Who was the best player to wear No. 11 in Florida football history?
That’s an easy one.
Steve Spurrier. Everyone knows that.
The same goes for No. 7 (Danny Wuerffel) and, of course, No. 15 (Tim Tebow).
But what about No. 21 or No. 32 or No. 97?
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at every number and pick out the best Gator player at each one.
Fred Taylor, RB, 1994-97
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 21: A steady producer in the first year of his UF career, Taylor exploded in his senior season, rushing for 1,292 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had eight 100-yard rushing games and averaged 6.0 yards a carry. It was a year that earned him first team All-America honors.
Other notables: WR Cris Collinsworth, S Major Wright, RB Dexter McNabb, RB Kelvin Taylor, WR Frankie Neal, CB Tyson Sever.
Emmitt Smith, RB, 1987-89
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 22: An All-American in 1989 and a three-time All-SEC selection, Smith set an astounding 58 UF records during his career. In only three seasons, he became the Gators’ all-time leading rusher (at the time) by piling up 3,928 yards. He, of course, went on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Other notables: CB Steve Tannen, WR Willie Jackson Jr., S Matt Elam, RB John L. Williams, RB Terry Jackson.
Allen Trammel, DB, 1963-65
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 23: He was one of many of the outstanding UF players during the Silver Sixties — and certainly one of the most versatile, capable of making plays at running back and defensive back. He was a second-team All-SEC pick in 1964. As good as he was in football, he may have been even better in baseball at UF.
Other notables: CB Leonard George, DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, RB Mike Gillislee, RB Dwayne Mobley.
No. 24 Fred Weary, CB, 1993-97
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 24: He was a first team All-American and Thorpe Award finalist during a standout senior season that saw him intercept six passes. For his career, he was a two-time All-SEC selection who finished with 15 interceptions, the most in school history.
Other notables: DB Wayne Fields, TE Gene Peek, WR Tre Everett, S Josh Evans.
Lee McGriff, WR, 1972-74
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 25: McGriff is one of the greatest success stories in UF history, going from walk-on to the Gators’ leading receiver in 1973 and 1974. A two-time All-SEC selection, McGriff in those two years combined to catch 74 passes for 1,401 yards and 12 touchdowns. And, in one of those seasons (1974), McGriff was playing in a wishbone offense.
Other notables: KR Brandon James, RB Elijah Williams, S Roger Sibbald, DB Bill Gaisford, RB Dick Kirk.
Jarvis Williams, DB, 1983-87
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 26: The hard-hitting, playmaking Williams started every game in his four years at UF — 45 consecutive starts. And this from a guy who was one of the most physical defensive backs in Gator history. A two-time All-SEC selection, he finished his career with 10 interceptions — and too many big hits to count.
Other notables: S Todd Johnson, S Marcell Harris, CB Ivory Curry.
Neal Anderson, RB, 1982-85
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 27: On a team that had a ton of running back talent, Anderson rose to the top, leading the Gators in rushing for three consecutive seasons. A two-time All-SEC pick, Anderson’s senior season was his best. He rushed for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his career with 2,785 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.
Other notables: CB Henry Davis, LB Travis Harris, DB Demetric Jackson.
Chris Doering, WR, 1992-95
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 28: Like McGriff, Doering is a tremendous walk-on success story. A lanky unknown when he first arrived on campus, Doering developed into one of the best wide receivers in school and SEC history. His biggest season came in his senior year in which he caught 70 passes for 1,045 and 17 touchdowns. Those 17 receiving TDs put him at 31 for his career, the most in school and SEC history.
Other notables: CB Richard Fain, CB Randy Talbot, CB Dock Pollard.
Mike Peterson, LB, 1995-98
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 29: Peterson is another local kid (Alachua) who went on to do big things for the Gators. A highly recruited prospect, Peterson quickly developed into a tackling machine at UF. He earned All-SEC and All-America honors in 1998.
Other notables: CB Robby Ball, CB Tim Aydt, DB Dwight Jackson.
James Jones, FB, 1980-82
Why he’s the No. 1 No. 30: He came to Florida as a highly rated tight end, but was moved to fullback and became perhaps the best player to play that position in UF history. Here’s something that’s difficult to fathom today: Jones led the Gators in rushing for three consecutive seasons. A two-time All-SEC selection, he finished his career with 2,126 yards rushing and 13 TDs. He also excelled as a receiver coming out of the backfield.
Other notables: LB Earl Everett, CB Bennie Alexander, RB Earl Carr, DB Jim Revels, DB Paul Maliska.