Dooley’s Dozen: 12 great Gators whose performances were wasted
This is a tough one.
It’s difficult because I am not sure how to present it.
It’s something I was thinking about the other day because in the history of Florida football, there have been great players on teams that were not so great.
But I don’t want to say their talents were wasted. Or do I? No, in almost every case, that player went on to success one way or another.
Still, these were players that were better than their records.
So, here you have it for the latest Dooley’s Dozen, 12 Gator football players that Florida didn’t get the most out of. Dang, that sounds too negative. OK, 12 players who were great on mediocre teams?
Whatever we want to call it, here it is.
Cris Collinsworth (1979)
Gordon Morioka/The Enquirer
Collinsworth was the spokesperson for the team that is now known as “lovable losers”, but at the time was simply an 0-10-1 team. The first one produced by Charley Pell had some bad luck, including the Brantley brothers for the season in the second game.
But 0-10-1 is 0-10-1. Collinsworth caught 41 passes and only two of them went for touchdowns.
John Reaves and Carlos Alvarez (1970-71)
Foster Marshall, Jr./Florida Times-Union
The transition was not smooth. Ray Graves was forced out and Doug Dickey was the new coach, and a team that went 9-1-1 in 1969 went 11-11 in the last two seasons.
Those teams had an All-American receiver and the all-time leader in passing yards when he finished. The change in coaching philosophy was not good for the Super Sophs.
Emmitt Smith (1987-89)
Allen Dean Steele/Allsport
Blasphemy, I tell you. The guy is in the Ring of Honor so what am I talking about? He was twice a top 10 finisher in the Heisman voting. Florida leaned on him all three years he was in Gainesville.
But the teams were nothing to write home about. In Emmitt’s three years, Florida went 20-16 and played in three lower-tier bowl games. Wasn’t his fault, but Florida was still feeling the effects of probation and reduced scholarships.
Wes Chandler (1977)
They tried everything to get him the ball including lining Chandler up at tailback in his last season. And it did produce one glorious win against Georgia.
But the 1977 Gators went 6-4-1 and ended the season with an embarrassing 37-9 loss to FSU. There was no bowl game for a Gator team that had 10 players taken in the NFL draft (Chandler was the third pick).
O’Cyrus Torrence, junior (2022 transfer)
AP Photo/Gary McCullough
Torrence was one of those guys that came over with Billy Napier from Louisiana and had a special season, good enough to be named an All-American.
It’s difficult to be an All-American on a team that finished 6-7 and lost to Vanderbilt. That’s how good he was last year.
Jarvis Williams and Louis Oliver (1987)
RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not sure about this, but it is difficult to believe that a college football team can have two All-Americans in the secondary AND Emmitt Smith and could still go 6-6.
But the 1987 Gators did just that, starting the year by scoring four points against Miami and ending it with a bowl loss in Hawaii.
Dante Fowler (2014)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Fowler was a big part of [autotag]Will Muschamp[/autotag]’s final year and was disruptive enough to be a first-team All-SEC defensive end. The game he played in the bowl game win against East Carolina was amazing.
But that team went 7-5 and it was the Birmingham Bowl. By then, Muschamp had already been let go.
Duke Dawson (2017)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dawson was an excellent player who was named All-SEC by the coaches. He also led the team with four interceptions in 2017, one returned for a touchdown.
That was the final season of Jim McElwain and the team ended up with a 4-7 record with Randy Shannon filling in after the death threats press conference.
Charlie Hunsinger (1948-49)
Courtesy: University of Florida SID
This takes you way back to a running back who was so good they wrote a song about him. He was first-team All-SEC in both 1948 and 1949.
Hunsinger was a humdinger (that’s what they called him in the song), but the Gators were not so musical, combining those two seasons to go 9-10-1 despite his exploits.
Fred Abbott (1972)
Abbott went on to play in the World Football League and became a very successful attorney. He was an All-SEC player, but his senior year was not what he hoped for.
Despite him being all-conference at linebacker in 1972, Florida went 5-5-1. He actually quit the team at one point under Dickey but returned to have an excellent career.
Ciatrick Fason (2004)
Preston Mack-USA TODAY Sports
C-4 is one of the most underrated players in Florida history, rushing for 1,217 yards as a senior in 2004 to lead the SEC while being named first-team All-SEC by the AP.
The team was supposed to be [autotag]Ron Zook[/autotag]’s best, but he was fired (that seems to be a common theme here) and Florida went 7-5. There was that one special night in Tallahassee, however.
Jack Youngblood (1970)
Joe Rudis/The Tennessean
What, another Ring of Honor guy? Youngblood was one of the greatest Gators ever, an All-American that was certainly deserving.
The Gator team in 1970 was the first for Dickey and ended up going 7-4/ Two of the losses were to Alabama, 46-15, and Auburn, 63-14, on homecoming. It was not the way he wanted to finish up.
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