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Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Jalen Tabor's mouth remains fast, legs not so much at UF's pro day


    GAINESVILLE — Cornerback Jalen Tabor's mouth never fled from a challenge in three seasons with the Gators, so it's no surprise that he kept talking the talk Tuesday, even after running a startlingly slow 40-yard dash that could knock him out of the first round in next month's NFL draft.

    "It's not going to be my loss if you pass on me," Tabor said after Florida's pro day. "I'm going to be in this league for a long time. Somebody could lose their job if they pass on me, so I ain't mad at it." ...

    Defensive back Jalen Tabor is clocked at around 4.7 seconds in the 40 at his pro day.
  2. Florida pro day: Jarrad Davis stars, Jalen Tabor slips


    GAINESVILLE - A few quick thoughts from the Florida Gators' pro day:

    The player who helped himself the most: Linebacker Jarrad Davis. His 38 ½ inch vertical leap would have been an inch better than any other linebacker at the scouting combine. It was so impressive that the event's organizers had to adjust the apparatus afterward so they could get an accurate measurement. His 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump was better than any linebacker at the combine, and his 4.56 40-yard dash was better than every linebacker not name Jabrill Peppers....

  3. One option for Jimbo Fisher's FSU football stand-alone complex


    Florida State might be the next major program to get a stand-alone football facility, according to a report late last week by ESPN.

    As coach Jimbo Fisher told Andrea Adelson, it's simply the cost of trying to be an elite program these days. Florida, of course, hopes to break ground on its $60 million facility in December....

    The so-called Jimbotron (background) is just the latest facilities upgrade at Florida State. More could be coming.
  4. Elite Eight: Unlikely runs by state college programs


    Florida was expected to be pretty good in basketball this year.

    But Elite Eight? For a team with almost no NCAA Tournament experience? With a second-year coach (Mike White) who had only experienced March Madness as a player? After losing a top player (center John Egbunu) to a torn ACL, and drawing a trendy upset pick (East Tennessee State) in the first round?

    That qualifies as highly improbable. With that in mind, here are eight other unlikely runs by state college programs (in no particular order):...

    USF players Carlton Mitchell (2) Dontavia Bogan (81), Amarri Jackson (18) and Delbert Alvarado (25) celebrate on the bench after the 21-13 upset win.


STORY SUMMARY - USF vs West Virginia at Raymond James Stadium on Friday (9/28/07).
  5. FSU freshman Jonathan Isaac entering NBA draft


    Florida State freshman Jonathan Isaac has announced that he will leave school early to declare for the NBA draft.

    Isaac made the announcement Friday afternoon. The news is not a surprise; he is a potential lottery pick.

    The 6-foot-10 forward from Naples averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to help FSU advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He entered FSU as one of the nation's top 15 overall recruits.
    Isaac becomes the third FSU player to announce his intention of leaving school early, after guards Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes....

  6. NCAA Tournament: Three keys for Florida Gators against Wisconsin


    The fourth-seeded Florida Gators will try to advance to the Elite Eight late tonight with an NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal matchup against eighth-seeded Wisconsin.

    Here are three keys for fourth-seeded UF:

    1. Stay poised. Wisconsin has been here before. A lot. This is the Badgers' fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. Florida hasn't been here recently. As we've written a lot in the last week, only one UF player (guard Kasey Hill) entered the season with Tournament experience. Second-year coach Mike White had never coached in the Tournament before, at any level. Last night's games show the value of not panicking - you know, actually thinking through decisions in the closing minutes instead of attempting horrible hero shots. I'm looking at you, Michigan and West Virginia....

  7. FSU football, Florida Gators could both start season in top 10


    It's insanely early, but noted college football prognisticator Phil Steele expects Florida State and Florida to both start this season in the AP's top 10. 

    In his projections, Steele expects FSU to open the season at No. 3, behind its Week 1 opponent (Alabama) and Ohio State. The Gators would be 10th - a little higher than I expected. ...

  8. Ex-Jefferson, Gators DB Deiondre Porter given six years for armed robbery


    Former Florida Gators cornerback and Jefferson High star Deiondre Porter has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to an armed robbery charge in Jacksonville.

    Porter was arrested in April in connection with the robbery of a T-Mobile store. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, two males with handguns approached the store just after closing and ordered employees to open the safe. A third suspect was involved, and the group stole cell phones before leaving through the back door....

  9. Dick Vitale talks Florida-Wisconsin, Mike White as coach of the year


    ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said the Florida Gators have had an impressive season and NCAA Tournament, but tomorrow's Sweet 16 matchup against Wisconsin could pose some matchup problems.
    Vitale said fourth-seeded UF's defense was shockingly good in its second-round domination of Virginia last weekend in Orlando....

  10. What's a little Florida QB battle among friends?


    GAINESVILLE — When Florida opened spring football practice Wednesday, quarterback Feleipe Franks stood at the forefront. He was leading stretches, barking encouragement, firing up his teammates.

    But will he still be that way Sept. 2, when the Gators open the regular season against Michigan?

    Midway through spring ball, the starting quarterback battle between Franks and Kyle Trask is ongoing. And as much as UF would like to find its long-term answer at quarterback, the uncertainty might not be a bad thing....

    Florida redshirt freshmen Kyle Trask, left, and Feleipe Franks have different strengths at quarterback.
  11. Dick Vitale breaks down FSU basketball's season and future


    Like many Florida State fans, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was "shocked and surprised" at how the third-seeded Seminoles were blown out last week by 11th-seeded Xavier.

    "They just dominated," Vitale said of Xavier's 25-point win last week. "Their zone defense really seemed to baffle Florida State. "That was a nightmare. That was a nightmare game."...

    Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac (1) covers his head while on the bench during the second half of FSU's 25-point, second-round loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament.
  12. Why Dick Vitale likes USF basketball's Brian Gregory hire


    USF will formally introduce Brian Gregory as its next men's basketball coach later today.

    Count ESPN analyst Dick Vitale as a fan of the hire.

    "Brian is a quality guy," Vitale said Wednesday morning in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "I've known Brian for a number of years. I watched him as a young guy on a staff with (Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo.
    "Tom Izzo speaks extremely highly of him and thinks he is a really quality guy and quality coach."...

    Dick Vitale attributed Brian Gregory's struggles at Georgia Tech to the cut-throat competition in the ACC.
  13. Why some Florida State football players wore orange


    TALLAHASSEE — A problem that began last spring and helped end Florida State's championship hopes in the fall led coach Jimbo Fisher to use a colorful approach to offseason football workouts.

    Fisher and his staff rated the Seminoles' conditioning drills not by performance but by effort. Players who approached FSU's fourth-quarter workouts with what coaches considered championship-level intensity practiced in garnet jerseys....

    Derwin James was one of 14 blue-chippers signed by FSU in 2015. (Monica Herndon, Times)
  14. Sleeping in Jim McElwain's garage 'not as bad as it sounds'


    When Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain mentioned that the coaching staff from his alma mater (Eastern Washington) was visiting for spring practice last week, he dropped this intriguing nugget on reporters:

    "We put them in the garage," McElwain said. "You might want to ask them about that."...

    This post is just an excuse to run this old photo of Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain, from his Eastern Washington days.
  15. Checking in on former Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris


    It looks like Treon Harris will be a starting quarterback after all ... at Tennessee State.

    According to The Tennessean, Harris - the former Florida Gators starter - was in a battle for the starting job with O'Shay Ackerman-Carter. But Ackerman-Carter is transferring, making Harris the expected starter this fall, according to the report....

    It looks like Treon Harris will be a starting quarterback after all ... at Tennessee State.