Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 5 Cornerbacks in Gator Football History

Finally, after a few weeks hiatus, I am finally back with my next Top 5 list! I hope everybody had a Happy Holidays and I promise that this article will be worth the wait. In this article I will be listing my five best players to ever play cornerback at the University of Florida! Without further adieu, let us begin!

#5 Vernon Hargreaves III (2013-Present)

In all of my football game recaps these past two years, I have raved about Vernon Hargreaves III. In just two years as a Gator, VH3 has established himself as not only one of the best corners in school history, but also one of the best in the nation! I can promise you that after his junior year he will declare for the 2016 NFL Draft and he will go in the Top 10!

Through two years, VH3 has compiled five interceptions, 83 total tackles, 24 broken up passes, and two recovered fumbles.  His accolades include:

  • 2013 & 2014 First-team All-SEC
  • 2014 All-American

VH3's first collegiate bowl game will come in the form of the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on January 3rd against the ECU Pirates. I think he will perform well in this game and record an interception, maybe even two!

#4 Bruce Bennett (1963-1965)

Bruce Bennet played on a winning Gator team in each of his three collegiate seasons. He played in the 1966 Sugar Bowl his senior year and ended his college career on a heartbreaking note as the Gators lost to the #6 Missouri Tigers 20-18.

The only stat I have for Bennett is that he recorded 13 interceptions in his Gator career. This remained a school record until Will White came along and broke it in 1992. He also tied Florida's record for interceptions in a game when he picked off three balls against Georgia in 1963.

His accolades include:

  • First-team All-SEC in 1964 and 1965
  • First-team All-American in 1965
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee
Bennett went on to play in the Canadian Football League and had a successful career full of All-Star team selections!

#3 Keiwan Ratliff (2000-2003)

Like Hargreaves III, Keiwan Ratliff had to deal with some transition as he played for both Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook. The coaching changes hardly affected him though as he balled out on the field.

In his four years as a Gator, Ratliff notched 83 total tackles, 12 interceptions (three for touchdowns), seven broken up passes, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one kick return touchdown. His nine interceptions during his senior year of 2003 are a school record for interceptions in a season.

He was a member of the Florida Gator squad that won the 2002 Orange Bowl, but his list of achievements does not stop there. His other accolades include:

  • First-team All-SEC in 2002 & 2003
  • Consensus All-American in 2003
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2003
  • UF Hall of Fame Inductee in 2013

After UF, Ratliff entered the 2004 NFL Draft and was selected 49th overall in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played seven years in the NFL and finished his career with five interceptions, 158 tackles, and 11 pass deflections in 76 games.

#2 Joe Haden (2007-2009)

Joe Haden was an absolute lockdown corner when he was in college. In just three years as a Gator his stat line included eight interceptions, 218 total tackles, 42 broken up passes, and three forced fumbles.

He was a member of the 2008 Florida Gator National Championship team and led the team with 10 total tackles while also breaking up two passes in the National Championship. The next year in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, he again led the team with six total tackles while breaking up just a single pass.

In addition to his National Championship and Sugar Bowl championship, some of Haden's other accolades include:

  • SEC Champion in 2008
  • National Defensive Player of the Year in 2009
  • Unanimous All-American in 2009
  • First-Team All-SEC in 2009
After winning the Sugar Bowl, Haden entered the 2010 NFL Draft and was selected seventh overall by the Cleveland Browns. He is still with the team to this day and through Week 11 of 2014 he has 14 interceptions, 291 tackles, 78 broken up passes, and three forced fumbles. He has been to two Pro Bowls.

#1 Fred Weary (1994-1997)

Coming in at the No. 1 spot is Fred Weary. Not only did he help bring Florida its first National Championship in 1996, but he also is the school's all-time leader in career interceptions. The only stats I have for Weary are 35 passes broken up and his school-record 15 career interceptions.

Among his record and being a National Championship, Weary's accolades include:

  • SEC Champion in 1994, 1995, & 1996
  • First-team All-SEC in 1996 & 1997
  • Consensus All-American in 1997

Upon graduation, Weary entered the 1998 NFL Draft and was selected 97th overall in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints. He played just five seasons and had seven interceptions, 191 tackles, four recovered fumbles, and two sacks in his NFL career.

Honorable Mention:
Steve Tannen (1967-1969), Janoris Jenkins (2008-2010)

I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 article! It feels good to be back! My next article in this series will be the Top 5 Florida Gator Safeties! Stay tuned!

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