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Two could be picked in NFL's first round

Kiper projects Reche Caldwell to be picked 16th by the Redskins.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2002


With the NFL draft a little more than two months away, several Gators have seen their stock rise or fall. Tampa native Reche Caldwell has made the biggest jump in recent weeks.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has Caldwell projected to go No.18 to Steve Spurrier's Redskins in his mock first round updated Monday. Caldwell originally was ranked tied for fifth among receivers but not listed as a first-round pick.

Kiper has two Gators among his first-round picks, Caldwell and receiver Jabar Gaffney, who remains pro-jected at No.16 to Atlanta. Neither offensive lineman Mike Pearson nor cornerback Lito Sheppard is listed in Kiper's first-round picks.

In Kiper's first mock draft Jan.14, Pearson was pro-jected 27th (Miami) and defensive tackle Alex Brown 30th (Chicago). Pearson is fourth among offensive tackles and Andra Davis second among inside linebackers.

With his performance late in the season and in all-star games, Jeff Chandler is considered the top placekicker.

Three players who were in Ki-per's previous top-five positions have dropped out. Brown and Sheppard were fourth and Marquand Manuel fifth among safeties.

The draft is April 20-21.

OBITUARY: Walter Odom, a tight end in the mid 1980s, died in Miami last weekend after a long illness. He was 36.

Funeral services for Mr. Odom, who went to Florida in 1983 out of Miami American High, are at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Greater New Bethel Baptist Church in Miami.

A wake will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Royal Funeral Home in Miami.

DIXON HAS SURGERY: Free safety Daryl Dixon had surgery Monday to repair ligament damage in his right shoulder and is expected to miss spring drills.

A three-year letterwinner from New Smyrna Beach High, Dixon played in all 12 games this fall as a backup and on special teams. He is expected to be ready for fall practice in August.

NELSON'S RETURN: Forward Matt Bonner stole the show Saturday with his 25-point game against Mississippi State, but it was guard Brett Nelson who impressed coach Billy Donovan most.

In his previous three games, Nelson shot 18-of-51 from the field and 13-of-32 from 3-point range, prompting Donovan to insist Nelson re-evaluate his role and do other things besides shoot. .

Saturday, he was 3-of-6 from the field and scored seven, but he also had 3 steals, 6 assists and 2 turnovers.

"I thought he played a great game, maybe the best game he played all year long with his unselfishness." Donovan said. "The way he moved and passed the basketball and the way he made the correct decisions.

"He didn't force anything, and I thought we were much better because of that. Now there are going to be times when we need Brett to score, to create and to do things. But we don't need him settling for bad (shots)."

EARLY HONORS: Pitcher Alex Hart was named co-National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball magazine. Hart shared the honor with Arizona State pitcher Ryan Schroyer.

Hart threw six no-hit innings in a 12-2 victory Sunday over Charleston Southern.

Florida (2-0) plays Mercer at 5 tonight and travels to Miami for a three-game weekend series beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

- Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or english@sptimes.com.

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