefinite leave of absence, replaced former wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales with Central Michigan receivers coach Zach Azzanni.

The Gators must now replace Strong and Bedford.

Tough dude

Florida center Maurkice Pouncey started Friday despite spending five-plus hours at Tulane Hospital because of kidney stones, according to UF officials.

Pouncey received a CT scan which showed no kidney obstruction. He received four bags of intravenous fluids and was cleared by Dr. Jay Clugston, the UF team urologist.

Injuries

Florida sophomore running back Jeff Demps suffered a dislocated left elbow in the first quarter. Demps was injured on a 3-yard loss.

Demps entered the game as UF's second-leading rusher with 738 yards and seven touchdowns on 96 carries. He had 7 yards on three carries against Cincinnati before the injury.

Emmanuel Moody saw more touches in place of Demps and was effective.

In the second quarter, Johnson went out with a right shoulder injury.

Florida defensive tackle Terron Sanders, who started eight games this season, missed the Sugar Bowl because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. It was unclear when Sanders was injured. He started against Alabama in the SEC title game. Justin Trattou started in place of Sanders.

The Gators also were without two backups — safety Dee Finley (sports hernia) and defensive tackle Brandon Antwine (knee).

Kick returner Brandon James, who had surgery on his right ankle in mid-December, did not travel with the team.

Dunlap starts on bench

Junior defensive end Justin Trattou replaced Carlos Dunlap on the first defensive play of the game.

Dunlap was recently reinstated to the team after being suspended indefinitely after his DUI arrest on Dec. 1.

Dunlap had two sacks in the first half.

White nightmare?

The Bearcats warmed up in their traditional white tops, black pants and black helmets but played in white pants and white helmets. It was the first time since 1966 that the Bearcats wore white helmets. The helmets were a bowl gift to this year's team.

Tebow punked?

Cincinnati's band performed the theme from the movie "Superman" during its pregame performance. Just before the song was played, the band's announcer said the song was for the "real Superman," which he said was "the undefeated Cincinnati football team," clearly taking a shot at Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who is often referred to as Superman.

As the song played, Gator fans chanted, "Tebow ... Tebow."

Etc.

Sun Sports will replay the Sugar Bowl telecast at 9 a.m. Sunday and at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday. ... This was the third time in Sugar Bowl history that two 12-win teams met. ... Florida made a bowl appearance for the 19th consecutive year, the second-longest active streak in the nation. It was also the eighth appearance in the Sugar Bowl for Florida, tied for the most of any bowl game (Gator Bowl). ... Florida owns an 18-19 bowl record. ... This was the second meeting between the two schools. The first was on Oct. 20, 1984, which the Gators won 48-17. Meyer was a defensive back on that Cincinnati team. ... Redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey started at punt returner in place of Brandon James (foot). ... Florida is 8-3-2 all-time against the Big East, while Cincinnati is 15-43-3 against the SEC. ... Cincinnati is 1-7 in the Superdome. ... Tebow's 80-yard pass to Riley Cooper in the second quarter was the second-longest pass in Sugar Bowl and BCS history. Florida's Danny Wuerfful's 82-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hillard in the 1995 Sugar Bowl is the longest in the bowl's history. ... Tebow was announced as the Lowe's Senior CLASS award-winner for football before the game. He joins Brandon McArthur (baseball) and Stacey Nelson (softball) as winners of the award. ... Florida became the first school in the Football Bowl Subdivision to win 13 games in consecutive seasons.

Sun sports writer Pat Dooley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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