So here was the idea. In 2006, we ranked the top 100 Florida football players on the 100th anniversary of Florida football. A lot of players have been stars since then, so let’s re-rank them. But that would mean kicking some of those players to the curb. So instead, we give you this as you try to take your minds off things — the Top 10 Gators at each position over the last 114 years of football. This is the first of a 13-part series.
Today — The quarterbacks.
Up next — The wide receivers.
- Tim Tebow (2006-09) — He is regarded as one of the great college football players of all time, so yeah, he belongs at the top of the list. Tebow became the first sophomore Heisman Trophy winner and was a finalist the next two years. His career numbers are outrageous: 9,285 yards passing and 88 touchdowns, 2,947 yards rushing and 57 touchdowns.
- Danny Wuerffel (1993-96) — He was probably UF’s most popular player before Tebow came along. Danny Wonderful did everything right in his career, leading the Gators to four consecutive SEC titles and the national championship his senior year. Along the way, he won the Heisman in 1996, while throwing for 10,875 yards and a remarkable 114 touchdowns in his career.
- Rex Grossman (2000-02) — He’s regarded as the best pure passer among the Steve Spurrier-coached quarterbacks at Florida. Grossman was the first sophomore quarterback in school history to be named first-team All-American. He also was a Heisman runner-up that season, and many believe he should have been the winner. He was AP’s national player of the year that year. He threw for a combined 55 touchdowns passes in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
- Steve Spurrier (1964-66) — If we were coming up with the Greatest Gator of All-time list, he most certainly would be at the top (and it’s not even close) given what he accomplished as a player and a coach. As a player, Spurrier became UF’s first Heisman winner in 1966. He led the Gators to major bowls (Sugar and Orange) in his junior and senior seasons and had a penchant for pulling games out late, including his 40-yard field goal that gave the Gators a late win over Auburn in 1966. For his career, he threw for 4,848 yards and 36 TDs. He had the IT factor long before anyone even started talking about the IT factor in college football.
- Shane Matthews (1990-92) — He is one of the greatest success stories in Florida football history, going from the bottom of the depth chart in the spring of 1990 to become SEC player of the year in each of his first two years under Spurrier. Matthews was All-SEC all three years. He was an excellent passer, and team leader and seemed to have a great feel for Spurrier’s offense and how to execute it. For his career, he threw for 9,287 yards and 74 touchdowns.
- John Reaves (1969-71) — Despite playing in more of a run-oriented offense in his final two years under new head coach Doug Dickey, Reaves finished his career as UF’s, the SEC’s and the NCAA’s all-time leading passer with 7,581 yards. He also set an SEC record with 56 TD passes. Perhaps the best pure passer in school history, he helped orchestrate that magical 1969 season where the Super Sophs went 9-1-1.
- Chris Leak (2003-06) — One of the highest-rated quarterbacks to sign with Florida, he lived up to the hype, starting all four seasons and helping lead the Gators to the national title in his senior year. Leak is UF’s all-time leader in pass attempts (1,458), completions (895) and passing yards (11,213). He also finished his career with 88 touchdown passes, tying him with Tebow for the second-most in school history.
- Kerwin Bell (1984-87) — The Throwin’ Mayoan’s success story is even a little more remarkable than Matthews’. Bell went from no-name walk-on to SEC player of the year as a redshirt freshman in 1984. He rose to the top of the depth chart due to a series of injuries and once he got the opportunity, he ran (or rather passed) with it. He was All-SEC again his sophomore year and finished his career with 7,585 yards passing and 56 touchdowns.
- Terry Dean (1991-94) — He had an up-and-down UF career, with more ups than downs. After losing the starting job to Danny Wuerffel early in the 1993 season, Dean earned it back the following season, coming off the bench to lead UF to a win over Georgia — and ultimately lead the Gators to the SEC title that season, earning player of the game honors in the win over Alabama in the second SEC Championship Game. He finished his career with 39 touchdown passes.
- Don Gaffney (1973-75) — One of the pioneers in Florida football history, he became the school’s first starting black quarterback in the seventh game of his sophomore season in 1973. He was an instant success, leading the Gators to their first win ever at Auburn in his first start. That was the start of a five-game winning streak that became known as a “November to Remember.” A true dual-threat QB, he really took off when Doug Dickey changed to the wishbone offense the following season.