Counting Down the Top 10 Best Offensive Gators Since 2000
Since the turn of the millennium, there have been some absolute stud offensive playmakers come through The Swamp. These guys have broken records, won SEC and National titles and gone down in Gator lore for the rest of time. For arguments sake, I thought it was time to give you my version of the Top 10 best offensive Gators since 2000. So without further ado, let's get into it.
*List includes players who played anytime during the 2000’s
10. Chris Rainey, RB, 2007-2011
To kick off our list it was only right to start with a player from that famous 2008 team. A do it all back with blazing speed, Rainey defined what the Gator offense was like during the Urban Meyer years: Fast and skilled. He was electrifying and a threat to score every time he touched the ball.
Rainey came to Gainesville in 2007 via Lakeland High School, a recruiting hotbed for Urban during that era, where he was part of the 2006 Florida State Championship team that included Gator teammates Ahmad Black, Steven Wilks and the Pouncey twins. After injuring his shoulder early his freshman year, he was sidelined the rest of the year. Following 2007, he would become a staple in the Gator offensive attack for his next four years and a key member of the 2008 National Championship team, where he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
For his career, Rainey put up numbers all over the board finishing with 3,259 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns to go along with 689 return yards and two touchdowns. He also was a force on special teams, finishing his career as a Gator with a school record six blocked punts. Perhaps his most productive year was his last in 2011, where he had 1,242 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage combined with 209 return yards and a touchdown.
Not only was he a star on the football field, but Rainey also was a track star at UF. He finished third at the 2008 NCAA Track and Field Championships in the 4x100 relay, earning All-American honors. Following his career at UF, he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played three years in the NFL before going to Canada to play in the CFL, where he is still playing as a member of the BC Lions.
(Jeff Demps is in there too but it's the best I could find)
Credit: In All Kinds of Weather
9. Pouncey Twins, OL, Maurkice (2007-2009) and Mike (2007-2010)
Any list from this era without mentioning the Pouncey's is invalid. The anchors of the 2008 National Championship team up front, these two brought a toughness and aggression to a team that was built around speed and finesse. Without them, that team would've been a lot different and they most definitely would not have been as successful offensively as they were.
Coming out of Lakeland High School, where his Gator teammates were mentioned above, the Pouncey's were both four-star recruits, with Maurkice being the 15th rated offensive guard and Mike being the 16th. These two would both see significant game action their freshman years, with Maurkice starting 11 games at right guard and Mike playing a lot of defensive tackle due to injuries.
However, they both were back on the offensive line for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, where Maurkice played center and Mike played right guard. Both were highly decorated during their time at UF, with Maurkice earning honors like the 2009 Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nations best center, 2009 consensus First-Team All-American and 2007 First-Team All-SEC Freshman team while Mike was a 2009 AP Second-Team All-American and AP 2009 First-Team and 2010 Second-Team All-SEC selection.
Following 2009, Maurkice would declare for the 2010 NFL draft and was taken 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played his whole career as a 9-time Pro Bowler and 3-time First-Team All-Pro selection. Mike would stay another year as the starting center for 2010 and declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, where he was chosen 15th overall by the Miami Dolphins. He would play his first seven seasons in Miami and his final three with the Los Angeles Chargers, becoming a 4-time Pro Bowler before retiring in early 2021 with Maurkice.
8. Jabar Gaffney, WR, 1999-2001
Throughout Steve Spurrier's tenure, there were some great receivers that came through the University of Florida and this guy is right up there with the best of them. Coming out of a great high school career at Raines High School in Jacksonville where he won a state title in 1997 as a junior and had a successful senior year, Gaffney started his Gator career redshirting as a freshman and was playing with the scout team.
It didn't take long for him to get going, however, as he burst onto the college football scene in 2000 and went on a two-year streak of dominance that hasn't been replicated at UF since. Gaffney was a monster out wide, putting up video game numbers and racking up awards left and right in his time in Gainesville.
As a redshirt freshman in 2000, Gaffney hauled in 71 catches for 1,184 yards and 14 touchdowns while winning an SEC title and earning honors the likes of Sporting News National Freshman of the Year, First-Team All-SEC, coaches selection SEC Freshman of the Year and set the NCAA Division 1A record for touchdown receptions and receiving yards by a freshman. While a freshman season like that is almost impossible to follow, Gaffney didn't stop there, coming back in 2001 just as strong with 67 catches for 1,191 yards and 13 touchdowns. This earned him more honors in 2001 which included Biletnikoff Award (nation's best wideout) finalist, First-Team All-America and First-Team All-SEC.
