Underappreciated Football Standouts: Part Two

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.

Today is part two of the series, the ninth most underappreciated football standouts in my years covering the Gators.

#10 ----- Tony Rowell

#9 ----- Chris Leak ----- He left Gainesville with an SEC Championship ring and a National Championship ring. He passed for more yards than Danny Wuerffel and is among the SEC's All-time leaders in yardage, passing touchdowns and touchdown responsibility (passes plus runs). He had a better than 2-to-1 career touchdown/interception ratio. Yet Chris Leak was never chosen first team All-SEC (pre-season doesn't count).

Chris Leak had all those accomplishments despite sharing playing time as a freshman and again as a sophomore. He did it despite three offensive coordinators and two head coaches in four years. He did it despite being booed on occasion at home and knowing that his backup was the guy many wanted to see out there.

Leak ended his Gator career with 11,213 passing yards with 88 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. His numbers are up there with Wuerffel, Zeier, Couch and the Manning family. He also ran for 13 touchdowns.

While the All-SEC voters and many fans never fully appreciated Leak, he never lost his poise or composure on or off the field. His maturity was a huge factor in making the dual quarterback system work last season. Not many seniors would have quietly acquiesced to such an arrangement, but Leak wanted a ring more than he wanted stats. He wanted the team to achieve more than he wanted himself too. That selflessness is a big part of why Coach Urban Meyer speaks of Leak with such great affection. And it's a big part of why last year was so incredibly special.

Next up, we'll acknowledge a big play receiver who is never listed among the big play receivers in Gator history.

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