Gators Sweep Vols

The No. 12 Florida Gators (25-6) had already clinched the SEC Championship before stepping on the court Friday night at the Georgia Dome against the Tennessee Volunteers (19-14).

At the end of the first half, it looked like they wouldn’t make it out of the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Outstanding shooting in the second half propelled the Gators to an 85-74 victory in Atlanta.

Florida came out early hitting six of their first eight shots, eight points from Sr. Alex Tyus, and led 25-13.

Things quickly took a turn in Tennessee’s favor on a 21-4 run. The Vols forced eight Florida turnovers, sent them to the line four times, and held them to one FG in the remaining nine minutes of the first half, leading the Gators 34-29 at the break.

In the second half, Florida stormed back on a 25-12 run and looked true to championship form. The Gators missed only three shots from the field (14-of-17) and was sent to the foul line 33 times (24-of-33) reaching bonus with more than 12-1/2 minutes left in the game. The result was a 56 point second half, the highest scoring half of the season.

Signs of frustration were evident when Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl received a technical foul for barking at officials over a call his son, Stephen, didn’t get – then followed it up by tearing off his jacket, revealing bright orange suspenders that matched his orange tie. Trying not to draw another technical, Coach Pearl sent players over twice to complain about calls. After the game, Pearl told reporters, “When you allow a team to score 56 points in the second half, or shoot the way they shot and send them to the foul line as often as we sent them you’ve got no chance to win.”

Tennessee’s leading scorer was Freshman Tobias Harris with 25 points, while all five Florida starters scored in double digits led by Sophomore Kenny Boynton’s 22 pts. Junior Erving Walker had 17 pts., Sr. Vernon Macklin 15pts., Sr. Alex Tyus 10 pts., and SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons, Sr. added 12.

This was the first time the teams have met in the SEC Tournament since 1989, and the first time the Gators have beaten the Vols three times in one season.

The Gators will face Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon in the Semi-finals.

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Heisman Winners’ Statues Unveiled at Orange & Blue Game

Wuerffel, Tebow, Spurrier

The University of Florida’s three Heisman Trophy winners are memorialized in the Ring of Honor inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. On April 9, during halftime of the Spring Game, they will be memorialized outside as well.

Life-like statues of Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996), and Tim Tebow (2007) will be placed near the Skybox entrance on the west side of Florida Field.

Sculpted by W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor, a member of the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, the statues weigh a combined 17,000 and were provided to the school through private donations.

“We are very proud to recognize the accomplishments of our Heisman Trophy Winners,” Chip Howard, UF Senior Associate Athletic Director said in a statement. “The statues will give our fans an opportunity to see and capture a real-life visual of each of the storied athletes.” According to the University, the honorees will be participating in some manner at the unveiling, but with South Carolina also playing their Spring Game that day, ESPN reports Coach Spurrier will likely have a videotaped message to his alma mater.

Florida is one of eight schools with at least three Heisman Trophy recipients, and one of two programs with at least three Quarterbacks who have won the award.

In an August 2010 interview, Wuerffel told OGGOA (onlygators.com): “It was a huge, huge honor to think that they would be interested in putting those up. And certainly to be next to those two guys even makes it even more special for me – my coach and a friend. Hopefully we’ll have room for many more in the next few years.”


Donovan, Parsons Make Gator History

Chandler Parsons, Coach Billy Donovan, Photo: AP

Voted by coaches, Coach Billy Donovan was named SEC Coach of the Year, and Chandler Parsons (Sr., F) SEC Player of the Year.

The Number 12 Gators (24-6) won their third outright SEC Title Saturday when they defeated Vanderbilt 86-76.

This is the first SEC Coaching award for Billy Donovan, despite leading the Gators to back-to-back National Championships in 2006 & 2007.

In 15 seasons as the Gators Head Coach, Donovan has amassed 355 wins, third best in SEC history trailing Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (448) and LSU’s Dale Brown (448).

