Florida's All-Decade Team: Jordan Reed leads the offense
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South has selected an all-decade offensive and defensive team for all 14 SEC programs.
The 2010s were largely a lost decade for Florida on the field. The program failed to win an SEC championship for the first time in four decades, experienced its first losing season in nearly 40 years, suffered its first losing decade against archrival Georgia since the 1980s and, collectively, suffered its worst winning percentage in any decade since the 1970s.
While things are trending upward under Dan Mullen, who has won 20 games in his first two seasons as HBC in Gainesville and led Florida to consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances, it hasn’t been an easy road back to college football’s elite.
A huge reason for Florida’s struggles this decade?
An anemic offense. No matter which head coach was in charge before Mullen — Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp or Jim McElwain — all struggled to replicate the offensive wizardry that defined Florida football under Steve Spurrier and the Meyer, Mullen, Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin era of the 2000s. Great offenses helped Florida win more SEC championships than any program from 1990-2009, propelling the Gators to 3 national championships.
This decade, the well largely went dry — and Florida’s success dipped drastically as a result.
That doesn’t mean the Gators were without offensive talent this decade. They have developed their fair share of future NFL talent on the offensive side, despite the program’s collective struggle to score with consistency.
Here’s a look at Florida’s All-Decade team on offense.
QB: Kyle Trask (2019)
Recency bias? Maybe.
Then again, here’s the list of Florida quarterbacks this decade who threw for 300 yards in multiple games: Kyle Trask.
That’s the list.
Trask started only 9 games this season in relief of injured starter Feleipe Franks, but he etched his name into Gator lore in the process. Trask went 7-2 as a starter, losing only to SEC Championship Game participants LSU (in LSU’s most competitive game of the season) and Georgia. Trask also set Florida decade-best numbers for passing yards in a season (2,636), pass efficiency rating (159.2) and completion percentage (67.6). In other words, what seems like a recency bias selection becomes an obvious choice when you dig a little deeper.
Backup: Will Grier (2015). When Gators fans feel nostalgic or want to talk about what might have been, you can be sure Grier’s name comes up.
Grier started only half a season at Florida, but he was an electric gunslinger, rallying Florida to a win over the best Tennessee team this decade and engineering a rout of a top 5 Ole Miss team in The Swamp. With Grier, the 2015 Gators were a legitimate playoff contender. Without him, they needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic.
RB: Lamical Perine (2016-19)
The Gators have had some terrific running backs this decade, but none has been as consistent and well-rounded as Perine.
The Florida senior who in high school took a Greyhound bus to a Florida football camp in hopes of landing a scholarship made good on the one he was given, rushing for more than 2,300 yards and 20 TDs in his career and adding 67 receptions for 631 yards and 7 TDs out of the backfield.
Perine is one of the Gators seniors most responsible for the program’s turnaround under Mullen, and he gets the nod here.
Backup: Kelvin Taylor (2013-15). Florida’s last 5-star recruit at running back, Taylor was a consistent contributor for 3 seasons, accumulating more than 2,000 yards. Taylor rushed for more than 1,000 yards (the last Gator to do so) as a junior in 2015. He rarely had much of a passing game to help him, but he was a talented enough running back to grind out tough yards even with defenses focused on stopping him. He edges out future NFL running backs Matt Jones and Mike Gillislee for this spot.
WR: Antonio Callaway (2015-16)
Another member of the what might have been club, Callaway’s role in the Credit Card Nine scandal, which derailed Florida’s 2017 season and sent the program into a tailspin that resulted in McElwain’s resignation, almost keeps him off this list.
On the field, though, Callaway was maybe Florida’s most electric player this decade. In 2 seasons, Callaway tallied 1,399 yards receiving, averaging 15.7 yards per reception and scoring 8 TDs. He was also an electric return man, as he showed at the 2015 SEC Championship Game:
WATCH: Florida's Antonio Callaway doesn't even get touched on this 85-yard punt return for a TD. pic.twitter.com/LRPE6MkhHs
— Alex Byington (@_AlexByington) December 5, 2015
If only he had been able to keep it together off the field.
