#GreatestGatorEver Sweet 16 bracket breakdown

#GreatestGatorEver

Having announced the tentative plans for the schedule of the remainder of the #GreatestGatorEver fan voting tournament (update; the tournament resumes tomorrow on twitter and Instagram stories), it’s time to refresh our memories regarding the final sixteen contestants standing. Who are they, and how did they get here?

Two quick notes: first, players are listed in the order in which they appear on the bracket, and two, numbers beside players’ names denote their “national” (i.e. overall) seed. If the player wasn’t a top sixteen overall seed, no number will appear beside his or her name at the top; further seeding info is below.

First: the bracket.

#GreatestGatorEver

(1) Tim Tebow (football, QB: 2006-09)

Tournament profile: 1 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #1 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Bailee Castro (softball), 89.9%-10.1% (434 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Lauren Embree (tennis), 91.4%-8.6% (700 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Neal Walk (basketball), 92.5%-7.5% (1,012 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (10)Kennedy Baker (gymnastics), 95.7%-4.3% (1,918 votes)

Accomplishments: 2006 and 2008 SEC and national champion. 2007 Heisman Trophy winner; 2008 and 2009 Heisman Trophy finalist. 2007 consensus first team All-American, 2008 and 2009 All-American. 2008 and 2009 team captain. Florida Ring of Honor member. Member of winningest senior class in Florida history (48-7). Leads Florida all time in total yardage with 12,232, total touchdowns with 145 and rushing touchdowns with 57. First round NFL Draft pick. Three year NFL career with Broncos and Jets. Historic moment: jump pass touchdown to clinch Florida’s victory in the 2009 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma.

Matt Elam (football, S: 2010-12)

Tournament profile: 16 Regional champ (#4 Regional seed, #61 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (13)Melanie Booth (soccer), 83.7%-16.3% (239 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (5)Shannon Gilroy (lacrosse), 79.2%-20.8% (385 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (8)Marissa King (gymnastics), 75.9%-24.1% (926 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Dara Torres (swimming), 52.8%-47.2% (1,590 votes)

Accomplishments: 2012 consensus first team All-American; led Florida with four interceptions on the season. First round NFL Draft pick. Four year NFL career with Ravens. Historic moment: strip of O’Dell Beckham vs. LSU in 2012 in a game that Florida would eventually win 14-6.

(8) Lauren Haeger (softball, P: 2012-15)

Tournament profile: 8 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #8 overall seed)

How she got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Shayna Pirreca (lacrosse), 95.9%-4.1% (242 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (9)Jason Williams (basketball), 80.7%-19.3% (384 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (13)LaMical Perine (football), 76.3%-23.7% (431 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (3)Andre Caldwell (football), 71.2%-28.8% (1,339 votes)

Accomplishments: One of two players in organized baseball/softball history to hit 70 career home runs and record 70 pitching wins. 2013 and 2015 consensus first team All-American. 2014 and 2015 national champion. 2015 WCWS Most Outstanding Player. 2015 Honda Sports Award winner. Florida’s all time leader in home runs (71) and RBI (260. Third all time in Florida history with 494 total bases, seventh all time in with 73 pitching wins, and eighth all time with 532 strikeouts. Historic moment: grand slam vs. Georgia in 2015 to set the school record for home runs.

Fred Taylor (football, RB: 1994-97)

Tournament profile: 9 Regional champ (#4 Regional seed, #49 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (13)Michael Frazier (basketball), 94.3-5.7% (242 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (5)Lisa Raymond (tennis), 86.4%-13.6% (352 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (1)Ryan Lochte (swimming), 52.6%-47.4% (736 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Brandon Spikes (football), 56.8%-43.2% (1,562 votes)

Accomplishments: 1996 national champion. 1997 All-American. Fourth all time in Florida history with 3,075 career rushing yards and fifth all time with 32 rushing touchdowns. 1998 first round NFL Draft pick (#9 overall). Twelve year NFL career with Jaguars and Patriots. 2007 Pro Bowl Selection. 17th all time in NFL history with 11,695 rushing yards. Historic moment: touchdown run vs. FSU in 1997 to take the lead late in the 4th quarter.

