A History: Urban Meyer vs. Steve Spurrier

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Urban Meyer (L) of the Florida Gators shakes hands with head coach Steve Spurrier (R) of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)Two things happened before the start of the 2005 season that had Florida fans eager and a little nervous about the future of Gator football. Legendary former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier returned to the college ranks to take charge of one of the Gators’ SEC East rivals and Urban Meyer came from Utah to take over the Florida program.

Spurrier’s move was a decision that lost him some fans in Gator nation. When the Ol’ Ball Coach left Florida for the NFL, a number of fans lost their respect for the man, saying he left behind his alma mater for money. That’s partially true. Spurrier also left for opportunity. In a sport where ego runs rampant, many coaches have the desire to see what they can do at the next level. Spurrier left for a bigger paycheck, but also left to take his turn as a NFL head coach. Many wrote him off at that moment. I never did.

Even when he came back to college to coach a program – South Carolina – that resided not only in the same conference, but the same division as the Gators, I never lost my love for Spurrier. My formative football educational years were during the time he led Florida to new levels. To suddenly begin to despise the man because he took another job we all may not have wanted him to take was out of the question for me. But there was the realization that beginning in 2005, I would have to see him on the opposite sideline once a year. A shuddering thought, but one I could deal with.

At the same time, the Gators had moved past the Ron Zook experiment and brought in a young man (Meyer was four years younger when he took over at Florida than when Spurrier did the same) with a brief, but glowing resume. Coming off a 12-0 season with the Utes, Meyer had improved his record to 39-8 as a head coach. Gator fans, still soured by Zook, weren’t sure what to expect from Meyer, but were more than excited at what the future could bring.

It took Meyer only two years to do what Spurrier needed seven to accomplish – win a National Championship. In another two, Meyer would take home the title again. While those who still revered Spurrier initially thought they could never love another head coach as much, Meyer was quickly becoming the top man in the school’s long football history.

Their first five seasons at Florida were surprisingly similar. From 1990 to 1994, Spurrier was 49-12-1 with four SEC Championship Game appearances, three conference titles, and three major bowl appearances (he went 1-2 in those games). From 2005-2009, Meyer was 57-10 with three SEC Championship Game appearances, two conferences titles, and three major bowl appearances (where he was 3-0). Both coaches had three seasons with 10 or more wins and each had their worst record – an identical 9-4 – in their third year. Meyer benefitted from playing five more games than Spurrier and had a higher win percentage, but overall the success was similar. With one major exception.

Although the Gators were a dominant power for most of the 1990s, they would only win one National Championship under Spurrier. He would play for the title following the 1995 season, but wouldn’t win it until a year later in his seventh season as the Florida head coach. Meyer has already won two titles and finished 13-1 an astonishing three times and won’t enter his seventh season until 2011. To say Meyer has equaled Spurrier success would be an understatement. At this point he has surpassed it.

Looking at their overall tenure as Florida head coaches, similarities remain. Neither coach ever won less than nine games in a season and never lost more than four (although Meyer is walking both tightropes in 2010). Even their overall Gator win percentages get closer if you look at their entire bodies of work – Spurrier at 0.813 and Meyer at 0.829.

Only look at the last five years though and a very different picture is painted. Spurrier knew he wasn’t headed to a power when he agreed to coach South Carolina, but he had hopes to put the Gamecocks in a position to consistently compete in the SEC. That has yet to happen and, although South Carolina has been an improved program under him, they haven’t managed to lose less than five games in a season thus far. While Meyer has directed the Gators to an overall record of 63-13, Spurrier has been 41-31 with the Gamecocks and a meager 1-4 against Florida.

With the two coaches facing each other for a sixth time, there’s a lot more at stake than usual. Both teams sit at 6-3. For South Carolina, an upset over then top-ranked Alabama was the highlight. For Florida, the Gators hit bottom during a three-game losing streak. Thanks to an underwhelming year by SEC East members as a whole, both teams still have a shot at making it to Atlanta and playing in the SEC Championship Game. On Saturday, they will play a de facto SEC East title game.

