Gator Greats Strong in Week One of NFL

The Florida Gators leave a lasting impression in football, even after their playing days in Gainesville are over. Twenty-five Gator Greats are playing football professionally in the NFL and some are making their mark on the league that is considered the strongest in professional sports. Here is a rundown of what the Gator greats of the past are still doing at the highest level of football.

Florida has alumni at every position in the NFL and some more than others. Let's talk about week one.

At quarterback, only one got to see time on Saturday, but Rex Grossman did so with a bang with his Washington Redskins. Grossman started and threw for two touchdowns, zero interceptions and 305 yards on 21-for-34 passing in the Redskins 28-14 win over the New York Giants. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was active Monday night, but did not play in week one against the Raiders.

The Gators have but one running back in the league right now. Earnest Graham of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers represented wall and had six rushes for 13 yards, while catching eight passes for 58 yards, and notched one special teams tackle in a 20-27 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Always one of the stronger positions at Florida, the receivers really stood out this weekend. Led by Percy Harvin of the Vikings who started and caught two passes for seven-yards, had four rushes for 15 yards and always a flare for the dramatic, Harvin returned one kickoff for a 103-yard touchdown.

Also doing well was Grossman's teammate and pass catcher Jabar Gaffney of the Redskins. Gaffney started and was the recipient of three passes for 54 yards and one touchdown. David Nelson started for the Buffalo Bills and recorded four receptions for 66 yards.

Andre Caldwell (Bengals) and Riley Cooper (Eagles) both recorded one special teams tackle in their respective games. Louis Murphy (Raiders) was not active in Oakland's win over Denver.

The lone Gator tight end in the league had a great game as well in just his second season in the league. Aaron Hernandez (Patriots) started and caught seven passes for 103 yards and one touchdown in the electric win over the Miami Dolphins.

Mike Pouncey
On the offensive line, Mike Pouncey (Dolphins) made first career NFL Start at center for Miami in his rookie season. Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) started at right guard for Oakland and now has 103 career starts. Maurkice Pouncey (Steelers) made his 17th consecutive regular season start at center for Pittsburgh. Drew Miller (Rams) played against the Eagles but did not start. Marcus Gilbert (Steelers) was active for the first game of his NFL career.

Maybe the best game of any Gator, which says a lot, came on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald (49er's) started and recorded six tackles, one sack, three tackles for a loss, and three QB hurries. Thise are huge numbers for an interior lineman.

Jeremy Mincey (Jaguars) started at defensive end for Jacksonville and notched three QB hurries. Mincey is expected to have a big year. Carlos Dunlap (Bengals) looked good and egistered two quarterback hurries for Cincinnati. Justin Trattou (Giants) got in the game against the Redskins and had an assist on one tackle. Jarvis Moss (Raiders) entered the game but had no stats vs. the Broncos.

Three Gator Greats defensive linemen were on roster but not active during week one and they include. Derrick Harvey (Broncos), Marcus Thomas (Broncos), and Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots).

Not many linebackers left in the league with history in Gainesville and healthy this season, but Andra Davis (Bills) started at middle linebacker and did not show up on the stat sheet. Mike Peterson (Bills) was also stat-less on the night but did see the field. Brandon Spikes (Patriots) was not active in week one of the season.

The comeback of the week award may have to go to Reggie Nelson (Bengals). The one time Gator Great legend started at free safety for the Bengals and totaled nine tackles, one sack and two passes defended resembling that Reggie Freakin' Nelson we all rooted for in orange and blue.

Two others in the secondary that did well were Joe Haden (Browns) and Major Wright (Bears). Haden started at corner and recorded three tackles, one sack, and five passes defended. Wright started at free safety and finished with four tackles.

The lone kicking specialist in the league right now that wore the orange and blue is 2010 Ray Guy award winner Chas Henry (Eagles) henry had three punts for an average of 36.3 yards with a long of 39 in his first career NFL game.

Thanks to Florida SID for contributing to this report.

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