Silver Sixties of a Different Sort

One of the great weekends in Gator Nation every year is the Silver Sixties reunion. Well, we'll probably have a man or two from that group in this installment of our feature on the greatest Gators to wear each number as we visit a different group of stars of the "sixties".

#60 Billy Hinson ----- He was the "other one" on the Great Wall of Florida is 1984. Everyone knew Phil Bromley, Crawford Kerr, Lomas Brown and Jeff Zimmerman. Well Hinson was the fifth starter and a powerful drive blocker on the best offensive line UF ever put on the field. The other four were all first or second team All-SEC but the under-appreciated Hinson was noticed enough for be Denver's fifth-round draft pick. Honorable mention for Mark White and Henry McMillan.

#61 Ellis Johnson ----- He was a fullback and defensive tackle at Wildwood High School and used that quickness to be an incredibly difficult guy to block. Johnson was an easy going guy, until he went nuts after Florida's 31-31 "loss" at FSU in '94. He was a first round draft pick and enjoyed a solid NFL career. Honorable mention for Gerard Warren and Mo Mitchell.

#62 Mac Steen ----- An All-SEC selection in '69 Steen joined Kim Helton in providing protection for the famed "Super Sophs". He's also one of those guys who was both All-Conference as a player and academically. Honorable mention for Corey Yarbrough and Red Anderson.

#63 Jim Tartt ----- This offensive lineman moves to the top spot not only for his play, but his grit. Most guys would have given up on those shoulders a year or two ago, but instead has suffered, persevered and excelled. Honorable mention for Mike Williams and Jack Thompson.

#64 Burton Lawless ----- May be the best offensive guard in UF history. Lawless was an All-American and started for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie in the Super Bowl. He was two-time All-SEC and earned All American honors as a senior. An injury cut short his NFL career after seven years. Honorable mention for Walter Mayberry and Keith Tribble.

#65 Dan Plonk ----- When the Gators began a turnaround in 1980, Plonk was part of an underrated offensive line. That '80 still has the best improvement in UF history, going from 0-10-1 to 8-4. Honorable mention for Arpedge Rolle and Robbie Rebol.

#66 Keith Williams ----- A mild mannered guy off the field, Williams was a defensive tackle in the old style 3-4 defense where the main job was to free up the linebackers to make plays. And in the mid-80s Williams got that job done for Alonzo Johnson, Patrick Miller et al. Honorable mention Scott Hutchinson and Robin Fisher.

#67 Darrell Carpenter -----
A standout defensive lineman for the Gators in the id-70s, Carpenter was a two-time All-SEC selection. The '75 Gators held seven teams to ten points or less and allowed a total of just 31 points in their three losses that year. Honorable mention for Drew Miller, John Barrow and Mark Campbell.

#68 Mike Degory ----- Not blessed with great athleticism, Degory was a rock in the middle for the Gators for four seasons. He started more games than anyone in UF history and went through four offenses in his five years on campus. Honorable mention for Fred Abbott and Rhondy Weston.

#69 Zach Piller ----- He started his college career at Georgia Tech, but ended up being a crucial Gator blocker in '96. Tremendous strength was his calling card. You might get around him, but you're not going through him. Piller and Donnie Young held the line together after losing Jeff Mitchell mid-season and provided the blocking for the most amazing back-to-back offensive performances I ever saw when the Gators scored 45 against Alabama and 52 against FSU. Honorable mention for Dan Fike.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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