Despite the meaning of this matchup for both teams, the actual game could go a number of different ways. It may end up being great. Or it could be one to sleep through. There have definitely been both in the Meyer vs. Spurrier series…

2005

Love or hate Spurrier, all Gator fans wanted in 2005 was to beat him. Florida had won 14 straight over South Carolina and, despite the addition of their former coach, the Gators needed that streak to continue.
In Meyer’s first season, he had led the Gators to a 7-2 (5-2) record with a shot at heading to Atlanta – assuming Florida got some help. With the upset loss to the Gamecocks, that door was closed by a man who had won a Heisman Trophy playing for the Gators and coached them to their first, and only, National Championship.

South Carolina played Florida tough from the start and was able to hold on late to win the game 30-22 in front of their home crowd. The Gators had a chance after kicking a field goal to pull within eight with 2:51 remaining. The following onside kick attempt was unsuccessful though. Florida forced the Gamecocks to punt with only a minute left, but was penalized, allowing South Carolina to keep the ball.

Despite an improved South Carolina team entering the matchup, the loss was still a gut-punch for Florida and Gator fans. The orange and blue didn’t lose to the Gamecocks. It was just that simple. To not come away with the victory was as shocking as having to face off against their former star head coach. Although it was Meyer’s first season and Florida had showed signs of life under their new leader, this particular loss would be remembered for the next year until the two teams met on the field again.

2006

I’ve had the fortune of being in The Swamp during two of the greatest home games in Florida football history. The first was during my freshman year in 1997 when the Gators upset top-ranked FSU in what I can only describe as the loudest stadium experience I’ve ever been a part of. The second was in 2006 when Florida beat South Carolina 17-16 in Spurrier’s return to Gainesville.

On that night, Jarvis Moss became a legend at Florida. His blocked extra point was crucial, but Moss went one step further, blocking a Gamecocks’ field goal attempt as time expired to seal the one-point victory. The kicking game was a nightmare for South Carolina as the Gators blocked three total kicks on the night.

An amazing finish and an always lively crowd were the highlights of the Florida win, but some other points stand out about the game. Despite only scoring a combined 33 points, the Gators and Gamecocks totaled 811 yards, 51 first downs, and only turned over the ball once. Numbers like that usually lead to higher-scoring games, but this was a battle that ended with both teams in the teens.

The legendary end to the game was only the beginning for Florida. The win would propel the Gators the rest of the season and help them climb the BCS standings. Florida would not lose again and would go on to win the National Championship. South Carolina would also not lose again and finish the year 8-5. It was a tough one for the Gamecocks with all five losses coming to ranked opponents and four of those five by a touchdown or less.

2007

While the South Carolina defense stood up admirably during the first two Meyer vs. Spurrier showdowns, they couldn’t stop anything the Gators threw at them during the next two.

2007 would end up being the down year for both coaches. It was the low point for Spurrier as South Carolina stumbled to 6-6 and would be Meyer’s worst season as the Florida head coach as the Gators finished 9-4. On the bright side, 2007 would be the season Tim Tebow would stake his claim as one of the greatest to ever play college football and put together a season for the ages as he took home the Heisman Trophy.

He may have won the award due to his performance against the Gamecocks alone. In the 51-31 win, Tebow accounted for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. His five rushing touchdowns set a school record and he broke a tie with Emmitt Smith and Buford Long for the most rushing touchdowns in a season in Florida history. His final touchdown of the night would be #42 for Tebow on the season which would break a tie with Danny Wuerffel for the most touchdowns accounted for in one season in SEC history. For good measure, the sophomore quarterback also set a career-high in the game with 304 passing yards.

