Heisman winner, national champion


Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 1:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 1:36 p.m.
No. 1 Danny Wuerffel Position: Quarterback. Years he played: 1993-96 Top 100 credentials: On the field and off, he became known as Danny Wonderful. A perfect fit in Steve Spurrier's offense, Wuerffel led the Gators to four consecutive Southeastern Conference titles, a national title game appearance in 1995 and the school's first national championship his senior season. After finishing third in the Heisman balloting his junior year, Wuerffel was a runaway winner for college football's biggest prize the following season. Wuerffel is the only Heisman winner who was coached by a Heisman winner (Spurrier). Off the field, he carried a 3.75 grade point average and won the Draddy Award, which is known as the academic version of the Heisman. On the field, he was arguably the most productive quarterback in major college history. He threw for 10,875 yards and accounted for 122 touchdowns in his career. His career pass efficiency rating of 163.56 was the best in collegiate history and his 114 touchdown passes were the second-most in history. How he shined: Wuerffel didn't always look good in practice, but on game day he always seemed to be at his best. He was the only college quarterback in history to have a pass efficiency of at least 170 in consecutive seasons (1995-96). His first shining moment came in the closing seconds against Kentucky in 1993 when he threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Chris Doering with only three seconds remaining to give to the Gators an improbable 24-20 victory in Lexington. Wuerffel became the starting quarterback the following week against Tennessee. Making his mark: In the four years Wuerffel played at Florida, the Gators were a remarkable 45-6-1 and won five championships four SEC titles and a national championship. He was drafted into the NFL in the fourth round by New Orleans and spent three seasons with the Saints, one with the Green Bay Packers and one with the Chicago Bears. Where he is now: Wuerffel is executive director of Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans. Desire Street relocated to Destin after Hurricane Katrina last year, but is expected to return to New Orleans in the future. Quoting Wuerffel: "I chose to go to Florida for two reasons: The school is a phenomenal academic institution and being a quarterback and having a chance to play for Steve Spurrier was too hard to pass up. In his career, he had been so successful with quarterbacks at several levels. To have a chance to play for him for four years, you couldn't dream of anything better. He's a brilliant offensive mind." No. 1 Florida 52, Florida State 20
Jan. 2, 1997.
Where: Superdome, New Orleans, La. What happened: God smiled on the Gators, Steve Spurrier said, as unbeaten Arizona State lost the night before to give Florida a shot at the national title. Florida scored half-a-hundred on the Seminoles and the Gator defense dominated in the second half. Who was the hero: Danny Wuerffel? Ike Hilliard? Terry Jackson? No, here on the final day of our 100 years celebration, it's important to point out not the individuals but the team. The heroes of this night were every player who suited up during a magical season. Why it mattered: Next year was here. It was a night of tears and cheers for Gators everywhere as they celebrated the dream come true. You win the national championship...in a blowout...over your in-state rival...in a revenge game. Can it get any better?

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