The best Florida football players of the modern era, including Tim Tebow and Emmitt Smith, help make up the modern-era Florida football Mount Rushmore.
In the modern era of college football, the Florida Gators have established themselves as a dominant force out of the SEC. While their success was sporadic prior to that, Florida football has captured three National Championships (along with two unclaimed in the mid-1980s) while winning the SEC eight times over that span as well.
While the Gators may not have enjoyed the same level of success in the 2010s that they did in the two decades prior, it’s clear that Dan Mullen has the program heading in the right direction. But for them to get all the way back in the ultra-competitive SEC, they are going to need to bring back the star power that has made Florida football so successful over the past 40 years.
Some of the biggest names in college football have passed through Gainesville in the modern era, including two Heisman Trophy winners over that span, joining Steve Spurrier to form the three winners of the award in the history of the program. But who makes the Florida football Mount Rushmore for the modern era? That’s worth finding out.
But before we get into the top four players since 1980, let’s dive into a handful of players who just missed out but deserve an honorable mention.
Percy Harvin was a dynamic and decorated playmaker throughout his college career with the Gators, winning SEC Freshman of the Year, two BCS National Championships and earning All-American honors once. The versatile offensive weapon also finished his college career with 1,852 rushing yards, 1,929 receiving yards and 32 total touchdowns in three seasons. Had he been able to stay healthy, he might’ve cracked the top four.
By the time Wilber Marshall had concluded his career in Gainesville, he held the Florida career records for sacks (23) and tackles for loss (28) and was one of the forces that helped establish the Gators as a national powerhouse. A two-time All-American and 1983 National Defensive Player of the Year, Marshall just missed the cut here but deserves mentioning.
Despite only playing for the Gators for three years, quarterback Rex Grossman ranks fifth in career passing yards (9,164) and holds the No. 1 and 3 single-season passing marks in Florida history while also ranking fourth in career touchdown passes (77). If not for another pair of signal-callers, Grossman would be an easy inclusion on the Florida football Mount Rushmore.