Florida Gators Football: Six Players Make All-SEC Teams
The 2016 All-SEC Teams were announced on Tuesday, December 6. Six members of the Florida Gators football team made the cut.
The Florida Gators are currently preparing for a clash with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl. Before Florida can move onto the next chapter of the season, however, they must revisit what’s already transpired.
After winning a second consecutive SEC East title, six different players were honored as members of the 2016 All-SEC Teams.
Florida finished the 2016 college football regular season at 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the SEC. Florida reached the SEC Championship Game for the second consecutive season and finished two games ahead of the No. 2 team in the SEC East.
In order to achieve that extraordinary success, the Gators needed individual players to rally and build around as the season progressed.
Florida enters its bowl game against Iowa with an 8-4 overall record after dropping the SEC Championship Game. The fact that the Gators got to Atlanta is an achievement unto itself, however, and the voters seemed to agree.
The question is: who were the six individuals who were honored for their outstanding seasons in Gainesville?
All-SEC First Team: Teez Tabor
Come April, star cornerback Teez Tabor could be a first-round draft pick and a future face of an NFL organization. Until then, he’s one of the best players on the Florida Gators and one of the most beloved members of the team.
In a season where the Gators struggled to throw the ball with any real consistency, Tabor made sure opposing quarterbacks experienced the same issues.
For his efforts, Tabor was honored as the only member of the Gators to make the All-SEC First Team. He joined fellow defensive backs Tre’Davious White of the LSU Tigers, Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Aarion Penton of the Missouri Tigers.
This marks the second time that Tabor has been named to the All-SEC First Team—a two-time distinction that puts him in rare air.
Tabor played in 11 of Florida’s 12 games, recording 32 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one sack, and four interceptions. It was yet another beautiful display of just how dynamic Tabor can be as he switches from locking a receiver down to coming up with the ball.
If Tabor does as he’s expected to and enters the NFL Draft, then the Gators will have been fortunate to have a memorable star for three seasons.
All-SEC Second Team: Martez Ivey
For as poor as the Florida Gators looked on offense, there was one constant positive: sophomore offensive lineman Martez Ivey. Whether he was 100 percent or otherwise, Ivey pushed through the pain and gave the Gators everything he had.
It’s that undeniable reality that earned Ivey the distinction of being Florida’s only offensive player on the All-SEC Second Team.
Ivey achieved star status in high school when he became the first and only offensive lineman to win the Hall Trophy. That award, which previously went to the likes of Chris Leak, Adrian Peterson, and Terrelle Pryor, set the stage for what’s already been an outstanding career.
As just a sophomore in the SEC, Ivey has already become one of the most feared and respected offensive linemen in the country.
Ivey fought through an ankle injury to play in the SEC Championship Game, which is a testament to his will to win. He’s a future NFL starter and a versatile young lineman who spent time at both tackle and guard in 2016.
Thankfully for the fans in Gainesville and every player in Florida’s backfield, Ivey will be back with the Gators in 2017. An All-SEC First Team nod could be in his future.
All-SEC Second Team: Caleb Brantley
Fans of the Florida Gators likely held their breaths while waiting to see if Caleb Brantley received the respect he deserves. Despite being one of the most disruptive forces in the nation, Brantley has been overlooked at times in 2016.
After putting forth yet another dominant display at defensive tackle, however, it was only right for Brantley to be honored on the All-SEC Second Team.
Brantley appeared in all 12 games for a Gators team that lost an unfathomable number of players to injury. During that time, he stabilized the defense with 28 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three hits on the quarterback, and a forced fumble.
Brantley was also one of the heroes of the 16-10 victory over the LSU Tigers, when he made clutch plays in the red zone and helped Florida clinch the SEC East.
Brantley consumes space and creates penetration against all calibers of offensive linemen. He stuffs the run, puts pressure on the quarterback, and elevates the level of play of both his teammates and his opponents.
Brantley is the type of player whom the star offensive linemen get up for—and even then they can’t contain him.
All-SEC Second Team: Jarrad Davis
Despite missing three games due to injury, Jarrad Davis has secured his place as one of the most dominant forces in the country. He finished third in the voting for the 2016 Butkus Award and is likely to be playing on Sundays next season.
For his invaluable leadership and star-caliber play, Davis was honored with an All-SEC Second Team selection in 2016.
Davis joined Tim Williams of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Jordan Jones of the Kentucky Wildcats as linebackers honored on the All-SEC Second Team. It was a deserved honor for the man whom Teez Tabor called the heart and soul of Florida’s defense.
Based on both production and impact, Davis proved himself to be an NFL-caliber linebacker during the 2016 college football season.
Despite missing three games, Davis was No. 2 on the Gators in total tackles and solo tackles, and third in tackles for loss. He finished the season with 60 tackles, 29 solo, 6.0 for loss, 2.0 sacks, and five hits on the quarterback.
Davis deserves to be a first-round NFL Draft pick and an immortalized Gators defensive player if the Outback Bowl truly will be the end of his Florida career.
All-SEC Second Team: Quincy Wilson
Quincy Wilson spent his first two seasons with the Florida Gators in the shadow of star cornerback Teez Tabor. During the 2016 college football season, however, Wilson emerged as a star in his own right.
Working opposite Tabor, Wilson came into his own as a junior and earned his first career appearance on the All-SEC Second Team.
Wilson and Tabor were tasked with helping the Gators overcome injuries to starters on the defensive line and in the linebackers corps. They were both challenged to thrive in single coverage against some of the best wide receivers in the country.
Tabor was expected to excel, but it was Wilson who helped keep the defense together by stepping up and thriving against opponents who expected to be able to throw his way.
Wilson enters the Outback Bowl with 31 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, and a hit on the quarterback. He could go pro or he could return to Gainesville, and fans have every reason to selfishly wish for the latter.
Wilson has earned his place as one of the stars on campus and one of the best defensive backs in not just the SEC, but the country.
All-SEC Second Team: Johnny Townsend
When an offense struggles to move the chains, a punter becomes one of the most valuable players on the team. That may seem like a silly statement, but the punter is the individual standing between favorable and unfavorable field position.
When the Florida Gators lost starting quarterback Luke Del Rio and struggled to find consistency the rest of the way, punter Johnny Townsend dominated on special teams.
Townsend attempted 60 punts for 2,883 yards, which comes out to an average of 48.1 yards per punt. That was the best average of any punter in the SEC, which is reason enough for the Orlando native to end up on the All-SEC Second Team.
Townsend also caused 17 fair catches, pinned 25 punts inside of the 20 yard line, and booted 28 different punts upwards of 50 yards.
Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine, and the rushing attack were solid, but Florida’s inability to consistently throw the ball brought Townsend onto the field quite often. His ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory helped prevent the opposition from working with a short field.
Though punters may not get all of the glory, an offensively inconsistent team that wins a division title has to appreciate the value of a player who pins an opponent down deep.
Congratulations to Caleb Brantley, Jarrad Davis, Martez Ivey, Teez Tabor, Johnny Townsend, and Quincy Wilson on their deserved All-SEC selections!
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