(4) Emmitt Smith (football, RB: 1987-89)

Tournament profile: 4 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #4 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Savannah Jordan, 97.6%-2.4% (331 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (9)Aubree Munro (softball), 90.5%-9.5% (432 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Bradley Beal (basketball), 86.1%-13.9% (554 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Amanda Lorenz (softball), 65.0%-35.0% (2,172 votes)

Accomplishments: Second all time leading rusher in Florida history (3,928). Second all time at Florida with 36 rushing touchdowns. 1989 unanimous All-American and consensus first team All-American. Florida Ring of Honor member. First round NFL Draft pick (#17 overall). Fourteen year NFL career with Cowboys and Cardinals. 3X NFL Super Bowl champion: XXVIIXXVIIIXXX. Super Bowl XXVIII MVP. 8X NFL Pro Bowl selection: 1990–1995, 1998-99. NFL all time leading rusher (18,355 yards). NFL all time rushing touchdowns leader (164). First ballot NFL Hall of Famer. Historic moment: one-yard touchdown run against Alabama in 1987 as part of a 224 yard effort in his first career start.

Chris Doering (football, WR: 1992-95)

Tournament profile: 13 Regional champ (#4 Regional seed, #59 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (13)Shaun Anderson (baseball), 91.8%-8.2% (232 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (5)Will Claye (track), 74.9%-25.1% (323 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (1)Mike Zunino (baseball), 51.9%-48.1% (776 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (6)Alicia Boren (gymnastics), 75.4%-24.6% (1,065 votes)

Accomplishments: 3X SEC Champion: 1993-95. 1995 first team All-SEC. 1995 All-American. Florida’s all time leader in TD receptions with 31. Sixth all time at Florida with 149 career receptions; tenth all time with 2,107 receiving yards. Seven year NFL career with four teams. Historic moment: caught game winning (and SEC Championship saving) touchdown to beat Kentucky in 1993.

(5) Percy Harvin (football, RB/WR: 2006-08)

Tournament profile: 5 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #5 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Kristen Guise (gymnastics), 81.4%-18.6% (516 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Alaina Johnson (gymnastics), 70.5%-29.5% (665 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Kytra Hunter (gymnastics), 55.2%-44.8% (3,145 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Hannah Rogers (softball), 81.7%-18.3% (1,353 votes)

Accomplishments: 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year. 2007 and 2008 (first team) All-American. 2006 and 2008 SEC and national champion. 2006 SEC Title Game MVP. First player in Florida history to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in a single game. Holds several Florida records for wide receivers: most career rushing yards (1,852), most rushing yards in a single season (764 in 2007), and most overall touchdowns (32; 19 rushing, 13 receiving). 2009 first round NFL Draft pick (#22, Vikings). 2009 NFL Rookie of the Year. 2009 Pro Bowl selection. Super Bowl XLVIII champion with Seahawks. Historic moment: 67 yard TD on a counter play vs. Arkansas in 2006 SEC Title Game.

(12) Abby Wambach (soccer, F: 1998-2001)

Tournament profile: 12 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #12 overall seed)

How she got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Sammi Burgess (lacrosse), 90.5%-9.5% (210 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Dallas Baker (football), 82.7%-17.8% (232 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Jevon Kearse (football), 67.3%-32.7% (471 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Errict Rhett (football), 67.2%-32.8% (1,045 votes)

Accomplishments: Florida’s all time leading career goal scorer (96). Clutch factor: 24 game-winning goals at Florida. 1998 SEC Freshman of the Year and freshman All-American. 1998 national champion. 3X unanimous first team All-American: 1999, 2000, 2001. 6X US Soccer Athlete of the Year Award: 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013. 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year Award. 184 career international goals; most in US history and second most worldwide among women. 2004 (Athens) and 2012 (London) Olympic gold medalist. 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup bronze medalist, 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup silver medalist and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gold medalist with Team USA. 2011 FIFA World Cup Silver Ball and Bronze Boot Award winner.

