#5 Chris Faulkner (1979-1982)
(No picture available)
I begin this list with Chris Faulkner. He was apart of that infamous 0-10-1 Florida team as a freshman and finished his four-year career with 71 receptions, 8 touchdowns, and 752 receiving yards. He played in three bowl games, but the only one the Gators actually won was the 1980 Tangerine Bowl.
After UF, Faulkner was drafted 108th overall in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played two forgettable seasons in the NFL before calling it quits.
#4 Ben Troupe (2000-2003)
Ben Troupe played on two 10-win Gator teams during his four-year career at UF. He played in a bowl game every year but came out victorious only once when the Gators won the 2002 Orange Bowl. Troupe was productive in his Gator career as he reeled in 64 receptions for seven touchdowns and 958 receiving yards.
Some of Troupe's accolades include:
- SEC Champion in 2000
- First-team All-SEC in 2003
- First-team All-American in 2003
After his senior year, Troupe was drafted 40th overall in the 2nd round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He played a modest five years in the NFL.
#3 Jordan Reed (2010-2012)
Unfortunately for Jordan Reed, many Gator fans solely remember him for ending Florida's National Championship hopes in 2012 after he lost a costly fumble late in a game against Georgia. Throw this one microcosm out the window, and Reed's proficiency as a Gator can be seen. In his three year career, Reed totaled 79 receptions for six touchdowns and 945 receiving yards. His lone accolade in college was being named Second-team All-SEC in 2012
Reed went to a bowl game every year and won two of them. They were the 2011 Outback Bowl and the 2012 Gator Bowl. Reed, or anyone associated with the Gators, probably does not want to remember that 2013 Sugar Bowl against Louisville.
Forgoing his senior year after 2012 (maybe because he thought that Gators fans would never forgive and forget "The Fumble"), Reed was drafted 85th overall in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He is currently in his second year with the team and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team. From the looks of it, Reed has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL.
#2 Cornelius Ingram (2005-2007)
The case of Cornelius Ingram is indeed a curious one. As the dates above indicate, Ingram played three years for the Gators and was part of the 2006 National Championship team. However, as I went through the old Gatorzone roster/bios and check other credible sources, I was intrigued to find out that Ingram was also a member of the 2008 National Championship team!
From my understanding, Ingram injured himself in 2008 and ended up missing all of his senior season. This set the stage for Aaron Hernandez (who I will be getting to in just a bit) to assume the role of starting tight end in a loaded Gators offense.
But back to Ingram for now. In the three years he managed to stay healthy, Ingram hauled in 64 receptions for eight touchdowns and 888 receiving yards. When he actually did play, Ingram went 2-1 in bowl games as the Gators won the 2006 Outback Bowl and the big one in the 2007 BCS National Championship. Still, I think it is pretty neat that he gets recognized as a member of the 2008 squad as well.
Some of his accolades include:
- SEC Champion in 2006 and 2008
- Second-team All-SEC in 2007
After six years, Ingram finally left UF after the 2008 season and was drafted 153rd overall in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four seasons in the NFL, all as a practice squad member.
#1 Aaron Hernandez (2007-2009)
Coming in at number one is Aaron Hernandez. His story is the ultimate epitome of a tragedy. He was a man who had everything and then lost it all because of one dumb mistake. As I sit here typing this, I can't help but feel bad for him. Before I get into all the negative that took Hernandez down, let me get into what built him up.
Coming into UF at the height of the Meyer/Tebow dynasty, Hernandez became a dangerous offensive weapon and viable target for quarterback Tim Tebow. In just three years as a Gator, Hernandez was able to tally 111 receptions for 12 touchdowns and 1,398 receiving yards. He is the only tight end on this list to eclipse over 1,000 receiving yards and his receptions and touchdowns are the most on this list as well.
He played an integral role in UF's National Championship run in 2008. In the 2009 BCS National Championship, he led all receivers with 57 receiving yards on five catches. The next year in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, Hernandez ended his collegiate career on a great note with nine catches for 111 yards and one touchdown.
As the best tight end to ever play at Florida (in my opinion), Hernandez garnered a few awards. Some of them include:
- SEC Champion in 2008
- John Mackey Award in 2009
- First-team All-American in 2009
- First-team All-SEC in 2009
Forgoing his senior year, Hernandez was drafted 113th overall in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He turned out to be a great find for the Pats as he formed a lethal duo with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. Together, Hernandez and Gronkowski were able to lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance. I remember watching this offense and wondering how anybody in the world could stop it. It turned out the only one who could stop it was Aaron Hernandez himself.
After receiving a five-year extension from the Pats in the 2012 offseason, Hernandez began his downward spiral. On June 26, 2013, he was arrested and charged with the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. I remember watching all this unfold on my TV as I packed my things and prepared to head up to the University of Florida for my freshman summer term that day. It almost feels like it happened yesterday.
I was up here at UF when they removed Hernandez's commemorative brick from the ground near Bull Gator and The Swamp. It's a part of UF history that I'll never forget, and as unhappy as I am about Hernandez's ordeal, I am glad I was able to witness this historical/infamous event.
Shortly after being charged with Odin Lloyd's murder, another incident popped up claiming that Hernandez was involved in a double homicide in Boston back in 2012. With three murder charges (and various other counts) hanging over his head, it is more than likely that Aaron Hernandez will be behind bars for the rest of his life.
Honorable Mention: Kirk Kirkpatrick (1987-1990)
Honorable Mention: Kirk Kirkpatrick (1987-1990)
I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 article! Next week I will be rounding out the offensive players as I rank my top five Florida Gator kickers! Until then, stay tuned to my upcoming articles on the Gator basketball game against William & Mary on November 14th and the Gator football game against South Carolina on November 15th!
*All stats accredited to Gatorzone.com, College Football @ Sports-Reference.com, Pro Football-Reference.com & Wikipedia.com