2013 Football Recruiting Report: Kelvin Taylor – Running Back – Belle Glade, FL

He’s the recruit everyone had their eye on, for a while now. Being the son of a former Florida Gators’ great is one thing; breaking the career state rushing record of another is one more. There are many things that turned Kelvin Taylor into one of the nation’s most sought after running backs; his connections to Fred Taylor and Emmitt Smith are just a couple. The 2013 RB more than lives up to the comparisons and the hype and on February 18, he made Gator Nation extremely happy.

The Rundown

Name: Kelvin Taylor
Position: Running Back
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 215
Hometown: Belle Glade, FL
High School: Glades Day
Class: 2013
Rankings: 247Sports – 5 stars, No. 1 RB, No. 13 Overall | ESPN – 4 stars, No. 1 RB, No. 21 Overall | Scout – 4 stars, No. 9 RB, No. 58 Overall | Rivals – 4 stars, No. 9 RB, No. 92 Overall
Status: Committed to Florida

The Report

It came down to two schools for Taylor: Florida – where his father played – and Alabama – the defending national champions and the program that recently produced Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. A tough decision for Taylor seemed like a no-brainer for Gators’ fans. The decision came early when Taylor committed to Florida, and although there’s plenty of time for him to change his mind, not many see that happening.

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Blogging The Past: Steve Spurrier Named Gators Head Coach

The first entry in our Blogging The Past series where we imagine what it would have been like to cover important moments in Gators history as a fan and blogger before the latter was popular or even existed. These are written as if they just occurred. Imagine we know nothing of what the future would bring. This particular entry would have occurred on December 31, 1989.

The superstar has come home. On Sunday, Florida named former Gators star Steve Spurrier the next head coach. Spurrier comes to Florida from Duke where he went 20-13-1 in three seasons and was twice named the ACC Coach of the Year. Prior to leading the Blue Devils to a level of respectability, Spurrier was the only coach the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits ever knew. In three years with the Bandits, Spurrier went 35-19 while making the playoffs twice. All told, Spurrier brings a head coaching record of 55-32-1 (he also went 0-2 in the USFL playoffs) and only one losing season (5-6 during 1987 – his first year at Duke) to Gainesville.
We all know about Spurrier the football player. Spurrier was a three-time All-SEC selection making two first teams and two-time All-American including being a unanimous selection in 1966. He finished ninth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1965 and became the first, and to this day only, Gators player to take home the honor in 1966. He was a record-setter while at Florida and led the Gators to an Orange Bowl victory to close out his college career.
After Florida, Spurrier was selected third overall in the 1967 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He was a backup for most of his nine seasons with the Niners before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he would spend one season before ending his NFL playing career.
With his playing days at an end, Spurrier went on to be an assistant coach at the collegiate level for five seasons before becoming the youngest head coach in professional football with the Bandits in 1983. Prior to the USFL, Spurrier spent one year each at Florida and Georgia Tech coaching quarterbacks and three years as Duke’s offensive coordinator. He then began his head coaching journey which ultimately led to his hiring at Florida.
So what should we as fans expect from Spurrier and the new-look Gators? Well, the one-word answer is offense. An offensive minded coach, Spurrier should bring fireworks to Florida.
In 1985, Bandits quarterback John Reaves (yes, that John Reaves – another former Gators passer) was second in the USFL in passing yards, attempts, and completions and fourth in touchdown passes. Unfortunately, Reaves league-leading 29 interceptions pushed him far down the list of league leaders in efficiency rating. The prior season, Reaves also finished second in yards, attempts, completions, and touchdowns, and had much less of an interception problem (16).
Things at Duke were just as impressive. Anthony Dilweg was the ACC Player of the Year in 1988 while passing for 3,824 yards. In 1989, Dave Brown set a Blue Devils record with 479 passing yards against UNC and he would also pass for 444 against Wake Forest. All told, Spurrier’s Duke teams passed for an average of 3,621 yards per season. By comparison, the Blue Devils highest passing yardage total before Spurrier’s arrival was 3,349 yards in 1982 and they had only gone over 3,000 twice in the program’s history.
In the SEC, things will be different for Spurrier. Last season, Clemson – the ACC’s best team according to the final polls – finished 12th and 11th. By contrast, the SEC produced three teams that finished in the top nine of the AP poll and top seven of the coaches poll. With Alabama, Auburn, and Tennessee all coming off of seasons in which they went 6-1 in the conference and won at least 10 games each overall, things could be tough for Spurrier and the Gators. Having to face all three of those teams AND travel to Tallahassee to face FSU at the end of the regular season will not be easy. Spurrier inherits a program that is being investigated by the NCAA, which will not make the path any smoother for the new head coach, but athletic director Bill Arnsparger seems to think Florida is headed in the right direction.
Add Emmitt Smith to an amped-up passing game and we could be watching one of the more exciting offenses in college football in 1990. That is assuming of course that Smith returns, which will be on everyone’s mind. With rumors the NFL could soon officially allow any junior to enter the draft (they have allowed numerous exceptions in the past, so this may not be breaking news), Smith may bolt and we may see the offense take a serious step back as it adjusts to Spurrier’s system.
Whatever happens with the offense, a change should be welcome. The Gators lost at least five games in each of the past four seasons and was 1-3 against each Auburn, FSU, and Georgia during that time. It is time for Florida to stop being an average football program and Spurrier might be the right head coach to take them to the next level.

