Decade in review: Who were the top UF athletes in each sport?


In addition to picking the Top-10 Gator sports stories of the decade, The Sun selected the best athletes of the last 10 years in each sport. Some were easy, some were really difficult.

1. BASEBALL: Alex Faedo

Florida starting pitcher Alex Faedo (21) throws during the first game of the Super Regional against Wake Forest in the 2017 NCAA Baseball Championship held at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville Saturday June 10, 2017. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun file]

This really was a tough call between Faedo and Golden Spikes winner Mike Zunino. Faedo won out because he handled the MLB Draft about as well as any player (throwing two scoreless innings in a regional clincher on the night he was picked in the first round.) Faedo was the MVP of Florida’s first College World Series winner, which is pretty heady stuff.

2. MEN’S BASKETBALL: Scottie Wilbekin

Florida Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) celebrates after making a three at the buzzer to end the first half against the Dayton Flyers during of the Elite Eight on Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. [Gainesville Sun file]

Plenty of worthy candidates here and Wilbekin did have some issues with suspensions off the court. But he was the backbone of a team that strung together an amazing 30-straight wins and reached the Final Four. This decade produced Florida’s only two SEC Players of the Year, Wilbekin and Chandler Parsons, so he had tough competition.

3. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Ronni Williams

Florida Gator forward Ronni Williams (1) shoots past Southeastern Louisiana defender Chambria Harrison (12) during the first Florida women’s basketball game at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville Wednesday Dec. 28, 2016. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun file]

Let’s face it, it wasn’t a great decade for women’s basketball, but Wiliams was the highest ranked player to sign with UF and the only Gator to lead the rugged SEC in scoring. She finished with 1,400 points and 800 rebounds.

4. FOOTBALL — Jarrad Davis

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain shakes hands with Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) after the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

This was a tough one because, while Florida had erratic success under four different head coaches, there were no Ring of Honor candidates. Instead, there were a lot of really good players and we chose Davis, who made play after play at linebacker and was a true alpha dog. Dan Mullen has told the media that — to this day — he is still revered in that locker room.

5. MEN’S GOLF: Sam Horsfield

Sam Horsfield. [UF]

He came to Florida in 2015 with a lot of fanfare and left two years later with a lot of birdies in his wake. Horsfield’s 2016 season was dominant, earning him the Phil Mickelson Award and SEC freshman of the year honors.

6. WOMEN’S GOLF: Maria Torres

Maria Torres. [UF]

Another tough choice because of the way Sierra Brooks played at the end of the decade, but Torres was the 2016 SEC Golfer of the Year and won five events on her way to being a two-time All-America.

7. GYMNASTICS: Bridget Sloan

Florida Gators gymnast Bridget Sloan competes on the beam against the Arkansas Razorbacks at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

In a decade that included three straight national championships, Sloan was right in the middle of all of them. She was the first Gator to record a 10 in all four events, won nine NCAA titles and two Honda Awards for the NCAA’s best gymnast as a freshman and a senior.

8. LACROSSE: Shannon Gilroy

Florida Gators midfielder Shannon Gilroy celebrates with Brittany Dashiell (22) after scoring a goal against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament on Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

If there is a Florida record for anything other than being a goalie in lacrosse, the chances are pretty good that it belongs to Gilroy. In a sport that is still relatively new at UF, she definitely made her mark.

9. SOCCER: Savannah Jordan

Florida’s Savannah Jordan (7) takes a sliding shot at goal during a game against Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in Gainesville Nov. 18, 2016. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

In this decade, there was only one female college soccer player to score 80 goals in her career. And it was Jordan, who had 81 and was a four-time All-America as well as a two-time SEC offensive player of the year.

10. SOFTBALL: Lauren Haeger

Florida’s Lauren Haeger smiles along with the Gator logo after pitching a scoreless game against Kentucky in Game One of the Super Regional Saturday, May 23, 2015, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

Any time you can draw comparisons to Babe Ruth, you’ve done well on a ball field. Haeger was a dominant pitcher and Florida’s power source at the plate. She was a big part of Florida’s first national championship in 2014 and owned the series the next year. Haeger is the only college softball player to record 70 wins and 70 home runs.


Florida swimmer Caeleb Dressel laughs with coach Gregg Troy after a press conference Thursday, May 5, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium about the upcoming Olympic Trials in which he was competing. [Gainesville Sun File]

OK, this one was easy. Dressel was a 28-time All-America and you can’t do better than that. He set record after record and won 10 NCAA events. No Gator has ever won more.


Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel starts her leg of the 400 yard medley relay during the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Stephen O’Connell Center on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. [Gainesville Sun File]

Another dominant swimmer, Beisel won two national titles and nine SEC titles before going on to swim in the Olympics twice. She was also the 2013 SEC female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

13. MEN’S TENNIS: Gordon Watson

Florida Gators singles player Gordon Watson returns a shot against North Florida’s Sahil Deshmukh during the first round of the Men’s NCAA Tennis Championship on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

He piled up a lot of victories from 2012-16, 192 to be exact which places him fourth all-time at UF. His senior season included an SEC Tournament MVP award and All-American honors in doubles.

14. WOMEN’S TENNIS: Lauren Embree

University of Florida’s Lauren Embree plays against South Carolina State in the 2010 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships first round at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex at UF Friday, May 14, 2010, in Gainesville. [Gainesville Sun File]

In a sport where there have been some of the most successful athletes of all-time at UF, Embree is in the argument as one of the best. She was the only player in the history of the SEC to be player of the year three times and twice was the NCAA Most Valuable Player.

15. MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD: Grant Holloway

Florida’s Grant Holloway celebrates after winning the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 13.25 seconds during a track meet at Percy Beard Track on April 27, 2019. [Gainesville Sun File]

Holloway was a four-star receiver out of high school. But he wanted to go somewhere that would develop him in track. He picked the right spot. Holloway won a school record eight SEC championships and broke about every collegiate record in the hurdles there is.


Yanis David. [UF]

David had an exceptional career as a jumper, becoming the second best collegiate triple jumper and seventh best in the long jump. She won four SEC tiles, two NCAAs and the Honda Award this year.

17. VOLLEYBALL: Rhamat Alhassan

Florida’s Rhamat Alhassan (1) rises up to spike the ball during the Regional Semi-Final match against UCLA in the NCAA Volleyball Championships at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville on Dec. 8, 2017. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

The middle blocker seemed to block out the lights when she rose to smash balls at the opposition. She would definitely be on the Mount Rushmore of greatest Gator volleyball players after a career that included being a four-time All-America, winning a Honda Award and being 2017 SEC player of the year.