The game would bring back painful memories for Spurrier. The Gators were the first team to score 50 or more points against a Spurrier-coached team since Nebraska put up 62 against Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Despite being bowl-eligible, South Carolina would lose its next, and final game, and be left out of the postseason.

2008

In the 2008 meeting, Florida would hand Spurrier his worst loss ever as either a player or a coach. The loss to the Cornhuskers for the National Championship may have been more knock-you-to-the-ground-and-kick-you-while-you’re-down, but in terms of margin, this was the worst.

On their way to a second National Championship in three years, the Gators ran over the Gamecocks 56-6. Not only was it Spurrier’s worst loss ever, it was also South Carolina’s worst loss in 13 years (a 63-7 defeat to the Gators coached of course by Spurrier himself in 1995).

Florida turned the game into a numbers-haven of sorts. The Gators rushed for 346 yards, their highest total in 19 years, against a Gamecock defense that was only allowing 101 yards per game on the ground. Florida became the first team to win six-straight SEC games by 28 points or more. With two passing touchdowns, Tebow improved to 15 scores through the air and no interceptions against the Gators’ last four ranked opponents. And at one point in the first quarter, Florida scored three touchdowns on eight plays.

There are many things to remember from the 2008 beat down as a Gators’ fan, but my most fond memory was when a TBG-favorite almost scored. South Carolina tried some trickeration on a kickoff, but a badly thrown lateral resulted in a recovery by Florida long snapper James Smith. Smith appeared to have scored, but was ruled down just short of the goal line.

2009

The Florida offense struggled at times during the 2009 season and despite being the #1 team in the nation had trouble finishing off South Carolina.

The Gators would score on their first three possessions and make it look like another blowout was brewing, but Florida’s offense would cool off and the Gamecocks would begin to inch their way back into it. South Carolina even looked like they might take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Gator defensive end Justin Trattou became an instant hero as he intercepted Stephen Garcia and rumbled 53 yards. A few plays later, Tebow would cross the goal line and put Florida ahead for good.

The win could be credited to the defense that tightened when needed late in the fourth quarter. The Gators would sack Garcia four times late and a Joe Haden interception would seal it for Florida. South Carolina would win its next game, but fall in their bowl. The Gators would go on to finish 13-1 for the third time in four years.

As both teams prepare for the 2010 matchup, they will be thinking of what could have been. An upset of Alabama could have propelled the Gamecocks to a breakout season. A few plays could have seen the Gators beat LSU and Mississippi State. For now though, the teams are identical. 6-3 (4-3) with a shot at Atlanta. Neither will win the National Championship and its unlikely they’ll even finish in the top 10, but this one game could make or break how the season is looked back on in the coming years. Two legendary coaches doing battle for a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

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.

