Gators Making Noise in the NFL

One of the top college programs in America is doing it's part in the professional ranks as well. Thirty former Florida Gator football players don the rosters of National Football League teams to start the 2009 season. Of the 30, 15 started for their respective teams on the opening weekend. The receivers and defensive line lead the groups that are active on NFL rosters.

The lone former Gator quarterback on a roster is Rex Grossman with the Houston Texans. Grossman did not play, but one of his favorite receiver targets in college did. Jabar Gaffney of the Denver Broncos, started and had three receptions for 25 yards in the Broncos win Sunday.

Three receivers with five national championships between them also had big days on Sunday or Monday. WR Andre Caldwell of the Cincinnati Bengals led his team with six catches for 54 yards and had 48 yards on two kickoff returns. WR Louis Murphy of the Oakland Raiders, started and had four catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. WR Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings led his team with 36 yards receiving on three receptions and a touchdown. He also had two rushes for 22 yards.

Caldwell, Harvin, and Murphy are three of the six receivers Florida has had drafted into the NFL since Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer started coaching his team. The six marks the most receivers drafted of any team in that time frame.

Harvin totaled 157 all-purpose yards during Minnesota's 34-20 road win over Cleveland, highlighted by a touchdown pass from Brett Favre. Meanwhile, Murphy hauled in a 57-yard scoring toss from JaMarcus Russell with 2:34 remaining to give Oakland the lead against San Diego before the Chargers answered with the winning score with 18 seconds left.

Former Gator running backs Fred Taylor, DeShawn Wynn, and Earnest Graham played this weekend. Taylor, a prominent member of the 1996 national championship team started and had 25 yards on nine carries and a rushing touchdown for the New England Patriots. Wynn had three rushes for eight yards and one reception for eight yards for the Green Bay Packers. Graham had one rush for one yard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Two former Gator offensive linemen played significant roles for their teams this past weekend. OG Cooper Carlisle of the Oakland Raiders started at right guard and OT Max Starks of the Pittsburgh Steelers started at left tackle.

The Gators had a bevy of former defensive linemen make contributions to their NFL teams this past weekend. DE Alex Brown of the Chicago Bears started, and had three solo tackles and a tackle for loss. DE Derrick Harvey of the Jacksonville Jaguars, started and had one solo tackle. DE Jevon Kearse of the Tennessee Titans started and had a sack. DE Bobby McCray of the New Orleans Saints recorded one quarter back hit. DE Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers had a sack and had two solo tackles.

On the interior of the line DT Marcus Thomas of the Denver Broncos had one tackle and DT Gerard Warren of the Oakland Raiders started, and had three tackles.

Not to be outdone, four of the best hitting linebackers in Gator history also made an impact on their football teams this weekend. LB Channing Crowder of the Miami Dolphins started, and had three tackles. LB Andra Davis of the Denver Broncos started and had five tackles, three for loss and a sack. LB Mike Peterson of the Atlanta Falcons started and had seven solo tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. LB Brandon Siler of the San Diego Chargers assisted on three tackles.

Florida has three former secondary players that played this past weekend. S Marquand Manuel, of the Detroit Lions started, and recorded seven solo tackles and a pass deflection. S Reggie Nelson of the Jacksonville Jaguars started, and had six solo tackles. CB Lito Sheppard of the New York Jets started, Recorded an interception, a pass defense, and three tackles.

There were six former gators on NFL rosters that did not play for various reasons. FB Billy Latsko of San Diego Chargers, TE Cornelius Ingram of the Philadelphia Eagles, OT Phil Trautwein of the Cleveland Browns, DE Jeremy Mincey of the Jacksonville Jaguars, DE Jarvis Moss of the Denver Broncos, and CB Keiwan Ratliff of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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