UF's best draft did not come after a championship season. In 2001 many thought the Gators should have been playing opposite Miami in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship. A mid-season loss on a last second field goal at Auburn and a missed two point try at home against Tennessee got this team to Miami. The Fed Ex Orange Bowl is where they routed Maryland to finish third in the country. Lito Sheppard, Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell hi-lighted an eight pick draft for the Gators that season. All eight players have started an NFL game in their first two seasons. Jeff Chandler is now with the Jaguars, while Marquand Manuel was the last Gator selected that season, is still playing with the Cinncinati Bengals. The biggest steal of that draft was Alex Brown on the second day in the fourth round to the Chicago Bears.
Snippetts and Tidbits
42 players were selected from the SEC in the NFL draft and LSU had the most with seven. Arkansas was next with six, which included two first round picks in defensive back Ahmad Carroll and Shawn Andrews. The Big Ten had the most with 44 players, including 14 from Ohio State. The ACC, which will add Miami and Virginia Tech to it's list next season, was sixth with 25. The Gators have had at least one player selected in the draft every season since 1970. Twice the Gators only had one player selected in years 1971 and in 1980. The most picks were in 1978 with ten and in 1992 the Gators had 9 selected before the draft was reduced to seven rounds.
CBS released it's television schedule this past week with the game in Knoxville set for 8 p.m. in Neyland Stadium. The last time UF played in Knoxville on prime time an inferior Vol team knocked off the Gators in overtime and went on to win the National Championship.
The Gators have righted the ship behind a healthy Justin Hoyman and some big hits from Ben Harrison. Harrison, who is a senior, won the SEC player of the week honors this past week. He was 7-13 with hits in all four games for the week. Ben is hitting .344 with 10 home runs on the season. Conner Falkenbach has appeared in 23 games for UF this season and is making a case to be the team's MVP. Falkenbach's best performance may have been five scoreless innings on Friday night after the Gators fell behind by three runs. UF would rally to win game one and sweep the series. UF is in first place all alone in the East and get 9-9 Auburn out of the West this weekend at home. UF has Alabma and Tennessee left on the road and Ole Miss at home in the conference. They also have one mid week home game with Florida State left. Arkansas, who is the hottest team in the SEC West, leads the other division. The Gators won two of three to open it's conference schedule against the Razorbacks. If UF can win the East they will be a lock to host a regional June 4-6 in the Mac in Gainesville.
Last weekend was the reunion of the 1996 National Championship team in Gainesville hosted by James Bates and Zach Piller. There was plenty of golf and fundraising all weekend at the University Golf Course. I had the opportunity to interview several players and former assistant coaches for Sunshine Network's Gridiron Classics that will air this summer. Other players were on hand and were interviewed for other Gator Classics. Shayne Edge talks about his run in the 1993 SEC Title Game, Jason Odom gives his insight into the Georgia Rivalry for Steve Spurrier and Chris Doering describes his catch in the 1993 Kentucky game. Jim Collins, who is now the secondary coach at Marshall, talks about lining up against FSU and how the 1991 game (won by UF 14-9) is still one of his five best games he has ever been involved in as a coach. James Bates talks about the 1995 Tennessee game in which the Vols had a 30-14 lead and then the Gators ran over Peyton and Crew 62-37. We will let you know when Sunshine Network sets it's television schedule this summer.
Stat of the Week: 40th
Ben Troupe is the highest tight end drafted for the Gators in school history. Jim Yarbrough who was selected 47th in the 1969 draft. Mike Mularkey, the Bills head coach, was a ninth round pick, Erron Kinney who will be Troupe's teammate in Tennessee, was a third round pick and Kirk Kirkpatrick was not even drafted in the 1991 edition.