Following his dominant career as a Gator, Gaffney declared for the 2002 NFL Draft where he was selected in the 2nd round by the Houston Texans. He would go on to have a nice NFL career of 10 years, playing for five different teams during that time.
(Again, not the best quality but it's the best I could find)
Credit: CHECK-N SPORTS
7. Dallas Baker "The Touchdown Maker", WR, 2002-2006
While Gaffney among other Gator receivers might've had better stats and accolades while at UF, none have had a nickname quite like Dallas Baker "The Touchdown maker". Every time you heard Mick Hubert say it during a game, you just knew Baker had done something great.
Coming out of New Smyrna Beach High School in 2002, Baker started his career as a scout team player in 2002. From there, he would ever increasingly become more and more of a factor in the Gators offense, with all of his statistical categories increasing each year. Baker's best year was far and away 2006, where he was a main weapon on the offense, catching 60 balls for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to a First-Team All-SEC selection.
However, it wasn't just his nickname or his impact on the offense that made us love Baker so much, but it was his knack for always coming up with big plays in big games that made him a favorite amongst the Gator Nation. Some that stick out include his two huge second half touchdowns on the road at Tennessee in 2006 that included the eventual game winner with 6:30 left to give the Gators a 21-20 win, his juggling catch to put the Gators up late against Alabama in 2006 and his spinning goal line touchdown in the national title that same year against Ohio State.
Baker finished his career with 151 catches for 2,236 yards and 21 touchdowns, putting him in the upper echelon of all-time UF receiving greats. He would be drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he would play for three years before having different stops in different leagues before retiring in 2014. He is currently the wide receivers coach at Baylor. Like I said earlier, guys like Gaffney might've put up bigger numbers and grabbed more honors during their Gators careers, but I give Dallas the edge over Gaffney because of how big his impact was on that 2006 SEC and National Championship team along with his lore as "The Touchdown Maker". They don't just give that nickname out to anyone.
(I clipped together a few of Baker's best moments as a Gator)
Credit: In All Kinds of Weather for video footage
6. Rex Grossman, QB, 1999-2002
The first quarterback on my list is none other than the guy who ushered in the 2000's behind center for the Gators, the gunslinger "Sexy Rexy". Given the nickname by none other than Steve Spurrier himself, Grossman is one of the all-time great quarterbacks and players to ever dawn the orange and blue.
Coming to UF from Bloomington South High School in Bloomington, Indiana, Grossman was redshirted his freshman year before becoming the starter for the next three years. His best year as a Gator came in 2001 as a redshirt sophomore, where he threw for a then single season school record 3,896 yards to go along with 34 touchdowns through the air and five on the ground. During this dominant season, Grossman finished second in the Heisman voting, was the AP National and SEC Player of the Year, a AP First-Team All-American as well as a First-Team All-SEC selection for the second straight year.
During his time at UF, Grossman amassed a total of 9,164 yards, which is good for fifth all-time on the school record list along with 77 passing touchdowns, good for fourth all-time on the school record list. Some other honors Grossman earned as a Gator include First-team All-SEC in 2000 and Second-Team All-SEC in 2002. He was an SEC Champion in 2000 as well and is regarded as a Gator great without a doubt.
Grossman was drafted 22nd overall in the 2003 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears where he would play for six years before a one year stint with the Houston Texans followed by a four year stint with Washington before retiring in 2015. While he liked to take risks at times, he was a true gunslinger who wasn't afraid to take chances with the ball. Some people loved that about him, others not so much. However, say what you want about Rex, he is one of the best to ever do it at UF and a guy who will forever go down in Gators lore.
Credit: Duane Busick
5. Kyle Pitts, TE, 2018-2020
When you think of all time Gator greats, especially at the tight end position, Kyle Pitts is typically where you start the conversation. An Under Armour All-American and highly rated tight end out of Philadelphia coming into his career, Pitts lived up to the hype and then some. At 6-foot-6 245 pounds with blazing 4.4 speed at the position, Pitts was a matchup nightmare during his time in Gainesville. You put a defensive back on him, he's too big. You put a linebacker on him, he's too fast. His length gave him the ability to make tremendous catches anywhere remotely in his area. His blocking ability made him a true versatile weapon.
And all of these attributes translated on the field, too. After not contributing much his freshman year, he had a breakout sophomore campaign with 54 catches for 649 yards and five touchdowns, earning AP/Coaches' First-Team All-SEC honors in the process. What he did in 2020, though, is in my opinion the single greatest season ever by a college tight end. During 2020, Pitts caught 43 balls for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games. This included monster games like the season opener at Ole Miss where he had a staggering eight catches for 170 yards and four touchdowns, a five catch 99 yard and three touchdown game against Kentucky and the SEC Championship game against Alabama where he had seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. He collected a plethora of awards for his performance, including the Mackey Award (awarded to the nations top tight end), unanimous First-Team All-American, First-Team All SEC selection, Biletnikoff Award finalist (nations top receiver) and a top 10 Heisman finalist, the highest finish by a tight end in 43 years.
