Week Two, Day Four: Gators Best Guards

Going through the history of Florida football it was clear the Gators have had a bunch of really good guards. It's not that Florida has not produced standout centers and tackles, but guard offered up far more legit candidates and tougher selections for the top five.

So here we go with the eighth part of our series, but first let's go through the top Gator at each position thus far:

Specialists: Brandon James
D Tackle: David Galloway
D End: Jack Youngblood
Outside LB: Wilber Marshall
Inside LB: Scott Brantley
Corner: Lito Sheppard
Safety: Reggie Nelson
Center: Jeff Mitchell

Now, here's the remaining schedule:

Friday: Tackles
Monday: Tight Ends
Tuesday: Fullbacks
Wednesday: Tailbacks
Thursday: Wide Receivers
Friday: Quarterbacks

To really appreciate how much more difficult it is to rank the best guards in Gators history let me offer up this fact. Only one Gator center was ever a first team All American, but five guards have been so honored. And the two best I've ever seen in person were not among that group. Now here's our view of the five best guards at UF.

#5 Larry Gagner ----- A top blocker for Ray Graves in the '60s Gagner was one of the nation's best in '65 and spent seven years in the NFL. He earned a spot in the Senior Bowl and was a team captain, which is quite a transition for a high school fullback. Gagner was a second round pick by both the NFL and the AFL.

#4 Jeff Zimmerman ----- Probably the first true 300-pounder who I saw play well at that weight. Zim was tremendous as a sophomore on the "Great Wall" of '84 earning second team All-SEC recognition. He was a first teamer at guard in '85 and tackle at '86 and would have had an even better Gator and NFL career had he controlled his weight. Still, at his best he was an incredibly powerful drive blocker.

#3 Guy Dennis ----- When a guy who was good enough to play ten seasons in the NFL is number three you know this is a tremendous group. Dennis was a two-time ALL-SEC pick in the mid sixties who began his career blocking to a Heisman winner in the 1966 and ended it being chosen for the Senior Bowl before moving on to the next level.

#2 Donnie Young ----- He wasn't considered a big deal signee when the Gators inked him out of Venice, but Young proved to be a tremendous player in Gainesville. He was strong and extremely tough, physically and mentally. When Jeff Mitchell and Zac Piller both got hurt late in the '96 season it was Young who held the unit together. His character and leadership helped the Gators score 52 points despite starting three redshirt freshmen in the Sugar Bowl. He won the '96 Jacobs Blocking Trophy.

#1 Burton Lawless ----- Lawless is the standard by which all Gator guards are measured to this day. Easily the best pulling guard in school history he was an All-American in '74 and started in the Super Bowl for the Dallas Cowboys the next year. An accident cut short his NFL career, but he was an amazing player.

HM: John Barrow, Shannon Snell, Hesham Ismail and Mac Steen

We'll continue our series tomorrow with the biggest of the "big uglys" in the trenches; Florida's best tackles.


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