Monday the University of Florida announced nine new members for the University of Florida Hall of Fame Class, one of the most distinguished groups for any former student-athlete to be apart of.
Three of those new members had distinguished careers playing football at the University of Florida during the most successful four-year run in program history. Quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes and running back/receiver/return specialist Brandon James were all named as inductees. Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida during their time at Florida. He has a unique relationship with each player, including a very close one with Tebow.
Mullen and his family spent part of Easter Sunday watching Tebow give a sermon online.
“I would have felt comfortable that Tim would be giving a sermon on Easter. Knowing him now, I don’t know, 15 years ago maybe not, you don’t know but knowing him now and knowing everything about him I’m not surprised,” Mullen said of Tebow. “The impact of everyone around the world and the impact that he makes on people around the world. I’m not surprised that people around the world watched him give a sermon on Easter.”
Everyone is familiar with the impact that Tebow and Spikes had on those teams but Mullen spent more time speaking about the impact that James had, beginning with his recruitment.
Those Urban Meyer led teams were filled with five-star recruits, elite athletes and physical specimens. James was maybe 5’7” in cleats and 180-pounds in pads. He didn’t fit the bill, which makes his story all the more impressive. What position would James play on a team with Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey?
“Just the recruiting meetings we didn’t know (what position he would play) but you say he’s a guy we want on the team,” Mullen recalled during a Zoom meeting with local media. “Those are the types of people you want to be around as football players and you might have questions can he do this, can he do that, I’m not sure but he’s a guy we want on the team.”
James would go on to appear in 50 games over his career. He four SEC and 11 Florida records for kickoff and punt returns including most kickoff returns (112), career kickoff return yardage (2,718), and single-season kickoff average per return (28.0 in 2007). He was an impact player from day one, despite being undersized or not fitting the mold for what players on those National Championship teams looked like.
“Those are the types of people you want to be around as football players and you might have questions can he do this, can he do that, I’m not sure but he’s a guy we want on the team.” Said Mullen. “When you say he’s a guy we want on our team that’s something special. Anytime we get into recruiting and you say, ‘tell me about this guy’ well he has this deficiency, that deficiency, I’m not sure about this, I’m not sure about that but I know he’s a guy that we want on our team. Those are guys that have great careers.”