Tim Tebow Writes A Book, Other Gators Consider Titles

Tim Tebow’s book will officially be released on May 31. Through My Eyes is called an inspirational memoir of the former Florida superstar. It is about his life and how his family and values made him into the man he has become. Whether you agree with his faith or you do not, this should be an interesting read for Gators fans and non-fans alike.

What stands out at the moment (since the book has not actually been released) is the title. Through My Eyes is highly appropriate for the fact that this is a collection of stories from Tebow’s point of view and not something told by someone else. And, of course, the eye black. It makes one think. What exactly would other Gators title their books? There is Urban’s Way, although we may no longer be sure what that way might be. The Emmitt Zone, which is a little basic, but sometimes basic works. And Blood, which seems appropriate even if it may turn some off. But what about the others? One Eyed Willy and I have some ideas; feel free to add your own.
They Don’t Have Anything On Us – Erik Murphy
Tee’s Nightmare – Alex Brown
Mirror Image – Maurkice and Mike Pouncey with Jermaine and Tremaine McCollum
Cock Block – Jarvis Moss
Building the Perfect Sandwich – Jermaine Cunningham
Just Give Me the Damn Ball!Keyshawn Johnson Jarred Fayson
Bet On Me – Teddy Dupay
I Play Soccer Too – Heather Mitts
A Guide to Amateur Video – Brandon Spikes
Thank You, Jeremy Foley – Ron Zook
Zen and the Art of Scooter Maintenance – Jabar Gaffney
Keg Beers of 2004 – Taurean Charles
THREE! – Lee Humphrey
Going Greek – Nick Calathes
Punt, Pass, and Catch (?) – Ingle Martin
Sweet and SOUR! – Will Hill
It’s Friday, I Ain’t Got No Job, and I Ain’t Got ____ To Do – Janoris Jenkins
The Art of Identify Theft – Jamar Hornsby
Breaking Down the Dive Play – Steve Adazzio
Overrated – Written by John Brantley and illustrated by Will Hill
If You Ain’t a Gator, You Must be Gator Bait – Lawrence Wright
Who You Callin’ Short? – David Eckstein
Getting the Record – John Reaves
The Perfect Pair of Flip Flops for Any Occasion – Billy Donovan
One Great Play – Torrey Davis

Morning Reading: Football is Back

Enjoy the day knowing that football season has finally returned.  All is right with the world and there are actual games being played.  Sure, games that don’t count, but games all the same.  A game of any kind is better than nothing.  So stop pretending you’re actually following baseball.  Stop believing you actually care what happens during the NBA offseason.  Football is back.  You have something to do for the next few months.

