Five Florida recruiting classes will stand test of time


Published: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 11:53 a.m.
What used to be a cottage industry has turned into a gaudy mansion. College football recruiting always had a life of its own, but these days it has gone from the gorilla in the room to King Kong.
If you don't make your announcement on national TV with four stars attached to your name and a Web site devoted to your exploits, my gosh, did you even play high school football? You haven't received a text message from a coach today? Dang, forget to pay your cell phone bill?
The whole recruiting scene is both a tribute and an indictment to our Internet generation and the hero worship of athletes. Nobody wants to wait to see them actually pull on the school colors. Just getting these kids as commitments is considered a victory worthy of a celebration usually reserved for actual football games.
But enough bashing the silliness of Recruit-a-palooza. It is crucial, if overblown. It is the lifeblood for bleeding programs and the manna for the masses.
The point of all this is to illustrate the obvious - it's nice to have a highly ranked recruiting class, but it isn't until five years later that you truly know the value of a class.
The 2000 recruiting class is often held up as the example. It was hardly the perceived bust that many associated with Steve Spurrier's penultimate class. Nine of the 29 signees have seen time in the NFL. But nine of the 29 didn't finish their careers at UF, including the crown jewel of the class, Brock Berlin. At best, it was a mixed bag.
Then, you take a class like 1986. Saddled with NCAA restrictions, Galen Hall only signed 14 players, but nine of them went on to be starters and that class earned eight All-Southeastern Conference honors. The year before, with similar restrictions, Hall signed what may have been the worst class in Gator history, one that included one All-SEC player over the next five seasons.
So I went back over every recruiting class since freshmen became eligible to play football in 1972, looked at their five-year records and the All-Americans and All-SEC players they produced. I came up with what I would rate as the five best recruiting classes at Florida based not on how they were viewed by Web sites or recruiting services but by how they turned out. And let me say this before I get started - I'd have put the Cris Collinsworth-David Little class of 1977 in here but 0-10-1 kind of tarnishes their legacy.
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053. Dooley's columns appear Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

