Notebook: Easley faces tough NFL decision
Published: Friday, December 28, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS — Although he has not filed any paperwork with the NFL, it appears that Florida junior defensive end/tackle Dominique Easley is strongly considering leaving early for professional football.
Easley said Friday he has a tough decision to make about his future after Wednesday's Sugar Bowl game against Louisville.
“It's difficult. It's my future,” he said. “It's a difficult process. I should address that at another time.”
Four other top juniors — defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, tight end Jordan Reed, safety Matt Elam and outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins — already have filed paperwork with the NFL to ascertain where they project to go in the NFL Draft. Floyd and Reed are expected to enter the draft, while there's a good chance Elam, an All-America selection this season) also will depart.
Even though Easley has not filed any paperwork, he's obviously considering an early departure.
Gators rule the state
Numerous UF players, including Easley, have been seen walking around New Orleans wearing orange T-shirts with 37-26 written in blue on the front.
That, of course, was the score in the Gators' big season-ending win over Florida State in Tallahassee, a victory that propelled UF into the Sugar Bowl.
On the back is written, “Win the State,” a reference to the Gators considering themselves to be the champions of Florida this season. FSU beat Miami and Florida beat FSU, so the Gators feel justified in claiming the title.
Business trip for UF
Although several UF players have visited Bourbon Street, which is walking distance from the team hotel, the Gators say they're not here to party. They're here to win their 12th game of the season.
“We have a goal to go 12-1,” junior cornerback Jaylen Watkins said. “We're still not finished.”
On Friday night's UF agenda: bowling.
UF coach Will Muschamp said the players have a curfew, but he will not reveal it to the media. “It's earlier than yours,” he said to a writer that asked about the curfew.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals, making their first trip to New Orleans, do not have a curfew, Louisville coach Charlie Strong said.
“There won't be a curfew because I want my players to enjoy the experience,” Strong said. “They deserve it as a team because they've worked so hard to get themselves here. They already know it's all about business, and we're not trying to see how many hurricanes we can consume or anything. We can stay out at night, but in the end we know it's a business trip for us.”
Bridgewater feeling good
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who battled through wrist and ankle injuries down the stretch to help lead the Cardinals to a share of the Big East title, said he should be good to go in the Sugar Bowl.
“I feel great,” he said. “I can't put an exact percentage on it right now, but I feel great. I've been running really well in practice so (the ankle) won't be much of a factor. It's not bothering me at all.”
Gators out to corral another QB
The Florida defense has excelled in many areas this season. One thing the Gators have really been good at is containing top dual-threat quarterbacks, including Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.
Bridgewater will be another test.
“I think it's just everybody doing their job,” Watkins said. “We believe in our coaches and the scheme they put against (scrambling quarterbacks).”
The defense also gets an assist in preparation from No. 3 quarterback Tyler Murphy, who will be emulating Bridgewater on the scout team this week.
“He definitely takes pride in going to the scout team every time we have a scrambling quarterback (to prepare for),” Watkins said. “He takes it serious with the look. He really does a good job with it.”
Bridgewater said he's very impressed with the Florida defense.
“They are very physical. They have a great front-seven,” he said. “The closest team to them would be Rutgers, but we haven't really faced a team like them.”
Florida's two Indiana players — punter Kyle Christy and offensive lineman Kyle Koehne — had travel issues due to a snowstorm and did not arrive in New Orleans until late Thursday night.
“They got caught in the snow up there in the Midwest and they finally got in last night,” Muschamp said. “Everyone is here and accounted for.”