• Football returned with a thrilling matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.  For three breath-taking quarters we saw one field goal scored in each before scoring blew up in the final frame with each team scoring an entire touchdown.  The Cowboys would hold on to win it in a game that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Okay, that’s enough of that.  It’s the preseason and the preseason is tough to watch even for the most diehard of fans.  The players you know are typically out by halftime and you’re left with former college players hanging on to the dream.  Occasionally someone steps up and shows you something, but for the most part, it’s a glorified scrimmage at that point.
The story of the night was the debut of former Cowboy wide receiver Terrell Owens in a Bengals uniform.  Owens finished the night with two catches for 18 yards or two more catches and 18 more yards than either Chad Ochocinco or Andre Caldwell.  Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones led Cincinnati with three catches for 42 yards.  Yes, it’s appropriate to refer to the Bengals as the team of second, third, fourth, and final chances.
It wasn’t pretty and was far from thrilling, but it was football and it’s back.
Denver Broncos sackmaster Elvis Dumervil will learn his fate on Tuesday.  The outside linebacker will undergo surgery which should determine if he will be able to return at all during the 2010 season.  Possible replacement Jarvis Moss also hurt himself, but he could be back after only a few weeks.
Florida fans were up in arms after Emmitt Smith didn’t mention the Gators during his Hall of Fame induction speech.  I have to ask, why?  It may have been nice to hear Smith go off for a few minutes about his school and let us all know how much the orange and blue meant to him.  It would have been great to have him recount a story or two from his days as a Gator.  But again, why be upset that he didn’t?
It was Smith’s moment.  Not the University of Florida’s.  Some mentioned that if Tim Tebow were to one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame that he would be sure to mention the Gators.  Maybe, but he’s not Smith.  And Smith had no obligation to mention anything.
What we saw this weekend was one of the greatest players in Florida history and NFL history inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He could have spent 20 minutes talking and not mentioned the Dallas Cowboys and it may have been odd, but the world still would have turned.  Just like Steve Spurrier didn’t owe it to Smith to ensure him he would be part of the offense when Spurrier came aboard at Florida, Smith didn’t owe it to anyone to have to mention them.  It was his moment and he could say what he wanted to.
During the game last night, Smith apologized and recognized Florida, the Gators, and Urban Meyer.  Most will say that he only did so because of the backlash.  Others won’t care.  You should be among that second group.
As a Florida fan, enjoy the moment.  Be proud that one of your own is now a member of the Hall of Fame.  Far too often we worry about what people say or don’t say.  Smith’s actions on the field as a Gator and beyond are all the words we need.

The Greatest Florida Gators Jersey Numbers

There are a number of “best Florida players at a certain jersey number” lists out there.  I did one a while ago and GatorBait.net is doing a series.  That’s typically the way we look at jersey numbers: who’s the best at each number?  But this time around, One Eyed Willy and I decided to take a different approach: what are the greatest numbers?

