How Rex Grossman Saved The Gators

Sam LContributor IIJuly 21, 2010

SEATTLE - AUGUST 16:  Quarterback Rex Grossman #8 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 16, 2008 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 29-26. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The year is 1999. Rex Grossman has opted to attend the University of Florida to be coached by Steve Spurrier, over the University of Indiana—his father's and grandfather's Alma Mater. Now lets fast forward to the 2000-2001 college football season. Grossman had been redshirted his freshman year and has now taken the role of third string QB on the Gators.

When starter Jesse Palmer went down midseason, Grossman, over second-stringer Brock Berlin, got the starting job against Georgia. He played very poorly and was subsequently benched, in game, for Berlin. The very next game however, King Rex threw for 334 yards and two TDs and had secured the starting role for the next two and a half years. He led the Gators to a 10-2 record in 2001 and finished second in the Heisman voting by one of the closest margins in Heisman history (a mere 62 votes) to Eric Crouch. He would've beaten Tim Tebow to becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman. The Gators went on to roll over Maryland in the Orange Bowl and Grossman won AP National Player of the Year.

In his junior year, the Gators cooled off and lost their second game of the year to the Miami Hurricanes, who were lead by former UF quarterback, "Benedict" Brock Berlin. Currently under the reign of terror that was Ron Zook, the Gators lost in the Outback Bowl to Michigan.

Then the most important early departure in UF history happened. The SEC's third all time most efficient passer was going pro. He opted to leave Zook and the Gators and was taken 22nd overall by the Chicago Bears, who he would lead to a Super Bowl loss in 2006.

Chris Leak commits to UF and takes over the Gators in 2003 as a true freshman. He would go on to become the only Gator QB ever to start all four years of his career beginning as a true freshman. Leak made the SEC All Freshman team in 2003. As a sophomore in Zook's final year, the team struggled and Leak was rumored to transfer to Toledo. Then coach Urban Meyer came in, introducing his spread offense to Leak, who became very successful in that system. In 2005, Leak started hot and was considered a Heisman candidate but began to stumble. The team finished Outback Bowl winners over Iowa.

Then the most critical recruit in UF history happened. Tim Tebow opted to attend the University of Florida over the University of Alabama. Leak led the Gators, with the help of Tebow on short yardage situations, to the 2006 National Championship in a 41-14 thrashing of the Ohio State Buckeyes where Leak, in his final game as a Gator, was named MVP.

Tebow took over the reigns of the Gators in 2007, and in a record-breaking, Heisman winning season led the Gators to a Capital One Bowl loss to Michigan. Then Tebow did it again and, while finishing third in the Heisman race but receiving the most first-place votes, won the National Championship for the Gators. He was rumored to be leaving for the NFL but announced his intentions to stay at UF for 2009. They went 12-0 before losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and whipping Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Tebow would then go on to be drafted by the Broncos 25th overall in the NFL Draft.

Now John Brantley gets to dominate the SEC, and his future looks extremely bright!

So how does this involve Rex Grossman?

Let me explain. Grossman left UF in 2003 for the pros and it appeared as though Ingle Martin would take over at QB but he transferred to Furman, making way for Chris Leak to start all four years at QB for the Gators. If Grossman had returned for his senior year then Martin might have stuck around and taken over in 2004 or he could have left and forced Leak not to redshirt and leave him with one less year of experience. If Martin had still left, then Leak would've redshirted, played until the 2007 season forcing Tim Tebow to go somewhere else. Alabama would've gotten the best College Football player ever all thanks to Grossman passing up NFL riches for one more college year.

So in short,

Thank You King Rex. Thank You!


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