The 2000s were quite a decade for University of Florida athletics. Florida Gators football and basketball were especially exceptional, combining for four National Championships (five appearances) and five Southeastern Conference Championships (six appearances) while earning five BCS bowl game and eight NCAA Tournament berths, respectively, over the last ten years. To end this decade of champions, OGGOA has compiled our own Gators All-Decade Team for each sport.
Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow was awarded the 2009 William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman Trophy,” by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The trophy is awarded annually to a college graduate for their outstanding ability on the field, work in the classroom (minimum 3.2 GPA) and strong leadership. The honor comes with a bronze trophy and $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.
“This award means so much because it’s not just how you play on the field, it’s not just what you do in the classroom, but it’s what you do as a leader and someone who is going to serve your community,” Tebow said. “That’s what’s most important about this award, because all these guys are great players and they’re extremely intelligent, but more importantly, they’re good people. They help their community and they make a difference in this world. The National Football Foundation has done such a good job of taking us in, putting us together and letting us build relationships with each other. With so many of the members, it has been a blessing to get to know all these guys, great guys who you see on the field, but then when you really meet them, you get to know them as people, you get to build those relationships. I think that’s what’s so special about things like this.”
One of only four schools to have multiple winners of the trophy, previous Gators recipients include defensive tackle Brad Culpepper (1991) and quarterback Danny Wuerffel (1996). Center Mike Degory (2005) and long snapper James Smith (2008) were semifinalists for the Campbell Trophy, while quarterback Chris Leak was a finalist in 2006. Florida has the most recipients of any school in the award’s 20-year existence.
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Prized five-star Gators safety commitment Matt Elam received two prestigious honors over the last few days. On Thursday, Elam was named the 2009 Gatorade Football Player of the Year for the state of Florida while on Tuesday he was honored as 2009 Lou Groza Award winner for Outstanding High School Football Player. Elam is the first back-to-back winner of the award (2008).