Florida Football: The All-Time Dream Team

Nick de la TorreCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2012

Florida Football: The All-Time Dream Team

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    Every four years, the current USA Olympic basketball team gets compared to the 1992 "Dream Team."

    This year was no different. With the likes of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, the 2012 "Dream Team" won a gold medal. But the debate still rages on whether they could compare to the 1992 Olympic squad. 

    All of this "Dream Team" talk got us thinking: What would a Florida Gators football dream team look like?

    With more than 100 years of football tradition, the Gators have had All-Americans, Heisman winners and Hall of Famers come through the university. 

    Let's hop in our DeLorean, go back in time to find the best players at every position, and assemble the Gators "Dream Team."

Quarterback

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    Starter: Tim Tebow

    Tim Tebow is not only the best quarterback in school history, he is arguably the best player to ever wear the orange and blue. 

    His accolades include 2007 Heisman winner, two-time National Champion, first- and second-team All-American, two-time Maxwell award winner and SEC player of the year. 

     

    Backup: Danny Wuerffel

    Wuerffel was the Gators' second Heisman winner and quarterback of the first Gator team to win a National Championship. 

Running Back

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    Starter: Emmitt Smith

    Emmitt Smith is the most prolific runner in NFL history but is second on the list at Florida. In just three years at Florida, Smith ran for 3,928 yards and scored 36 touchdowns. At the end of his career at Florida, Smith owned 58 school records. 

    Smith showed his potential early. In his very first game as a starter, he carried the ball 39 times for 224 yards, breaking a 40-year record for rushing yards in a game. 

     

    Backup: Errict Rhett

    Smith doesn't hold the career rushing record at Florida because of Errict Rhett. Rhett had a very productive four-year career at Florida. He was named the MVP of the 1994 Sugar Bowl and was a first-team All-American in 1993. 

Offensive Line

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    Starter: Lomas Brown

    Brown started 34 games for the Gators all at left tackle. During his time at Florida, Brown was named to both the SEC and All-American first teams and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. Brown was the best lineman of a vaunted Gator offensive line dubbed the "Great Wall of Florida." 

     

    Backup: David Williams

    Williams started every single game of his four-year career and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. 

Offensive Line

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    Starter: Mike Degory

    Degory was an iron man. The lineman started 50 consecutive games, which is tied for a school record. Degory was named a team captain twice and was an All-American in 2005.

     

    Backup: Burton Lawless 

    Lawless was an All-SEC player in 1973 and 1974 and a first-team All-American in 1974. 

Offensive Line

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    Starter: Maurkice Pouncey 

    Maurkice Pouncey got off to a good start at Florida. He started 11 games as a freshman at right guard before moving to center and started his next 28 games there. Pouncey was the anchor to an offensive line that had the most prolific rushing offense in the SEC during his time in school. 

    Pouncey was the first, and only, player in school history to win the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the "most outstanding center in college football."

     

    Backup: Donnie Young

    Young was an All-SEC offensive guard and blocked for our "Dream Team" backup quarterback in the 1996 National Championship season. 

Offensive Line

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    Starter: Jeff Zimmerman

    Zimmerman is our second starting lineman who was part of the "Great Wall of Florida." He played guard while at Florida and was a two-time first-team All-American.

    The offensive line in the mid '80s is considered the best line in Gator history, so why not take a couple of those starters for our team?

     

    Backup: Jeff Mitchell 

    Jeff Mitchell was the starting center for Danny Wuerffel and the 1996 National Championship team. Mitchell was a three-year starter, and the team won a SEC championship all four years he was on campus. 

Offensive Line

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    Starter: Jason Odom

    Odom was the anchor of a Gators offensive line that won three SEC Championships and played in the schools first-ever National Championship game in 1995. Odom started at tackle for four seasons and was named captain as a senior. 

    During his career, Odom became one of the most decorated linemen in Florida history. He was first-team All-SEC in 1994-'95, unanimously selected as a first-team All-American in 1994-'95 and was the recipient of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in back-to-back seasons. 

     

    Backup: David Williams

    Williams started every game of his four-year career as a Gator. He was a two-time second-team All-American and was named a first-team All-SEC player in 1988.


Tight End

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    Starter: Aaron Hernandez

    Aaron Hernandez was not only Tim Tebow's safety net while they were both at Florida, but he became the best tight end in school history. 

