With the conclusion of 2019, many of us here in the sports media have put together various lists touting the best players from the past decade. Chomp Talk has decided to follow suit with several lists of our own, across all Gators sports. So, for nostalgia’s sake, let’s look back on the players that made the past decade more enjoyable.
Check out our selections for the other All-Decade Teams at UF:
Quarterback: Kyle Trask (2016-Present)
This was an interesting position because the quarterback position has been both polarizing and mercurial over the last decade. Will Grier (2015) had a very good collegiate career but his time at Florida — as promising as it was — came to an early end following a PED/coaching scandal. Feleipe Franks (2016-19) posted the best numbers of any quarterback since Tim Tebow and exemplified team leadership, but the fan base was heavily divided when it came to supporting him. This leaves Kyle Trask, a redshirt junior out of Manvell, Texas who hadn’t started a game since his freshman year in high school. Trask came off of the bench in week three of the 2019 season and led the Gators to a second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl game. In the process, he showed that he has the tools to become one of the nation’s top passers while remaining calm and steady in the pocket.
Running Back: Jeff Demps (2008-11) / Chris Rainey (2007-11)
It might be cheating to choose two players for a single position but the one-two punch of Demps and Rainey was something that kept defensive coordinators up at night. Demps was a world-class sprinter with elite speed and Rainey was a stout and agile running back that was just as fast as his counterpart. The two were a big part of Florida’s last national championship and continued to shred defenses for the next few years following.
Tight End: Kyle Pitts (2018-Present)
Choosing a tight end would have been a difficult task had it not been for the emergence of Kyle Pitts as a matchup nightmare in Dan Mullen’s offense. Without Pitts, most of the tight end play over the last ten years has been mostly blah. I expect that to be a thing of the past, knowing how Mullen likes to use his tight ends.
Wide Receiver: Antonio Callaway (2015-17)
I have to admit, I am naming Callaway a little begrudgingly. He is clearly the most talented receiver to grace the Gators’ sideline in the past decade. However, his off the field issues and “me first” mentality have been a problem well into his professional career. Even still, I can’t deny the absolute beauty of seeing him take the game-winning reception to the house versus Tennessee in 2015. Let’s hope he finally figures things out and becomes as great as he can be.
Offensive Lineman: Mike Pouncey (2007-10)
As one half of the greatest duo to throw a block for the Orange & Blue, Mike Pouncey is the recipient of the All-Decade offensive line designation. Mike chose to stay with the Gators for one more year following his brother’s departure for the NFL. Both have gone on to have terrific careers playing on Sundays.
Safety: Ahmad Black (2007-10)
Black had many highlights during his time in Gainesville and was known for laying some big hits on opposing receivers. However, it is his interception of Sam Bradford’s pass late in the fourth quarter of the BCS National Championship, along with his dominance in the 2010 season that propelled him into this spot.
Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves (2013-15)
This may have been the most difficult position to choose and when you’re considered DBU, selecting just one defensive back to take the All-Decade title should be a tough task. Vernon Hargreaves was a bright spot on an already elite defensive unit during his Florida career, shutting down passing lanes and being an ever-present threat to take the ball away from the offense. To be fair, this spot could have gone to at least three different players, including Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (2106-18) but in the end, Hargreaves was just consistently superb throughout his career.
Linebacker: David Reese II (2016-19)
David Reese battled injury throughout his career at Florida and still managed to be a consistent leader on the defensive side of the ball. Reese finished his sophomore season as only the second Florida defender to surpass 100 tackles in a season since Ahmad Black did so in 2010.
I would like to give an honorable mention to Neiron Ball (2010-14). Gator Nation lost a great part of the Florida Gators’ family when he passed away in 2019. Ball was always an exemplary teammate and truly bled Orange & Blue.
Defensive Tackle: Adam Shuler (2018-19)
Though his time at Florida was short — just two seasons — Adam was a steady and disruptive force on the interior of the line. When he was not in the game, the rest of the pass rush and the run defense suffered. It is because of his impact on the field, if not on the stat line, that I am putting Adam in this position.
Defensive End: CeCe Jefferson (2015-18)
The tandem of Jefferson and Jachai Polite was a terror for opposing quarterbacks and either one of them could have taken this honor. In the end, I chose CeCe Jefferson because of the sheer volume of production. During his time as a Gator, Jefferson recorded 124 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks.
Kicker: Eddy Piñeiro (2016-17)
Eddy stormed onto the scene when he was seen kicking 70-yard field goals in a YouTube video. During his short career at Florida, he had an 88.4% (38-for-43) field goal conversion rate, ranking first in UF history. What else is there to say?
Punter: Johnny Townsend (2013-17)
Johnny Townsend became Florida’s all-time leading punter during his career. His 11,090 yards and 240 total punts set records in Gainesville while his career punting average of 46.2 yards ranks first in SEC history. Townsend is fifth in the conference record books for career punting yards.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list and would love to hear your thoughts. As with any list of this type, it is a subjective opinion but it is one that is based on merit. So who made your All-Decade list?