Countdown Hits the Big Numbers 80-89

One of the things that has struck me about this countdown of the greatest Gators to wear each number is the large group of uniform numbers that have never been worn by a Gator who made All-SEC. Yet other numbers had three or more guys deserving of consideration as the best to ever wear it.

That's what has made this process so interesting. I have seen a lot of Florida games over the past 30 seasons, but that leaves me no first-hand knowledge of guys who played prior to the mid 70's. Thanks to Norm Carlson, the venerable Gator historian was able to help me out with information and analysis on some of those guys. With that, let's continue our tour.

#80 Chris Faulkner ----- Faulkner burst on the scene in ‘80 as a receiving tight end when the Gators opened up the offense. His threat in the middle created room for Cris Collinsworth and Tyrone Young. He was slowed by turf toe and other problems his final two years but showed enough to be a fourth round pick by the Cowboys. Honorable mention for Mark McGriff and Alex Willis.

#81 Dallas Baker ----- Baker had a tough time getting to UF, but he sure produced once he got here. He ended his career with 151 receptions (No. 4) for 2,236 (No. 5) and 21 TD (No. 9). He not only came a long way on the field, but off it as well. Honorable mention for Monty Duncan and Randy Clark.

#82 Greg See ----- No, he never got to suit up, but Greg See's courageous battle with cancer inspired a great many in Gator Nation. On top of that, while he could not survive his illness, he did survive rooming with Ernie Badeaux for a year. For his spirit and determination. See gets the nod over a handful of good football players. Honorable mention for Walter Odom, Mike Mularkey and Aubrey Hill.

#83 Dwayne Dixon ----- He went to high school up the road in Alachua. The Gators signed him, but many expected him to grow into a tight end because he lacked the speed to be a top receiver. Well, maybe not. Dixon was a superb blocker and became a fine pass catcher by running flawless routes and displaying great hands. He finished with 124 receptions and had a great game in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl with eight catches for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Honorable mention for Harvey Thomas.

#84 Ben Troupe ----- The most complete tight end ever at UF, Troupe was an under-utilized threat until his final season when he caught 39 passes for over 600 yards and five touchdowns, all tops on the '03 Gators. His game against FSU (4-121-2) was one of, if not the best ever for a UF tight end. Honorable mention Lynn Matthews and Harrison Houston.

#85 David Galloway ----- One of my earliest memories of covering a Gator football practice was being astounded to see up close just how fast a big man can be. Galloway was the one who wowed this young reporter in 1980. He wasn't the biggest lineman, but his size and strength combined with cat-quick reactions made him a unique player. Galloway was an All-American in '81 and spent the nine following years in the NFL.

#86 Gary Rolle ----- A smooth receiver in the mid eighties, Gary was the possession guy while Rickey Nattiel and Frankie Neal stretched opposing defenses. He was also among the best student-athletes in school history and is now Dr. Garry Rolle.

#87 Jim Yancey ----- A strong blocking tight end, Yancey was also capable of the big play. His biggest came in 1970, an 81-yard touchdown against FSU that was an important play in a 38-27 Gator win. Honorable mention for Mike Clark.

#88 Wilbur Marshall ----- You know you are a ferocious player when your nickname is Kill-bur. You want to have some fun, sneak up behind ESPN's Sean Salisbury and whisper "Wilbur's coming". He'll cower. Marshall's performance against Southern Cal and Salisbury was something people still talk about a half century later. His place on UF's all-time list for tackles (9th), and sacks (5th) belie his greatness. He does still hold the school record with 58 tackles for loss. Not bad for a guy who spent his freshman season as a tight end. Honorable mention for Jim Yarbrough and Kirk Kirkpatrick.

#89 Wes Chandler ----- Even though he didn't benefit from being in one of Florida's great passing offenses, Chandler is in many minds the best ever at UF. His career average of 21.3 yards per catch (minimum 75 rec.) is the best in UF history, as is Chandler's ratio of one touchdown every 4.18 receptions. In 1976-77 the Gators threw just 23 touchdown passes, and Chandler caught 16 of them. He also gets bonus points for his help in developing his nephew, Dallas Baker. Honorable mention for Charlie Casey and Rickey Nattiel.

There you have my picks for the best of the 80s all that's left are the largest numbers of all.

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


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