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Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

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Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Okeechobee Joe » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:49 pm

The greatest two sport athlete in University of Florida history in my book is Rick Casares. He was before my time when he played for the Gators, but I can remember seeing him play on television for the Chicago Bears. I did not even know where he played college football until I flipped his football card over and read on the back that his alma mater was Florida U.


Rick Casares was born in Tampa, and in his eighties now, still lives there. At age 7 his father was shot to death, and Casares' mother shipped him off to New Jersey to be raised by family up there. At age 15 he was a Golden Gloves boxing champion and was offered a professional boxing contract. Mama Casares did not like that so Rick came back home to Tampa.

At Jefferson High School in Tampa he starred in football, basketball, baseball and track and field (javelin). He earned all-state in both football and basketball. The Florida High School Athletic Association named him to the all-time Florida High School Football team in 2002. He was just one of 34 players named to receive that honor.

In 2002 you will recall that Maurice Clarett of Ohio State sued the NFL to be able to enter pro football after only one year of college. This created a lot of discussion about what players in history would have been capable of going directly from high school to the NFL without any college experience. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram brought together a group of sports writers and analysts, and in their opinion only five athletes could have done this: running back Hershel Walker, defensive lineman Andre Carter, linebacker Junior Seau, wide receiver Randy Moss and Rick Casares. That is how good Rick Casares was.

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Coach Woodruff with Rick Casares

At the University of Florida Casares played for Coach Bob Woodruff. He played on the freshman team in 1951 and played for the varsity in 1952 and 1953 as a running back and punter. He was a member of Florida's first bowl team, the 1952 team that beat Tulsa 14-13 in the Gator Bowl game.

In his junior season, Casares earned second team All-SEC and honorable mention All-American in football. At 6 feet two inches and 210 pounds, Casares was a physical specimen who played hard-nosed football for a no-nonsense coach, Bob Woodruff a Tennessee disciple of General Robert Neyland.

Casares was part of a famed Gator backfield that had the great Haywood Sullivan at quarterback, along with running backs Buford Long and J. Poppa Hall. After the Gator Bowl, Haywood Sullivan signed a professional baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox so without Sullivan, Florida's dream team did not materialize for the 1953 football season.

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A Chicago Bear Legend

Rick Casares did not come back for his senior season, the 1953 season, at Florida because he was drafted into the Army. He was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round, 18th pick overall, in the 1954 NFL draft. After finishing his military obligation he played 10 years for the Bears, 1955-1964 and ranks third on the Bears' all-time rushing list behind Walter Payton and another Gator great, Neal Anderson.

At the University of Florida Casares was also a stand-out baskeball player for Coach John Mauer's Gators. He averaged 14.9 points and 11.3 rebounds for the 1952 basketball team earning third team All-SEC. His junior year he upped his numbers to 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds and was named to the second team All-SEC team. As mentioned above, he entered the U.S. Army so did not return to play his senior basketball season.

A University of Florida stand-out in both football and basketball, Rick Casares deserves mention as the greatest two-sport athlete in Gator history. There are some other candidates. Who's your vote?
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby crosscreekcooter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:02 pm

Joe, great history lesson as usual.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby ShowMeLove » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:42 pm

Janoris Jenkins, if you consider fertilization a sport.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby TommyGator » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:45 pm

Great post Joe! You are a GREAT Gator, yourself! :D :D
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Swamp82 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:51 pm

Nice post, had never heard of him before this.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby dangerous dave » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:46 pm

if i remember correctly there was a story about he an Mal Hammack. both of them went to the SAE house in a cab and painted the lion without any consequences. back then if you were caught you got your head shaved. Mal Hammack played for the chicago cardinals. fun to watch as the cards would lateral the ball all over the place. casares was in an auto accident his junior yr involving another man's wife who was killed. that caused him to cut his fla playing days short and go into the military. that was a long time ago. i think i have my facts straight. the SAE lion had a rough life it was dynamited, got hauled away to Paynes prairie and painted scores of time
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby GatorBart » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:56 pm

ShowMeLove wrote:Janoris Jenkins, if you consider fertilization a sport.


or if you consider huffing large quantities of weed a sport............
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Deuce Coupe » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:42 pm

I can roll with Casares, wow he played forward at 6'1"..... times have sure changed.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Beauregard » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:44 pm

Jeff Demps was pretty good in football and track.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby BostonGator84 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:17 pm

Beauregard wrote:Jeff Demps was pretty good in football and track.


National title in both sports? Can't argue with that one.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby gardnerwebbalumnigator » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:50 am

I liked Herbert Perry back in the day.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby crosscreekcooter » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:59 am

gardnerwebbalumnigator wrote:I liked Herbert Perry back in the day.

Ya'll were an item for a while weren't you?
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby gardnerwebbalumnigator » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:06 am

crosscreekcooter wrote:
gardnerwebbalumnigator wrote:I liked Herbert Perry back in the day.

Ya'll were an item for a while weren't you?


:lol:

Don't forget Gavin Dickey either...... ;)
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby LBSpikes » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:09 am

Ryan Lochte: Olympic swimmer and hilarious interviewee.

Naw, it's Jeff Demps but great OP.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby LBSpikes » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:11 am

crosscreekcooter wrote:
gardnerwebbalumnigator wrote:I liked Herbert Perry back in the day.

Ya'll were an item for a while weren't you?

When are you not thinking about man on man lovin? jk, no one will get that that doesn't go to the lounge... :lol:
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby gatorpe » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:51 am

My dad was at UF then and has told me a few RC stories. The wisdom was had he come back for his Sr season with those other players Fla had a real chance for that SEC title.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby mtn2top » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:52 am

Casares was a great one. Scot Brantley is also worth mentioning in the modern era. He was an excellent baseball player and a very good distance runner, even after retiring from the NFL.

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You have to go back a ways to get to my pick. There were quite a few Gator greats in the late twenties to early thirties including Dale Van Sickle, Jack Rabbit Beck and Ben Clemons, who all triple lettered.

I'd vote for Van Sickle who was coached by Charlie Bachman. He was the first Gator First-team All-American in football, playing both ways. He was also captain of both the UF basketball and baseball teams. He later became a Hollywood stuntman and actor, the first president of the stuntman's union.
He was arguably our greatest all-around Gator athlete.

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Dale Van Sickle

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Ben Clemons, who played and coached three sports at UF!
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Beauregard » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:11 am

I wonder how many great white RB's, WR's and DB's from long ago would be household names if the same opportunities blacks have today had been available in their time. Probably considerably fewer.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby Class of '78 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:16 am

Beauregard wrote:I wonder how many great white RB's, WR's and DB's from long ago would be household names if the same opportunities blacks have today had been available in their time. Probably considerably fewer.


Considering a number of factors, none the least of which is money, which wasn't available to athletes then as it is now, I would tend to disagree with your point of view.
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Re: Greatest Two Sport Gator Ever? I Vote Rick Casares

Postby WobbleGator » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:21 am

Beauregard wrote:I wonder how many great white RB's, WR's and DB's from long ago would be household names if the same opportunities blacks have today had been available in their time. Probably considerably fewer.

You love to try and ruin threads, don't ya?
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