Wuerffel elected to Hall of Fame


Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel passes during first half Sugar Bowl action against Florida State at the Superdome in New Orleans Thursday Jan. 2, 1997.

AP
Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:42 p.m.

Those who have known him or spent any time around him have long considered Danny Wuerffel a Hall-of-Fame kind of guy, even way back when he first started flinging touchdown passes in The Swamp and winning games for the Gators in 1993.

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Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel passes during first half Sugar Bowl action against Florida State at the Superdome in New Orleans Thursday Jan. 2, 1997.

AP

Well, now it's official.

Danny Wuerffel is going into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The official call came Tuesday from the College Football Foundation at a news conference in New York, where the Hall of Fame's Class of 2013 was announced. Wuerffel will be enshrined along with 13 others on Dec. 10.

Wuerffel found out about his selection this past Friday with a call from the HOF.

“As my wife would say, I usually don't overreact to anything,” Wuerffel said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “It has really begun to sink in the last couple days. The honor of this is truly one of the biggest things ever. Looking at the former inductees and current ones, to be with those guys is really a huge honor.

“The overriding emotion I've had is it's really connected me back to the moments at the University of Florida and college football and the relationships and all the hard work. So many people make this possible. Really, just a feeling of being moved, touched, being very grateful.”

The CFF asked Wuerffel not to tell anyone about his selection before Tuesday's announcement. But he felt he needed to call his former coach, Steve Spurrier, on Monday to let him know ahead of time.

“I called Coach Spurrier yesterday and left a message,” Wuerffel said. “I just wanted him to know beforehand and take the opportunity to thank him for all he did in my life. His coaching impacted much more than just football for me.”

Wuerffel, Spurrier and the Gators went on quite a four-year ride from 1993-96.

Not only was Wuerffel one of the greatest and most productive players in Florida football history, he was (and still remains) one of the most popular, right up there with UF's two other Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks — Spurrier and Tim Tebow.

He led the Gators to four consecutive SEC titles (1993-96) and to the national championship in 1996 in his final game as a Gator. Along the way, he threw for 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns and set 48 school, conference and NCAA records.

"I couldn't be happier to hear that Danny has been selected as an inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame,” UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “To say it is a deserving honor would be an understatement. He is one of the best ever to put on a Gator uniform and will be always remembered as such. He will be remembered just as much, if not more, for the type of individual he is. He is truly a great person. We are proud of him and look forward to celebrating this honor with him and the entire Gator Nation."

The Wuerffel legend at Florida all started on an early September night in Lexington, Ky., in 1993 in only his second college game. His last-second touchdown strike to walk-on Chris Doering pulled out an improbable victory and became part of UF folklore known as “Doering's Got a Touchdown!”

Wuerffel went on to win many more games and pile up all kinds of passing yards, touchdowns and honors. He was a first-team All-America in 1995 and 1996, and a Heisman finalist in both those years, winning the coveted trophy in 1996.

He closed out his career with one of his best performances to lead the Gators to a 52-20 victory over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for UF's first football national title.

“Even today, reading some of the stats from those four years, I want to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming,” Wuerffel said. “As a kid, you dream about what could be. What we experienced was better than anything I could have ever dreamed up.

“Starting with that pass to Chris (in 1993) and finishing with the win over FSU, it couldn't have been a better bookend four years.”

Always known as a great battler on the field, Wuerffel has become one off the field as well in his fight against Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system. He was diagnosed in 2011 and is still recovering.

“I'm probably 90 to 95 percent recovered and feeling really grateful and thankful and able to engage in life and exercise at a much more normal level,” he said. “It's been a really hard two years in a lot of different ways. But it's been good in other ways as well.”

The good got even better Tuesday, when his election to the College Football Fame became official.

Wuerffel said he was just thinking a few days ago about the TD to Doering against Kentucky and how his career might have played out much differently if he had not thrown that epic pass.

“Terry Dean had thrown four interceptions and I'd just thrown my third (in the game),” Wuerffel said. “Coach Spurrier was looking up and down the sideline searching for someone to put in the game. I'm not sure why he let me go back in, but he did.

“If he hadn't, maybe someone else would have thrown that pass and they would have gone on and had a lot of great things happen to them.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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