Underappreciated Gator Football Standouts

I was thumbing through last year's Gator football media guide and was looking at the long list of All-SEC performers in Orange and Blue through the years and one thing really stood out to me. I was taken aback by the number of truly outstanding players who never made first team All-SEC.

This is my 30th year covering the Gators and I started going year by year through the seasons and name after name kept coming up of guys who were either second team selections at best or never earned All-Conference recognition. So for the next couple of weeks as we stagger through the uneventful month of July, I'll be remembering some of those guys who are the best of the group of Gators whose honors never lived up to their contributions.

#10 ----- Tony Rowell ----- In the spring of 1990 the Florida Gators were struggling to put together an offensive line that would get the job done in the Gators' new offense. Steve Spurrier and his staff made the decision to move little used defensive tackle Tony Rowell over to guard to add some athleticism and attitude to the front wall. It worked out extremely well as Rowell solidified the front five and gave the Gators some added physicality in the trenches.

The Gator offense took off, averaging 452.6 yards a game, a mark that is still in the top ten in school history. Florida's 387 points set a school record as the team posted a 9-2 record. That represented an improvement of 119 points over the previous year despite losing Emmitt Smith and playing one fewer game. Cal Dixon earned first-team All-SEC honors that year and Dixon and Hesham Ismail were chosen in '91, but Tony Rowell was an under appreciated factor in helping that line become one of the better units in the SEC.

While Rowell earned no all-conference recognition, others noticed his play. He was chosen 156th in the NFL Draft in April of 1992, the sixth round choice of the Los Angeles Raiders.

Next up, a quarterback whose numbers seem to scream out for acknowledgement.

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