Great Football Recruiting Classes -- 1987

After the uproar over my claim that I wasn't ready to crown the 2010 signing class as the greatest in school history, I decided to go through some of the best classes in school history. So once a week we'll look back at some of the best classes the Gators ever signed. Today we start that with the class of 1987.

This was the first full class signed by Galen Hall after two years of NCAA sanctions paralyzing Florida's recruiting efforts. With those sanctions in the rear view mirror, Hall put together a class that had several great players including one of the greatest ever. It was a class heavy on linemen and linebackers who out performed most the "skill" guys.

Emmitt Smith ----- Getting Emmitt was so important that he alone would have made it a successful year. He didn't start until his third game, yet managed 1,341 yards and 13 TD. His three years totals were 3,928 yards and 36 rushing TD. He added 463 yards as a receiver. Keep in mind none of his bowl stats count in those totals.

Offensive Line ---- Florida was weak here in 1986, but that changed with the additions of Cal Dixon, Hesham Ismail, Tony Rowell and Mark White. Glen Neely, Scott Ball and Jason McClellan were disappointments.

Defensive Line ----- The class was strong up front, led by future stars Brad Culpepper and Tony McCoy. Add in Michael Brandon, Willie McGrady and you got four contributors. Highly touted Steve Scoggins was a miss.

Linebacker ----- This is perhaps the greatest LB class in school history. Florida scored big with Godfrey Myles, Tim Paul, Jerry Odom and Fee Bartley. Tim Thompson and Stephon Mack didn't last while Andy Newman was productive on special teams.

JUCO Transfers ----- The Gators tried to get some immediate help from the junior college ranks but didn't get much. Kelvin Calhoun was a force as a blocking TE but couldn't catch. Jeff Rueter and Greg Baldwin were decent LB but the high school guys quickly beat them out and RB Lloyd Hopkins showed he could watch Emmitt run.

Quarterback ----- Kyle Morris had two decent seasons as Florida's QB but was nothing special. Herbert Perry proved to be a helluva baseball player and Billy Deeds had no chance.

Wide Receiver ----- Terence Barber and Alonzo Sullivan were useful players but neither became more than a No. 3 type guy.

Specialists ----- Arden Czyzewski had a solid career making 33-of-44 kicks including a game winner as time ran out at LSU in 1989. Johnny Nichols, who was Emmitt's QB at Pensacola Escambia, was a flawless holder.

Secondary ----- Jimmy Spencer was the only guy here but the speedy corner from Glades Central ended up becoming a fine player and had a better NFL career than collegiate one.


This class was the beginning of the foundation for the Gators' success in the early '90s. When Steve Spurrier talked about what a good team he inherited in 1990 he was primarily talking about these guys who gave him solid offensive and defensive lines.

Eleven players from this class were drafted by the NFL. Of course the NFL draft was a lot longer then. Still it was a class that provided the core of Florida's official, untainted SEC Championship in 1991.

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