This year’s College Football Hall of Fame election was recently announced with three former Gators on the list, including the legendary Tim Tebow, who made the voting debut. Also notable this time around is defensive tackle Brad Culpepper and running back Errict Rhett, both of whom made a significant impact on the collegiate game during their amateur playing days.
Nine former Gators are currently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, with Steve Spurrier making an appearance as both a player and coach. Among those already included in the hallowed halls are some names that are easily recognizable, while others may be a bit obscure to some fans. Nonetheless, the orange and blue are among the greatest in college football history, dating back nearly a full century.
Below, take a look at the members of the Florida Gators who have earned the highest honor in college football, ranked by the year they were inducted.
1975: E Dale Van Sickel (1927-29)
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Van Sickle was a hometown boy who started at Gainesville High and would earn a spot among the “100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years” of Florida high school football according to the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2007.
He played for the Gators in his late 20s and helped them win 23 games in 29 games in his three years on campus. He was also the captain and college letterman for both the basketball and baseball teams, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975 as “Gator Great.”
1986: QB Steve Spurrier (1964-66)
Courtesy: University of Florida SID
Steve Spurrier has achieved the highest level of legendary status with the Orange and Blue and won a Heisman Trophy while coaching the Gators to their first-ever national championship. He’s actually earned two Hall of Fame entries, the first coming in honor of his on-field accomplishments.
During his three years on the Gainesville gridiron, Spurrier completed 56.6% of his passing attempts for 4,848 yards and 36 touchdowns against 31 interceptions. His induction was the first in the modern era of Florida football and he is also included in the Gators’ Ring of Honor.
1992: DE Jack Youngblood (1968-70)
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Jack Youngblood is a name that has transcended his Florida roots thanks to a Hall of Famer career in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams as well as a successful broadcasting career. But before he found fame in the ranks of the pros, he came to Gainesville as a skinny man from Jacksonville, Fla. and left a beefy man thanks to hard work in the weight room. Interestingly, he was also part of the test cohort for the development of Gatorade.
Youngblood is considered one of the top five greatest football players of all time for the Gators, and set the bar high for future standout defensive ends like Trace Armstrong, who told Gators Wire that the All-American was among his all-time top UF alumni.
2006: RB Emmitt Smith (1987-89)
Allen Dean Steele/Allsport
Emmitt Smith is the second Pro Football Hall of Famer on this list thanks to his brilliant run with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. But he earned his honor in the collegiate ranks for his bloody running style on the brutal turf the team then had for 3,928 yards on 700 carries for 36 rushing touchdowns; He also caught 56 passes for 463 yards and a score.
The Pensacola, Fla. running back finished ninth and seventh in the Heisman vote in 1987 and ’89, respectively. Smith was drafted by the Cowboys with the 17th pick in the 1990 NFL draft after his sophomore year and will be placed in Florida’s ring of honor.
2008: LB Wilber Marshall (1980-83)
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Wilbur Marshall was an absolute beast in the Gators’ linebacker corps in the early 1980s. He came to Gainesville and played as a freshman tight end before moving to outside linebacker, where he absolutely thrived for head coach Charlie Pell’s teams. In addition to many awards from his student days, he was inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great” and into the ring of honor.
The Chicago Bears picked him up 11th overall in 1984 and won his Super Bowl in 1985 with his first professional franchise. Marshall earned another ring with the Washington team in 1991, thanks in large part to his monstrous efforts during the playoffs.
2011: WR Carlos Alvarez (1969-71)
Foster Marshall, Jr./Florida Times-Union
Carlos Alvarez is a name largely unknown to the newer generation of Gator fans, but the wide receiver played a big role with teams transitioning from the 1960s into the ’70s. Born in Cuba, he was brought to Florida in 1960 as a 10-year-old, eventually earning an athletic scholarship to the state’s flagship university.
Alvarez was a consensus All-American wide receiver for the Gators during his enrollment and held the career receiving record before Andre Caldwell broke it in 2007. Still, he ranks second in UF history for yards gained in a single season — which remains the third-highest in SEC history — and for a single game overall. He was selected by the Cowboys in the 15th round of the 1972 NFL draft despite lingering knee injuries, but never signed a pro contract.
2013: QB Danny Wuerffel (1993-96)
AP Photo/Steve Coleman
Danny Wuerffel was the heart of the 1996 national championship team. His efforts that season helped give Florida its first major trophy while hauling in some serious hardware of his own, earning the second Heisman trophy in school history, among many other accolades .
Wuerffel, another great gator hailing from Pensacola, finished his college career with 708 of 1,170 passes for 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns — the best in SEC history and the second-highest in top-flight college football history. He is also a member of the “Gator Greats” as well as the Ring of Honor in Florida.
2015: WR Wes Chandler (1974-77)
Another name less familiar to younger Alligators is Wes Chandler, who, like Alvarez, was a prolific pass catcher during his time at the Orange and Blue. A native of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, he played under Doug Dickey in the mid-1970s and was a first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American in 1976 and 1977 respectively.
Chandler, inducted into the Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as “Gator Great,” is considered by many to be one of the finest all-around football players to grace the swamp. The New Orleans Saints were impressed enough to pick him up with a third overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, where he played and transitioned for three seasons before being traded to the San Diego Chargers, where he spent the best years of his pro career.
2017: Steve Spurrier (coach)
Spurrier’s second appearance on this list is credited to his stellar coaching career, which has seen him transform Florida from a regional player into an enduring national powerhouse on the griddle. While the head ball coach benefited from the table in front of him during Galen Hall’s tenure, the Gator great took the ball and ran it all the way to a national title.
After Florida, Spurrier failed to return to college football’s promised land, but was still able to transform a fledgling South Carolina Gamecocks program into a force to be reckoned with. His 11 years at Columbia almost equals his 12 years at Gainesville, and combined both terms were worthy of the honor. His three seasons with Duke before returning to Florida were also not to be scoffed at.
2020: OL Lomas Braun (1981-84)
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Last but not least (until Tebow is picked up) is offensive lineman Lomas Brown, who anchored the “Great Wall of Florida” with the team during his tenure. His efforts allowed quarterback Kerwin Bell, as well as future NFL running backs Neal Anderson and Lohn L. Williams, to trample the opposition en route to a 9-1-1 record in 1984, resulting in Florida’s first SEC title with a 5-0-1 led record.
Of course, that title would later be vacated under NCAA sanctions.
Another “Gator Great” inducted into the Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, Brown was drafted sixth overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1985 NFL Draft, where he spent 11 dominant seasons on the Lions line to draft for the Hall of Fame to run back Barry Sanders.
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