Marshall Honor Deserved, Overdue

It was a great day for Gator football last year when the Florida Gators announced their initial four inductees into the "Ring of Honor" last year. Nobody could quibble about honoring any of the quartet of Gator greats who were honored that day. Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy.

Emmitt Smith is arguably the greatest player to ever suit up for Florida and Jack Youngblood is the lone Gator (for now) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the event was somewhat overshadowed by some hurt feelings as well. There were many – including yours truly – felt there should have been five men chosen for that initial recognition. Wilbur Marshall is every bit a Gator superstar as any other and it is appropriate that he joins the others in "The Ring" this fall.

Simply put, Wilbur is the best defensive player I have ever seen in a Gator uniform. Admittedly I did not see Youngblood in Orange and Blue, but Marshall was simply amazing. His performance on Florida Field against Southern Cal in 1982 was the singular most amazing thing I have ever seen. To this day Sean Salisbury will go into convulsions if you just whisper "Wilbur's coming" into his ear. He was chosen the "Defensive Player of the Year" in the nation by ABC after his dominant 1983 season. In his three years on defense, Marshall totaled 343 tackles including a then school record 23 sacks.

Not bad for a guy who cried when he was told he was moving from tight end after his freshman year.

Who's Next?

There are a number of players with sterling résumé's who warrant consideration as the sixth honoree in this special category of Gator greats.

Carlos Alvarez ----- Caught an amazing 88 passes as a sophomore and finished his UF career with 172, despite a change in offensive philosophies. Also an Academic All-American who has brought honor to his alma mater.

Lomas Brown ----- My choice as the greatest offensive lineman in school history, Lomas was the star of Florida's best line ever, "The Great Wall" of 1984 and had an exceptional NFL career earning five pro bowl honors.

Neal Anderson ----- Florida's first 3,000 yard rusher, Anderson was a star in a stable of star backs in the eighties that included James Jones, John L Williams and Lorenzo Hampton. He also endowed a scholarship in women's tennis to honor his mother. Neal Anderson is one of the classiest people to ever represent Florida on and off the field.

Rex Grossman ----- His sophomore seasons (2001) might be the best any Florida quarterback ever had. He was the Heisman runner up behind Eric Crouch in perhaps the most absurd Heisman voting ever.

Errict Rhett ----- E-Rhett took over the running back job after Emmitt Smith left and broke many of Emmitt's records. His 4,163 rushing yards may last as the Gator standard for a long time to come and he also caught 153 passes. His greatest moment had to be his 183 yards in the mud in Jacksonville as Florida saddled up # 33 and rode him to victory.

Did I leave someone out? Who would be your choice to be No. 6 in the Ring of Honor?


Fightin Gators Top Stories