Parsons also added to Gator history becoming the first Florida player to be named SEC Player of the Year. Parsons averaged 11.4 Pts. 7.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1 steal per game this season.

Both starting guards, Kenny Boynton (Sophomore) and Erving Walker (Junior) were named second team All-SEC. Patrick young was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Florida will take on the winner of Arkansas-Tennessee Friday at 7:30 EST in the SEC Tournament.


Gators’ Clinch SEC, First Seed in Tourney

Kenny Boynton, defended by John Jenkins photo: AP Photo/Wade Payne

The No. 14 Florida Gators Men’s Basketball team clinched its third outright SEC Title (fifth overall) Saturday when they defeated the No. 21 Vanderbilt Commodores 86-76 at the Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. With the win, the Gators improved to 24-6 and are the fourth team in school history to have at least 24 regular season victories.

Led by Sophomore G Kenny Boynton’s 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting (4-for-9 3FG), all five starters for the Gators scored in double digits. Sophomore G Erving Walker had 16 points (six assists), while Senior F Alex Tyus had his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Seniors Chandler Parsons (F) and Vernon Macklin (C) both contributed 13 points each. Sophomore G John Jenkins was the leading scorer for Vanderbilt with 22 Pts. on 9-for-15 shooting.

The Gators were struggling early in the first half before pulling ahead with a 20-5 run to lead 38-30 at halftime.

Vanderbilt closed the gap to 56-53 with 10 minutes remaining. After Jenkins was called for a charge on Parsons, Coach Kevin Stallings received a Technical foul for arguing the call. Boynton sunk both free throws and Tyus extended the lead by scoring on the next possession.

Boynton hit a 3-pointer and was sent to the line with a foul on the play. He sunk the free throw, bringing his 4-point play total to 5-for-5 on the season.

Vanderbilt went on a run with 3:56 left in the game, but Walker made four consecutive FT (10-for-10 on the day) and the Gators held on for the 10 point victory.

The Commodores ended the game shooting 59% from the field (29-49 FG), but Florida had the edge in FTs (21-12) and rebounds (35-22), including 15-3 offensively.

The SEC Champions will take on the winner of Arkansas-Tennessee in the quarterfinals of the 2011 SEC Tournament Friday 7:30 EST at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.


The Quest for Relevance: The 40 Yard Dash

DeMarcus Van Dyke ran the fastest 40 time of the 2011 combine

In the 1940’s legendary coach Paul Brown started timing his players in the 40 yard dash as a means to gauge how fast they could leave the line of scrimmage when a punt is kicked and reach the point where the ball arrived.

Years later it has become the marquee event at the annual NFL Scouting Combine.

I have often questioned the importance of players’ 40 times in regards to their draft stock; not every football player is a track star, and not every track star a football player. Without getting into the argument of the validity in timing the 40 yard dash itself,  the answers I found were vast, and mostly depended upon who was asked.

At the 2008 NFL Combine then-Indianapolis Head Coach Tony Dungy said, “The 40 and those times have never been that big of a deal…Whether this guy’s a tenth of a second faster than that guy, that’s never really been that huge to me.”

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichik seems to put little stock in the combine as a whole. In 2009, New England drafted four players (Offensive Linemen Sebastian Vollmer, Rich Ohrnberger, George Bussey, and Wide receiver Julian Edelman) not invited to the combine. When asked to recap the Patriots’ selections, Belichik said, “I think it’s a little bit unusual that we ended up with all three (Offensive) Linemen who were non-combine guys. The fact that they weren’t at the combine, and kind of the way that we evaluated them in their private workouts and so forth, I think all of them are pretty impressive, all different.”

If it’s not important to two of the most successful NFL coaches in the last decade, why is it important to sports media, journalists, analysts, and draft writers?