    Hernandez ended his career with 111 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the first Gator and first SEC tight end to win the John Mackey Award. His 68 receptions for 850 yards in 2009 is the best season a Gator tight end has ever had. 

     

    Backup: Jim Yarbrough 

    Yarbrough finished his career with 51 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Yarbrough is recognized as a "Gator Great" and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Wide Receiver X

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    Starter: Wes Chandler

    Chandler played in Doug Dickey's run-first offense but is still one of the most prolific receivers in school history. Chandler led the Gators in receiving three straight seasons and was a two-time All-American. Chandler finished his career with 92 receptions for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns. 

     

    Backup: Ike Hilliard 

    Hilliard's claim to fame was his three-touchdown performance in the 1996 National Championship game. He finished his career with an impressive 2,214 total yards and 29 touchdowns. Hilliard was named a "Gator Great" in 2009. 

Wide Receiver Z

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    Starter: Carlos Alvarez 

    The "Cuban Comet" broke just about every school receiving record possible. At the end of his career, Alvarez held the record for career, season and game reception totals. Alvarez averaged 133 receiving yards a game, a number that, at the time, no SEC receiver had ever reached. 

     

    Backup: Chris Doering

    Doering was a walk-on who ended up catching 149 passes for more than 2,000 yards. Benefiting from Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun offense, Doering made his mark when he caught the game-winning touchdown against Kentucky in 1993. 

Wide Receiver Y

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    Starter: Percy Harvin

    Harvin did it all for the Gators. He played running back, receiver, wildcat quarterback and returned punts and kicks. For his career, Harvin rushed the ball 194 times for 1,852 yards and 19 touchdowns while catching 133 passes for 1,929 yards and 13 more scores. 

    Harvin was a threat to score whenever the ball was in his hands, and he makes our Dream Team as the slot receiver. 

     

    Backup: Cris Collinsworth

    Having Cris Collinsworth on the bench is similar to the embarrassment of riches that the Olympic Dream Team has on their bench. 

    He was a three-time first-team All-SEC player and a first-team All-American in 1980. 

Defensive End

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    Starter: Jack Youngblood

    Jack Youngblood is a member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. 

    Youngblood is the best defensive lineman in school history and one of the top-five best players in Gator history as well. 

     

    Backup: Dale Van Sickel

    Pushing our DeLorean to the limit, we go all the way back to the Roaring '20s to find our backup to Youngblood. Van Sickel was the first Gator to be named a first-team All-American and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 

Defensive End

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    Starter: Alex Brown

    Alex Brown was a three-year starter at defensive end. He started his career at linebacker and backed up All-American Jevon Kearse. 

    Brown was, and is, one of the most prolific pass rushers in school history. He finished his career with 161 tackles, 47 of those for a loss, and holds the school record for career sacks with 33. 

    Brown was a first-team All-American in 1999 and 2001 and a second-team All-American in 2000. He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. 

     

    Backup: Kevin Carter

    Carter was an All-American as a senior in 1994. He finished his career with 42.5 tackles and 21.5 sacks. He was recognized as a "Gator Great" in 2004. 

Defensive Tackle

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    Starter: Brad Culpepper 

    Culpepper was a consensus first-team All-American in 1991. He was a dominating force along the defensive line that season and throughout his career.

    He was as strong off of the field as he was on it and won the Draddy Trophy (renamed the William V. Campbell trophy) which is given to the player who has the "best academics, community service and athletic performance."

    Culpepper finished his career with 47 tackles for a loss and 18 sacks. He was named a "Gator Great" in 2001. 

    Backup: Charlie LaPradd

    LaPradd was a walk-on turned All-American in the '50s. LaPradd was the second Gator to earn the distinction. 

Defensive Tackle

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    Starter: Ellis Johnson

    Ellis Johnson was a run-stuffing defensive tackle who could also pressure the quarterback. Johnson grew up near Gainesville, and it was his childhood dream to wear orange and blue. He ended his career with 16.5 quarterback sacks and 26.8 tackles for loss. 

     

    Backup: David Galloway

    As a senior in 1981, Galloway was recognized as a first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American player. 

Linebacker

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    Starter: Jevon Kearse 

    Given the nickname "The Freak," Jevon Kearse did a little bit of everything for the Gators. He finished his career with 145 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, one interception and 19 pass breakups. 