(6) Joakim Noah (basketball, F/C: 2005-07)

Tournament profile: 6 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #6 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Austin Maddox (baseball), 95.0%-5.0% (303 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Janoris Jenkins (football), 91.4%-8.6% (396 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (5)Ahmad Black (football), 84.9%-15.1% (529 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Errict Rhett (football), 70.8%-29.2% (1,528 votes)

Accomplishments: 2006 and 2007 national champion. 2006 Minneapolis All-Regional team. 2006 Final Four Most Outstanding Player. 2006 All-American; 2007 consensus All-American. 42nd all time at Florida with 1,133 career points. All time NCAA leader with 29 blocked shots in a single NCAA Tournament (2006). First round NBA Draft pick (#9 overall, Bulls). Fourteen year NBA career and counting with four teams. 2X NBA All-Star: 2013, 2014. 2014 first team all-NBA. 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Historic moment: slamming down a dunk with a minute remaining against UCLA in the 2006 national championship game to punctuate Florida’s 73-57 victory.

(11) Jack Youngblood (football, DE/DT/K: 1968-70)

Tournament profile: 11 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #11 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Walter Hodge (basketball), 92.4%-7.6% (224 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Jackson Kowar (baseball), 90.8%-9.2% (238 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (5)Reidel Anthony (football), 74.1%-25.9% (483 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Bridget Sloan (gymnastics), 69.3%-30.7% (982 votes)

Accomplishments: 1970 first team All-American. Florida Ring of Honor member. College Football Hall of Fame member. First round NFL Draft pick (#20 overall, Rams). Fourteen year NFL career with Rams. 7X Pro Bowl: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. 8X All-Pro selection; 5X first team All-Pro: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1978. 151.5 career NFL sacks; would be fifth all time in NFL history. NFL Hall of Fame member. Historic moment: stuffed Georgia running back Ricky Lake at the goal line, stripped the ball out and recovered it in 1970.

(3) Al Horford (basketball, F/C: 2005-07)

Tournament profile: 3 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #3 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Lindsey Cameron (softball), 94.9%-5.1% (256 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (9)Lomas Brown (football), 93.1%-6.9% (275 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (5)Alex McMurtry (gymnastics) by disqualification*
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Rex Grossman (football), 68.7%-31.3% (1,351 votes)

Accomplishments: 2006 and 2007 national champion and Final Four All-Tournament team. 2007 consensus All-American. Second all time at Florida with 189 career blocked shots and 16 double-doubles. First round NBA Draft pick (#3 overall, Hawks). Thirteen year NBA career and counting. 5X NBA All-Star: 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018. 2011 All-NBA selection. 2018 NBA All-NBA Defensive Team selection. Historic moment: working against Butler’s Brandon Crone in the 2007 Sweet 16 and muscling his way for a bucket-and-one in Florida’s 65-57 win.

*A story for another day. For now, let’s just call it “pervasive and incessant toxicity from non-Gator gymnastics fans, including, but by no means limited to, creating numerous fake accounts to vote for McMurtry dozens of times each.”

(14) Kelly Barnhill (softball, P: 2016-19)

Tournament profile: 14 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #14 overall seed)

How she got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Gregory Ouellette (tennis), 97.0%-3.0% (542 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Jeff Morrison (tennis), 93.6%-6.4% (493 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Alex Brown (football), 77.7%-22.3% (626 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Alex Faedo (baseball), 61.5%-38.5% (1,006 votes)

Accomplishments: 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. 2016 and 2018 gold medalist with Team USA in WBSC Softball World Championships. Historic moment: game-ending strikeout in Game 3 of 2017 Super Regionals against Alabama to send Florida back to the WCWS.