I began searching for concrete evidence which proves the importance of the 40 time. Since 1999 (the first year electronic timing was used at the combine) 10 players have run the 40 yard dash in under 4.3 seconds. Although several were drafted in the first round, not one was drafted first overall:

  • 4.24 Rondel Melendez, WR, 1999, Rd. 7/247 overall by Atlanta Falcons
  • 4.24 Chris Johnson, RB, 2008, Rd. 1/24 overall by Tennessee Titans
  • 4.25 Fabian Washington, CB, 2005, Rd. 1/23 overall by Oakland Raiders
  • 4.25 Darrius Heyward-Bey , WR, 2009, Rd. 1/7 overall by Oakland Raiders
  • 4.28 Champ Bailey, CB, 1999, Rd. 1/7 overall by Washington Redskins
  • 4.28 Jerome Mathis, WR, 2005, Rd. 4/114 overall by Houston Texans
  • 4.28 Jacoby Ford, WR, 2010, Rd. 4/108 overall by Oakland Raiders
  • 4.28 Demarcus Van Dyke, CB, 2011, To Be Determined
  • 4.29 Stanford Routt, CB, 2005, Rd. 2/38 overall by Oakland Raiders
  • 4.29 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, 2008, Rd. 1/16 overall by the Arizona Cardinals

I continued by researching the five most productive running backs of 2010, including their 40 times and when they were drafted:

  • Arian Foster (Houston Texans), 1,616 yds., 16 TDs, 4.68, Undrafted
  • Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs), 1467 yds., 5 TDs, 4.38, Rd. 3/73 overall
  • Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons), 1371 yds., 12 TDs, 4.49, Rd. 5/154 overall
  • Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) 1364 yds., 11 TDs, 4.24, Rd. 1/24 overall
  • Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) 1324 yds., 5 TDs, 4.39, Rd. 2/60 overall

Only one player appears on both of those lists.

Why is the 40 time the most discussed statistic from the combine if it appears to have very little bearing on the future successes of the players running it? More so, why do some mock drafts use the 40 as a means of rising or dropping a player?

I decided to ask three draft gurus their opinions. I sent Justin Pawlowski (620 WDAE, Tampa, FL), Gil Alcaraz IV, and Ryan Lownes (both from draftbreakdown.com) emails asking all of  them the same questions. Their responses are unedited below:

1. What are your general thoughts about the importance of the 40 time?

Justin: “A 40-time will only make me go back and reevaluate a player, whether it be positively or negatively.”

Gil: “I think that the 40 time is an extremely overrated tool in evaluating talent for the NFL Draft. It is a measure of someone’s straight-line speed, which is rarely used during an actual football game. The only thing that really stands out to me in the 40 is the first 10-yard interval, which shows burst and explosion off of the line. Overall, the only reason that I would see any real importance in the 40 time is if a player runs an extremely impressive time that wasn’t expected or someone who runs an extremely disappointing time.”

Ryan: “I generally think a player’s 40 time is a pretty useless, unimportant number by itself. Speed is an attribute that can usually be picked up on film pretty easily. It is, however, beneficial for players to run faster that expected. Like-wise, it can definitely hurt a player to run significantly lower than expectations. The number is significantly less important for positions along the Offensive Line or Defensive Tackle,  where the player’s 10-yd split is often the more coveted number. Because running the 40 can allow scouts to track both acceleration and breakaway speed, I’d have to say the event is useful though. I’m with* those who wish players were required to wear pads for the tests. Some guys can just be so well coached/prepared in the 40 and others are just track guys (Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott – 4.34 for example)… so that said you have to kind of pick and choose when and how much you value that 40 number player-to-player. “

2. Do you use the 40 time to rise or drop player rankings?

Justin: “I’d say yes if it’s a corner that had questions on his speed and he has a great 40 or vice versa.

