Top 5 Best University of Florida Athletes

MATTHEW SMITH

FBL-KOR-USA-FRIENDLY
Abby Wambach of the United States reacts during her match against South KoreaJune 20, 2013 at Red Bull Stadium in Harrison, NJ. Wambach went on to score four goal’s breaking the record for international competition. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

QUALIFICATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION

1.Outstanding collegiate career

2.Decorated professional career

5. Al Horford (Basketball, PF/C)

Al Horford played basketball for the University of Florida from 2004-2007 under current head coach, Billy Donovan. Horford played center and had to contain powerful, big men (such as one of the greatest college basketball players, Greg Oden). Horford is a 2 time NCAA Champion and averaged 10.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.7 APG and 1.7 BPG in his college career. He also transferred this success to his professional career, as he now leads the Atlanta Hawks, the current 1st place team in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. He is a 3 time NBA All-Star and presently averages 14.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.7 APG and 1.2 BPG in his early NBA career.

4. Jack Youngblood (Football, DE)

Jack Youngblood was a pivotal part of the Gator defense from 1968-1970. Youngblood became known in the national spotlight after a 5 sack performance against rival school FSU in 1969. He was a 1st team All-American in 1970 and finalist for the Outland Trophy (given to the best interior lineman in the NCAA). Youngblood ended his University of Florida football career with what was then a school record: 29 sacks. The Los Angeles Rams selected Youngblood 20th overall in the 1971 NFL Draft and he continued to flourish in his football career. Youngblood was a 7 time Pro Bowler and 5 time 1st Team All-Pro Defensive End. He recorded an estimated 151.5 sacks (sacks were not statistically recorded until 1982, towards the end of Youngblood’s career) which would put him at 4th All-Time on the list of Sack Leaders in NFL History. Youngblood, known around the league as a gutsy and tough athlete, played the entire 1979 Playoffs with a broken left fibula! He holds the Rams record for most consecutive games played at 201 and was one of two Gators to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

3. Abby Wambach (Soccer, Forward)

Abby Wambach has been the face of the US Women’s Soccer Team for over a decade now. Wambach was a heavily sought-after prospect out of New York in the late 1990s. She chose to attend the University of Florida, despite their Women’s Team only having existed for 3 years, over the University of North Carolina, who historically has had the most dominant women’s team. In 1998, as a freshman, Abby Wambach helped lead UF to their first NCAA Championship. She was an All-American and All-SEC player from 1998-2001. Wambach also holds a Florida record of 96 Goals, along with 50 Assists and 242 Points in her Gator career. She became known nationally with her late goal in the 2004 Olympic Finals to earn the United States a gold medal over a strong Brazilian opponent. Other accomplishments on Abby’s long list include: 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, 3rd Place in the 2003 and 2007 Women’s World Cup and 2nd Place in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. However, her most legendary accomplishment is passing Mia Hamm on the All-Time Scoring List in 2013, netting her 160th International Goal. This summer, Wambach will also be looking to top off her career by winning the Women’s World Cup in Canada for the US Women’s Team.

2. Ryan Lochte (Swimmer)

Ryan Lochte is the most decorated Olympic athlete to ever come out of the University of Florida. Lochte swam for Florida from 2004-2007 and earned a lengthy list of accolades in that time frame. He is a 2 time NCAA Swimmer of the Year and a 7 time NCAA Champion in a variety of events including the 200 yard individual medley and backstroke. He is also a 24 time All-American, but his success did not end there. At the 2004 Olympics, Lochte swam on the US 4X200 Meter Freestyle Relay with Michael Phelps and other Olympic Swimmers. He won gold, beating a heavily favored Australian team that had not lost this event in nearly 6 years! Lochte also went on to win a silver medal in the 200 meter individual medley at that Olympics. He earned himself 4 medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and an additional 5 medals at the 2012 Olympics in London.

This pretty boy, currently residing in Gainesville, also took his talents to television. He starred in E!’s 2013 series “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” Unfortunately, the show was cancelled five weeks after the premiere. However, this failure does not trump all of the collegiate and professional successes that Lochte earned in his swimming career, establishing him as one of the best athletes to ever attend the University of Florida.

  1. Emmitt Smith (Football, RB)

It wasn’t even a question that, at the top of this prestigious list, must be one of the best running backs to ever play the game of football. Emmitt Smith made a name for himself right out of the gate, making his first collegiate start against a dangerous Alabama football team. Smith went on to break the University of Florida’s single game rushing record, gathering 224 yards rushing and scoring 2 touchdowns in the upset victory. In 1987, his freshman year, Smith broke the record for fastest Running Back to reach 1,000 yards in his first 7 games! Smith was an All American in 1989 and 1st Team SEC from 1987-1989. He decided to enter the NFL Draft and forgo his senior year fearing that the new incoming coach, Steve Spurrier, would take away many of his carries in a pass heavy offense. Ironically, the first running back in Spurrier’s system broke Smith’s school rushing record in a single season. Smith left the University of Florida with 58 school records and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Smith was selected 17th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Scouts feared that Smith was too small and slow to be successful in the NFL, but he quickly proved these doubters wrong. Smith is the 1st NFL Running Back to rush for 1,400 yards in 5 consecutive seasons. He is 2nd only to the legendary Jerry Rice with total touchdowns, tallying 175. Smith is a 3 time Super Bowl MVP, even winning the MVP Award for Super Bowl XXVIII. He also is a 2 time NFL MVP, 4 time Rushing Champion and an 8 time Pro Bowler. To top off such a marvelous career, Emmitt Smith was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2010, solidifying his standing as the best athlete to ever come out of the University of Florida.

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