(7) Steve Spurrier (football, QB/K: 1964-66)

Tournament profile: 7 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #7 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Sydney Pirreca (lacrosse), 96.5%-3.5% (542 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Chris Chiozza (basketball), 93.1%-6.9% (493 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (5)Scottie Wilbekin (basketball), 93.6%-6.4% (626 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (3)Mike Miller (basketball), 93.7%-6.3% (1,006 votes)

Accomplishments: 1965 first team All-American; 1966 unanimous first team All-American. 1966 Heisman Trophy winner. Florida Ring of Honor member. College Football Hall of Fame member. 10th in Florida history with 4,848 career passing yards. 10 year NFL career (nine with 49ers). Historic moment: waving away the Florida kicker and nailing the game winning 40 yard field goal to beat Auburn and clinch the Heisman Trophy in 1966.

(10) Chris Leak (football, QB: 2003-06)

Tournament profile: 10 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #10 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Josh Tobias (baseball), 92.7%-7.3% (330 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (8)Chris Richard (basketball), 95.1%-4.9% (385 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Caeleb Dressel (swimming), 62.6%-37.4% (526 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (2)Corey Brewer (basketball), 55.6%-44.4% (1,070 votes)

Accomplishments: One of three four year primary starting QB’s in Florida football history. 2006 national champion. 2007 BCS Championship Game Offensive MVP. 2005 and 2006 team captain. Florida’s all time passing yards leader with 11,213. Second in Florida history with 88 touchdown passes, and tied for second with 35 wins as quarterback. Historic moment: “ADMIRE THE THROW” game winning touchdown pass to Dallas Baker against FSU in 2006.

(2) Danny Wuerffel (football, QB: 1993-96)

Tournament profile: 2 Regional champ (#1 Regional seed, #2 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (16)Hudson Randall (baseball), 98.9%-1.1% (278 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (9)Nicole DeWitt (softball), 93.4%-6.6% (304 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (4)Heather Mitts (soccer), 86.2%-13.8% (494 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (6)Brady Singer (baseball), 92.3%-7.7% (867 votes)

Accomplishments: 1996 national champion. 1996 Heisman Trophy winner. 1995 first team All-American; 1996 consensus first team All-American. 1995 and 1996 Davey O’Brien Award winner. 1996 Walter Camp Award winner. 1996 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner. 1996 Sporting News Player of the Year. Florida’s all time passing touchdowns leader (114). Second in Florida history with 10,875 career passing yards; had two of Florida’s five 3,250+ yard passing seasons (1995, 1996). Historic moment: a 16 yard touchdown rush against FSU in the 1997 Sugar Bowl, en route to Florida’s first national championship.

Pete Alonso (baseball, 1B: 2014-16)

Tournament profile: 15 Regional champ (#2 Regional seed, #18 overall seed)

How he got here:

  • Round of 256: def. (15)Judd Davis (football), 92.9%-7.1% (326 votes)
  • Round of 128: def. (7)Kerwin Bell (football), 85.5%-14.5% (304 votes)
  • Round of 64: def. (3)Jabar Gaffney (football), 75.8%-24.2% (496 votes)
  • Round of 32: def. (1)Wilber Marshall (football), 50.8%-49.2% (1,202 votes)

Accomplishments: 2014 SEC All-Freshman team. 2016 unanimous All-American. 2019 MLB Home Run Derby champion. 2019 NL Rookie of the Year. 2019 MLB All-Star. Set MLB rookie record with 53 home runs in 2019. Historic moment: a two run, 421 foot moonshot to dead center field in the 1-1 game of the 2015 College World Series against Miami in an eventual 10-2 Florida win.

The favorite: (1)Tim Tebow

Obviously, the #1 overall seed in the whole shebang is going to be the favorite at any stage. Two national titles sandwiched around a Heisman and breaking all kinds of records will do that. Do look for him to get tested more on the national stage (aka the Sweet 16 and beyond) than he was in the Regional stage, though. He’ll be a lopsided favorite against Matt Elam in the Sweet, but his road to the title beyond that is much tougher. If chalk holds, he’ll have to go through (8)Lauren Haeger, who’s essentially the rough softball equivalent of Tebow accolades-wise in the Elite Eight, Emmitt Smith, the greatest NFL running back of all time statistics-wise in the Final Four, and the one and only Danny Wuerffel in the championship match, who needs no further introduction. And before you dismiss Haeger as a serious threat, consider this: fellow softball player Bailee Castro- the #16 seed in the 1 Regional- was the only opponent of Tebow’s in the Regional round to take more than 10% of the vote against him, as the online softball community has shown up for this tournament in big numbers.