Gil: “Very seldom do I ever use a 40 time to rise or drop a player unless they had a stand-out performance, either good or bad. Sometimes it can become a tie-breaker if I’m on the fence between two players, but in general, it doesn’t have a huge impact on my rankings”

Ryan: “At times I do. I can tell you for sure that Oklahoma OLB Jeremy Beal (5.18 unofficial), San Diego State WR Vincent Brown (4.71 un.), North Carolina CB Kendric Burney (4.75 un.)  and Florida FS Ahmad Black (4.74 un.) have slid down my board. Notice all these players aren’t the biggest guys; so I’d say I’ll move players down significantly only if they may lack both the size and the speed to compete in the NFL. Beal, is a converted college DE that is too small for that position and may now be seen as too slow to play in space at the next level. Burney and Black are both more quick than fast, that much is evident on film. They still will be haunted by poor 40 times because they play positions where speed is relevant and small & slow isn’t the best combination for an NFL DB. (I will say that I do like Burney/Black on the field, but size/speed should keep them from consideration until the draft’s third day.) The four players I listed all could have been day two picks, but I think after their Combine (more specifically the weigh-in/40 yd dash) each player will have to wait until Saturday (Rds 4-7) to hear their name called.”

3. Do you feel that other stats/attributes can be more helpful in evaluating a player?

Justin: “Absolutely. I look at the combine as a gigantic puzzle.  Every part is important to piecing together the entire puzzle, but some parts are bigger and more important than others.  I wouldn’t call the 40-yard dash a corner piece.”

Gil: “The stats that I feel are more important than the 40 is the broad jump (a great measure of explosion) and the 3-cone drill (a wonderful display of a player’s ability to change direction quickly and effectively). Both have more impact, in my mind, on the value of a prospect, especially for linemen. The most important thing in evaluating prospects, however, is watching game-film. There are plenty of people who can be workout warriors, but that doesn’t always translate into a play-maker on the field.”

Ryan: “Absolutely. If a player looks slow on tape then a good 40 time probably isn’t going to make a world of a difference. Depending on the position: size, level of conditioning, are fluidity (feet & hips) are far more important than straight line speed. The game is very rarely played 40 yards in a straight line, so the ability to accelerate out of cuts is infinitely more important than the number you get from to 40 yd dash. Then there’s the entire mental aspect of football, which always surpasses pure speed as an evaluation tool.”

4. Why do you think there is such an emphasis on player’s 40 time and not on other workouts at the combine?

Justin: “I think the 40-yard dash is important to the fans because we are a very lazy and naive society. What’s easier to breakdown than a guy running fast in a straight line?”

Gil: “The 40 seems to be so important because it is a common misconception that speed translates to talent. If speed were everything in football, Usain Bolt would be the first overall pick in the draft. There’s a reason why the Oakland Raiders, who draft mainly for speed and athleticism, end up struggling to find franchise-caliber talent through the draft.”

Ryan: “Well the 40 yard dash is just very simple, it measures straight-line speed & acceleration. Additionally, the general public already knows a good time from a bad time. You could push the 3-Cone drill, but the casual football fan probably couldn’t tell you that 6.00 in that drill is out of this world while 8.0+ is extremely sluggish. Everyone knows what it means to run a 4.3 40. That said, the positional drills, interview process, and medical exams are the most significant Combine stock dictators.”

There doesn’t appear to be conclusive evidence, which I have found, as to the relevance of players’ 40 times in regards to their future NFL success. Although, I did find an interesting article from the New York Times (By Michael David Smith, published: April 27, 2008) that claims there is:

Bill Barnwell of the Web site FootballOutsiders.com formulated an equation that combines 40 time and body weight, and is an even better predictor of N.F.L. success than 40 time alone. Multiply a running back’s weight by 200, then divide that product by his 40-yard dash time, raised to the fourth power. The result will be a number that is, on average, about 100 for an N.F.L. running back, with big, fast players having higher numbers and small, slow players having lower numbers.

By this equation, the highest score of the last 10 years was achieved at the 2005 combine by Brandon Jacobs, at the time a little-known running back from Southern Illinois who weighed 267 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.56 seconds. The Giants chose Jacobs in the fourth round that year; he was an integral part of their Super Bowl-winning 2007 season.

I only found that equation mentioned once – in that article, and it never gives Jacob’s actual score. I’m not convinced it is an accurate predictor, and until the NFL scouts start breaking out their scientific calculators and using that equation – I won’t either.


