Steve Spurrier Raised the Level of Play at Florida
With two BCS national championships this decade, it truly has been (as the saying goes) "great to be a Florida Gator."
No doubt one of the most major components of title-winning teams are great players. And UF has had its share.
Since 2000, 59 Gators have been selected in the annual NFL Draft, including 12 in the first round. That followed up a run from 1997-99 that saw WR Ike Hilliard, WR Reidel Anthony, RB Fred Taylor, OT Mo Collins, OLB/DE Jevon Kearse and DT Reggie McGrew all taken among the top 32 selections.
The man pictured on this page, Steve Spurrier, not only coached many draft picks while at Florida, the former Gator quarterback also was a first-round selection of the San Francisco 49ers (third overall) in 1967.
Former Gator Travis Taylor scores a touchdown for Minnesota against the team that drafted him, Baltimore.
The Baltimore Ravens took Gators wide receiver Travis Taylor with the 10th overall selection of the 2000 NFL Draft.
He played nine seasons in the NFL, spending time on the rosters of the Ravens (2000-04), the Minnesota Vikings (2005-06), Oakland Raiders (2007), St. Louis Rams (2007), Carolina Panthers (2007) and Detroit Lions (2008).
The 6'1", 210-pounder finished his career with 312 receptions for 4,017 yards and 32 touchdowns. All but one 4-yard catch of Taylor's production came while he was with the Ravens and Vikings.
No Gator has been drafted as high as Warren (third) since WR Wes Chandler in 1978.
Nicknamed "Big Money" at Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County High School by his defensive line coach Steve Hoard, Gerard Warren lived up to his moniker when he earned a big paycheck for being selected third overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2001.
Still active in the league, Warren has played for the Browns (2001-04), the Denver Broncos (2005-06), the Oakland Raiders (2007-09) and played in all 16 games, starting 10, for the New England Patriots in 2010.
At 6'4", 330 pounds, Warren has recorded 323 tackles (242 solo), 35.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and a safety. His best season came when he was a rookie with the Browns. There, he finished with a career-high 61 tackles, five sacks and three pass-breakups.
Kenyatta Walker was the second Gator drafted in the first round in 2001.
A starter in 73 of the 75 games he played in an NFL career that spanned from 2001-07, Walker is the only Gators offensive tackle to be selected in the first round since Mo Collins in 1998.
The 6'5", 302-pounder was taken 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2001, and that is where Walker spent all six of his seasons in the league.
Former Gator Lito Sheppard has been a two-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro selection.
Taken seven picks ahead of his former Gators and Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines High School teammate Jabar Gaffney, cornerback Lito Sheppard was selected 26th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002.
He spent his first seven seasons in Philadelphia before playing for the New York Jets in 2009 and the Minnesota Vikings in 2010.
Sheppard has 302 career tackles (263 solo), 66 passes broken up, 19 interceptions, three forced fumbles and three touchdowns. Between 2003 and 2006, Sheppard broke up 45 passes and intercepted 15 others for the Eagles.
Rex Grossman started 31 games in six seasons (including a Super Bowl) for the Chicago Bears.
Taken 22nd overall by the Chicago Bears in 2003, strong-armed Rex Grossman has had an up and down NFL career.
The 6'1", 236-pound former Gator has completed 598 of 1,104 passes (.542 completion percentage) for 7,081 yards with 40 touchdowns and 40 interceptions while playing for Chicago (2003-08), the Houston Texans (2009) and the Washington Redskins (2010). He also has a career quarterback rating of 70.9 and has been sacked 67 times.
Grossman's best year came in 2006, when he led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI. There, in a 13-3 regular season, the Indiana native completed 262-of-480 passes (.546) for 3,193 yards with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 73.9.
Jarvis Moss brings down then-Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in the BCS title game on Jan. 8, 2007.
Selected 17th overall by the Denver Broncos in 2007, Jarvis Moss has had a relatively disappointing four seasons (three-and-a-half in Denver, five games with the Oakland Raiders) in the NFL.
The 6'7", 257-pound DE/OLB has totalled 32 tackles (23 solo), 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble with his best year coming in 2008, when he finished with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks while making 12 starts for the Broncos.
A one-time Thorpe-Award-winner, Reggie Nelson is one of the best safeties in Gator history.
After three somewhat rocky seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him 21st overall in 2007, Reggie Nelson was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals, where he started six games in 2010.
In all, the 5'11", 206-pounder has 241 tackles (204 solo), 27 pass break-ups, nine interceptions and three forced fumbles in his career. His best season came when he started 15 games, recorded 63 tackles (58 solo), 11 passes defensed, five interceptions and a forced fumble as a rookie in 2007.
Derrick Harvey recorded three sacks en route to being named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Jan. 8, 2007 BCS championship game.
Drafted eighth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, Derrick Harvey hasn't been the pass-rushing force the Jags hoped he would be.
In three seasons, the 6'5", 268-pound defensive end has started in 32 of the 47 games he has played, recording 88 tackles (70 solo), eight sacks, five pass break-ups and one interception.
Harvey's best year came in 2009, when he had 57 tackles, three times as many as his second-best tackle season of 19 in 2008. Oddly, 2009 was Harvey's least-productive on the sack front, as he had a career-low two that year.
One of the most dymanic players in Gator history, Percy Harvin has been a standout for the Minnesota Vikings.
Despite battling often-debilitating migraine headaches, Percy Harvin has been a force for the Minnesota Vikings since being selected 22nd overall in 2009.
In two seasons Harvin has 131 receptions for 1,658 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has carried 33 times for 242 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, Harvin has averaged 25.5 yards and has three touchdowns on 82 kickoff returns.
Taken seventh in 2010, Joe Haden was the highest-drafted UF cornerback ever.
When he first stepped onto the University of Florida campus, Joe Haden was a prep quarterback who hadn't played much cornerback in organized ball.
Three years later, he was taken seventh overall by the Cleveland Browns and got better and better as his rookie campaign went along.
In his first season in the NFL, the 5'11", 193-pound Haden started seven games, recording 64 tackles (57 solo), six interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. He also averaged 24 yards on four kick returns.
At one point in his first year, Haden grabbed interceptions in four straight games. During that run he recorded six tackles (five solo), four pass break-ups and an interception in a 13-10 victory at Miami on Dec. 5.
Maurkice Pouncey was a hit in Pittsburgh as a rookie.
Selected 18th overall by Pittsburgh in last April's NFL Draft, Maurkice Pouncey looks like he could be the next in a long line of great Steelers' centers that includes Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson.
The 6'4", 304-pound Pouncey was so dominant he earned a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie. However, his season ended on a downer, as an ankle injury forced him to miss Pittsburgh's 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Maurkice's twin brother, Mike, a center/guard, is projected as a first-round selection in the 2011 draft.
Florida's third Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow was a first-round pick for Denver in 2010.
Quite possibly the most beloved player in UF's football history, quarterback Tim Tebow was selected 25th overall by the Denver Broncos in 2010.
A two-time BCS national champion and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, the 6'3", 245-pound Tebow played in nine games, starting the final three in place of Kyle Orton, as a rookie.
He completed 41-of-82 passes (.500) for 654 yards with five touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 82.1. Tebow also carried 43 times for 227 yards (5.3 ypc) with six touchdowns and just one fumble.
Last Saturday at Florida's "Orange & Blue Debut" Spring Game, statues of UF's three Heisman winners—Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tebow—were unveiled.