22 days until college football

24 - Emmitt Smith

24 – Emmitt Smith

22 - Emmitt Smith

22 – Emmitt Smith

Emmitt James Smith III was born the second of five children in a podunk town in the panhandle of Florida called Pensacola. “Scoey” started scooting about the football field while he was a young lad growing up in the Attucks Court projects of Pensacola. As an 8-year old, Scoey took his first carry in Pop Warner football to the house on a 70-yard scamper. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to play Pop Warner! This slow, short tailback continued to amaze the masses at Salvation Army and Bellview until he caught the eye of coach Dwight Thomas at Escambia high school. Coach Thomas never considered starting a freshman, especially a small, slow one like Emmitt…until he saw the kid in action. Here in Pensacola, Emmitt is remembered for wearing orange and blue jersey #24 for the Escambia Gators, not #22.

Coach Thomas’ gamble on the freshman paid out as Emmitt rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards (second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time) and led Escambia to back-to-back state championships in 1984 and 1985. He rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia and finished with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. Despite the accolades, prominent scouts still chided him for being too small and too slow. Emmitt was heavily recruited by Pat Dye of Auburn (the other orange and blue), Bobby Bowden of Florida State (the other Florida college), and Tom Osborne of Nebraska. Thankfully, Emmitt elected to attend the University of Florida despite ongoing NCAA sanctions against the Gators.

Under Galen Hall, Emmitt did not start his first two games as a Gator, but he exploded onto the scene with a 66-yard touchdown run, 109 yards total in 10 carries in week 2 and earned the starting position for week 3, where he pummeled SEC foe Alabama to the tune of 224 yards and 2 touchdowns for a Florida single-game record. Emmitt singlehandedly carried the team, since NCAA sanctions hurt the depth chart and the offense lacked other offensive weapons. Defenses keyed in on Emmitt and hampered him with injuries. Despite this obstacle, Emmitt left Florida owning 58 school records, made the All-SEC 1st team all three years, and was the SEC MVP and 1st team All-American in his final year. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to be a successful running back. I hear that after the Dallas Cowboys drafted him with pick #17 in 1989, Emmitt did pretty well for himself in the pros.

Advertisements

27 days to college football

Charles Neal Anderson grew up in the podunk town of Graceville, Florida and rose to greatness as a member of a 1-2 backfield with John L. Williams under head coaches Charley Pell and Galen Hall. He remains third in all-time rushing yards behind Errict Rhett and Emmitt Smith. With John L. Williams, Ricky Nattiel, and Kerwin Bell all on the same team, the Gators offense was a Juggernaut as the Gators finished 9-1-1 in SEC-best and nationally elite years 1984 and 1985. He was a team captain in 1985, 1st team All-SEC in 1985, an AP honorable mention All-American in 1984 and 1985, and the recipient of the Gators’ Fergie Ferguson Award in 1985. Neal had fourteen games with 100 yards or more rushing, 639 carries for 3,234 yards rushing and thirty touchdowns, forty-nine receptions for 525 yards receiving and two touchdowns, and ninety-seven yards passing.

33 days to college football

33 –Errict Rhett, RB (1989-93)

Emmitt who? Errict Undra Rhett, from Pembroke Pines, Florida, picked up right where Emmitt left off as tailback during Steve Spurrier‘s triumphant return to Gainesville as savior and head ball coach. Even though it was rumored that Spurrier wanted a pass-happy offense, Errict broke Emmitt’s career rushing record with 4,163 rushing yards, and finished with 34 rushing touchdowns, 1,230 receiving yards, and two touchdown receptions. (Yeah, I know, he did it in four years, not three.) Not bad for a running back that nobody thought could surpass Emmitt, much less the presumed starter, Willie McClendon. Before each game or practice, Errict would pray to not fumble the ball. It turns out that Willie had a problem with fumbling the ball. All that hard work and a little bit of prayer must have paid off for Errict. Once he gained the starting role, Errict’s consistent running and low fumble rate helped the mighty Gators win the 1991 and 1993 SEC Championship Game. He was MVP of the 1994 Sugar Bowl in their victory over West Virginia, 1st team All-SEC in 1991 and 1993, and was inducted by the University of Florida Athletic Association as a Gator Great in 2005.

