8 days to college football

8 - Don Gaffney

8 – Don Gaffney

Don Gaffney played quarterback for Coach Doug Dickey’s run-oriented offense from 1973-1975. He was the First black quarterback to start at Florida and only the second to start in the SEC (the first was Condredge Holloway at Tennessee). Gaffney faced a great deal of adversity from opposing fans and Gator fans alike. Despite the racial adversity he lead Florida to an upset win over Auburn at then-named Cliff Hare stadium in first start in ’73, the first time Florida had ever beaten Auburn in Cliff-Hare stadium in twelve tries. Florida faced Auburn in that stadium every other year since 1951. Don finished his career with 128 completions on 293 attempts for 2108 yards and 19 touchdowns. Thanks to the run-oriented offense, he also rushed for 533 yards on 233 attempts (2.3 yards) for 7 touchdowns.

Bonus trivia: Don is the father of Jabar Gaffney (WR 1999-2001) and the uncle to Lito Shepard (CB 1999-2001).

8 - Rex Grossman

8 – Rex Grossman

Rex Daniel Grossman III came to Gainesville as a Parade All American quarterback and Indiana’s Mr. Football from Bloomington, Indiana. He played for Steve Spurrier’s and Ron Zook’s Florida Gators from 1999 to 2002. Rex redshirted his freshman year, and in his sophomore year he competed for the starting position with incumbent starter Jesse Palmer and the top recruit in the nation, Brock Berlin. Rex won the starting role after leading the Gators to 41-7 and 38-7 lopsided wins over LSU and Auburn, which followed a 35-47 heartbreaking loss to MSU after a frustrated Coach Spurrier rotated all three of his quarterbacks. That loss broke the Gators’ unbeaten streak of 72 games without a loss against unranked teams. (It seems that Mississippi schools are Florida’s kryptonite.) With Sexy Rexy at the helm of the Gator offense, Florida went on to the SEC championship and the SEC championship game MVP honors with a 28-6 win over Auburn. In 2000, Rex was named a team MVP after completing 61.8% of his passes for 1866 yards, 21 TDs, and only 7 INTs, with an NCAA 3rd-best passer rating of 161.8.

In 2001 Rex had an even better year by leading the nation in passer efficiency, passing completion percentage, and yards per attempt on the way to Consensus All American honors, earning AP Player of the Year award, coming in 2nd in Heisman Trophy voting, and setting what was then a record 55 TD passes through his sophomore season. He ended the season with a 56-23 victory over the Maryland Terrapins in the 2002 Orange Bowl.

As a team captain in 2002, his 22/32, 3 TD performance led the #10 Gators to a 30-13 victory in the “Slingin’ in the Rain” game against #4 Tennessee. Despite going 21/41 for 323 yards and 2 TDs, the Gators lost to the Michigan Wolverines in the 2003 Outback Bowl.

Rex decided to skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft after throwing for 9164 yards, 77 TDs, a 146.77 passer rating (3rd in SEC history). Rex was selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, whom he led to an NFC championship and a Super Bowl XLI berth. Despite the Super Bowl loss, he earned the Ed Block Courage Award after the game, and Bloomington High School retired his jersey. Rex finished as #5 in my [LIST] of best Gator passers.

BONUS: Rex’s father and grandfather both played for the Indiana University football team. Rex III’s grandfather, Rex I, played for the Baltimore Colts and Detroit Lions.

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