Will year 3 be a charm again?

History has this strange habit of repeating itself at Florida. Take the Heisman Trophy for instance. Florida’s three Heisman winners – Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow – were all the sons of preachers. Maybe it’s a stretch, but Cam Newton, who was part of Florida’s recruiting class of 2007 and the 2010 Heisman Trophy at Auburn (transferred from UF in 2008) is another son of a preacher turned Heisman winner.

When it comes to recruiting, history also has this way of repeating itself at Florida. The backbones of three national championship teams were part of the third recruiting classes by three different coaches – the recruiting class of 1992 by Steve Spurrier that was the core of the 1996 national title team; the recruiting class of 2004 by Ron Zook although he wasn’t around to experience the 2006 national title; and the recruiting class of 2007 by Urban Meyer.

If history is the true indicator of things to come, then big things are in store for Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators in the next couple of years. Muschamp’s class of 2013 was his third, his second consecutive consensus top five group that included USAToday first team All-America cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and second team USAToday All-America running back Kelvin Taylor, son of Fred Taylor, who was a star running back on Florida’s 1996 national championship team. Although  Hargreaves is the only freshman from 2013 currently drawing rave reviews through the first four games of the season, wide receivers Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fullwood are on the field regularly and Taylor, Alex Anzalone (LB), Keanu Neal (S), Chris Thompson (WR) and Daniel McMillan (LB) are starting to earn time.

It is too early to predict, but if history holds true, the recruiting class of 2013 has championships in its future.

Here is a look back at the recruiting classes of 1992, 2004 and 2007 and how they contributed to three national championship teams:


ALL-AMERICANS (first, second or third team): * Jack Jackson (WR); ** Danny Wuerffel (QB); *** Lawrence Wright (S); Donnie Young; Jeff Mitchell; Anthone Lott

* All-America in 1994, left for the NFL 1994

** First team All-America, 1995-96, Heisman Trophy 1996

*** 1996 Jim Thorpe Award

ALL-SEC: Jack Jackson, Wuerffel, Wright, Young, Mitchell, Lott, James Bates

OTHER QUALITY STARTERS: Tremayne Allen (TE); Cameron Davis (DE); Bart Edmiston (PK); Jerome Evans (FB); Demetric Jackson (S); Shea Showers (CB)

FINAL ANALYSIS: This is a group that produced one Heisman Trophy winner (Wuerffel), six All-Americans, seven All-SEC selections and another six quality starters. With the exception of Jack Jackson, a first team All-America selection in 1994 who left for the NFL (first round pick, Chicago Bears), the bulk of the class took a redshirt in 1992 then became part of four straight SEC championships and was the 1995 national runner-up before taking the tile over Florida State, 52-20, in the Sugar Bowl in 1996.

Any recruiting class with 13 quality contributors is special, but this one won more championships than any class in Florida history.


ALL-AMERICANS: Brandon Siler (LB)

ALL-SEC: * Siler (LB); Drew Miller (C/G); ** Derrick Harvey (DE); Phil Trautwein (OT); Cornelius Ingram (TE)

* Left for NFL, 2006.

** Left for NFL, 2007

OTHER QUALITY STARTERS: Tate Casey (TE); Kyle Jackson (S); Tony Joiner (S); Eric Rutledge (FB); Jim Tartt (OG); Jason Watkins (OT)

FINAL ANALYSIS: Ron Zook (fired after the seventh game in 2004) wasn’t around when this group had a big hand in Florida’s 2006 national championship team, but the Zooker’s fingerprints were all over that title. Zook followed up a 2003 recruiting class that included Chris Leak and Earl Everett with a 2004 class that produced 10 starters in the 2006 national championship game.  The only All-American in the group was Brandon Siler, the heart and soul of that nasty defense that held Ohio State to 82 total yards in the 41-14 title game blowout. The class produced five All-SEC performers, the defensive MVP of the championship game (Harvey) and six other quality starters including three of the starters on the offensive line. Trautwein started at left tackle in both the 2006 and 2008 national title games.


ALL-AMERICANS: * Maurkice Pouncey (G/C); Mike Pouncey (DT/G/C); Ahmad Black (S); Joe Haden (CB); ** Aaron Hernandez (TE); *** Carlos Dunlap (DE); *** Chas Henry (P); **** Cam Newton (QB)

* Left for NFL, 2009; Rimington Award winner 2009

** Left for NFL, 2009; Mackey Award 2009

*** Left for NFL, 2009

**** Ray Guy Award, 2010

***** Transferred to juco after 2008; All-America/Heisman Trophy at Auburn 2010

ALL-SEC: Maurkice Pouncey (G/C); Mike Pouncey (DT/G/C); Black, Dunlap (DE); Haden (CB);  Hernandez (TE); Chas Henry (P); Chris Rainey (RB); Major Wright (S); * Newton (QB).

* Transferred to juco after 2008; All-America/Heisman Trophy at Auburn 2010

OTHER QUALITY STARTERS: John Brantley (QB); Brandon Hicks (LB); Jaye Howard (DT);  Deonte Thompson (WR); Justin Trattou (DE); James Wilson (OG)

FINAL ANALYSIS: Any class that produces eight All-Americans – even if one of them transferred to juco and became a Heisman winner at another school – and nine All-SEC selections is something special. The class produced four major award winners – Newton (Heisman); Maurkice Pouncey (Rimington); Hernandez (Mackey); and Henry (Guy) – and six others who became quality starters during their UF careers. Nine of the 2007 class started in the national championship win over Oklahoma and the only consecutive 13-win seasons in UF history. Maurkice Pouncey started at guard as a true freshman then started at center in 2008-09. Twin brother Mike Pouncey started at defensive tackle as a freshman, right guard as a sophomore and junior, and center as a senior in 2010. Pouncey, Hernandez, Haden, Dunlap and Major Wright all left early for the NFL following the 2009 season.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.