The best ... so far


  • THE YEAR: 1992
  • THE STAR: Danny Wuerffel
  • SUPPORTING CAST: James Bates, Johnnie Church, Dexter Daniels, Reggie Green, Anthone Lott, Jeff Mitchell, Jason Odom, Lawrence Wright, Donnie Young
  • FIVE-YEAR RECORD: 54-10-1, played in two national championship games, won four SEC titles, 3-2 in bowl games
  • ALL-AMERICANS: 7 players, 11 times
  • ALL-SEC: 9 players, 16 times
  • THE LEGACY: The class won a national championship and included the Heisman winner (Wuerffel) and Jim Thorpe Award winner (Wright) as well as three Jacobs Trophy (best blocker in the SEC) winners (Young, Odom [2]). One of the keys to this class was that, of the 25 players signed, only five of them could be considered non-contributors during their time at Florida.
  • FULL CLASS: DL David Barnard, LB James Bates, DL Johnnie Church, LB Dexter Daniels, DL Cameron Davis, RB Tony Davis, PK Bart Edmiston, FB Jerome Evans, DL McDonald Ferguson, OL Reggie Green, DB Demetric Jackson, QB Eric Kresser, CB Anthone Lott, RB Dwayne Mobley, TE Shawn Nunn, OL Jason Odom, OL Nick Quintana, WR/CB Shea Showers, LB Kenny Times, LB Andre Washington, DB Shawn Wilson, S Lawrence Wright, QB Danny Wuerffel, OL Donnie Young
  • THE YEAR:1987
  • THE STAR: Emmitt Smith
  • SUPPORTING CAST: Fee Bartley, Brad Culpepper, Cal Dixon, Tony McCoy, Godfrey Myles, Jerry Odom, Tim Paulk, Mark White, Jimmy Spencer, Alonzo Sullivan, Arden Czyzewski
  • FIVE-YEAR RECORD: 39-20, won SEC title in 1991, 1-3 in bowl games
  • ALL-AMERICANS: 9 players, 11 times
  • ALL-SEC: 11 players, 17 times
  • THE LEGACY: While this class got off to a rough start and had to deal with a coaching change, it was the nucleus of the first official SEC title for Florida and also another unofficial title in 1990. Spurrier has often said that he was left an excellent team by Galen Hall. This class of 28 included five players who had long pro careers including, of course, the NFL's all-time leading rusher (Smith).
  • FULL CLASS: Scott Ball, Fee Bartley, Mike Brandon, Brad Culpepper, Cal Dixon, Hesham Ismail, Stephon Mack, Tony McCoy, Willie McGrady, Jason McLellan, Godfrey Myles, Glenn Neely, Andy Newman, Jerry Odom, Tim Paulk, Tony Rowell, Steve Scoggins, Tim Thompson, Mark White, Terence Barber, Billy Deeds, Kyle Morris, Johnny Nichols, Herbert Perry, Emmitt Smith, Jimmy Spencer, Alonzon Sullivan, Arden Czyzewski
  • THE YEAR:1999
  • THE STAR: Rex Grossman
  • SUPPORTING CAST: Jabar Gaffney, Bam Hardmon, Taylor Jacobs, Bobby McCray, Clint Mitchell, Mike Nattiel, Keiwan Ratliff, Lito Sheppard
  • FIVE-YEAR RECORD: 45-19, won one SEC championship and played in two SEC title games
  • ALL-AMERICANS: 4 players, 6 times
  • All-SEC: 12 players, 15 times
  • THE LEGACY: We'll always wonder what would have happened if Spurrier had not left and coached these guys to the end of their careers. There were some major busts, but 11 players went on to play in the NFL. The 2001 team was as good as any to play at UF, but couldn't stop Tennessee running back Travis Stephens.
  • FULL CLASS: Ran Carthon, Tony Charles, Daryl Dixon, Matt Farrior, Jabar Gaffney, Rex Grossman, Byron Hardmon, Elgin Hicks, Dwright Jackson, Taylor Jacobs, Tron LaFavor, Bobby McCray, Clint Mitchell, Mike Nattiel, Todd Poitier, Keiwan Ratliff, Arpedge Rolle, Roderick Royal, Marshall Schaap, Lito Sheppard, Chris Stephens, Roy Williams
  • THE YEAR:1972
  • THE STAR: Jimmy Dubose
  • SUPPORTING CAST: Don Gaffney, James Richards, Bruce Mulliniks, Gerald Loper, Robbie Ball, Robbie Moore, Wayne Fields, Jimmy Ray Stephens, Alvis Darby, Mike Williams, Nat Moore, Sammy Green
  • FIVE-YEAR RECORD: 37-21-1, went to four straight bowl games
  • ALL-AMERICANS: 2 players, 3 times
  • All-SEC: 8 players, 11 times
  • THE LEGACY:This was the class that kicked in the transition from Ray Graves to Doug Dickey. Many played as true freshmen, and, by the time they were seniors, Florida was one of the better teams in the country. The 1975 team lost twice by a total of four points. Dubose was the SEC player of the year that season. Nat Moore was a late signee who was here two years.
  • FULL CLASS: QB Don Gaffney, HB Jimmy DuBose, HB Rick Cylc, HB James Richards, LB Joe Reynolds, TE Charles Dorsey, DT Jim Griffeth, SE Scott Shuler, DB Phil Eason, C John Tegg, OT Bruce Mulliniks, TE David Campbell, OT Gerald Loper, QB/SE Steve Pappas, FB Mark Bullard, QB/DB Robbie Ball, QB Glenn Sever, LB Jeff Cain, HB Willie Collins, QB Mark Newman, LB Fred Wildman, LB John Williams, DT Robbie Moore, RB Wayne Fields, DE Jimmy Ray Stephens, RB Andrew Wade, E Tom Chorniewy, RB George Luczko, DE Mike Smith, TE Al Darby, OT Mike Williams, SE/DB Dennis Fleming, SE Eddie Sirmons, DT Dave Starkey, DE James Schaffer, LB Sammy Green, FB/LB Joe Allen
  • THE YEAR: 1991
  • THE STAR: Kevin Carter
  • SUPPORTING CAST: Mark Campbell, Shayne Edge, Ben Hanks, Jack Jackson, Ellis Johnson, Larry Kennedy, Henry McMillian
  • FIVE-YEAR RECORD: 52-11, won four SEC titles, played for title in each season
  • ALL-AMERICANS: 6 players, 9 times
  • All-SEC: 8 players, 12 times
  • THE LEGACY: The class was full of players who never did much or nothing at all (Jeremy Kennedy, Scott Joslyn), but it was also loaded with the defensive players who helped put Florida on the college football map.
  • FULL CLASS: RB Darwin Anderson, LB Jason Bartley, QB Luke Bencie, DL Mark Campbell, DE Kevin Carter, QB Antwan Chiles, DE Marlon Dixon, P Shayne Edge, LB McDonald Ferguson, DE Mark Grimes, LB Ben Hanks, CB Lawrence Hatch, WR Jack Jackson, DL Ellis Johnson, C Kevin Johnson, OG Scott Joslyn, TE Jeremy Kennedy, CB Larry Kennedy, DL Henry McMillan, CB Jimmy Owens, WR Sorola Palmer, LB Matt Pearson, CB Carlton Pouncy, LB Anthony Riggins, LB Alfred Smith, OT Craig Weaver, WR Charles West
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