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Florida's 48 for 2014, No. 22: Emmitt never stopped running

Florida had one of the greatest running backs of all time and no quarterback to pair with him. That gave Emmitt Smith his start — and he basically never stopped.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

There are some things you can't take away, no matter how hard you try.

Emmitt Smith went to Florida before Florida ever won an SEC championship that it got to keep. His Gators teams went 6-6, 7-5, and 7-5. He's not even Florida's all-time leading rusher, thanks to a knee injury that sideswiped his sophomore season and Errict Rhett coming along immediately after he left and benefiting more from Steve Spurrier's offense — one with actual quarterback play — than Smith ever did from Galen Hall's.

But Emmitt is Emmitt. All he ever did was just keep running.

In his final season, at 35, he ran for exactly as many yards as he did in his rookie campaign.

After his rookie season ended 63 yards shy of 1,000 on the ground, Emmitt ran for at least 1,400 yards for the next five years, and for at least 1,000 yards for the next 11. He won three Super Bowls, and has the most rushing touchdowns, five, in the history of the Super Bowl; he's second on the touchdowns list to Jerry Rice. In his NFL career, a 15-season journey that sent him into so many defensive linemen and linebackers, Smith missed 14 games. His exceptional play with a separated shoulder on a cold day in the Meadowlands is among the gutsiest moments in NFL history. He only rushed for under 937 yards once, in a season in which he played only 10 games.

In his final season, at 35, he ran for exactly as many yards as he did in his rookie campaign.

Emmitt Smith is the all-time leading rusher in NFL history, and his mark will probably stand for a long, long time to come: He's almost 10 percent ahead of where Walter Payton was, and more than 8,000 yards — just under five miles — ahead of Adrian Peterson, the only logical challenger to his record.

Emmitt Smith is one of the greatest football players of all time, and one of the greatest Gators of all time, because he never stopped running.