Breaking Down the Florida Gators’ 2010 Recruiting Class – Part 4

Previous breakdowns: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Cody Riggs
DB – 5’8″, 156 lbs. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – St. Thomas Aquinas
Riggs was overshadowed by high school teammate and FSU signee Lamarcus Joyner, but definitely shouldn’t have been.  Perhaps the biggest thing differentiating him from Joyner is his small frame.  Riggs will have to put on a good amount of weight before he can even think about seeing the field.  His superior speed makes him a return candidate, but he’ll probably redshirt in an effort to get him to a better size to be able to battle SEC receivers.  He does possess above-average coverage skills though, so when he does add bulk, he’ll be a great cover corner.
Joshua Shaw
DB – 6’1″, 195 lbs. – Palmdale, CA – Palmdale
Along with Ronald Powell, plucking Shaw out of California was huge for Florida and the future of Gator recruiting.  In 2007 and 2008, Florida started a true freshman at cornerback.  In 2010, Shaw could be the third in four years to do so.  He’ll be given every opportunity to play right away and enrolling early helped his path to getting there.  Expect a great Gator career and years of NFL success ahead of him.  He’s ready to go up with most college receivers already.
Ian Silberman
OL – 6’4″, 257 lbs. – Fleming Island, FL – Fleming Island
Silberman was the first prospect to become part of the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class and he held on for nearly 19 months before signing.  That’s right, he committed before most of the 2009 class.  When you want to go to Florida, you go to Florida I guess.  Silberman is small at 257 pounds, but he has all the tools to become a great offensive lineman and the frame to add necessary weight.  He’ll spend a few years getting into the right shape, but expect him to be a more than solid contributor when he does get regular playing time.
Michael Taylor
LB – 6’1″, 213 lbs. – Atlanta, GA – Westlake
Taylor has beast mode written all over him.  And more important he saw the light.  After committing to Lane Kiffin and Tennessee, Taylor visited Florida and made the switch essentially saying the Gators were all that AND a bag of chips.  Taylor’s commitment was big because while the LB corps looks good for the immediate future, depth could be an issue in a few years.  Taylor should develop into an important part of Florida’s defense.
Lynden Trail
DE – 6’7″, 220 lbs. – Miami, FL – Booker T. Washington
Enter the fan favorite.  What’s not to like about Trail?  He seems more pro-Gator than a lot of the current players and he isn’t afraid to talk about it.  Trail brings instant memories of Jarvis Moss to mind and that is far from a bad thing.  As he adds strength over his first few years in Gainesville, he’ll become scary good.  So much so he’s already been nicknamed Freak III.  And he is just that.  Check back in 2012 when Florida could seriously have four or five of the nation’s best defensive linemen.
Travon Van
ATH – 5’11”, 200 lbs. – New Berlin, NY – Milford Academy
Before Milford Academy, Van was a star at Helix in San Diego.  The same Helix that produced Reggie Bush and Alex Smith.  Van is listed as an athlete and could see time at either running back or cornerback.  Although a lot points to him being added to the defensive backfield, Van could provide depth as a power back in the future.  There’s a good chance Van will redshirt while coaches figure out where he can contribute the most.
Jaylen Watkins
DB – 6’1″, 172 lbs. – Cape Coral, FL – Cape Coral
Watkins is another one of the early enrollees.  He has the speed to keep up with virtually any receiver, but will need to get stronger to fight for jump balls.  He doubled as a receiver and it shows in his developed ball skills.  Because of that, some think he could be moved to receiver if needed.  Odds are Watkins is in line for a redshirt.

Do Five-Star Recruits Become Five-Star Performers?

