One of the most fearsome pass-rushers the SEC has seen in the last 30 years will be honored with a conference Legends coming this December.
The SEC and the University of Florida revealed Thursday afternoon that “The Freak,” Jevon Kearse, will be the Gators representative this year at the SEC Championship Game as part of the “Weekend of Champions:”
RT to congratulate Jevon Kearse on being named our SEC Legend!
🐊 1996 National Champion
🐊 1996 SEC Champion
🐊 1998 SEC Defensive POY
🐊 1998 First Team All-American
🐊 2x First Team All-SEC
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 26, 2019
Kearse is arguably one of the 2 – 3 best pass rushers in Florida football history. As the Gators website laid out, this included his junior season, where Kearse had 7.5 sacks and 54 tackles. Kearse was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as first-team All-American status.
Kearse was a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in the 1999 NFL Draft and was then, the Defensive Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Pro right away. He ended up making three Pro Bowl appearances during his 11 seasons in the NFL with both Tennessee and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kearse was a high school standout at North Fort Myers High School, where he had been named a national high school All American by USA Today. That led legendary coach Steve Spurrier and his defensive coordinator, Bob Stoops to gobble up Kearse and plug him in on the Gators front line. Kearse was part of the Florida 1996 National Championship team that defeated Florida State in the Sugar Bowl and was voted number one.
Kearse will be honored along with a representative from each of the other 13 SEC schools at the championship game weekend. They include the likes of former Alabama coach Ray Perkins, who later went on to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Auburn linebacker Karlos Dansby, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and iconic Georgia head coach, Vince Dooley, among others.
The entire group of 14 will be honored at halftime of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta on December 7th.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
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:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
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.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
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.