Friday, November 7, 2014

Top 5 Wide Receivers in Gator Football History

As my Top 5 series rolls along, I now move towards the greatest receivers to every play for the University of Florida. This was a very difficult list for me to compile as there have been a plethora of great wide receivers to pass through the Gator football program. Nevertheless, I was able to come up with five receivers who I felt deserve to be on this list. Without further adieu, here they are!

#5 Wes Chandler (1974-1977)

I begin this list with Wes Chandler, who played at Florida in the mid-1970's. In his four years as a Gator, Chandler hauled in 93 receptions for 1,994 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. He played on a winning Gator squad each year, but was never able to secure a bowl victory as the team went 0-3 in bowl games.

Some accolades of Chandler's collegiate career include:
  • First-team All-American in 1976 and 1977
  • First-team All-SEC in 1976 and 1977
  • First-team Academic All-American in 1977
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee in 1989
After his senior year, Chandler was drafted third overall in the 1978 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He played 10 years in the NFL and made a real name for himself playing for the Chargers from 1981 to 1987. Chandler finished his career with four Pro Bowl selections and was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 2001.

#4 Ricky Nattiel (1983-1986)

As a Gator player in the mid-80's, Nattiel played on some good teams as he was apart of three nine-win seasons. Nattiel played a big role in these wins as he caught 117 passes for 2,086 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in his Gator career.

Despite the great play of Nattiel game in and game out, the Gators were only able to bring home one bowl victory during his four years there. The win came in Nattiel's freshman year in the form of the 1983 Gator Bowl.

A sole bowl victory aside, here are some Nattiel's accolades:

  • First-team All-SEC in 1986
  • Second-team All-American in 1986
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee in 1998
After college, Nattiel was drafted 27th overall in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played just five seasons and never made much of an impact at the next level.

#3 Percy Harvin (2006-2008)

Deemed "Mercy Percy" by many Gator Faithful, Percy Harvin was dynamic in his three years as a Florida Gator. He was instrumental in Florida's National Championship runs in 2006 and 2008 as he provided a viable target for quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. The Gators went 35-6 during Harvin's time at Florida.

Prior to forgoing his senior year for the NFL Draft, Harvin had tallied 194 receptions for 1,852 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. He was a threat on the ground as well as he rushed for 1,852 yards and 19 touchdowns! Harvin ran for a touchdown in both of Florida's National Championships victories and between both games he caught 14 passes for 109 yards.

As if winning two National Championships is not enough, some of Harvin's other accomplishments include:

  • 2-time SEC Champion in 2006 and 2008 
  • SEC College Freshman of the year in 2006
  • SEC Championship Game MVP in 2006
  • Second-team All-SEC in 2007 
  • First-team All-American in 2008 and 2009

As I stated earlier, Harvin skipped his senior year to enter the 2009 NFL Draft. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Minnesota Vikings and remained there for three years before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. In Seattle, Harvin won a Super Bowl title and in that Super Bowl he opened the second half with a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Just a few weeks ago, Harvin was traded to the New York Jets amidst attitude problems and it is uncertain where his career will go from there. He has made just one Pro Bowl and has been battling injuries throughout his NFL career. If he can find a way to stay healthy, Harvin might earn a few more Pro Bowls and even another Super Bowl title to his resume before it is all said and done.

#2 Chris Doering (1992-1995)

An invaluable asset to the loaded Gator teams of the 90's, Chris Doering was one of the best receivers to ever play in the SEC. In his four years at UF, Doering caught 149 passes for 2,107 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns. That mark of 31 touchdowns still stands to this day as the SEC career record for touchdowns receptions.

As the Gators continued to perform well, Doering began taking home awards left and right. Some of his accolades include:

  • 3-time SEC Champion
  • First-team All-SEC in 1995
  • Second-team All-American in 1995
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee in 2006
After college, Doering was drafted 185th in the sixth round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He played for seven teams in an eight-year NFL career and totaled less receiving yards in his entire pro career (476) than in his junior year alone as a Gator (496).

#1 Carlos Alvarez (1969-1971)

My greatest Gator receiver of all time is Carlos Alvarez. As a member of a group known as the "Super Sophs", Alvarez helped lead the Gators to a 9-1-1 record and a 1969 Gator Bowl victory. This had been Florida's best football record up until the glory years of the 1990's.

In just three years as a Florida Gator, Alvarez totaled 172 receptions for 2,563 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. Alvarez played just three years not because he forewent his senior year, but because back then freshmen played on their own "frosh team" instead of with the actual football team. It would be similar to freshmen from the junior varsity team moving up to the varsity team as sophomores.

It is no surprise that as Alvarez kept hauling in passes, he also kept hauling in awards. Alvarez's accolades include:

  • First-team All-SEC in 1969
  • Consensus All-American in 1969
  • First-team Academic All-American in 1969
  • Second-team Academic All-American in 1970 and 1971
  • UF record holder in career receiving yards (2,563)
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee in 1986
  • Academic All-American Hall of Fame inductee in 1991 
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2011
  • Member of Florida Gators All-Century Team

Alvarez's fame lies mostly with his collegiate career as the list above shows he is a member of THREE different Hall of Fames! He was given a shot at the NFL when the Dallas Cowboys drafted him 390th overall in the 1972 NFL Draft, but Alvarez declined the contract because of lingering knee injuries.

After getting his law degree from Duke Law School in 1975 and teaching at SMU's School of Law for a few years, Alvarez became an attorney and currently practices law up from his base of operations in Tallahassee, Florida.

Honorable Mention: Jabar Gaffney (2000-2001), Ike Hilliard (1994-1996), Andre Caldwell (2003-2007), Lee McGriff (1972-1974)

I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 article! Next week, I will be highlighting the top five University of Florida tight ends (Aaron Hernandez will be on this list if anyone is wondering haha). Until then, check out my recent article on the Gator basketball game against Barry and make sure to check back for my article on the Gator football game against Vanderbilt!

*All stats accredited to, College Football @, &

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