Final Week of the Best Gators: Wide Receivers

We are down to the last two positions on the Gator Football team. I suspect there will be more disagreement about these selections than the other 13 positions combined, and that's a good thing. Most positions had six or seven legit contenders for the top five. Today's position, wide receiver had about 15.

Florida has been blessed with a tremendous number of great receivers. Shoot, you could pick 10 guys from the Spurrier era alone and have trouble sorting them out. Then add in the other decades of Gator football and you have, in essence mission impossible.

First here's a rundown of the best players at each position to this point.

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
Guard: Burton Lawless
Tackle: Lomas Brown
Tight end: Ben Troupe
Fullback: John L Williams
Tailback: Emmitt Smith

In ranking the wide receivers I tried to balance the productivity in terms of catchers, yards per catch and touchdowns with the different offensive eras. I also tried to put aside the numbers and simply put raw talent in perspective. It would shock me if anyone agreed with this five in order, because if I did it again tomorrow I'm sure there would be several changes.

#5 Reidel Anthony ----- He was supposedly a throw in to get Fred Taylor out of Glades Central but Anthony turned out to be a whole lot more. He had the second best season in school history in 1996 when he caught 72 passes for 1,293 yards and 18 TDs. It's a shame the NCAA outlawed end zone celebrations, but Anthony's shotgun blast was one of the best.

#4 Ike Hilliard ----- When they were teammates there was a debate who was the better player and it was close. Reidel was more explosive, Ike was more consistent and a better route runner. Hilliard never led the Gators in receiving but his consistency over three years was remarkable. He also made one of the greatest plays ever. His stop-on-a-dime cut against FSU in the Sugar Bowl helped the Gators win their first National Championship. His 29 TD catches is tied for second at UF.

#3 Carlos Alvarez ----- You could put the top three in any order and I put Alvarez at "3" because injuries limited his production his junior and senior seasons. But what a sophomore campaign Alvarez had. He caught a school record 88 passes for 1,329 yards and 12 TDs in 1969 --- all school records at the time. The 88 catches was eventually matched by Chad Jackson. The 12 TD mark lasted 25 years and the yardage standard another four after that. He still holds the career record with 2,563 receiving yards almost 40 years after his last Gator game.

#2 Jabar Gaffney ----- Despite being the son of a former Gator and NFL receiver, Derrick Gaffney wasn't really being recruited until he made a remarkable sideline catch in the state high school championship game in The Swamp. "Jabar" Gaffney was less gifted than the others in this category but he was fundamentally superb and physical tough. His back to back seasons of 2000-01 are unmatched in UF history with 138 catches for 2,375 yards and 27 TDs. He had 14 100-yard receiving games. If he had played a third season he would have put every record out of reach.

#1 Wes Chandler ----- I didn't have the pleasure of seeing him in college but everyone I've spoken with who did still say he was the best. Chandler didn't play in offenses suited to rack up huge receiving numbers, yet he managed to post some incredible ones. Chandler caught 92 passes, but 22 of them were for scores, the highest TD percentage at Florida. He also averaged a school record 21.3 yards per catch. He added more than 300 yards both rushing and returning punts. He was simply the best.

You know it's a crowded field when a list of the top five receivers doesn't include the most prolific runner/receiver in school history (Percy Harvin) the leader in receptions (Bubba Caldwell 185) or TDs (Chris Doering 31).

HM: Cris Collinsworth, Charley Casey, Richard Trapp, Jack Jackson, Willie Jackson, Jr., Jacquez Green, Lee and Travis McGriff, Harvin, Caldwell and Doering

If you want to debate this with me, please listen to and call in during my show on AM-850-WRUF. I'm on from 4-6 in the afternoon and you can listen online at am850.com.

Tomorrow our series concludes with another like hot button issue, the top five QBs in Gator history.


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