Gators’ best by the numbers: Nos. 51-60

Maurkice Pouncey performs during the NFL Pro Day at Florida Field on March 17, 2010. (Rob C. Witzel / Staff Photographer)

 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.

 Today, Numbers 51-60:

No. 51

Brandon Spikes, LB, 2006-09

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 51: One of the highest-rated recruits in the Urban Meyer coaching era, Spikes certainly lived up to his potential in his four years in Gainesville. He was a two-time All-American and a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik and Dick Butkus awards and a two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award. For his career, he piled up 307 tackles, 31.5 tackles for losses, 14 pass breakups and 6.5 sacks. He’s the only  player in UF history to return four interceptions for touchdowns.

 Other notables: All-American (1980) LB David Little, All-American (1966) C Bill Carr, DT Tim Newton, C Robbie Moore, OL Ryan Kalich.

No. 52

Jon Bostic, LB, 2009-11

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 52: A big-time hitter, Bostic had an outstanding season in 2012, leading the Gators in tackles (94) and earning second team All-SEC honors. He helped lead UF to the Sugar Bowl.

 Other notables: LB Alvin Butler, LB Dwayne Thomas, DT Ricky Williams, OL Chris Bromley.

No. 53

Charlie Williams, LB, 1975-77

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 53: His 1977 season was similar to Bostic’s 2012 season. He was on the All-SEC second team and led the Gators in tackles with 153. His striking ability earned him the nickname “Charliehorse.”

 Other notables: C Kim Helton, DL/OL Bruce Culpepper, LB Frank McCarthy.

No. 54

James Harrell, LB, 1978

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 54: Yet another walk-on success story for the Gators. Harrell, an unknown coming out of high school and for much of his UF career, had a big 1978 season and followed it up with a long career in the NFL.

 Other notables: DE Willie Rodgers, DE Mark Murray.

No. 55

Ralph Ortega, LB, 1972-74

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 55: He is considered one of the all-time great defensive players in UF history. He was a two-time All-SEC selection and a first team All-American in his senior season. He was a three-year starter who had 357 tackles, 12 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and five interceptions in his career.

 Other notables: LB Scot Brantley, C Mike Pouncey, LB Channing Crowder, DE Willie Cohens, OL Jimmy Ray Stephens, OL Richard Kensler.

No. 56

Maurkice Pouncey, C, 2007-09

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 56: It’s difficult for a true freshman offensive lineman to earn any playing time in the SEC. But Pouncey was different, and it was obvious from the start. One game into his career, he earned the starting role at offensive guard and more than held his own. He switched to center after his freshman year and went on to become the best at that position in school history. In his senior year, he won the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top center.

 Other notables: All-American (1987) OLB Clifford Charlton, DT Tim Newton, DE Cameron Davis, LB Daryl Owens, OL Tony Rowell.

No. 57

Kevin Carter, DE, 1991-94

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 57: He came to UF with immense potential, and reached it, showing dramatic improvement each season. He was named an All-American in his senior season in which he had 11.5 sacks and was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award. For his career, he had 42.5 tackles for losses and 21.5 sacks.

 Other notables: OL Carl Johnson, LB David Poff, DE Jeremy Mincey, DE Bobby McCray, LB Jerry Odom.

No. 58

Johnny Rutledge, LB, 1995-98

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 58: He was a big, physical athlete who could also really run — a skill set that allowed him to make plays from sideline to sideline against the run or the pass. He was a two-time All-SEC pick.

 Other notables: LB Fred Abbott, DT Dominique Easley, DE Mike Kerr, LB Ron Moten.

No. 59

Cal Dixon, OL, 1988-91

 Why he’s the No. 1 No. 59: Dixon was a solid, consistent offensive lineman who developed into one of the best in the SEC under Steve Spurrier and his staff. He was a first team All-SEC selection in back-to-back seasons in 1990-91.

 Other notables: LB Mark Korff, LB Mike Nattiel, C Wyley Ritch, OL Butch Condon..

No. 60

Billy Hinson, OL, 1982-84

Why he’s the No. 1 No. 60: He signed with the Gators to play defensive tackle, but this physical athlete moved to offensive guard and became a key cog in UF’s “Great Wall” offensive line of 1984.

 Other notables: DT Henry McMillian, DT John Lacer, OL Mark White.