Making history again


Former UF receiver Chris Doering, left, and quarterback Danny Wuerffel pose during the 1995 media day. The pair will be inducted into the Florida Athletics Hall of Fame tonight.

Sun file photo
Published: Friday, April 21, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 21, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
There were so many moments, so many connections, but one of their very first will be the most lasting, the one that will go on living in Florida football history and lore long after they are gone.
Doering's got a touchdown. ... Doering's got a touchdown. ... Oh, my, Doering's got a touchdown.
Danny Wuerffel and Chris Doering will forever be linked by the moment, the play - their miraculous 28-yard touchdown throw and catch that beat Kentucky 24-20 in the closing seconds in Lexington on Sept. 2, 1993.
Now, the longtime friends and former teammates are about to make another leap into history together. They will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame tonight at a ceremony at the Touchdown Terrace.
How appropriate. "I was kind of disappointed I wasn't even nominated the first year I was eligible (last year)," Doering said. "But it worked out better this way, having been voted in with Danny.
"Obviously, there are so many storylines and so much success we shared together and then there is our friendship. To go in together is such a special bonus."
Wuerffel shares the sentiment. "What makes it so special is that I'm going in the same year Chris is going in," Wuerffel said. "We obviously were so close. I'm just really excited to be with Chris. We've experienced so much of life together and so much of our University of Florida lives together. This is something else we can celebrate together as well."
Seven others also are being inducted tonight - Andy Brandi (women's tennis coach), Amy Caulkins (women's swimming), Dan Cross (basketball), Cissie Donigan-Triglia (women's tennis), Wayne McDaniel (football), Andrea (Anderson) Spottswood (cheerleading) and Shelly Steely (women's track/cross country).
As special as the "Doering's got a touchdown" play was for Wuerffel and Doering, it was not the defining moment for either in their UF career. Rather, it was the beginning.
Doering, a Gainesville native and former walk-on from P.K. Yonge, was a sophomore making his first start that night, while Wuerffel was a redshirt freshman and entered the game as the No. 2 quarterback behind junior Terry Dean.
"Even today, everyone comes up and tells you exactly where they were and what they were doing at that moment," Doering said. "That was something. But it was just the beginning for both of us. It happened so early in my career and Danny was just a freshman."
The play was only a hint of things to come. Wuerffel became the starting quarterback the following week against Tennessee and Wuerffel and Doering also became roommates for road games and the night before home games.
Wuerffel-to-Doering became a staple of the Fun 'n' Gun era and the two players forged a close friendship that will last for the rest of their lives.
"To have a game-winning play like that was huge," Wuerffel said. "For us to be so young and contributing at that point really put me and Chris on the map. It helped give us confidence to have success in our careers."
And what success they had. Doering set the school and SEC record for touchdowns in a season with 17 and was an All-American in 1995. His 31 career touchdown receptions are still a Florida record. Doering helped lead the Gators to three consecutive SEC titles.
"For me, going into the UF Hall of Fame is the biggest honor I could ever receive, growing up a Gator fan and watching so many of the great players over the years," Doering said. "For anyone to consider me among all those great players I held with such high regard is a huge honor for me."
Many of Doering's highlight moments came at the end of passes thrown by Wuerffel, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead the Gators to the national title in 1996. Wuerffel finished with an SEC-record 114 touchdown passes and is UF's all-time passing leader with 10,875 yards. He holds the NCAA record for passing efficiency (178.4).
"I think back to Destin (where he grew up) and to have ever guessed I'd end up in the UF Hall of Fame is quite an amazing thing when I step back and think about it," Wuerffel said.
This will be another special night for Wuerffel and Doering. Not just because they're going into the Hall of Fame, but they're going in together.
Both said their friendship is one of the aspects of their UF experience they cherish the most.
They talk fondly about the time they spent in their hotel room the night before games, going over the game plan and tossing a football to one another.
"We started rooming together the week of the Tennessee game (and a week after the late win at UK) and we developed a special friendship," Doering said. "It was a cool bonding time. I always had a tradition of taking a football to the hotel room with me. I'd throw it up in the air and catch and I'd even sleep with it.
"We'd throw the ball back and forth and see who would drop it first. Danny always claimed he had better hands than me."
He still does. "We'd see who could catch it," Wuerffel said. "It seemed like I always won."
Tonight, they both win. Contact Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com.

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