WR: DeMarcus Robinson (2013-15)
In a different offense with a better quarterback, Robinson would have been an All-American. Instead, Robinson labored under Muschamp and McElwain and quarterbacks like Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and Treon Harris, limiting his effectiveness.
Still, his 53-reception, 810-yard sophomore season was the best effort by a Gators receiver this decade, and he has shown his talents with the Kansas City Chiefs since joining the NFL, becoming one of Patrick Mahomes’ favorite targets.
Backup: Van Jefferson (2018-19). A transfer from Ole Miss, Jefferson has quietly been the best of Florida’s outstanding wide receiver corps under Mullen.
In two seasons in Gainesville, Jefferson has caught 78 passes for 1,031 yards and 12 touchdowns. A brilliant route runner with great hands, he has also been a tremendous leadership presence off the field, leaving a legacy that will be missed.
TE: Jordan Reed (2010-12)
Reed was an All-SEC performer on Florida’s 11-2 Sugar Bowl team in 2012, leading the Gators with 45 receptions. A jack of all trades, he played quarterback for Meyer in the Wildcat in 2010, helping Florida beat Georgia with his legs and finishing the season with 5 rushing touchdowns.
Reed went on to become a Pro Bowl tight end for Washington, collecting more than 300 receptions in what has been a productive and lengthy career in the NFL.
Backup: Kyle Pitts (2018-19). Pitts had a monster 2019, leading the Gators in receptions with 51 for 610 yards and giving Florida the matchup nightmare it had lacked at tight end since Reed’s departure. It hasn’t mattered who has defended him, either — he has gotten open.
Kyle Pitts is a beast. That's Grant Delpit he's up against here. Also a great throw from Kyle Trask. pic.twitter.com/jNnf84SvJj
— Sam Cooper (@SamDCooper) October 14, 2019
Only a sophomore, Pitts has room to improve, especially as a route runner. That’s a frightening proposition for defenses come 2020.
OT: Jawaan Taylor (2016-18); D.J. Humphries (2012-14)
Taylor was a freshman All-American who blossomed into an All-SEC tackle and the anchor of Florida’s dominant offensive line in 2018, one that helped the Gators win 10 games and the Peach Bowl. He has settled into a starting role for the Jacksonville Jaguars and had an outstanding rookie season.
Humphries was also a freshman All-American who became an All-SEC tackle as a junior. Now in his fifth season with the Arizona Cardinals, Humphries has started every game he has been active for since 2016.
C: Mike Pouncey (2010)
Florida has had competent centers this decade, but none as good as Pouncey. An All-American in 2010, Pouncey isn’t destined for Canton like his brother Maurkice, but he has played a decade in the NFL with the Dolphins and Chargers, reaching multiple Pro Bowls.
OG: Marcus Gilbert (2010); Jon Halapio (2010-13)
Gilbert bided his time under Meyer, playing sparingly early in his career before becoming a fixture at guard, starting his final 27 games at Florida there. He earned All-SEC honors as a senior in 2010 and has been a fixture on NFL rosters for a decade.
Halapio started 43 games at Florida at guard, earning All-SEC honors and being named team captain as both a junior in 2012 and a senior in 2013. Halapio moved to center in the NFL and has played several seasons as a pro, currently with the New York Giants.
Kicker: Eddy Piñeiro Jr. (2016-17)
Piñeiro was so popular in his two seasons at Florida that the fans chanted “Ed-dy, Ed-dy” every time he came on the field. A YouTube sensation with a cannon leg, Piñeiro was good from 60 yards-plus. Piñeiro led the nation in field goal percentage (94.8) as a junior in 2017, connecting on 17 of 18. A consensus All-American as a junior, Piñeiro declared for the NFL draft early but went undrafted, though he eventually latched on and is currently the kicker for the Chicago Bears.
Returner: Andre Debose (2010-14)
With world-class speed, Debose was a threat to take it to the house any time he touched the ball in the return game. Twice named All-SEC as a kick returner, Debose finished his career with 4 career kick returns for touchdowns, tying him for the all-time SEC lead with Tennessee’s Willie Gault, Arkansas return man Felix Jones and Georgia’s Brandon Boykin.