Congratulations To Florida Gator, Emmitt Smith

Jim FolsomContributorAugust 7, 2010

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 7: Emmitt Smith and presenter Jerry Jones unveil Smith's bust during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August 7, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Emmitt Smith is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the first man that I have seen in my lifetime put on the Orange and Blue and then end up in Canton Ohio.

I can remember the first time I saw him in a Gator uniform. He shredded Alabama. He left defenders grasping at air. He bounced off them like a pinball. He led Florida to a rare feat. A win over the Mighty Tide in Tuscaloosa. Only once in Beat Bryant's storied career had an SEC opponent won in Tuscaloosa.  That was also the Florida Gators. This was their second win there. Ever.

In three years, Emmitt Smith left defenders in his wake. He was not blazing fast. But he was NEVER caught from behind. His 96 yard TD run against Mississippi State is still the greatest run in Florida Gator history. Had it not been for some injuries and the fact that Steve Spurrier came in to coach Florida in what would have been his senior year, who knows what his numbers at UF might have been?

Spurrier informed him that the "Fun n Gun" was coming and that running the ball was not going to be a priority. So Emmittt left for the draft. Again he was doubted. Passed up by 16 teams, including the Cowboys, he was then snatched at pick #17 when Dallas traded up to get him.

From there he went on to become the All Time NFL Rushing Leader, surprising absolutely nobody watched him play for the Gators. Emmitt played on some mediocre teams at Florida. And that is too bad.

Errict Rhett went on to take his place at Florida and had a great college career. He was well on his way to greatness in the NFL until he got some very bad advice from his agent. But Rhett was proof that Emmitt could have thrived in a Spurrier offense. It's a shame that those two could not get together. It could have been special.

Here's my question to Emmitt Smith. Could you not have at least mentioned your college once in your induction speech? It was a great speech, don't get me wrong. But there are a lot of people in the Gator Nation who are not Dallas Cowboy fans, but are Emmitt Smith fans. You left us out.

However, we congratulate you Emmitt Smith, for you are one of the greatest to ever wear the Orange and Blue.