Time to complete the upper right hand corner of the #GreatestGatorEver bracket with the 14 Regional. Y’all know the drill by now; let’s get to it.
(Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.)
(1) Kelly Barnhill (softball, P- 2016-19). 3X All-American: 2017, 2018, 2019. 2017 WCWS All-Tournament team. 2017 ESPNw Player of the Year. 2017 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year. 2017 Honda Sports Award winner. 2017 ESPY Award winner- “Best Female Collegiate Athlete”. 2017 and 2018 SEC Pitcher of the Year. Florida’s all time strikeout leader with 1,208. Florida’s all time leader in opposing batting average with .134. Third all time in Florida history with 104 career wins and with 1.17 career ERA. One year professional softball career and counting with Chicago Bandits. 2016 and 2018 gold medalist with Team USA in WBSC Softball World Championships.
(16) Gregory Ouellette (tennis- 2005-08). Finished all four years ranked #41 or higher in ITA singles rankings; finished #4 in 2008. Second 5X All-American in Florida history: 2005 singles and doubles, 2007 singles and doubles and 2008 singles. Fifth all time in Florida history with 181 career wins. 2005 SEC Freshman of the Year.
(8) Jeff Morrison (tennis- 1998-00). 4X All-American: 1999 and 2000 singles and doubles. 1999 NCAA individual singles champion. Only Gator to ever finish #1 in final ITA singles rankings. Third in Florida history with 197 career wins. Reached main singles draw of all four Grand Slam events; reached third round (Round of 32) at 2002 Wimbledon.
(9) Kitty Cullen (lacrosse, A- 2010-13). 2011 ALC Player of the Year. 2013 ALC Offensive Player of the Year. 3X All-American: 2011, 2012 and 2013 (first team). 3X first team All-ALC: 2011, 2012, 2013. Third in Florida history with 203 career goals; fourth with 261 career points.
(4) Alex Brown (football, DE- 1998-01). Clutch factor: recorded five sacks, an interception, and two PBU in win over Tennessee in 1999. 1999 and 2001 first team All-American. 2001 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Florida’s all time career sacks leader with 33. Sixth in Florida history with 47 TFL. Nine year NFL career, mostly with Bears; 45.5 career sacks, 15 career forced fumbles.
(13) Josh Fogg (baseball, P- 1996-98). 1996 and 1998 SEC champion. 1998 consensus first team All-American. Third in Florida history with 22 career saves; fifth all time with .208 opponent batting average. Nine year MLB career.
(5) Aury Cruz (volleyball, OH- 2000-03). 3X All-American: 2001, 2002, 2003. Florida’s all time kills leader with 1,815. Florida’s all time points leader with 2,188.5. Second in Florida history with 220 service aces; seventh with 1,320 career digs. 20 year professional career. 2016 Olympian (Puerto Rico),
(12) Mollie Stevens (lacrosse, A- 2014-17). 2017 All-American. 2017 Big East Attacker of the Year. 2015 and 2017 first team All-Big East. Fifth in Florida history with 159 career goals; ninth all time with 189 assists.
(6) Kevin Carter (football, DE- 1991-94). 1994 consensus All-American. First round NFL Draft pick (#6 overall, Rams). Fourteen year NFL career. 2X Pro Bowl: 1999, 2002. Led NFL with 17 sacks in 1999. Super Bowl XXXIV champion with Rams. Tied for 28th in NFL history with 104.5 career sacks.
(11) Craig Brown (basketball, G- 1991-94). Led Florida to first ever Final Four in 1994 with 89 made threes (then a school record). 10th in Florida history with 186 career made threes; 20th with 1,419 career points.
(3) Billy Horschel (golf- 2006-09). 4X All-American. 3X first team All-American: 2007-09. 11 year professional career. 5 PGA Tour wins: 2013 and 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 2014 BMW Championship, 2014 Tour Championship, 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson.
(14) Cornelius Ingram (football, TE- 2005-07; basketball, G- 2005). FOOTBALL: 2006 national champion. 2007 All-SEC. Three year NFL career. BASKETBALL: played 19 games for 2004-05 team.