This time of year the college football world goes into a recruiting frenzy.  The season has ended.  Spring games are still months away.  Fall practice seems like it may never get here.  So every fan (at least every diehard) focuses on recruiting.
If you’re like the rest of us fanatics, you want to know anything and everything about the recruits your school is after.  And if you cheer for a big program, five-star prospects offer bragging rights.  Remember that movie with Shaq?  No, not Kazaam.  That other one in which he played (and it was a stretch) a basketball player?  Blue Chips.  That’s what the five-star recruits are.  Blue chips.  They are considered the cream of the crop.  And you want as many of them as scholarships your school has available.
For Florida, the Army All-American Game was a big moment.  Huge in the recruiting world.  The Gators went from having not one five-star prospect committed to have three (according to Rivals.com) in only a matter of a few hours.  And if the Under Armour All-American Game the week before was a barometer of those who may get that elusive fifth star in the coming weeks, Florida may end up with five or six when all is said and done.
Since 2002 (and not including the current recruiting class), Florida has signed 22 five-star prospects.  Looking back over the 22, you can see some definite success stories and some definite misses.  Due to this, a few friends (One Eyed Willy, KP, and Vanilla Bear) and I decided to perform a little exercise and rate each player from one to five stars based on how they played or the potential they now present.  In the end, we only rated 19 of the 22, leaving off the three from the 2009 recruiting class (Gary Brown, Andre Debose, and Jelani Jenkins) due to redshirting and lack of anything to accurately rate them on.  Our goal was to determine who lived up to the hype and who went in the other direction.  And here are the results:
5.00 Stars – Derrick Harvey, Percy Harvin, Jarvis Moss, Brandon Spikes, Tim Tebow – These are the guys that met the hype head on, ran it over, and never looked back.  It was unanimous that each one of them lived up to their five-star status.  It’s no coincidence the three of the five that have been drafted all went in the first-round and the remaining two most likely will.  These were definitely the men among boys.
4.75-4.50 Stars – Andre Caldwell, Carlos Dunlap, Chad Jackson – Two receivers that came in together and a stud defensive lineman.  Caldwell left Florida as the career leader in receptions and Jackson left with the single-season record.  Dunlap will test the NFL waters after a dominant junior year.
4.25-4.00 Stars – Ciatrick Fason, Will Hill, Matt Patchan – Fason might have had a chance at a place higher in the rankings had he not left after his junior year and Hill and Patchan are still fighting hard to realize greatness.  Hill’s only knock is having to split playing time, but five-star status may be in sight as he gets on the field more in 2010.  If Patchan is left at one position, he could still blossom into a star.
3.75-3.50 Stars – Omar Hunter, Dee Webb – Realistically, Hunter gets an incomplete at this stage in his career.  With years still ahead of him, he will have plenty of chances to shine.  Webb was another one of those that could have cashed in on greatness with one more year.  As it was, he was consistent, but rarely spectacular for three seasons.
3.25-3.00 Stars – Joe Cohen, Carl Johnson – There was talk for a while at trying Cohen out as a power back, so that may have slowed his development, but in the end he was an important part of the defense, just never a true star.  Johnson has one final year to pull it all together.  He’s been good, but not great just yet.
2.75-2.50 Stars – Torrey Davis – Davis probably gets more credit than he deserves for one spectacular play.  In the end, he left Florida after never becoming the player he was expected to be and spending most of his time in the doghouse.
2.25-2.00 Stars – Carl Moore, Cameron Newton, James Wilson – Moore and Wilson still have a chance to prove themselves, but they may not become more than solid athletes.  Newton on the other hand still has a chance to be great, but if he does, it will be while wearing the orange and blue of a different SEC school.
 

Major Wright Joins the Exodus, Will Enter the NFL Draft

After the 2006 National Championship season, four players with eligibility left – Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, Brandon Siler, and Ryan Smith – decided to depart Florida for the NFL.  This time around the exodus is even worse.
Junior safety Major Wright marks the fifth early entrant for the 2010 NFL Draft to leave the Gators.  He joins Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden, Aaron Hernandez, and Maurkice Pouncey and may very well be the most surprising of the bunch to throw his hat into the ring.
Wright is an extremely talented safety, but one can’t help but wonder if he is nothing more than a mid-round pick.  Not that the money offered to mid-round picks is anything to turn a cold shoulder at, but just something to consider.  However – as One Eyed Willy so graciously pointed out – could Wright realistically up his stock by returning for his senior season?
The answer is no.  Wright is most likely a mid-round pick in 2010 and would probably be a mid-round pick in 2011.  He is a physical safety who can cover a large area of the defensive backfield, but needs to improve his reads on receive route running.  He can get better and probably will, but the odds he will boost his draft stock by sticking around for the 2010 season are slim to none.  After all, the Gators have enough defensive backs to fill the rosters of the entire SEC.  Despite being entrenched as a starter, Wright could’ve actually seen his playing time decrease in 2010.
 