The second favorite: (2)Danny Wuerffel

If Wuerffel can get to the championship match opposite Tebow- and his road is considerably more difficult than Tebow’s- get ready for a week of all out warfare. The credentials are very similar, albeit with one glaring exception: Wuerffel only has one national title to Tebow’s two. That could hurt. Still: Wuerffel is Florida’s all time passing touchdown king and second only to Chris Leak in terms of passing yardage, and he did help lead Florida to four straight SEC Championships, which hasn’t been done by any team since. As for his road: Pete Alonso in the Sweet 16 is no cupcake, he’d likely have a tough time against his former coach (7)Spurrier in the Elite Eight and whichever of the basketball stars (either (3)Al Horford or (6)Joakim Noah) that I’m presuming reach the Elite Eight wins that matchup would give him an even tougher time. But though his road could be filled with barnburners, Florida’s first ever national championship winning QB should be considered the razor-thin favorite to meet Tebow for the title.

The sleeper: (4)Emmitt Smith

Unlike most of the athletes who played their collegiate ball in the 1980’s (thanks to multiple sets of sanctions against various Florida athletics programs), Emmitt Smith has achieved eternal recognizability with perhaps the greatest professional career of any Florida athlete. Thus, he is a dangerous matchup for Tim Tebow in the Final Four. Smith had a great college career at Florida, but he made his mark in the NFL by becoming the league’s all time leading rusher and garnering Hall of Fame status the instant he became eligible. Chris Doering in the Sweet 16 could be fun, but Smith should win that; then it gets interesting. Assuming he wins his Sweet 16 matchup, Smith would then face the next generation’s greatest Gator football skill position player in Percy Harvin in the Elite Eight. And then comes the battle royale with Tebow, which if he wins, he might suddenly become the favorite against whoever wins the other side- even if that turns out to be Wuerffel.

The dark horse: (7)Steve Spurrier

Coaching accomplishments don’t count in this tournament, but in Spurrier’s case, they’ve drawn some eyeballs onto his playing career- which was spectacular in its own right. Not only was he one of three Heisman Trophy winners in school history, but he was a two time first team All-American as well. And prior to his coaching days, he guided Florida to some of its best seasons in school history. He should handle Chris Leak in the Sweet 16, but then he’d presumably be an underdog in his last three rounds; if chalk holds, he’d face three straight opponents who won a national championship at Florida (again: remember, just as a player). Still, there’s just an aura about him that makes him impossible to count out, even against those with superior credentials.

The Cinderella: (12)Abby Wambach

Truth be told, Wambach was two wins away in the 2001 College Cup from being either the #2 overall or #3 overall seed. How much did not getting them factor into her seed? Not very much… but because the top 16 overall seeds were all ridiculously successful athletes and something had to give and someone had to be punished for something, it did drop her down to #12 overall, since that meant she only won one national title at Florida, not two. But Wambach is easily one of the top ten greatest women’s soccer players to ever live, and the recentism factor does work in her favor. Nothing will be easy for her in the national circuit (she starts with two time national champion and fan favorite Percy Harvin); if she gets past that, she’d likely face Emmitt Smith and if she beats him, she’d probably match up against Tim Tebow. But then again, no Cinderella is supposed to have it easy.

Happy voting!

2 thoughts on “#GreatestGatorEver Sweet 16 bracket breakdown

    1. Voting is done via polls on twitter and Instagram story!

      For twitter: simply go to my twitter page, @AllKindsWeather, and check my feed for the poll. I promote it fairly frequently; you can’t miss it. The polls last 96 hours on twitter.

      For Instagram: go to our page, @AllKindsWeather, go to the top left hand corner of the page and click on the logo to see our story, where the poll will be located (the IG story polls appear three days into the matchup and run for 24 hours, thus the twitter and IG story polls will end at the same time).

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