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Thursday October 18, 2012The List: Muschamp Didn't Walk On for Gators ... But These Guys Did

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The story had some legs the last two years, remember?

Florida coach Will Muschamp, who lived in Gainesville as a young boy but moved to Georgia and became a pretty decent prep player, had hopes of being a walk-on for the Gators.

In December 2010, when first hired as UF coach, Muschamp recalled how he showed up at the UF football office in 1991 for an appointment to meet with Steve Spurrier about walking on. Spurrier, according to Muschamp, stood him up for another commitment. 

"He was 2-under at the turn," Muschamp said.

Last year, when it came time for Muschamp to face Spurrier -- and the Gators to face South Carolina --  the first-year UF coach walked the story back some, saying he actually was supposed to meet with UF's then-administrative assistant, Jamie Speronis, rather than Spurrier.

It was Speronis, in charge of Florida walk-ons, who no-showed the meeting.

Well, here it is Gators-Gamecocks/Muschamp-Spurrier Week again, so it should come as no surprise the story came up again.

"Jamie Speronis gets blamed for that," Muschamp said Monday with a smile. "It just wasn't in the cards, for whatever reason. But that story has been blown up pretty good. Blame Speronis. It's his fault. Call him."

We'll pass.

Instead, we'll use the tale as the peg for our list of the week.

Walk-ons.

These 10 may have arrived at UF with that label, but surely didn't play like players unworthy of scholarships.

1

Kerwin Bell (1984-87)

Bell (above) was the No. 8 quarterback on the depth chart in the fall of 1983 and did not take a snap for Charley Pell that season. The kid from tiny Mayo, Fla., was maybe fourth (at best) in 1984 until a few promising scrimmages put him in contention for backup duty. Then starter Dale Dorminey blew out his knee four days before UF's opener against defending national champion Miami in Tampa. Pell tabbed Bell as his starter. The Gators lost that game, a thriller, but Bell went on to start four straight years and smash school and Southeastern Conference records by passing with 7,585 yards and 56 touchdowns. 

2

Chris Doering (1993-95)

A multi-sport star at P.K. Yonge across the street from the UF campus, Doering's route-running and excellent hands eventually earned him reps with the regulars and he seized advantage. Boy, did he. Doering (pictured at the top of the page, No. 28)) became a go-to guy for freshman quarterback Danny Wuerffel after the two shared a coming-out party on Sept. 11, 1993, hooking up for a   28-yard touchdown with three seconds left for a dramatic 24-20 win at Kentucky.  All Doering did from there is finish his career with 149 receptions for 2,107 yards and an SEC-record 31 touchdowns.

3

Louis Oliver (1985-89)

He walked on from Belle Glade, Fla., in 1985. Within two years, Oliver (above, No. 18 in orange jersey) not only had won the starting strong safety job, but was first-team All-SEC in 1987. In '88, he was a first-team All-American. When he left, Olilver did so with 11 career interceptions, a degree in criminal justice, SEC All-Academic honors and UF's Fergie Ferguson Award given annually to the senior displaying the most leadership, character and courage. Oliver was a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in '89 (the 25th selection overall) and played in the NFL for eight seasons.

4

Judd Davis (1992-94)

What he did in the rain, slop and mud against Georgia in 1993 -- went 4-for-4 on field goals in a 33-26 upset of the Bulldogs -- was jaw-dropping, along with the fact he went on to break Emmitt Smith's career scoring record with 225 points. That '93 season, the Ocala, Fla.,  native was tabbed first-team All-American and given the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best place kicker. For his career, Davis went 33-of-38 (that's 86.8 percent) from inside 50 yards and in one game, a 38-14 road win at Mississippi, Davis bombed two of four attempts from beyond midfield. He's the only placekicker in the UF Athletic Hall of Fame.

5

Pat Moorer (1986-89)

He rolled into town in 1985, like Oliver, at a time when the Gators needed to mine some walk-ons because NCAA probation sanctions that whacked UF's scholarship numbers. A year later, Moorer was Florida's starting inside linebacker and the SEC Freshman of the Year. In '88 and '89, Moorer led the Gators in tackles, totaling 177 those two seasons. Worth noting: Moorer is now director of strength and conditioning at Louisville, which is 6-0 and ranked 16th in the nation.

6

Lee McGriff (1972-74)

Plant High wasn't the powerhouse it is now when McGriff was running circles around defenders in South Tampa in the early '70s, but he surely had SEC coaches -- and every coach in the state -- wondering what they missed by the time he'd caught his last pass for the Gators. Florida didn't throw the ball much in those days, but when the Gators did they knew who to throw it to. McGriff led the team in receiving in both 1973 and '74. He averaged 18.5 yards on 38 catches (with five TDs) as a junior and 19.4 on a league-high 36 more (with seven TDs) as a senior. McGriff's son, Travis, went on to dwarf those numbers more than 20 years later (but they were throwing it a little more by then).

7

Noah Brindise (1995-97)

He's not on the list because he was a great athlete or put up crazy numbers at the quarterback position. Brindise, out of Fort Myers, will tell you that. But what the guy affectionately known as "Fat Dog" did during 1997 forever will be cemented in Florida lore. A poor decision by Doug Johnson (suspended for breaking curfew) and poor play by true freshman Jesse Palmer, moved Steve Spurrier to go with a guy who could run the offense, make decisions, lead his team and not turn the ball over. Witness Brindise's remarkable drive to help beat Auburn on the road. Still, it was his shuttling of plays with Johnson against No. 1 Florida State -- against the Seminoles' top-ranked defense -- and that epic 32-29 upset many recall as the greatest game ever played in the "Swamp" that left Brindise's indelible mark on the program. Great guy. Great representative of the school. Great story.

8

Allen Trammel (1963-65)

He got there the same year as Spurrier, the player, and not only became close friends with the future Heisman Trophy winner and championship-winning coach, but Ray Graves couldn't keep Trammel off the field. He as one of the last of a breed -- the two-way player -- locking down receivers as a defensive back and catching passes from his end position. Oh, and it wasn't like he got to rest on special teams. That's because what Trammel did best was return kicks. In 1964, he averaged 17.1 yards per return and was recognized with all-conference honors.

9

John James (1969-71)

He retired this summer as executive director of Gator Boosters, Inc., but James was once a Gator boomer -- as in punter. An excellent one. A year after leaving Gainesville High, James decided to walk-on, winning the punter's post a year later. He averaged nearly 41 yards a punt for his two seasons, went to play 12 years in the NFL (10 with the Atlanta Falcons) and was voted to the Pro Bowl three times.

10

James Smith (2005-08)

Another local-makes-good story. Smith went to nearby Buchholz High, walked for Urban Meyer[s first season and found his niche as a long-snapper. A great one. All he did was leave UF four years later having played in 53 games, the most in Gators history. In addition to snapping on field goals and punts, Smith was a ball hawk covering kicks and ended his career as a team captain the night UF defeated Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game at MIami.  

 

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