(7) Jessica Lehnhoff (tennis- 1999-02). 2001 NCAA individual doubles champion. One of only three 7X All-Americans in Florida history: 1999 doubles, 2000-02 singles and doubles. Reached Round of 16 in 2001 US Open main doubles draw.
(10) Taylor Unroe (volleyball, DS- 2011-14). 2013 All-American. Second in Florida history with 1,558 career digs; ninth with 130 career service aces.
(2) Alex Faedo (baseball, P- 2015-17). 2017 national champion. 2017 CWS MOP. Clutch factor: went 2-0 in 2017 CWS, both against TCU, with 14.1 IP of shutout ball (five hits allowed). Most strikeouts in Florida’s NCAA Tournament history with 83. Most strikeouts in a single CWS in Florida history with 22. Florida’s all time single season strikeouts leader with 157 in 2017; also fifth in this category with 133 in 2016. Third all time in Florida history with 28 pitching wins and with 349 career strikeouts; eighth with 2.80 career ERA*. First round MLB Draft pick (#18 overall, Tigers).
(15) Brooke Austin (tennis- 2015-18). 2017 national champion (team). 2016 NCAA individual doubles champion. 5X All-American: 2015 singles and doubles, 2016 singles and doubles, 2017 doubles. 2015 SEC Player of the Year.
The favorite: (1)Kelly Barnhill
Barnhill is easily one of the ten most accomplished female athletes to ever walk the University of Florida campus, and that’s not even counting the majority of the long professional softball career she’s likely to enjoy. The laundry list of accolades combined with her likability as a person and leadership skills on four very good Florida softball teams has to make her the leader of this pack. Do note, though, that she does have one major weak spot: she does not have a national championship ring with the Gators, a repeatedly noted major factor in this tournament, and that could really hurt her in a potential Regional final against someone who does.
The second favorite: (2)Alex Faedo
If chalk holds throughout this Regional, we’d be treated to a clash between perhaps the best baseball pitcher and the best softball pitcher in Gator history. Working against Faedo is that Barnhill already has two gold medals in international competition, but working in his favor is the fact that, unlike Barnhill, he doesn’t just have a national championship ring with Florida, he also came away with a CWS Most Outstanding Player trophy from that trip to Omaha. And he came through in all kinds of clutch situations for Florida throughout his time in Gainesville. In any case, that Regional final should be a fun one if it comes to pass.
The sleeper: (4)Alex Brown
I’m not sure Florida ever had a single defensive lineman who was as devastating to a game plan as Alex Brown. Just ask Phil Fulmer after what Brown did to him and his Volunteers in 1999. There’s no such thing as an easy road for in a tournament like this, but Brown should definitely be considered a favorite in his first two matchups until he goes up against Kelly Barnhill. That’s when things get interesting: Brown doesn’t have a national title ring, so he and Barnhill are even there, but both were among the best not just in Florida history, but in NCAA history at what they did at their respective positions. What a Regional semifinal that should be.
The dark horse: (6)Kevin Carter
Carter has a fairly similar profile to Brown, but with only one All-American honor rather than two. However, he also had a better NFL career than Brown, and could pull off a run through this Regional. How fans decide to go between Carter and Horschel- perhaps the best golfer Florida has ever produced- will be interesting. If Carter pulls it off, he’ll presumably have a war with Faedo in the Regional semifinal, and if he gets past that? Whoever he draws in the Regional final- whether that’s Barnhill, Brown or even Aury Cruz- will be in for a battle.
The Cinderella candidate: (14)Cornelius Ingram
We’ve already seen one #14 seeded tight end (Trey Burton) pull off a shocker against a #3 seed in the first round; can CI make it two in a row and stun Horschel? Tearing his ACL before the 2008 season probably cost him at least 100 spots in the seeding process, as it robbed him of being remembered as a true two time national champion (he did get a ring, and everyone loves him, but… *voice trails off*). But he was a critical piece of that 2006 national championship team and did collect a few years’ worth of NFL paychecks, so the justification for it is at least there.