Decisions, Decisions…

Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett, photo: US Presswire

When Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert announced he would not participate in throwing drills at this years’ NFL Scouting Combine, there was mixed reviews. Some analysts believed he was making the right decision to wait until Missouri’s Pro Day on March 17, while others, triggered by the excitement of Heisman Winner Cam Newton’s decision to throw, felt he was making a mistake.

Gabbert’s agent, Tom Condon, has a history of advising his QB clients to bypass throwing at the Combine for their university’s Pro Day. This approach worked out well for Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Alex Smith — all of who were represented by him and were drafted in the first three picks overall.

Condon has long believed that top QBs should have a private throwing audition for NFL scouts, where the receivers and footballs can both be controlled. At the Combine, the QBs throw to unfamiliar receivers and can never be sure about the quality of the footballs. Having to throw with a ball that’s a little slippery can affect accuracy, while receivers who run at different speeds with different route adjustments can affect precision.  For obvious reasons, both of these factors are necessary when evaluating prospective NFL QBs.

After Heisman Winner Cam Newton’s performance Sunday in Indianapolis, some believe he may have hurt his status due to accuracy issues.  Russ Lande of The Sporting News tweeted: “How in the world is everyone buying into Cam Newton? This kid screams out BUST.” Others seemed mesmerized by Newton, including ESPN’s Trent Dilfer who last year said the Rams would be “making a huge mistake” drafting Sam Bradford. Character issues may also weigh on scouts and coaches, although after his prepared statement, many analysts feel Newton’s charisma at the podium may have helped with any concerns. NFL Network draft analyst, Mike Mayock, said nothing has changed for him regarding Newton, and has Newton listed as the third best QB in the draft, behind Gabbert and Washington’s Jake Locker.

Locker decided to stay in school for his senior year instead of declaring for the 2010 NFL Draft – a decision that has been highly scrutinized, especially following a less-than-stellar season and a poor performance at the Senior Bowl. At the combine, “He helped himself,” said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst from NFLDraftScout.com, “That’s not entirely unexpected. I think that we all thought he would help himself during the interview process, during the athletic portion of the drills of the combine.” Locker wasn’t as fast as most anticipated, (his official time was 4.59 – tied with Newton for third fastest of quarterbacks), but he showed improvement in his accuracy and touch.

Going into Jan. 4th’s Sugar Bowl, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet’s draft stock was hot, but has since dropped from a top 15 pick in the upcoming draft to “the next Ryan Leaf”.  Mallett has many concerned about his character, beginning with rumors at the start of his career that he was disliked by teammates and was out-of-control off the field (he was arrested in 2009 for public intoxication as well as recent allegations of drug use).  Whereas Newton’s critics may have softened after Combine interviews, many still feel uneasy about Mallett, after he was seemingly uncomfortable in front of reporters, responding to several questions with a defensive tone, and refusing to answer questions about his reported drug use.  Reportedly, in one-on-one interviews with teams, he was more forthcoming. As far as passing drills, Adam Caplan of FOXSports.com had this to say:  “The strong-armed quarterback needed to have a great showing, and he did just that. Mallett was easily the most impressive passer Sunday.”

Advised by his camp, Florida State’s Christian Ponder initially stated in January that he would not throw at the Combine, but last week reversed his decision. Unlike Jake Locker’s Senior Bowl performance, Ponder was named MVP with an impressive outing.  His Combine performance was also impressive, prompting The National Football Post’s Wes Bunting to write: “His arm looked plenty live enough to make all the throws, he was balanced in his drop, got the ball out quickly and was very accurate during the session. He showcased good ball location in the three step game, getting the ball out on time while allowing his receivers to consistently run through the throw. Ponder also showcased plenty of zip on his throws in the five step game and was capable of sticking the dig.” Some analysts expect Ponder to be drafted in the second round while others believe him to be a high-value, low-third round pick. Bunting has him rated as the top overall quarterback in this year’s draft class, ahead of both Blaine Gabbert, and Cam Newton.

