Steve Spurrier nicknamed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium "The Swamp," with the obvious comparison that Florida Field is about as dreadful as an alligator infested swamp for opposing teams. While Spurrier's comparison was intended for opposing players, it's now focused on Florida's head man: Can Will Muschamp survive in the swamp? With the Gators' immense success over the years, the expectations have become impossibly high. Spurrier left Florida with the notion that 10-win seasons were not enough anymore. Now, forget 10 win seasons not being enough: 13 wins in 2009 wasn't enough for many Gator fans.
For Coach Boom to survive, he's going to need some help from his players. In the history of Gator coaches, the ones with the most success had at least one all world type super star. Ray Graves had Heisman winner Steve Spurrier. Galen Hall had Emmitt Smith. But even their success would not satisfy today's Gator fans. To satisfy today's Gator fans, championships must be won and to win them you need more than just super stars: You need little guys.
Spurrier and Urban Meyer utilized smaller players for their speed and quickness to create miss matches and they would often be the X-factor in key games. Luckily for Muschamp, he already has two little guys that could be the X-factor for the 2011 Gators: Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Last season Demps was well on his way to becoming Meyer's first 1,000 yard rusher before a nagging ankle injury slowed him down. When Rainey returned from his suspension, he seemed to take advantage of his second chance and finally lived up to some his potential. For Muschamp to survive in the Swamp, he's gonna need help from those little guys.
Now to the fun part: My top five all-time Gator little guys.
These are players who may not of been the star of the team but without them, Spurrier and Meyer would of never had so much success. The players are no taller than 5-10 and no heavier than 190.
- Travis McGriff (WR, 5'8", 185 pounds): McGriff was a very agile receiver who often made big runs after short catches. His size never seemed to affect his play, even though he was clearly too small to be a number one receiver. McGriff set the Florida record for total reception yards in a season with 1,357 in 1998.
- Ahmad Black (DB, 5'9", 185 pounds): Black seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. Even though Black was a undersized safety, he would typically lead the team in tackles and interceptions.
- Jacquez Green (KR/PR/WR, 5'10", 172 pounds): Green was insanely fast and quick. I would describe him as a mixture of Demps and Percy Harvin. Green would always come up big whether on returns or a big reception; nobody will ever forget his classic run after the catch against FSU in 1997.
- Fred Weary (DB, 5'10", 181 pounds): Weary was the ultimate shutdown corner. He had the speed to keep up with the fastest SEC receivers and the athletic ability to always put himself in the better position. He's the all-time leader in interceptions for the Gators with 15.
- Brandon James (KR/PR/RB/WR; 5'7", 176 pounds): James is the best Gator return man of all-time and may even be the best ever from the SEC. He currently holds most SEC records for return yards. James' proficiency in the return game is one of the most underrated aspects of his four years in Gainesville, which saw the Gators post three 13-1 records.