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Best of 2012
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A new era of Jacksonville Jaguars football was born in 2012:
Shad Khan, the Jags new owner, officially assumed that position on January 4th. His first order of business was hiring a new head coach and the Jaguars decided on Mike Mularkey.
Along with Mularkey and Gene Smith running the football operations, Khan hired Mark Lamping as President of the Jags to run the marketing side of the Jaguars.
The franchise launched an "all in" campaign to ignite the fan base and take advantage of the popularity of its new owner.
The efforts from an off the field perspective were a big success. The Jags had big crowds at all the games and even took a tarp off one of the sections for three games.
The on the field success has been anything but all win. The team is on its way to the worst record in franchise history.
The excitement and freshness of the beginning of 2012 has turned into a familiar feeling with Jags fans when it comes to the win/loss column.
Gators return to elite status:
The Will Muschamp era officially arrived in Gainesville when the Florida Gators beat LSU to go to 5-0 on the season. Up until that game Gator Nation didn't seem real pleased with the job Urban Meyer's successor was doing.
The win was not a thing of beauty but it did give Florida fans a taste of the Will Muschamp way. A hard to stop run game and a tough defense are Muschamp staples.
Florida is the only team in the country to have wins over three top 10 teams.
Florida will play Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Beat former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and the Cardinals and this Gator team will be just the 6th team in Florida history to win 12 games.
After going 8-5 in Meyer's last year and 7-6 in Muschamp's first season the Florida Gators are now back among the elite in college football. And that has Florida as one of the top stories of 2012.
Derrick Henry becomes rushing king:
In a year of firsts for the Yulee Hornets, senior running back Derrick Henry etched his name into the record books as the national leader in career rushing yards. Henry broke a 59 year old record by rushing for 12,124 yards in his four years at Yulee.
Riding the effort of Henry, the Hornets made a run all the way to the 4A state semifinals before falling to Bolles but it couldn't dampen the spirits in Yulee after Henry's magnificent season.
In that game against the Bulldogs, Henry passed Travis Henry as the single-season yardage king in the state of Florida with 4,260 yards.
2012 also featured a debut appearance on national television in a matchup of Henry and the Hornets against Fred Taylor's son Kelvin and Glades Day.
The historic run by Derrick Henry finds its way into the top stories of 2012.
Fred Taylor rushes to a new honor:
Former Jaguars lineman Tony Boselli needed a little company in the Pride of the Jaguars and he finally got it.
Running back Fred Taylor joined Boselli and the Weavers at halftime of the game with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Taylor, the all-time leading rusher in franchise history is only the second player to be honored.
"I don't know how I would have been able to do without you guys," he said to the crowd. "Even when I was down, hurt, had adversity, it was you guys in the stands who made me want to hurry and get back. This is as much yours and it's mine."
Freddie T. finished up with 11,695 yards in 11 seasons. That's the 15th best total in NFL history and makes Fred Taylor's induction into the Pride of the Jaguars one of the top stories of 2012.
Tim Tebow almost was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars:
In a wild 24 hours, Jacksonville's favorite son, had a choice between the hometown Jags and the New York Jets. It was a bizarre turn of events.
After leading the Denver Broncos to a win in the playoffs in January, Tebow was shopped around in the offseason because the Broncos acquisition of Peyton Manning.
On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets.
Done deal -- or maybe not. The deal with the Jets hit a snag because of the amount of money Tebow was owed and who would pay for it according to reports. That's where the Jaguars came into play.
Shad Khan and the Jags had put a feeler out there for Tebow before the Jets deal got done, but once things opened up again, things got more serious.
Ultimately, the two deals from the Jets and Jags were similar so it was up to Tebow to decide on his playing future.
The quarterback chose playing for the New York Jets because of a more established and planned role for him in their system.
It sounded like a good plan for Tebow, but as we know now, the Jets haven't played Tebow much in the role they anticipated in 2012.
The race that took forever to start, and end:
The 54th running of the Daytona 500 was anything but uneventful. It was a rainy Sunday which led to the first ever postponement of the Great American Race.
The race was rescheduled for Monday evening, and they raced under the lights at Daytona for the first time.
The drama continued at Daytona. Early in the race, the defending champ Trevor Bayne and one of the sports most popular drivers, Danica Patrick, were out of the race.
The moment no one will ever forget happened in lap 160 during a caution. Juan Pablo Montoya ran into a jet dryer, which then caught on fire. The wreck caused a two hour delay and many late bed times for race fans wanting to see the end of the race.
