For the purposes of this series we broke down the positions as follows:
Week 1 --- Specialists, DT, DE, OLB, ILB
Week 2 --- CB, S, C, G, OT
Week 3 --- TE, FB, WR, RB, QB
Choosing the best defensive tackles was difficult because of changing defensive schemes. Throughout the 1980s the Florida Gators played a three-man line scheme in which the outside guys on the line were called "tackles". In reality they were hybrids of the four-man line's tackles and ends. However the simplest thing was to choose players based on what their positions were called.
We fully expect there to be some debate/disagreement about these selections and/or the order they are listed in. That's what makes things like this fun and interesting. We encourage your disagreement and input and look forward to making this one of the highlights of what is normally a pretty lousy month (July) for college football fans.
#5 Charlie LaPradd ----- This is not purely an homage to the older generation of Gators, but a realization that Charlie was probably the first great defensive lineman in school history. The one-time Army paratrooper was an All-American in the '50s.
#4 Ray McDonald Jr. ----- I was quite surprised when I heard the Gators were recruiting this guy as a defensive lineman. His father was a terrific wide receiver in the 1980s, but Ray was a down lineman with the ability to play inside or out. He didn't have the great speed to be an edge rusher at end, but5 his quickness caused defenses nightmares from the tackle spot. His touchdown against Georgia in 2006 dramatically changed that game.
#3 Brad Culpepper ----- Not only one of the best scholar-athletes in school history, Culpepper was also one of the best defensive tackles. He came to UF as part of the superb 1987 signing class and many thought he's end up at center. A staph infection reduced him to kicker size in his first few months on campus but through dedication and determination he grew into one of the best tackles in the SEC and was a key to the Gators' first official SEC Championship.
#2 Ellis Johnson ----- Right on the heels of Culpepper's tenure at UF came Johnson form Wildwood High School. He was such a good athlete he was a fullback in high school and to this day I've never seen a quicker tackle off the ball. Johnson was a defensive stalwart and remains the only player ever chosen as the MVP of the SEC Championship Game.
#1 David Galloway ----- The first time I ever attended a Florida Football practice I saw this guy and, frankly I was terrified. I also had great concern for opposing players if he was this tough and physical with his friends. Galloway held his ground as well as any three man front tackle you could hope for but he also had remarkable speed off the corner. No single player was as important in turning around the Gator defense in 1980 and he capped it with a dominating performance in the Tangerine Bowl. He earned All-American honors the following season.
HM: Scott Hutchinson, Trace Armstrong (just one year at UF), Tim Newton, Vel Heckman, Tony McCoy and Ed Chester.
You can discuss this with me since this will be one of my topics on the radio today from 4:00 to 6:00 on AM850, WRUF. You can listen online at am850.com. You can call in AT 352/392-855 OR 877/392-8255 (toll free).
Tomorrow we look at some of the best defensive ends in UF history.
The Best Gator Defensive Tackles
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