First let's go through the top Gator at each position thus far:
Specialists: Brandon James
D Tackle: David Galloway
D End: Jack Youngblood
OLB: Wilber Marshall
ILB: Scott Brantley
Now, here's the schedule for this week:
There will always big differences of opinion, but I feel pretty confident I got the five guys right… at least today.
#5 Joe Haden ----- It's tough to step right into the lineup as a rookie but that's exactly what this fine talent from Maryland did for the Gators. In fact he's the only true freshman corner to ever start opening day. That fact is more impressive when you consider he was originally ticketed to be a receiver. He had three interceptions last season, including one he took back 88 yards against Georgia but he also was in on 87 tackles which is an under appreciated skill.
#4 Keiwan Ratliff ----- Keiwan had to wait a year to get everything in order and come down from Ohio, but he was well worth the wait. Ratliff was a fine all around player who excelled in the return game and could have been a very good receiver. In fact he dabbled in that a bit. However his strength was a corner and his 2003 season with nine interceptions (2 for TD) is probably the best in school history. He would rank higher, but he only had three picks during his other seasons.
#3 Steve Tannen ----- A two-time ALL-Sec pick in the late-60s, Tannen earned All-American honors in his senior season of 1969. He finished his Florida career with 11 interceptions and was the first Gator defender to ever be a first round NFL Draft pick when chosen with the 20th pick by the New York Jets.
#2 Fred Weary ----- When he first joined the Gators from Mandarin, Weary was getting a look at wide receivers. But a few dropped passes into his first camp Weary was switched back "home" to corner and the rest was history. Weary became the best corner of the Spurrier era and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 1997 when he was a first team All-American. His 15 career interceptions are still a school record.
#1 Lito Sheppard ----- We stay in the Jacksonville area for the one corner I saw team after team go to great lengths to try and avoid. Sheppard was a tremendous talent and earned All-American recognition as a sophomore. Despite people throwing away from him he had six picks in 2000 (his sophomore year). The following year the ball rarely came his way. It wasn't quite like the way Deion Sanders took away half the field, but it was the closest any Gator has come. He gets the nod, but narrowly.
HM: Richard Fain, Bruce Vaughn, Larry Kennedy, Lawrence Hatch
One more season and Janoris Jenkins is easily HM, and might crack the top five. He's that good.
Tomorrow we'll feature the best safeties in school history. Such a good group that two of the most honored safeties can't crack the top five.
Week Two: Gators Best Cornerbacks
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