Ratliff, 7 others added to UF Hall of Fame

He was electric on the field in his time that spanned two head coaches at Florida. Keiwan Ratliff left as the best defensive player in the Southeastern Conference and a First Team All-American after his senior year and he along with seven other Gator Greats from different sports were enshrined into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night.

The criteria for the group is tough and is certainly limited in scope putting the eight chosen for 2014 in a very elite group of Great Gators.

Each year, the F Club Committee selects members to the Hall of Fame, divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letter winners and Honorary Letter winners.

Keiwan Ratliff enters the hall of Fame as a candidate as a member of the football program from 2000 to 2003. He was the 2003 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, a two time all-SEC selection, and a First team all-American as well as a senior.

After the event, Ratliff still had a hard time grasping the depth and the breadth of the group of leaders and people he has now been cast as a member of.

"Honestly it is a surreal feeling that hasn't totally sunk in yet," Ratliff said. "I am still walking on air and taking it all in and visiting with my family. I am excited to see all my family so it hasn't sunk in yet."

He has known about the nomination for a while and is grateful for the company he has been placed with.

"It is amazing, there are so many Gator Greats on that wall and so many that haven't made it yet," he said. "To be mentioned in the same breath as Jevon Kearse, and Alex Brown and some of the great defensive players that have made it… I am truly blessed."

Ratliff spends his time helping the youth of Central Florida. One of his endeavors is the ‘Rat Pac' 7on7 football squad, a group of high school players that compete in tournaments and try and make themselves better players and people in the process. Ratliff is constantly pushing for the attention his student athletes in order for them to gain college scholarships.

He says when it became known about him being enshrined into the Hall of fame, some doors opened up for some of his philanthropic endeavors.

"It's like I am now accepted in every Gator circle," he said. "When you are good football or basketball player, you are accepted in most circles. But Jeremy Foley told me today, ‘once your name goes down on that paper and you get that picture up, they can never take it away'. Now that I am in the Hall of Fame, I know I will die Orange and Blue."

More than anything a night like Friday brings back the memories of his time on campus. The memories he cherishes most in his life and where he made some of the best friends he has ever had.

"The thing I will never forget is all the friendships that I have from the time I was on the team," Ratliff said. "All the friends I made, and teammates I had, I still talk to those guys today. Whether we are wearing our old uniforms or old and wearing Depends, or whether we are at our kids' games or grandkids' games, we will always be friends and have those bonds and it was from being Florida Gators that we created those bonds and memories."

Ratliff was part of an eight person group that were added to the Hall of Fame on Friday. Here are the rest…

2014 GATOR GREATS

Aury Cruz (Volleyball 2000-03) - Three-time AVCA All-American...Three-time SEC Player of the Year...2000 SEC Freshman of the Year...Holds program record for kills (1,815) and points (2,188.5)...Ranks second in kills per set (4.58), attacks (4,096), service aces (220), service aces per set (.56), digs per set (3.33) and points per set (5.53) ...Sixth in career digs (1,320).

Jenny Gladding (Softball 2003-04) - A 2003 All-SEC selection...Third lowest career ERA at UF (1.20)...Third most strikeouts in a season (285, 2003)...Recorded one perfect game and one no-hitter.

Justin O'Neal (Men's Tennis 1997-00) - - Three-time All-American...First Freshman All-American in UF history...Two-time All-SEC selection...Ranks first in career singles wins and second overall in career wins.

Colleen Rosensteel (Women's Track & Field 1986-89) - - Six-time All-American in both the discus and shot put...Six-time SEC Champion (4-shot put; 2-discus).

Mike Stanley (Baseball 1982-85) - - Three-time All-SEC...Ranked in the top 10 in UF history for batting average, games played, hits and runs scored.

Sarah Yohe (Soccer 1996-99) - - The 1999 SEC Player of the Year...1998 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team...Tied for second in UF History for game-winning goals (18)...Ranks fourth in UF History in goals (60), hat-tricks (3), assists (33) and shots (315).

2014 DISTINGUISHED LETTERWINNER

Harrison "Harry" Wilder (Swimming 1961-63) - Earned five All-SEC honors...A member of five SEC Championship relay teams...Member of three SEC Championship Teams ('61, '62 and '63)...Owned and operated eight successful McDonald's franchises in Gulf Breeze, Fla....Member of the Gator Boosters Board of Directors and past member of the F Club Committee...Lifetime member of the Splash Club...Major supporter of UF's Swimming and Diving program.


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