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 outside linebackers again forced to consider which guys were called "ends" for some of their careers and decided that for most of their careers these guys were listed as linebackers. It also seemed very clear to me that there were six guys who belonged in this discussion so we have just one receiving honorable mention (HM).
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 Clifford Charlton ----- In the early-80s Charlton left Tallahassee to put on the Orange and Blue. He was as fast as almost anyone to the corner and had one of those memorable games (against LSU) that people talked about for years. Charlton still holds the school record having forced 15 fumbles as a Gator.
#4 Huey Richardson ----- On the heels of Charlton came this stud from suburban Atlanta. Richardson was one of the few top players to choose the Gators during the main portion of Florida's NCAA sanctions in the mid-80s. Richardson had the frame to grow into a defensive end, but had trouble keeping weight on (I could have helped him with that). He had no problems on the field, registering more than 50 tackles for losses including 26.5 QB sacks. He avoided the media like the plague which is why sometimes I don't think he gets his due.
#3 Mike Peterson ----- He came to the Gators as a safety from up the road in Alachua, but developed into as pure an outside backer as the Gators ever had. I'll never forget when the Butkus Award semi-finalists (top 10) were announced in 1998 and Johnny Rutledge and Jevon Kearse both made the cut but Peterson didn't. Gator Defensive Coordinator Bob Stoops, who knew I was a Butkus voter at the time came up to me and asked how we could be that dumb since "Pete" was the best of the three. My only comeback was, "Bobby, I voted for him."
#2 Alonzo Johnson ----- Early in his career this physical 6'3" 238-pounder took on tight ends. Later he moved over to be the pass rushing specialist. He excelled at both. Zo was intimidating to look at off the field, but more scary on it if you were wearing a different colored jersey. He registered 55 tackles for loss in the midst of an incredible run of Gators playing that spot.
#1 Wilber Marshall ----- As good as the above guys were, this might be one of the two easiest choices I had to make in this process. Wilber still has the school record for tackles for loss with 58 despite playing tight end his first season. His 27 such plays in 1981 made him a marked man for the next two years but he remained incredibly disruptive. His 1982 effort in the Gators win over Southern Cal remains the greatest individual defensive performance I have ever seen in person.
HM: Jevon Kearse
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 AM-850, WRUF. You can listen online at am850.com. You can call in AT 352/392-855 OR 877/392-8255 (toll free).
Tomorrow we wrap up week one of this series with a look at some of the best inside linebackers in UF history.
The Best Gator Outside Linebackers
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