Once, the first thing an opponent had to stop at the University of Florida was the featured running back.
Once, that wasn’t easy to do.
In those pre-Spurrier days, before the Fun ‘N Gun and the quarterbacks and all of those wide receivers, the Gators had a formidable running game featuring Emmitt and Errict and all the rest. Perhaps, in the years to come, the Gators will again.
What comes first? The return of the great quarterback or the return of the great running back?
At Florida, the hopeful answer is “both?”
Here we go then, in the week of the running backs at the Saint Petersblog. The top 10 Gator running backs:
10. Lorenzo Hampton (1981-1984): Hampton was one of an impressive stable of backs in the early 80s. He gained 1,993 yards and was a No. 1 draft pick of the Miami Dolphins.
9. Larry Smith (1966-1968): Smith gained 2,186 yards for the Gators and was the featured back in the mid-60s under Ray Graves.
8. Jimmy DuBose (1973-1975): DuBose gained 2,338 yards rushing. He was a second-round draft choice of the Bucs.
7. Tony Green (1974-1977): He totaled 2,694 yards for the Gators.
6. Percy Harvin (2006-2008): Yes, he was listed as a wide receiver. But Harvin ran for 1,852 yards in three years. A dangerous threat.
5. John L. Williams (1982-1985): A tough runner who gained 2,409 yards. A No. 1 draft pick of Seattle.
4. Neal Anderson (1982-1985): A very good running back who gained 3,234 yards for the Gators. A star for the Bears, who drafted him No. 1, for eight years.
3. Fred Taylor (1994-1997): Taylor gained 3,075 yards for the Gators. A No. 1 draft pick by Jacksonville.
2. Errict Rhett (1990-1993): The Gators top all-time rusher with 4,165 yards. A No. 2 draft pick of the Bucs.
1. Emmitt Smith (1987-1989): Smith finished in the Heisman’s top 10 twice in his three seasons. A No. 1 draft pick who starred with the Dallas Cowboys.