We looked at the all-time roster (at least what’s available of it) and each put together a list of our top numbers.  We tried to each have a balance between quality and quantity, but it wasn’t always easy.  Each of us picked what we considered to be the best 15, scored those based on the standard reverse method (1 gets 15 points, 2 gets 14 points, etc.) and from it came this top 10 list.  Enjoy and debate if you must.  I’m sure Gator fans from different eras have very different opinions.
1. #7 (29 pts., 1 first-place vote – Willy) – To many Florida fans, Tebow may have taken the top spot in their hearts, but there’s a collection of us that have Danny Wuerffel slightly higher.  Wuerffel was the Gators second Heisman Trophy recipient, but its first national championship quarterback.  He will always be the first player that comes to mind when you think of the #7 jersey.  John Reaves was a great quarterback in his day as well and Lorenzo Hampton, Jesse Palmer, and Cornelius Ingram also had their moments with the number.  Looking ahead: #7 could strengthen its hold of the top spot if incoming freshman Ronald Powell becomes even half the player he’s expected to be.
2. #1 (28 pts., 1 first-place vote – TBG) – I have a soft spot for both Percy Harvin and Reggie Nelson so they may have swayed my vote, but they aren’t the only players that represented #1 well.  Keiwan Ratliff was one of the nation’s top shutdown cornerbacks throughout his career (he holds the Florida single-season record for interceptions) and Tony George was a feared defensive back.  Don’t forget about Jack Jackson who was the leading receiver and kick returner during two SEC championship seasons.  Looking ahead: Janoris Jenkins has a chance to put his mark on the number with two more years of eligibility.  He already has one good season under his belt with the number, although some may argue his season wearing #29 was his better as a Gator.
3. #22 (26 pts.) – You always have to start the discussion about #22 with Emmitt Smith.  Without him, this number may still make the list, but wouldn’t be considered a top three candidate.  Smith was one of the greatest to ever play at Florida.  Along with Smith, a series of Jacksons wore the number with pride.  Terry Jackson won a national title with the Gators while Willie Jackson Sr. and Willie Jackson Jr. both sported #22.  John L. Williams and Steve Tannen also must be mentioned.  Looking ahead: Matt Elam could give #22 a boost.  A high-rated recruit, Elam has a chance to push the number into the top two with a good career.
T4. #15 (23 pts.) – #15 can thank Tim Tebow for getting the number to the top five.  Without him, it’s highly unlikely it would make the list.  Of course, Tebow’s not the only star to wear the number.  Reidel Anthony was part of three SEC title teams and won a national championship wearing #15.  He also set the SEC receiving touchdowns mark.  Don’t forget about Dee Webb who improved as a cornerback over the course of his career.  Looking ahead: good luck.  It could be a while before Urban Meyer lets someone else touch #15.
T4. #21 (23 pts.)Fred Taylor and Cris Collinsworth are the biggest names to wear #21.  They alone would get the number on the list.  And if we were looking at NFL accomplishments, neither would hurt their cause.  Dexter McNabb and DeShawn Wynn contribute to the number’s solid history of running backs.  The latest defensive player to wear it – Major Wright – definitely served it well.  Looking ahead: we’re all hoping another Taylor – Fred’s son Kelvin Taylor – wears #21 for Florida in the future.  For now, Emmanuel Moody has one last chance to truly make a name for himself.
T6. #5 (16 pts.) – A three-year starting cornerback, the Gators all-time leader in receptions, and an All-American receiver push #5 this high up the list.  Joe Haden was the latest to wear it and you can’t say he didn’t wear it well.  Andre Caldwell set the record for most career catches while wearing #5 throughout his entire career.  Jacquez Green only wore #5 for his final two seasons, but they were his best.  Another good #5 – Earnest Graham – became only the fifth Gator running back to ever rush for more than 3,000 career yards.  Looking ahead: surprisingly enough Joe’s little brother – Jordan Haden – won’t start his career with his brother’s old number.  Also surprising, either will Chris Dunkley.  Dunkley was rumored to be wearing #5, but is listed at #27.  If either switches to #5, they could help the number’s legacy.
T6. #33 (16 pts.) – Call #33 the running back club.  Errict Rhett is Florida’s all-time leader in career attempts and yards and is third in rushing touchdowns.  For good measure, Rhett also ranks fourth in receptions.  Kestahn Moore, Ran Carthon, Tony Green, Tommy Durrance, and Larry Smith also wore #33.  Only the defensive side of the ball, Teako Brown had good years with the number.  Looking ahead: True freshman Mack Brown hopes to add to the number of running backs that have excelled in the #33 jersey.
8. #74 (15 pts.) – Yes, a number typically reserved for linemen makes the list.  One player can be thanked for that – Jack Youngblood.  Youngblood earned All-American honors during his final year at Florida and would go on to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.  Jason Odom was also an All-American #74 and was a member of the All-SEC team twice.  Before Odom, was two-time first-team All-American offensive lineman Jeff ZimmermanLooking ahead: Maurice Hurt currently wears #74 and has a chance to earn a starting spot in 2010.
9. #88 (14 pts.) – Similar to #74 above, #88 can thank one player for pushing it into the list.  Wilber Marshall will forever be linked to Youngblood as one of the two greatest defensive Gators of all-time.  At Florida, Marshall was a two-time Lombardi Award finalist and was named the National Defensive Player of the Year during his final season.  Erron Kinney and Kirk Kirkpatrick both made their marks at #88 as starting tight ends.  Back in the 1960s, Jim Yarbrough wore the number during his great Gator career.  Looking ahead: Reserve tight end Michael McFarland wears the number now, but has some work to do to climb the depth chart.
10. #9 (13 pts.)Shane Matthews will always be one of my favorite Gators because he’s one of the first I truly remember watching live.  Matthews had quite the career and left Florida holding many of the school’s passing records.  Louis Murphy and Darrell Jackson were both among the team’s top wide receivers during their stints with #9.  Two defensive backs of recent history – Guss Scott and Anthone Lott – also served the number well.  Looking ahead: Carl Moore has the number in 2010, but will only have one year left to do anything with it.
Those also receiving votes: #11 (9 pts.), #8 (8), #61 (6), #3 (4), #12 (4), #55 (4), #51 (1), #89 (1)

Morning Reading: Impact Freshmen

During my freshman year at Florida, I didn’t get on the field. It could something to do with the fact that I’m slow and have very little athletic talent, but I like to think I redshirted due to a crowded depth chart. No need to talk about the fact that Steve Spurrier had no idea I claimed myself a member of the team. I’m still waiting for my jersey and locker.

