In a way, they are considered even more special than the players who sign with your favorite school and cause you to stay awake at night worrying about his recruitment.
You don’t even notice them in a recruiting class and barely notice they are even on the roster.
And then something happens. And you grab a program to look up a number.
For a special few, it went beyond that during their careers as Florida football players. They may have started out hoping to be another “Rudy”, but ended up being way more special than getting one career sack in a mop-up role.
These guys were players, some of the best in Florida history, and they did it the hard way, coming to school without a scholarship and earning their way on the team and eventually into stardom.
The walk-ons are always a feel-good story. These are my choices for the 10 best in Florida’s long college football history:
1. Louis Oliver
He came to UF in 1984 and think about this — there were guys getting paid on that team and Oliver had to pay his own way. He turned into a stud at safety and was named All-American in both 1987 and ’88. He was a heat-seeking missile with that trademark neck brace flying at you. He had 11 interceptions, five fumble recoveries and the most pass break-ups in a single season.
2. Chris Doering
I got a lot of lobbying from Steve Spurrier for Doering to be No. 1, especially because he is a Gainesville guy. He also happens to be a close friend. So let’s call him 1B. He still is tied for the record for most TD catches in the SEC for a career with 31, although LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase may pass him and Julio Jones down by the schoolyard. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
3. Kerwin Bell
The Throwin’ Mayoan came from seventh string on the depth chart to have four unbelievable years as a starter and helped Florida get to No. 1 for the first time in school history and win the SEC. Try telling him they didn’t win in 1984.
4. Lee McGriff
In an era when Florida did not pass the ball a lot, when the Gators did it was usually to McGriff. He had five 100-yard receiving games and, if you close your eyes, you old-timers like me can see him skying in the air against Georgia.
5. Judd Davis
Won the Lou Groza Award. Kicked four field goals in the mud to beat Georgia. We don’t need to get into his stats.
6. Pat Moorer
In two seasons at UF (1989 and ’89), he had 177 tackles. That’s a lot of tackles.
7. Jeff Chandler
Florida’s all-time leading scorer and the owner of a 54-yard field goal. Not too shabby for a walk-on.
8. Allen Trammell
I didn’t know he was a walk-on so I had someone check it out. Those of us who were there for the Pick-Six against FSU will never forget it.
9. Hagood Clarke
You have to go back to the early ’60s for a great defensive back and punt returner.
10. Billy Latsko
Remember when Florida changed the offense under Urban Meyer and went to a fullback? To say it worked would be an understatement.
Honorable mention: James Smith, Preston Kendrick, Bruce Vaughan, James Harrell, Tremayne Allen, David Posey.