35 days until college football

35-Jimmy Dubose

35-Jimmy Dubose

35-Jimmy Dubose

35-Jimmy Dubose

Jimmy Dewayne DuBose played fullback for Doug Dickey‘s Florida Gators from 1972 to 1975, where he had the perfect build for a fullback with the agility of a tailback. In Dickey’s run-oriented offense, he once ran 180 yards against Vanderbilt and 204 yards against FSU. Jimmy rushed for 1,307 yards as a senior in 1975, which is third-best for a season total behind two of Emmitt Smith‘s years. Jimmy was a first-team All-SEC selection, the SEC Player of the Year, an All-American, 6th in Heisman voting, and Fergie Ferguson Award winner. He finished his career with 2159 yards rushing (5.7 YPA, 10 TD), which is currently 10th all time for the Gators. Jimmy was second-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he played from 1976 to 1978 until his career was cut short by injury. He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 1987.

38 days to college football

38-Willy J McGrady

38-Willie J McGrady

38 days to Florida Gator football! #38 – Willie J. McGrady (12/19/1968 – 5/17/1999). Willie McGrady of Palatka, Florida via Dothan, Alabama, played middle guard/ nose tackle and fullback for Galen Hall‘s Florida Gators from 1987 to 1988. At 6’3″, 247 pounds, and blessed with 4.5-speed, he was strong enough to pave the way for Emmitt Smith as blocking fullback or plow through opposing SEC offensive lines as middle guard/ nose tackle–in the same game! Willie was the first Gator to play both offense and defense in the same game since the mid-1960s when NCAA mandated two-way play for scholarship players. Willie loved hitting people so much, that he was also used on punt and kick coverage. Opposing players often remarked that they would avoid hitting him or aim for his shoelaces, because he was so solid and painful to hit. Although Emmitt Smith was a great running back in his own right, he often gives credit to Willie for paving the way during his freshman and sophomore years, most notably Emmitt’s 224-yard coming out party against Alabama in 1987. Unfortunately, Willie was diagnosed with congenital neck problems and was forced to leave the team after his sophomore season of 1988. Dejected and depressed, he wandered up and down the east coast and spent some time in prison before deciding to get his life together. He returned to University of Florida in 1992, finished his degree in therapeutic recreation in 1994, met his future wife and began his new life helping emotionally handicapped kids. Tragically, Willie was shot and killed in May of 1999.

22 Days to Gator Football – #22 Emmitt Smith (’87-’89)

Emmitt James Smith III was born the second of five children in a podunk town in the panhandle of Florida called Pensacola. “Scoey” started scooting about the football field while he was a young lad growing up in the Attucks Court projects of Pensacola. As an 8-year old, Scoey took his first carry in Pop Warner football to the house on a 70-yard scamper. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to play Pop Warner! This slow, short tailback continued to amaze the masses at Salvation Army and Bellview until he caught the eye of coach Dwight Thomas at Escambia high school. Coach Thomas never considered starting a freshman, especially a small, slow one like Emmitt…until he saw the kid in action. Here in Pensacola, Emmitt is remembered for wearing orange and blue jersey #24 for the Escambia Gators, not #22.

Coach Thomas’ gamble on the freshman paid out as Emmitt rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards (second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time) and led Escambia to back-to-back state championships in 1984 and 1985. He rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia and finished with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. Despite the accolades, prominent scouts still chided him for being too small and too slow. Emmitt was heavily recruited by Pat Dye of Auburn (the other orange and blue), Bobby Bowden of Florida State (the other Florida college), and Tom Osborne of Nebraska. Thankfully, Emmitt elected to attend the University of Florida despite ongoing NCAA sanctions against the team.

Under Galen Hall, Emmitt did not start his first two games as a Gator, but he exploded onto the scene with a 66-yard touchdown run, 109 yards total in 10 carries in week 2 and earned the starting position for week 3, where he pummeled SEC foe Alabama to the tune of 224 yards and 2 touchdowns for a Florida single-game record. Emmitt singlehandedly carried the team, since NCAA sanctions hurt the depth chart and the offense lacked other offensive weapons. Defenses keyed in on Emmitt and hampered him with injuries. Despite this obstacle, Emmitt left Florida owning 58 school records, made the All-SEC 1st team all three years, and was the SEC MVP and 1st team All-American in his final year. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to be a successful running back. I hear that after the Dallas Cowboys drafted him with pick #17 in 1989 that he did pretty well for himself.