There are a number of true freshmen that could make an immediate impact for their teams this year. It’s not an exact science because for every highly-rated recruit that makes an name for himself right off the bat (Percy Harvin) there’s one that takes longer to come along and might not even be on the team a few years later (Torrey Davis). But based on recruiting rankings and team needs, we can make a guess about who will tear out of the gates.

Florida fans are drooling over the prospects of playmaker Andre Debose teaming up with the likes to Tim Tebow, Jeffery Demps, and Chris Rainey. But Debose obviously isn’t the only potential superstar freshman.

Debose’s high school teammate Ray Ray Armstrong could see the field at Miami in a variety of positions. He’ll most likely start out in the defensive backfield, but don’t be surprised if the Hurricanes try to get the ball in his hands on offense. Gator fans were hoping running back Trent Richardson would follow in the footsteps of another former Escambia back – Emmitt Smith – but Richardson chose to take his talents to Alabama. And then there’s Bryce Brown, who strung Miami along well after signing day before deciding on Tennessee.

None or all of these freshmen could make an immediate impact, but in an age where you get your young stars on the field as soon as possible, don’t expect any of them to redshirt.

The Greatest Gators by Jersey Number: #98 – Godfrey Myles

#98 – Godfrey Myles, LB/S (1988-91)

Myles was a versatile defender during his time at Florida. He contributed at both linebacker and safety and earned All-SEC honors following his final season. He was a hard hitter and sure tackler who, let’s be honest, makes the orange jersey look good.

After being selected in the third round of the 1991 NFL Draft, Myles went on to play for six years with the Dallas Cowboys. Along with Emmitt Smith, he is one of only two former Gators with more than two Super Bowl rings.

Last Year’s Pick: Myles

Current Gator: Troy Epps, DT

Epps has virtually no chance of surpassing Myles for the title, and unless he has a breakout senior season, only has an outside shot to be considered even notable. That’s not a knock on Epps’ ability, but on the fact he was a junior college transfer who played sparingly during his first season as a Gator and only has one season left.

To see all of them (that I’ve done so far), click here.

Catch a Classic Gators’ Game; Florida @ LSU – 10/07/89

For those of you not in the Tampa Bay Rays’ viewing area, you can catch a classic Gators’ game Saturday, July 4 at 8:00 PM. Unfortunately for me, I’m smack in the middle of the Rays’ area so I’m out of luck. But for the rest of you, Sun Sports will be showing a replay (obviously) of the 1989 Florida/LSU game. A great game the Gators won 16-13 with help from a certain someone named Emmitt Smith.

The game will be broadcast again on Tuesday, July 7 at 11:00 PM.

And if you enjoy something a little more modern, the 2008 Florida/LSU game will be showing on Sunday at 8:30 AM.

In the meantime, enjoy a highlight.

Florida Gators with Super Bowl Rings

Thanks to Vince for presenting the topic of discussion, KP for asking the question, and One-Eyed Willy for doing the research.

On Sunday night, Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive tackle Max Starks became the fifth former Florida player with two or more Super Bowl rings. For inquiring minds, here are the former Gators who have gone to the big game and come away winners:

3 Rings

Godfrey Myles, Dallas Cowboys (2002, 2003, 2005)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (2002, 2003, 2005)

2 Rings

Don Chandler, Green Bay Packers (1966, 1967)
Wilber Marshall, Chicago Bears (1985) and Washington Redskins (1991)
Max Starks, Pittsburgh Steelers (2005, 2008)

1 Ring

Larry Brinson, Dallas Cowboys (1977)
Lomas Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002)
Kevin Carter, St. Louis Rams (1999)
Ran Carthon, Indianapolis Colts (2006)
Wes Chandler, San Francisco 49ers (1988)
Buck Gurley, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002)
Burton Lawless, Dallas Cowboys (1977)
Jeff Mitchell, Baltimore Ravens (2000)
Travis Taylor, Baltimore Ravens (2000)
Kenyatta Walker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002)