Ryan Young/SEC Country
Florida coach Dan Mullen speaks to fans in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday night during the second stop on his spring speaking tour.

Florida coach Dan Mullen talks about No. 1 jersey; Gators rake in SEC softball awards

Ryan Young

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Dan Mullen continues speaking tour in Fort Lauderdale

The majority of questions Florida football coach Dan Mullen is asked on his speaking tour — by fans and media — are the same at each stop.

The quarterbacks. The eligibility status of wide receiver transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes. Mullen’s feelings on playing at Mississippi State this year.

And now, the new one. Is Florida looking into the graduate transfer quarterback market now that Ohio State’s Joe Burrow has made himself available?

A few original questions make it through each time, though, and on Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, Mullen was asked whether he’d award the No. 1 jersey to anybody this year.

“You’ve got to be a baller to be No.  1,” he said. “I don’t know if I have anybody at No. 1 just yet. I don’t know if anybody’s done enough.”

Wearing the No. 1 jersey has been a mark of pride for years at Florida, with stars such as Percy Harvin, Reggie Nelson and Vernon Hargreaves sporting it. But nobody has worn No. 1 the last two years, since Hargreaves was taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

And Mullen clearly puts some stature on the digit.

“I don’t know if anybody’s at No. 1,” he reiterated.

In general, though, Mullen said trying to satisfy players’ jersey number requests is one of the bigger headaches he has as a coach.

“You want the hardest challenge as a head coach? Jersey numbers, right?” he said. “Because how mathematics work, there’s only nine numbers that are single digit because you can’t be No. 0. And there’s probably about 65 guys that want one of those single-digit jerseys, so that honestly is the least favorite job of being a head coach is sorting out jersey numbers. …

“I tell them a lot of it is GPA-based. If you weren’t Champions Club, don’t even come talk to me about it if you weren’t a champion. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing things right to get a good jersey.”

One player who did apparently recently earn a single-digit number was freshman quarterback Emory Jones, who on April 30 tweeted out a picture of him wearing No. 5 after wearing No. 14 during the spring.

Mullen’s speaking tour continues Wednesday night in Miami.

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In Florida football news

  • Florida released contract and salary figures for its football assistant coaches on Tuesday. Most notable, the Gators are set to pay defensive coordinator Todd Grantham $1.39 million in the first year of his deal (actually a 14-month window) with $100,000 raises each of the following two years. See all the contract info here.
  • Mullen gave an optimistic outlook on injured defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery.

Recruiting roundup

  • Mullen wants his coaches in every high school in the state of Florida, and he told a great story to illustrate why that matters. Read about it here.
  • Cortez Andrews, a 4-star safety, tweeted out his top-5 schools Tuesday. Florida made the cut along with fellow SEC heavyweights Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and also Ole Miss. Andrews is from Tallahassee and ranked the No. 23 safety in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite.

Florida softball claims top SEC honors

For only the second time in program history, the Florida softball team has the SEC Player and Pitcher of the Year. Amanda Lorenz took home SEC Player of the Year honors on Tuesday after hitting .427 with 8 home runs, 17 doubles, 4 triples, 49 RBI and 61 runs so far this season.

Fellow junior Kelly Barnhill earned her second consecutive SEC Pitcher of the Year award. She has a sterling 0.93 ERA, 25-1 record and 267 strikeouts with 59 walks in 174 innings.

The only other time the Gators swept those honors was in 2015 with Lauren Haeger and Kelsey Stewart.

Along with Barnhill and Lorenz, Nicole DeWitt and Aleshia Ocasio made first-team All-SEC, while Hannah Adams and Jordan Matthews made the all-freshman team. Adams (second base) and Janell Wheaton (catcher) made the SEC All-Defensive team.

Florida baseball pulls off largest comeback in 8 years

The No. 1 Gators were down 6 runs after two innings on Tuesday night against South Florida, but the game was far from over. Florida rallied all the way back to win 11-8, marking its largest comeback win since overcoming an 8-0 deficit to beat Florida Gulf Coast in 2010.

“It’s always coach-speak when you talk to your team, ‘You can come back, you can come back, don’t get your head down,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “But to actually do it, I think we can draw from it moving forward if we get into a situation where we fall behind this weekend [against Georgia].” The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway has the full story.

Shortstop Deacon Liput hit a 3-run home run to right in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 8-7, Florida tied it up in the next inning on an RBI single from Nick Horvath and then pulled ahead when Liput reached on a bunt single and a throwing error allowed 2 runs to score.

Liput was 3 for 3 with 2 runs and 3 RBI. Blake Reese also hit a homer, Horvath was 2 for 3 with an RBI and 3 runs, and Brady Smith was 2 for 2 with a run and an RBI.

It wasn’t all good news for the Gators, though. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Dyson’s struggles continued as he was charged with 4 earned runs after allowing 2 hits and walking 3 while getting one out in the game.

What they’re saying on Twitter

  • Mullen’s speaking tour continues Wednesday in Miami:

  • Jefferson is one of many intrigued by Burrow’s pending decision:

  • The MLB draft should be entertaining for the Gators in June:

  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin congratulated Barnhill on her latest honor:

  • Here is a great throwback photo from Florida Gators baseball … with a gator:

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