Seeing as Pitts put up those numbers in just eight games of a COVID-19 shortened season, we are left to wonder what he would've done with a full schedule. After the 2020 season, he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft and was selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons, the highest a tight end has ever been picked. A Pro-Bowl and All-Rookie selection his first year, Pitts is well on his way to being an all-time NFL great. And while you can argue for guys like Aaron Hernandez, Jordan Reed, Cornelius Ingram or even Ben Troupe for the best tight ends to ever play in The Swamp, for my money Kyle Pitts is at the top of that list.
Credit: FF Astronauts
4. Kyle Trask, QB, 2016-2020
No one expected this guy to become what he did at UF. A low three-star recruit (two-star on some sites) coming out of Manvel High School in Texas, where he was the backup, not even starter, to ex-Houston Cougars and Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King, Trask became one of the best signal callers in school history. With one of the prettiest balls and touches you will ever see, he thrived for two years as the starter in Dan Mullen's pass heavy offense.
When he took over for the injured Feleipe Franks at Kentucky in 2019, Gator Nation had an idea he could be good but they just didn't know how good. They got that answer pretty quick, when Trask threw for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns as a redshirt junior, leading the Gators to an Orange Bowl victory. The following year in 2020, Trask put together the single greatest season ever by a Gator quarterback by throwing for a single season school record 4,283 yards and 43 touchdowns. He had seven games where he threw for four or more touchdowns, including two where he threw for six. Oh yeah, that was all in a COVID shortened season as well. Following his historic season, Trask was named a Second-Team All-American, Second-Team All-SEC selection, finished fourth in the Heisman voting (if you ask me he should've won it) among a host of others.
What I loved so much about Kyle was how even keeled and calm he always seemed no matter the situation. Not to mention, him and the guy listed before him, Kyle Pitts, became an unstoppable duo during the 2020 season, maybe one of the best to ever play at UF and I wish we could've got to see them during a normal season. They even earned the nickname "Kyle to Kyle", which was frequently used during the 2020 season.
Trask graduated after 2020 and was selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though having not made an impact yet, he is in line to eventually take the reins in Tampa as Tom Brady's successor. It was tough and I was back and forth between Trask and Grossman on who to put higher on this list but it just felt right to have Kyle higher to me. Given his record breaking 2020 season and how dominant he was in less than two years as a full-time starter, after coming in as an unsung recruit, he earned the fourth spot in my book.
Credit: Dallas Oliver
3. Chris Leak, QB, 2003-2006
You can't have a list of 2000's offensive Gators without Chris Leak's name being on it. As the guy who ran the show behind center for the 2006 National Champion Gators, he will always be remembered as a legend in Gainesville.
Leak came into Florida as a five-star recruit and Parade's 2003 player of the year while also being named the number one player in the country by Sporting News and USA Today. So, yeah, you could say Leak had some big expectations ahead of him as a Gator. He started nine games his true freshman season in 2003, going 6-3 as the starter and throwing for 2,435 yards and 16 touchdowns in the process. This included a comeback win at Kentucky in his first start, where he threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns. At the conclusion of the season, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team while also being named the SEC offensive freshman of the year. Leak's best year statistically as a Gator came as a sophomore in 2004, where he threw for 3,197 yards and 29 touchdowns, both single season career highs. However, it was the 2006 season that would put Leak down as one of the best to ever do it at the University of Florida.
In 2006, Chris had his second best year statistically as a Gator, throwing for 2,942 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, it wasn't his stats that makes the Gator Nation remember him, but rather his big plays and leadership that lead the Gators to their second national title in school history. Some of his best games included his 199 yard and three touchdown game at Tennessee, his long run in The Swamp against Alabama to give the Gators a momentum boost, his 283 yard and two touchdown game which included the game winning drive at FSU and, of course, The BCS Title game, where he was named MVP while throwing for 213 yards and a touchdown.
While Leak never had a huge season statistically, he amassed some huge numbers over the course of his career and currently sits first on the all-time school passing yards list, with 11,213 yards, as well as second all time on the passing touchdowns list, with 88 career touchdowns. After college, Chris would be undrafted and spend an offseason with the Chicago Bears before playing in a few different leagues, ultimately retiring in 2012. It was close between Trask and Leak for who to have higher on this list, but the national championship under his belt and overall career numbers gave Leak the edge for me.