    Kearse is one of the best linebackers to ever play at Florida, and he enjoyed continued success in the NFL. 

     

    Backup: Channing Crowder

    Crowder was a first-team All-American in 2004 and was first-team All-SEC in 2003 and '04. In two years as a starter, Crowder finished with 179 tackles, 13.5 for a loss, four sacks and an interception. 

Linebacker

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    Starter: Wilber Marshall 

    Marshall is one of the only players in SEC history to be named to three consecutive All-SEC teams. Marshall was also named "Gator Defensive Player of the Century" by the Gainesville Sun. Marshall's name is in the Florida ring of honor, the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. 

     

    Backup: Scot Brantley

    Brantley totaled 467 career tackles, which places him second on the all-time list. He was first-team All-SEC in 1977 and '78. 

Linebacker

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    Starter: Brandon Spikes

    Brandon Spikes is the most decorated linebacker in school history. Aside from being a two-time SEC and National Champion, Spikes was named to three consecutive All-SEC teams and two consecutive All-American teams. 

    Spikes finished his career with 307 tackles, 31.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, forced two fumbles while recovering four and had six interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. 

     

    Backup: Alonzo Johnson

    Johnson was on back to back All-SEC teams and All-American teams in 1984 and '85. He finished his career with 335 tackles, 55 for a loss, and 27 sacks. 

Cornerback

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    Starter: Lito Sheppard 

    Sheppard was a two-time All-American, two-time All-SEC and won an SEC championship. In just 22 starts, Sheppard recorded 87 tackles, eight interceptions and forced three fumbles. Sheppard excelled as a punt returner where he averaged 22.5 yards per return and returned two punts for touchdowns. 

     

    Backup: Fred Weary 

    Weary finished his career with 15 interceptions. He was a first-team All-SEC player in 1996 and '97, a first-team All-American in 1996 and was a member of the 1996 National Champion team. 

Cornerback

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    Starter: Joe Haden

    Joe Haden became the first true freshman to start on opening day in Florida history. While that is impressive in its own right, it is made more impressive when you find out that Haden wasn't recruited as a cornerback. Haden played quarterback in high school and tried out at receiver before landing at corner. 

    Haden was an All-American, All-SEC and a Jim Thorpe Award finalist. Haden started all 40 games during his time at Florida and finished his career with 218 tackles, 34 pass breakups, eight interceptions and 3.5 sacks. 

     

    Backup: Keiwan Ratliff

    Ratliff was a jack-of-all-trades player. He played on offense, defense and special teams, returning kicks and punts. His claim to fame was being the only Division I football player to both catch a touchdown and return an interception for a score in the same game. 

Safety

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    Starter: Lawrence Wright 

    Lawrence Wright was a two-time first-team All-SEC player and a second-team All-American in 1996. Wright was a member of four SEC Champion teams and the starting safety, team leader and captain of the 1996 National Championship team. 

    Wright also won the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the top defensive back in the country each year, in 1996. He remains the only Gators defensive back to be a recipient of the award. 

     

    Backup: Ahmad Black

    At just 5'9'' 180 pounds, Urban Meyer thought he had made a mistake offering Black a scholarship. Not only did Black prove he was worth the scholarship, but he became one of the best safeties in Gator history.

    Black's biggest play came in the 2008 BCS National Championship game when he intercepted Sam Bradford, leading to the Gators final score. Black had a nose for the ball and the big play; his final play as a Gator was an interception which he returned 80 yards for the game-clinching score in the Outback Bowl. 

    Black finished his career with 244 tackles, 13 interceptions and 15 pass breakups. 

Safety

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    Starter: Reggie Nelson

    Reggie Nelson came to Florida as a JUCO transfer and left a year early. So how does he make this list?

    Because he was "The Eraser." Rumor has it that water covers 75 percent of the Earth's surface, and Reggie Nelson covers the rest. Nelson was a ball hawk at safety who was just as likely to take your head off as he was to intercept a pass. 

    Nelson was named a first-team All-American and was first-team All-SEC in 2006. 

     

    Backup: Louis Oliver

    Oliver was the first in a long line of great Florida safeties. He paved the way for the other players on this list and is more than deserving of being named to the Florida Gator "All-Time Dream Team."

     

    Let me know in the comments section below if you think that I missed anyone and whom you would have that person replace on the team.