Just after 1 a.m., the checkered flag waived and Matt Kenseth would hold off Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the victory.
More people will remember the 2012 Daytona 500 not for who won, but how long it took to get there.
In April Jaguars fans thought they had the savior of the franchise:
Justin Blackmon was one of the most heralded draft picks in team history. The Jaguars traded up to the fifth spot in the draft to get the two time
winner. Blackmon was poised to become the Jaguars best receiver since Jimmy Smith.
Blackmon's journey to Jacksonville did hit a few speed bumps. In June, the former Oklahoma State wide receiver was arrested for DUI in Stillwater, Oklahoma. That led to strained contract negotiations between the Jags and the fifth overall pick and Blackmon arrived to training camp 12 days late.
He wowed fans in his first preseason action against the Saints, and then went silent for most of the year. Finally, in week 11 against the Texans when Blackmon had the third most receiving yards in a game for a rookie in NFL history.
Blackmon's story is far from over in Jacksonville, but he is definitely off to an interesting start.
Slam dunks on the deck of a warship:
The inaugural Navy Marine Corps Classic had everything but a final score. Florida led Georgetown at half on board the USS Bataan, but moisture on the floor forced them to cancel the game with no winner or loser.
Billy Donovan said the Gators learned a lot spending a few days at Mayport Naval Station.
Donovan said his guys learned a new perspective about service in the military. He said they were amazed at how young the enlisted men and women were and that they might not take their lives and the luxuries afforded them for granted.
There is talk that the Gators are interested in finishing the game but we have not heard anything from the Georgetown side.
Little Big Town provided the warm up for those lucky enough to get a ticket to the game.
Mayor Alvin Brown tells me that even though the game didn't get finished they will try again next year.
A memorable moment at THE PLAYERS:
In 2012, THE PLAYERS Championship gave us all a local winner, but also some of the strangest moments in the history of the event.
The story of the weekend was Kevin Na. The golfer was atop the leaderboard after 54 holes, despite a sideshow that included a lot of waiting and even some whiffs.
Na admittedly was fighting some demons in his mind and having trouble dealing with the pressure while he attempted to hit the ball. Amazingly, Na's slow play, constant backing off the ball and yelling at himself, didn't effect his play as he took the lead into Sunday.
Unfortunately, Na's play likely had an adverse effect on his playing partners, especially Zach Johnson. The St. Simon's Island resident was in contention on the weekend but shot a 73 on Saturday playing alongside Na.
On Sunday, it was another St. Simon's Island guy and a Jacksonville resident of sorts winning THE PLAYERS Championship.
Matt Kuchar, who's parents have a place in Ponte Vedra, won the tournament by two shots for his biggest win of his career. He did it playing.
Mojo's lost season:
Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout lasted 38 days and did not lead to a new deal. The NFL rushing champion could have faced $1.2 million in fines, but the Jaguars kept the business side of that deal in house.
Mojo and his new boss, Shad Khan, didn't get off to a great start. Mr. Khan said that Jones-Drew's absence, "doesn't even move the needle." Khan added, "the train's leaving the station. Run, get on it."
That gave him legendary status in Jacksonville, but that's an accolade that doesn't count for the basketball hall. Gilmore would take care of that over the next 17 years.
That was not what Jones-Drew wanted to hear. MJD spoke to reporters after joining the team and said, "This is the last talk about the contract situation. We're going to move forward to football after this."
Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout is one of our biggest stories of 2012.
Make Your Choice!
1. Yulee's Derrick Henry chases history
2. Jags "All In" for 2012
3. Florida Gators return to glory
4. Tim Tebow's Choice
5. Navy Marine Corps Classic
6. Daytona to remember
7. Mojo's lost season
8. Blackmon's rookie season
9. Whiff, wait and a local wins at THE PLAYERS
10. Fred Taylor number retired
1. Jags All In
2. Gators success
3. Derrick Henry
4. Jags and Tebow
5. Mojo Holdout
7. Fred Taylor
8. THE PLAYERS
10. Navy Marine Corps Classic
1. Jaguars All In for 2012
2. Derrick Henry
3. Blackmon's rookie season
4. Gators return to glory
5. Garrard released
7. Jaguars and Tebow
8. Fred Taylor joins Pride of Jaguars
9. Navy Marine Corps Classic
10. THE PLAYERS 2012
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