Quinton Dunbar and Lynden Trail Join Florida’s List of Commitments

With the season going strong, it’s easy to get lost when it comes to recruiting news.  So many rumors go back and forth; it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t.  Count this one as real.  Booker T. Washington (Miami, FL) teammates Quinton Dunbar and Lynden Trail are committed to Florida.
Dunbar is a 6’3” wide receiver who averaged over 18 yards per catch as a junior.  While he needs to put on a little bulk before he’ll truly contribute at the collegiate level, Dunbar has good speed and a great ability to catch the ball in traffic.  He needs to improve route running at the next level, but if he adds that as a strength to his raw talent, he could be something special.  Dunbar – rated at the nation’s 131st prospect by Rivals.com – is a big pickup at a position the Gators need to add depth to.
Also among the Rivals250 (at 175th), Trail is a 6’7” weakside defensive end who has great speed around the edge.  Like Dunbar, Trail will look to add bulk before he gets to Gainesville.  Trail is a force as a pass rusher and added muscle should make him an equally dangerous run stopper.  With such a large emphasis put on pass rushers over the past few years (Jarvis Moss, Derrick Harvey, Carlos Dunlap, etc.), Trail should fit right in line.
 

The Greatest Gators by Jersey Number: #94 – Jarvis Moss

#94 – Jarvis Moss, DE (2003-06)

Moss came to Florida with enormous expectations that after his first few seasons, many thought he would not live up to. Fortunately for Gator fans, he more than made a name for himself over the course of his final two years in orange and blue.

In 2005 and 2006, Moss racked up 15 sacks. He took down Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith twice during the 2006 national title game, but the play everyone will always remember came weeks earlier when Moss blocked what would have been a game-winning field goal against South Carolina. If you don’t think I’ll be telling my grandkids about being at that game one day, you’re out of your damn mind!

Last Year’s Pick: Moss
Notables: Ed Chester, DT (1994-98)

Current Gator: Justin Trattou, DE

Trattou has quietly put together a solid career at Florida. He’s never been spectacular, but you can’t discount the depth he has provided. With a star-studded defensive end unit, it seems improbable for Trattou to stake his claim as the greatest to ever wear #94 (after all, there’s no way I’m removing Moss from the top spot), but with two years left, he could definitely move to notable status.

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

The Greatest Gators by Jersey Number: #95 – Ray McDonald

#95 – Ray McDonald, DL (2002-06)

McDonald won’t appear on any career stat lists, but he was the unsung hero of the defensive line during Florida’s 2006 national championship season. While Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss were piling up the sack and tackle for loss numbers, McDonald was occupying interior offensive linemen. McDonald was a versatile defender during his career, playing every position across the line.

Although #94 on this list (coming up next) had the most famous block in the South Carolina game in 2006, McDonald also blocked a field game attempt earlier in the contest.

Last Year’s Pick: McDonald

Current Gator: Gary Brown, DT

McDonald was a very good player during his time as a Gator and deserves to be recognized. But Brown has the potential to be a superstar. If he lives up to the hype, he has a realistic shot of overtaking McDonald in the future.

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

TBG’s MVPs: Florida Defensive Linemen

Moving across the line…

Carlos Dunlap – 11 pts. (3 first-place votes)

Jarvis Moss. Derrick Harvey. Carlos Dunlap. Who’s next? Dunlap had a breakout year in 2008. So much so he’s been touted as a potential top 5 overall pick in a future NFL Draft. Gator fans definitely hope that’s two years from now and not one. With good depth returning at defensive end and a number of the defensive tackles having more experience, Dunlap’s sack number could go up in 2009. Look for him to be double-teamed frequently (which could bode well for #2 on this list).

After listing his accomplishments, One-Eyed Willy – who actually put Dunlap #2 – closed with this: “Now that I think about it, why am I not putting him #1?” Good question.

2. Jermaine Cunningham – 9 (1)
3. Lawrence Marsh/Terron Sanders – 2

Looking to 2009…

Carlos Dunlap – 12 (4)

Not much else to say when the winner is returning for another year. Another picture will do…

2. Jermaine Cunningham – 8
3. Lawrence Marsh – 2
4. Omar Hunter/Terron Sanders – 1

Up next: the linebackers.

Want to join the panel? Of course you don’t. Otherwise you already would have. What to discuss the beauty that is a summer day? Email me at thebullgator@live.com.