The only player in school history to lead the Florida Gators in rushing and all-purpose yards for four-straight seasons, running back Errict Rhett is one of the most accomplished players ever to wear the orange and blue.
Not only did he help lead Florida to two Southeastern Conference Championships in three seasons (1991, 1993), he was also a First Team All-SEC selection those years and a First Team All-American in the final season of his collegiate career.
A member of the UF Athletic Hall of Fame and Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame, Rhett concluded his Gators career with a school-record 4,163 yards and 34 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 1,230 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions.
His 873 career rushing attempts are also a school record, as are the 41 carries he registered in a single game against Georgia in 1993. He is third in the Florida history books in touchdowns scored (36) – behind a pair of fellow Gator Greats in Tim Tebow (57) and Emmitt Smith (37) – and is second all-time to Smith in both average rushing yards per game (90.5) and career 100-yard games (20).
Rhett is also fourth on Florida’s career receptions list with 153 – the only running back in the top 10 – and holds another Gators mark for most receiving yards by a running back. The 5,393 total yards he gained over the course of his career is tops among Florida student-athletes and nearly 600 more than the next player (Brandon James).
He then went on to the NFL as a second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he compiled 2,218 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns during his first two seasons. Rhett stuck around the NFL for seven years, rushing for a total of 4,143 yards and 29 touchdowns while also spending time with Baltimore and Cleveland.
To put it succinctly, Rhett is the personification of success.
Though he has never stopped influencing the Gators football program, he returned to Gainesville, FL, last week to participate in a new tradition, becoming the first “Florida celebrity” to embody the role of Mr. Two Bits ahead of a home game.
OnlyGators.com caught up with Rhett for 45 minutes on Wednesday to discuss his motivation to succeed, storied Gators career and his epic performance last Saturday.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s start off by talking about what happened most recently – you performing as Mr. Two Bits ahead of the Toledo game. What was that like for you?
ERRICT RHETT: “It felt real good to actually follow in a guy’s footsteps – Mr. Two Bits – he’s been a legendary part of the program. His motivational chant got guys so fired up and fired up the fans. I studied that guy. All I could tell is he did it different every time. But the one thing I did notice was that he just put so much passion and enthusiasm into it. I knew those are two attributes that I would have no problem bringing to the table, and I think I showed that off.”
AS: When you were a player, do you remember hearing the chant before the game even though you guys weren’t out on the field just yet?
ER: “You do hear it but you really don’t get into the wording because you’re so focused on the game. But you definitely hear loud yelling sounds. At first, I never knew what they were really saying. I just knew it was something that got the crowd so pumped up. It just vibrated the stadium.”
AS: Did you request to dress up like George Edmonson or was that something that went along with the whole ceremony?
ER: “I actually requested that right there because I definitely wanted to honor him with the loud yellow shirt with the exact same tie with the towel hanging out. I really, really studied him because that’s not a pretty easy thing to do. I really, really studied him for hours and hours. I knew I had the enthusiasm, but his hand movement to his feet movement to the way he moves his legs and his energy… I really studied him and I really wanted to do it the way he’s always done it. I wanted to follow tradition; I didn’t want to try it a different way. That’s what the University of Florida really believes in – tradition – and I wanted to keep it going the same way he did it.”
AS: You also got the chance to run out of the tunnel leading the team, probably the first time you’ve done that since the late 1990s. What was it like to do that again?
ER: “Oh, man, it is just a feeling that I wish that everybody in the entire world could actually run through a tunnel like that in front of 90,000 people. The adrenaline is unreal. It took me hours to calm down off that high. That’s just a high. I wish everyone could do that at least once a year. It’s unbelievable adrenaline that you have when you run through that tunnel. You can literally run through a wall. That’s the power that you feel when you run out there into a crowd 90,000 strong with your teammates. It’s a wonderful feeling. Very exciting.”
Continue Reading » Gators RB Errict Rhett: “Hard work pays off.”