Gator great Alvarez credits his heroes

Former Florida wide receiver Carlos Alvarez speaks during a news conference Tuesday in New York. Alvarez was one of 15 players and two coaches to be part of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame class. (AP)

Sun file photo
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.

Former Florida great Carlos Alvarez said Tuesday there have been many heroes in his life who helped him make the memorable journey from a childhood in Cuba all the way to the College Football Hall of Fame.

But one is his ultimate hero — his father, Licinio Alvarez.

“It is an honor to a whole bunch of people who got me here, and it starts with my family,” said Alvarez, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in New York. “I'm Cuban born. My hero is my father, who got us here from Cuba in 1960. … my brothers and my sister and I.

“He had the foresight to give up everything to make sure his son and my brothers and my sister had an opportunity — an opportunity called the United States.”

Licinio Alvarez and his family fled Fidel Castro's Cuba when Carlos was 10. The family settled in Miami, where Carlos would go on to become a star wide receiver at North Miami Senior High.

Coming out of high school, Alvarez signed with Florida and became an All-American wide receiver as a sophomore in 1969 under head coach Ray Graves and offensive coordinator Fred Pancoast.

Alvarez was one of the “Super Sophs” in 1969 who led the Gators to a 9-1-1 record. Alvarez and sophomore quarterback John Reaves became the nation's most prolific pass-catching combinations that season, hooking up for a school-record 88 receptions for 1,369 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The performance of Alvarez' career came in Miami in 1969, when he caught a school-record 15 passes in front of family and friends in a 35-16 victory over the Hurricanes.

Alvarez injured his knee running track after the 1969 season. That, coupled with a coaching change (Graves being replaced by the run-oriented Doug Dickey), led to a falloff in production in his last two seasons as a Gator.

Still, he managed to end his UF career with a school-record 172 receptions (which was broken by Andre Caldwell in 2007). Alvarez still holds the Florida record for career reception yards with 2,563.

Alvarez was one of 14 players inducted into the College Hall of Fame on Tuesday night. Two coaches also were enshrined.

Alvarez gave credit to those who helped him make this journey — family, coaches and teammates.

“Coach Pancoast, Coach Graves. … great coaches,” said Alvarez, a prominent attorney in Tallahassee. “Great players like John Reaves, who was my quarterback. Great teammates. A whole bunch of people that I'm representing today.

“And I'm representing very proudly the University of Florida. My thought in becoming a Hall-of-Famer is I had a heck of a lot of help getting here. And I've had a heck of a lot of heroes in my life.”

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