These five young men have faced many decisions over the course of their collegiate careers.  Gabbert and Ponder faced scrutiny for the decisions they made on the field, while both Newton and Mallett came under fire for the choices they made off of it. Locker has widely been criticized for his decision to stay at Washington and graduate.  All of them faced the decision to throw or not to throw at the Combine, and whether it will hurt or help them will be determined by scouts and coaches.

The future of the 2011 NFL season rests in the hands of the NFL Players’ Association and franchise owners. With the current CBA set to expire March 4th, the owners have vowed a lockout if an agreement cannot be met.  Maybe Lockers’ decision to earn a degree shouldn’t be questioned after all.


Meet Mr. Black

Ahmad Black’s stock has fallen drastically over the last week on several online NFL Draft big boards. I have read it is due to his size and speed (I’m assuming they’re talking about 40 speed, not game speed). For the last week, I’ve felt like a loaded gun, waiting for someone to pull the trigger. 

Someone did.

The shear notion that size and 40 time alone are hindering him from a promising NFL career is very perplexing to me. We all know that he is 5’9”, an inch taller than Bob Sanders (until his official weigh-in in Indy: UF has Ahmad listed at 190 Lbs; Sanders via NFL.com at 206 Lbs). How many Bob Sanders are there in the NFL? My response: not enough. I think the NFL needs one more. I think that safety is Ahmad Black.

Of course, I’m extremely biased. Black is one of my favorite Gators of all time. This is why I feel so compelled to defend him. Maybe defend isn’t the right word. Maybe what I should say is write about all the attributes he brings to a team, both on and off the field.

Ahmad Black grew up in Lakeland, and played for Bill Castle’s Dreadnaughts. If you’ve never heard of Bill Castle, I’ll sum it up by saying: he is legendary; at least if you know anything about high school football in Florida. When Ahmad played for him at Lakeland High, he help extend their winning streak to 45 games and claim three consecutive class 5A State Championships. During the 2006 FHSAA State Championship game against St. Thomas Aquinas, Ahmad made a fourth down goal line tackle to save the game for the Dreadnaughts, thus winning the State, and propelling them to their second National Title. In three years, Black racked up 228 tackles, 20 INTs and 19 PDs. He received offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, and Nebraska but ultimately decided to play for Urban Meyer’s Gators.

He started his collegiate career as a true freshman at cornerback, starting in seven games.

He moved to strong safety his sophomore year, starting in all 14 games. In the season opener against Hawaii, he had an 80 yard INT for a TD that was the third longest by any player in the SEC (records dating back to 1996), and 11th longest returned for a TD by any player in the country. He recorded seven tackles in the SEC Championship game against Alabama. During the BCS National Championship game vs. Oklahoma he claimed his seventh INT – tying him for most in the nation. Two of his seven interceptions on the season were returned for touchdowns, also tied for most in the country. He totaled 59 tackles in his first year at safety, with five pass deflections. He was named Second Team All-SEC by the coaches, Honorable Mention All-SEC by the Associated Press, earned Sports Illustrated All-American Honorable mention, and a Second team All-Sophomore Performance by College Football News.

In his junior year, Black increased his total tackles to 70, 36 of them solo, and 2.5 for a loss. He had eight tackles (seven solo), his first career QB sack (for a 10 yd loss), and a QB hurry in the SEC Championship game vs. Alabama. Ahmad made five tackles, and broke up two passes in the Gator’s blow out of Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. He earned Fourth-team All-SEC Honors from Phil Steele and his second straight Honorable Mention All-SEC by the AP.

He could have moved on to the NFL ending his collegiate career after that season, but Ahmad Black chose to stay his senior year at Florida, saying:

I have to take more of a leadership role this year…I need to be more of a vocal leader and keep everybody in line. I was a leader last year, but I had a couple of other guys helping me out. Now I am just kind of taking it by myself with Janoris Jenkins and helping the young guys.”

