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Former Gators and USFL Bandits icon John Reaves found dead

Florida Football Insiders



(Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)

Sad news out Tampa, where former Florida Gator, NFL and USFL quarterback John Reaves was found dead in his home Tuesday afternoon. While authorities are still considering it a “death investigation,” they do not suspect foul play involving the 67 year old.

Reaves became a Gators legend throwing for a then NCAA record 7,581 yards in his three year (1969-71) career and was eventually drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1972. He played for four total teams in the NFL over the course of nine seasons without much success.

But, Reaves surged back to prominence in the Tampa Bay area and even nationally, while quarterbacking the Tampa Bay Bandits of the Spring United States Football League from 1983-85. This included a 1984 season where Reaves threw for 4,000 yards and 28 TDs in the regular season that year. He would regularly electrify old Tampa Stadium with the help of WR Eric Truvillon and RB/WR Gary Anderson, as “Bandit Ball” with Steve Spurrier became the pre-cursor to his “Fun-n-Gun” Gators of the 1990’s.

You can read more about Reaves’ accomplishments, his battle with alcohol and some reaction from Spurrier in this article from the Gators official website.

Reaves, who coached briefly with Spurrier at Florida and then with Lou Holtz at South Carolina in the late 90’s, had mostly retired from selling real estate in Tampa in the years after football.

His son, David, was an offensive assistant with USF under Willie Taggart before leaving with Taggart to go to Oregon last December. Unfortunately, the younger Reaves was arrested for DUI  in Eugene and fired a short time later in January.

His daughter Layla was married, but is no longer to current FAU coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator, as well as USC head coach, Lane Kiffin.

Reaves was still very much a beloved figure in Tampa, whether it’s his former Robinson High school friends and alumni, where he led the Knights to a state title game appearance in 1967 or his Gator and/or Bandit fans, locally.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders



Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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