Underappreciated Football Standouts: Part 3

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 30thyear 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 three of the series, the eighth most underappreciated football standouts in my years covering the Gators.

#10 ----- Tony Rowell
# 9 ----- Chris Leak

#8 ----- Harrison Houston ----- He came to the Gators from Pensacola and many felt he would be the big play running back to replace Emmitt Smith. Instead, Houston was a hugely important weapon in the Gators' first official SEC Championship season (1991). For all the success the Gator offense enjoyed in Steve Spurrier's first season, the Gators did not have a big play threat in the passing game. Ernie Mills was pretty good, but tight end Kirk Kirkpatrick was the Gators' leading receiver in '90.

It didn't take long to deliver the message that '91 would be different. Houston caught three touchdown passes in the opener against San Jose State and his blinding speed made opposing defensive coordinators take note. They would have to back up just a bit with this new weapon in the Spurrier arsenal. As a result, Willie Jackson would catch 113 passes, 18 for touchdowns over the next two seasons. In his senior season, Houston added the dimension of being Florida's top kickoff return man.

Houston finished his Gator career with 19 touchdown catches which at the time tied him with Carlos Alvarez for second in school history. He caught 101 passes for 1781 yards, and his 17.7 yards per catch is fourth best for any UF receiver with at least 100 receptions.

Harrison Houston is not a name that comes up in discussion about the great receivers at UF, but that's doesn't means he wasn't a great player. He was just a bit under appreciated.

Coming up next, we'll salute a guy who would definitely be viewed as a "leg man".

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