“I stuck with the people I trust…it wasn’t really that difficult, I listened to my parents and my coaches.” – Gatorzone, 9/6/10 “Ahmad Black – Raising the Curtain”

In 2010, Ahmad Black’s tenacity, leadership, character, skill, and love for the game came through with career highs in almost every recorded statistic. He was tied for sixth in the nation (first in the SEC) for defensive backs with 108 tackles, 32 more than any of his Gator teammates.  He was one of eight players nationally to have multiple two-interception games in 2010 (against  USF & Penn State). Ahmad led the team with five INTs for 171 interception-return yards, and recorded at least six tackles in 10 of 13 games.

Black returned an interception for 40 yards, and registered 12 tackles, tied for an SEC best in the first week of competition, in the season opener against Miami University. Against USF he tied a career-high two interceptions while making eight tackles, and was named defensive player of the game. Three weeks later against the Crimson Tide he tallied seven tackles, along with his first career forced fumble. At home against LSU, Ahmad recorded a career-high 13 tackles, along with his first career fumble recovery. In the overtime victory against rival Georgia, he had a team-high 12 tackles (two for loss), including a sack and a forced fumble. The next week at Vanderbilt, he forced another fumble, while recording five total tackles (four solo, one for a loss). Ahmad broke his career high with 16 tackles, a career-best three for loss, at home vs. South Carolina, and recorded his second career fumble recovery in his last game at The Swamp vs. Appalachian State.  In his final game as a Florida Gator against Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl he tallied six tackles, and two INTS, including his second career 80-yard return for a touchdown, and was honored with the bowl’s MVP.  Ahmad Black was rewarded for his outstanding season, being one of four Florida seniors selected to the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl, named Second Team All-America by the Associated Press, First Team All-America by Rivals.com, and Honorable Mention All-America by Sports Illustrated. He was a Consensus First-Team All-SEC pick by the coaches’, AP and Phil Steele, named to the SEC Football Community Service Team, and the Phil Steele Midseason All-American Fourth Team.  

If you were to Google Ahmad Black, you will only find articles of his excellent play, and high character.

From teammate, LB Brandon Hicks, Gatorzone 1/1/11:

“You can’t ask for much more from a guy. When he went down, I knew he was going to stay out there. I’ve been with Ahmad for four years, and I know how he plays. He’s not a guy who stays down. If he’s hurt, he’s going to come back in. Even if it’s on one leg and three fingers, he’s going to play. Ahmad has been great for me since we got here as freshmen,” Hicks said. “In the dorms or watching film, just being around each other we built a lot of character. I want to see him on Sundays and capitalizing on everything. His leadership was great for all of us. No player on this team can say anything less than the fact that they respect Ahmad Black for everything he does.”

From former Safeties Coach, Chuck Heater, Gatorzone 11/18/10:

“I had a pro scout tell me that [he is the best tackler in college football] today. He’s got a gift for it. He’s an athletic guy. He’s really athletic. […] First off, he’s tough. If a guy doesn’t want to make a tackle, all that other stuff doesn’t really matter. Some guys don’t want to make a tackle. He’s a tough guy. Then it becomes just that ability to weave himself through people and around people and make plays the way he does. He’s extraordinary. Anybody who watches football can appreciate the quality player that he is now. He was one of those tag-a-long guys out of Lakeland. Too small, too this, too that. The reality is he was really a tremendous player once he had the opportunity to go show it. We’re proud of him, and it’s amazing what he’s accomplished. He has always been a great kid. Happy with a smile on his face. He’s grown, he’s matured. He takes care of his business a little bit better than he used to when he was younger. Very accountable guy, which is what you hope happens by the time a guy leaves out of here. You hope he’s learned how to grow and be an accountable guy, and he has been.”

At a time when the NFL fines and suspends players for acts detrimental to both their team and the league, I have no doubt that Ahmad Black will never owe a dime, nor miss a game due to indiscretions.  

My one true hope for him is that he is not analyzed merely by measurement tape, but for the measure of a man that he is and on the game tape in which he performed.