Former Gators All-American Bruce Bennett died Jan. 12

Special to Gatorsports.com
Bruce Bennett played for the Gators from 1962-65 and earned first-team All-American honors at safety his senior season.

Former Florida All-American safety Bruce Bennett died Jan. 12 due to complications from pneumonia and COVID-19, the school announced on its website. He was 77 years old.

Bennett played for coach Ray Graves' Gators from 1963 to 1965. He starred at safety and held the school record with 13 career interceptions until Will White broke it in the early 1990s. Bennett remains tied for fourth with Ahmad Black for the most interceptions in the program's history.

Bennett's most famous game with the Gators came during the 1963 season when he intercepted Georgia quarterback Larry Rakestraw three times in Florida's 21-14 win in Jacksonville. Bennett picked off Rakestraw's first pass of the game and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. With less than two minutes left, he intercepted Rakestraw's final pass to seal the victory.

 He earned first-team All-American honors as a senior in 1965. He went undrafted and instead of pursuing an invitation to camp with the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals, Bennett opted for a career in the Canadian Football League.

He signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and in his first season, the team won its first Grey Cup. Bennett was a standout safety with Saskatchewan, earning All-CFL honors six times in a career that lasted from 1966-72.

Once Bennett finished playing he became a high school coach in his native Georgia and later returned to Florida where he served on Gene McDowell's staff at UCF for the better part of a decade. He also coached high school football in Florida and eventually retired to Ocala.

Bennett's career earned him a spot in the UF Athletics Hall of Fame, the Valdosta High Hall of Fame and the Roughriders Plaza of Honor.