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Gators start Ring of Honor with four former greats
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published October 1, 2006
GAINESVILLE - Three of the most decorated players in Florida history were at Florida Field on Saturday for the inaugural inductions into the Football Ring of Honor.
In a pregame ceremony, Steve Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, Danny Wuerffel and Emmitt Smith were introduced and presented with a replica of the ring monuments. The ring is located in the north end zone facade, and the names are 20 feet wide and 31/2 feet high. The players' first names are in small orange letters on top of their numbers and next to the Florida logo. The last names are in large blue letters, all on a white background.
All inductees attended except Smith, who is competing on the reality show Dancing with the Stars. A taped message by Smith was played for the crowd. Spurrier, Youngblood and Wuerffel briefly addressed the crowd.
"Holding this microphone out here reminds me of the spring game when I would stand out here and give out awards. Now one is being given to me," Spurrier said.
"I'd like to thank coach Ray Graves for bringing the skinny kid from Tennessee to the University of Florida."
To be considered for induction, a player must meet one requirement among: Heisman Trophy winner, All-American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, collegiate career category leader, coaches with a national title, coaches with at least three SEC titles, players with three or more consensus All-America honors or two-time national offensive/defensive players of the year.
Wuerffel, who was coached by Spurrier and led Florida to its only national championship, said he was honored to even be offered a scholarship to the university, so Saturday's honor far exceeded his expectations.
INJURY UPDATE: He has been nursing a sore neck and shoulder for most of the season. Now tailback DeShawn Wynn is injured again. The senior twisted his right knee early in the third quarter and did not return. Cornerback Reggie Lewis injured his shoulder, and cornerback Ryan Smith bruised his left hand. Freshman receiver Percy Harvin sat out a week after getting in for only one play against Kentucky.
THANKFUL: On many occasions since he arrived in Gainesville in early August, Smith has approached coach Urban Meyer with two words: "thank you." Smith, a former cornerback at Utah, made it to Florida by using a new NCAA rule that allows players to transfer to another Division I-A school if they graduate early.
Saturday, Smith had three tackles and two interceptions.
"This is awesome," he said. "I tell (Meyer) every day I appreciate it because I could be at a I-AA or some other school."
STILL STRUGGLING: It has been a tough season for kicker Chris Hetland.
The senior wasn't called on to kick any field goals in the first two games and since then has gone 0-for-3 on them.
Hetland, who before the season was named to the Lou Groza watch list for the nation's top kicker, missed his third with 10:08 remaining in the game, a 36-yarder that would have tied the score at 10. The kick went wide left. Hetland was 4-for-4 in extra points.
EXTRA POINTS: Sophomore defensive lineman Javier Estopinan got his first career start and played the entire game, finishing with three tackles. "That just shows we're getting some depth there," Meyer said. ... Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow got his second rushing touchdown of the season. ... Andre Caldwell had a season-high five catches.