It has been a while since a great year for a Gator wideout


Published: Monday, August 25, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 7:43 p.m.

Say it, shout it, let the words fill the air. Grab a barbecue sandwich and a sweet tea and get ready.

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Jabar Gaffney had 67 catches for 1,191 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Gators in 2001. (The Associated Press/FILE)

It's game week.

And it's about time.

We don't know what we are going to see, but we know we want to see it.

One thing you'd like to see if you are a Florida football fan — a dominant receiver.

It has been awhile. The Gators had an amazing stretch under Steve Spurrier where they had nine 1,000-yard receivers in seven years. The year after Spurrier left, Taylor Jacobs caught 1,088 yards worth of passes.

He's the last Florida receiver to have a 1,000-yard season.

It's not like they are expected. Prior to 1995, Florida had one 1,000-yard guy — Carlos Alvarez in 1969.

Last week I was in Tallahassee to speak to those suffering Gator fans (4-8 plus FSU national title should result in sainthood) and Alvarez was there. So was Jacquez Green, who is coaching at Lincoln.

And it got me to thinking (wow, did I just go Andy Griffith Show with my grammar?) about the best single seasons for Florida receivers. As we get ready for this season, will a current Gator join this list of 10?

1. Carlos Alvarez, 1969.

Pure stats: 88 catches, 1,329 yards, 12 touchdowns.

And there's this: The Florida record for receptions in a season prior to 1969 was 63 by Richard Trapp three years earlier. Alvarez teamed up with quarterback John Reaves to shatter the record but also set the single-game record for catches in a game with 15 at Miami. That record still stands.

To understand how great his season was, you need to find the Sports Illustrated picture of his catch against Florida State.

2. Reidel Anthony, 1996.

Pure stats: 72 catches, 1,293 yards, 18 touchdowns.

And there's this: Anthony was the third-best receiver in 1995's march to the national title game, a kickoff returner who also caught passes. But in '96, he played so well he turned himself into a first-round NFL draft pick.

His 18 touchdowns catches remain the Florida record.

3. Jabar Gaffney, 2001.

Pure stats: 67 catches, 1,191 yards, 13 touchdowns.

And there's this: Rex Grossman was on fire during the 2001 season and Gaffney was his favorite target. In Spurrier's last season as the Florida coach, Gaffney had eight games where he went over 100 yards receiving.

4. Travis McGriff, 1998.

Pure stats: 70 catches, 1,357 yards, 10 touchdowns.

And there's this: McGriff was a fifth-year senior when he averaged 17.3 yards a catch and set the Florida and SEC record for yards receiving in a season. And he had his best games against the best teams on Florida's schedule.

5. Chris Doering, 1995.

Pure stats: 70 catches, 1,045 yards, 17 touchdowns.

And there's this: When Doering caught his 17th TD of the season at home against FSU, it was the SEC record at the time. He also was one of the few Gators to show up against Nebraska with eight catches for 123 yards (although bowl stats didn't count then).

6. Gaffney, 2000.

Pure stats: 71 catches, 1,184 yards, 14 touchdowns.

And there's this: If it were 70 catches, Tennessee fans wouldn't still be complaining about his winning touchdown catch. Gaffney had his issues before becoming a star as a redshirt freshman.

7. Jacquez Green, 1997.

Pure stats: 71 catches, 1,024 yards, nine touchdowns.

And there's this: FSU, fourth quarter. Green's behind the defense! Enough said.

8. Taylor Jacobs, 2002.

Pure stats: 67 catches, 1,191 yards, 13 touchdowns.

And there's this: In Ron Zook's first season, Jacobs was the go-to guy and it started right away with 246 yards against UAB.

9. Wes Chandler, 1976.

Pure stats: 44 catches, 967 yards, 10 touchdowns.

And there's this: Florida was a wishbone team in 1976, but Chandler was a special talent. He averaged 22 yards a catch and there are Auburn defenders still looking for him.

10. Ike Hilliard, 1995.

Pure stats: 57 catches, 1,008 yards, 15 touchdowns.

And there's this: It's a testimony to Spurrier's genius that this was the second best performance of the season by a receiver.

There are a few that I left out that you can argue should be in. Chad Jackson caught 88 passes in 2005. Charlie Casey had back-to-back big years in 1964 and '65. Jack Jackson's '94 season was difficult to leave out, as was Darrell Jackson's '99 season. And Willie Jackson in '92.

But this is my list. If a current receiver joins it, I'll see you in Atlanta.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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