Eight former letterwinners – including Gator Greats Rex Grossman (football), Heather Mitts (soccer), Mike Pearson (football) and Josh Fogg (baseball) – and one honorary letterwinner will be inducted as the UF Athletic Hall of Fame‘s 2013 class.
The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. announced Monday that the honors will be bestowed upon these former players at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 5, 2013 in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Inductees are normally divided into three categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners. The remainder of the 2013 class includes Gator Greats Jeff Davis (wrestling), Riko Higashio (women’s golf) and Chrissy Van Fleet (gymnastics) as well as Distinguished Letterwinner Larry Morris (football) and Honorary Letterwinner Ernestine Russell Weaver (gymnastics).
Read more about each inductee and their career accomplishments…
UF defines Gator Greats as “letterwinners who have brought recognition and prominence to the University and to themselves through athletic accomplishments as an undergraduate,” while Distinguished Letterwinners are “letterwinners who have made major contributions to the University’s athletic program through personal time, effort, interest and many years of continued service. They may have also distinguished themselves as exceptional in their chosen field of endeavor.”
Biographies of the 2013 inductees (some information courtesy of GatorZone):
Jeff Davis – Wrestling (1972-75)
A four-time All-SEC selection, Davis was the captain of the Gators’ 1975 SEC Championship team and is a proud member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame after being inducted in 2004. Davis is now the president of Falcon Financial Management.
Josh Fogg – Baseball (1995-98)
Helping lead Florida to two College World Series appearances as well as two SEC Championships (1996, 1998), Fogg is a consensus 1998 All-American who remains tied for first in school history with 13 saves in a single season. He spent nine years pitching in MLB and started Game 3 of the 2007 World Series for the Colorado Rockies.
Rex Grossman – Football (2000-02)
Grossman, the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a 2001 All-American, was a decorated quarterback for the Gators. He was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2001 but was named the AP National Player of the Year after leading Florida to a 10-2 record and No. 3 overall ranking that season. Grossman finished his college career with 9,164 yards, 77 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 35 games (31 starts). He is now in his 10th NFL season and made an appearance in the Super Bowl as the starting signal caller for the Chicago Bears in 2006.
Riki Higashio – Women’s Golf (1995-98)
A three-time All-SEC member, Higashio posted the second-lowest round in school history (67) and was the recipient of the prestigious Dinah Shore Trophy in 1998. She was also an All-American in 1998 and captured SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 1996. Higashio, the daughter of Japanese Baseball Hall of Famer Osamu Higashio, was born in Japan and spent 10 years on the LPGA Tour after college, earning one professional win.
Heather Mitts – Soccer (1996-99)
One of the most accomplished soccer players in school history, Mitts was a two-time All-American, two-time All-SEC first-team selection, member of the 1998 NCAA Championship All-Tournament team and voted the Gators’ team MVP in 1999. She started the third-most games in school history (94, including 74-straight) and compiled 7,547 minutes of field time at Florida. Mitts, who began her professional soccer career in 2000, retired in 2012 after winning her third Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Mike Pearson – Football (1999-01)
Pearson, the 2000 James W. Kynes Award winner and a 2001 All-American, was a two-time All-SEC selection at offensive tackle who started 33 of the 35 games he played at Florida. He played four years in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars before ending his career in 2007 with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
Chrissy Van Fleet – Gymnastics (1997-00)
One of the most accomplished gymnasts in school history, Van Fleet is an 11-time All-American and four-time All-SEC team member who was named 2000 SEC Gymnast of the Year and won an SEC title in the balance beam in 1999. She was also a member of the U.S. National Team in 1996.
Larry Morris – Football (1970-72)
A former player for the Gators who also served as an assistant coach in 1973, Morris has continued to support the program as a Bull Gator and season ticket holder ever since. He was a one-time member of the F Club committee and currently works as an attorney at Levin Law Firm.
Ernestine Russell-Weaver – Gymnastics (1979-92)
A head coach at Florida, Russell-Weaver led the Gators to five SEC Championships and 11-straight appearances in the NCAA Championship while coaching 35 total All-Americans. She was at the helm of the program for its one and only national title in 1982 and was named SEC Coach of the Year twice (1989, 1992). Russell-Weaver is considered Canada’s first female Olympic gymnast, participating in two Olympics (1956, 1960) for her country and winning first-place at the Pan-American Games in 1959.