Credit: Parker .Kelley
2. Percy Harvin, WR, 2006-2008
There aren't enough adjectives to describe how electric and good Percy Harvin was in college. One of the best offensive weapons of the 21st-century in college football, Harvin never ceased to amaze the Gator Nation. He was one of those guys that if you watched him as a Gator, you will never forget it.
Coming into his freshman season out of Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, where he was ranked as the top receiver prospect by Scout.com as well as the top overall recruit by Rivals, Harvin made an immediate impact, catching 34 balls for 427 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 428 yards and three touchdowns. He was awarded the SEC Freshman of the Year as well as First-Team All-Freshman honors, with big expectations heading into his sophomore season in 2007. He would deliver, catching a career-high 59 balls for 858 yards and four touchdowns while rushing 83 times for 764 yards and six touchdowns. Percy had proved he was the ultimate offensive weapon, earning SEC First-Team honors as an all-purpose player.
However, his best year would come in 2008, where Percy caught 40 balls for 644 yards and seven touchdowns while also rushing 70 times for 660 yards and 10 touchdowns, on his way to a national title and Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-SEC honors. Some of his most memorable moments include his 70-yard touchdown run in the 2006 SEC title against Arkansas, his 43-yard touchdown run at FSU in 2006, his acrobatic tip drill catch at home to open the game against #3 LSU in 2008 and his 80-yard touchdown run against South Carolina in 2008.
Percy finished his career as maybe the best all-purpose weapon in Florida football history and one of the best ever in college football, amassing 3,781 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns on 327 touches in three years. He would be drafted 22nd overall in the 2009 NFL Draft to the Minnesota Vikings and enjoy an eight year NFL career before retiring in 2017. Harvin will always be remembered amongst the Gator Nation for his electricity and blazing speed, along with the role he played on two national championship teams. He is truly the definition of a Gator and college football great.
Credit: Colton Denning
1. Tim Tebow, QB, 2006-2009
You all knew before you even clicked the link who was going to be #1 on this list. There is just simply no debate. He is the greatest Gator and college football player of all-time, superman himself, a true legend in the history of the game. Tim Tebow is more than deserving to be #1 on this list and any list when you're talking all-time college football greats.
Coming into Florida from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) in 2006, Tebow was very highly touted and had major expectations for his time as a Gator. Tebow lived up to those expectations and more, finishing his career winning two national championships, two SEC championships, the 2007 Heisman trophy, was a three-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year, two-time Maxwell award winner, and multiple All-American selections. At the end of his career, he also owned five NCAA, 14 SEC and 28 UF records. Included in those is first on the UF career rushing touchdowns list with 57, first in total yards with 12,232 (9,285 passing; 2,947 rushing), first in total touchdowns with 145 (88 passing; 57 rushing) and second in career passing touchdowns with 88.
Tim's signature season came in 2007, when he threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to the Heisman trophy. Tebow won the 2008 national championship as the starter the following year, throwing for 2,746 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing for 673 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also a major contributor as a backup and option quarterback on the 2006 national title team and won the 2009 Sugar Bowl. He was a fan favorite, as well, and one of the most notable and famous college football players of all-time during his career.
Following his career at UF, Tebow was drafted 25th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He would play six seasons, before going to play baseball with the New York Mets organization for four years and then making a preseason comeback with the Jacksonville Jaguars this past year. No matter how his pro career ended up, Tim will always be remembered as the best to ever wear the orange and blue and best to ever touch a college field. His impact on this school and sport simply cannot be measured and he will always be the man in Gainesville.
Credit: Colton Denning
Jeff Demps, RB, 2008-2011- 2,470 rushing yards 23 touchdowns; 481 receiving yards one touchdown
Andre "Bubba" Caldwell, WR, 2003-2007- 2,349 receiving yards 16 touchdowns; 293 rushing yards four touchdowns
Kadarius Toney, WR, 2017-2020- 1,590 receiving yards 12 touchdowns; 580 rushing yards two touchdowns; one passing touchdown
Chad Jackson, WR, 2003-2005- 1,586 receiving yards 16 touchdowns; 88 rushing yards two touchdowns
Earnest Graham, RB, 1998-2002- 3,065 rushing yards 33 touchdowns; 403 receiving yards
If you've made it to the end of this list, salute to you. I hope that you all enjoyed my rankings and debating amongst your friends, family and on the comment section of this tweet is encouraged. Stay on the lookout for my similar blog of the "Top 10 Defensive Gators Since 2000" coming out soon. In the meantime, feel free to debate this list and get fired up about it on twitter.