GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There are few college football honors left unclaimed by former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel.
The 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, Wuerffel is one of only two Heisman winners — Tim Tebow is the other — to also win the Draddy Award, often referred to as the academic Heisman.
Wuerffel will add a very significant honor to his résumé tonight when he is inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.
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Speaking to reporters in New York at Tuesday’s press conference, Wuerffel remains in awe of his latest achievement.
“It’s really just now sinking in that this is going to happen,” Wuerffel said. “To be honored like this, it’s really humbling and honestly, it has made me look back at my journey and realize how amazing it has been.”
He took Florida fans on a quite a ride during his UF career from 1993-96, culminating in the school’s first national championship his senior season.
Wuerffel was part of four consecutive Florida teams to win the Southeastern Conference championship. He finished his career with a then-SEC record 10,875 yards passing and 114 touchdowns. Wuerffel’s touchdown record stood until Georgia’s Aaron Murray broke it this season.
“Looking back, Florida was just the right place at the right time for me,” Wuerffel said. “To be listed among those greats that have worn the Florida uniform, to be able to look back at what we accomplished, it is very humbling and rewarding.”
Wuerffel’s father and son attended Tuesday’s ceremony.
Wuerffel is the 10th UF player or coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins his former UF coach Steve Spurrier, Wilber Marshall, Emmitt Smith, Dale Van Sickel, Jack Youngblood and Carlos Alvarez as players to be inducted, and former Florida coaches Charlie Bachman, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.
Wuerffel was honored for his induction at UF prior to the Gators’ game against Tennessee in September.
He is part of a 2013 class that includes Ted Brown (North Carolina State), Tedy Bruschi (Arizona), Ron Dayne (Wisconsin), Tommie Frazier (Nebraska), Jerry Gray (Texas), Steve Meilinger (Kentucky), Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Rod Shoate (Oklahoma), Percy Snow (Michigan State), Vinny Testaverde (Miami, Fla.), Don Trull (Baylor) and coaches Wayne Hardin (Navy, Temple) and Bill McCartney (Colorado).
“Going in with guys like this makes it pretty special,” he said. “I have always been a fan of Tommie Frazier. I remember him in high school here in Florida, and obviously we crossed paths in college. He was a great player and it’s an honor to go in with these guys.”
In Wuerffel’s junior season, the Gators lost to Frazier’s Nebraska team in the national championship game. He then returned as a senior and threw for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns to lead the Gators to a win over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the national title.
As he was introduced to the crowd Tuesday morning at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York along with the other inductees, Wuerffel paused to reflect on what the game has meant to him.
“I recently read that each culture in the history of the world had a ritual for initiating boys from ages 13-16 into manhood, in a very specific way,” Wuerffel said. “The story said we don’t do that very often anymore in this country, but as I read that, the sport of football is one of the few ways in which we instill specific principles into young men, very tough life lessons and I’m thankful for the sport of football for that.”