Tag Archives: University of Florida

Gator nation mourns loss of former Gator QB John Reaves

  • John Reaves 4(Listen to 23 minute interview with Reaves from 1997 below)

Former All-American quarterback at the University of Florida and pro quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs and Bandits, John Reaves, was found dead in his South Tampa home on Tuesday. Authorities are investigating the cause of death. Reaves, who was 67, was found by his son David on Tuesday afternoon. He told authorities it looked as if he had passed away in his sleep.

Editor’s note:

Reaves was considered to be a legend at the University of Florida.  He was the starter on the 1969 Gator team that finished the season 9-1-1.  By the time his career ended at UF in 1971 he was the NCAA’s all-time leading passer and held the SEC record for touchdown passes with 54.

He then went on to be a first-round draft choice in the NFL and played pro football for 14 years from 1972 to 1987.  Ten years were in the NFL and 4 in the USFL.  He played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Houston Oilers, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Bandits, and the Bucs. From 1990 to 1994  Reaves was an assistant coach at the University of Florida. In 1995 he became an assistant football coach at the University of South Carolina where he worked coaching quarterbacks and serving as the passing game coordinator.

He also struggled with demons, namely alcohol, with a variety of sessions in rehab. It was a subject he was not afraid to talk about during a 1997 interview with me,  just before the 1997 NFL draft.

Reaves weighed in on the subject of Gator players leaving school early for a chance at the pros, as in the case that year for Gator players Reidel Anthony and Ike Hilliard who were expected to be first-round NFL draft choices.  It was just four and a half months after the Gators won the College National Championship beating FSU 52-20 under the leadership of signal-caller, QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Danny Wuerffel.

In our interview below from 1997, Reaves talked about the pros and cons of leaving school early. He also addressed how academic standards had changed since he was in college and how he thought that was a good move to help players find more meaningful paths once their football careers were over.  And he addressed his struggle with alcohol after growing up with family members who also faced the same addiction.

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Short segments from the interview above were included in an award-winning sports feature titled, The Dream To Go Pro.”

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It was one of my favorite features to work on and included interview segments from not only John Reaves, but also Peyton Manning, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke, Billy Donovan, Jeremy Foley and Perry McGriff to name a few.

Reaves, who divorced some time after the interview above, continued to battle drugs and alcohol throughout his life, but turned to religion for solace.  At times in his life he was active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, his son David Reaves said his father was among the plaintiffs in a suit filed by former NFL players against the league over concussions and brain trauma. The family is looking to donate Mr. Reaves’ brain toward research for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits

He had three grown children and five grandchildren.  A public funeral will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at South Tampa Fellowship Church at 5101 Bayshore Blvd.

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Tampa Bay Times article:

John Reaves

John Reaves, former Robinson, Gators and Bucs quarterback, dies at 67

TAMPA — He sprouted on the college football landscape when psychedelia was at its heyday. In the immediate wake of Woodstock, John Reaves dropped back and tossed spirals with fearless, free-spirited aplomb.

“I never saw him intimidated, afraid, in the least,” former University of Florida backup center Larry Morris said.

“He would throw an interception and never think twice about dropping back the next time he got the ball and letting it go. He was just a damn gunslinger.”

It was the type of abandon that partially defined the era. On and off the field, Mr. Reaves experimented, took risks, flourished, fizzled. As decades passed, he became a legend.

And a cautionary tale.  Click here to read more of this article in the Tampa Bay Times
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Jacksonville Times-Union article:


Former Gators QB John Reaves, one of school’s most prolific passers, dies at 67

John Reaves, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Florida Gator history until the Fun and Gun Era under Steve Spurrier, died on Tuesday at his Tampa home. He was 67.

According to tampabay.com, Reaves was found by his son David, who checked on him after he was not heard from in several days. His death is under investigation by the Hillsborough County Medical examiner.

Reaves played at Florida from 1969-1971 and broke the passing records that were held by Spurrier. Reaves is still seventh on UF’s all-time school career passing yardage list with 7,549 in three years (freshman could not play varsity sports at the time) and eighth in TD passes (54).

When he left school, Reaves was the NCAA career leader in yardage and touchdowns. UF went 20-12-1 during his three years, including a 9-1-1 record when he was a sophomore.

To read more of the Jacksonville Times Union story Click here:

Migrating Sandhill Cranes Inspire Artistry

crane great Snapshot 13 (12-23-2013 10-51 AM)It’s that time of year again when North Central Florida serves as host to migrating sandhill cranes.  Floridians are very familiar with the loud, squawking sounds of these tall birds with wing spans as wide as 6 feet as they circle above and fly to favorite feeding grounds around the Gainesville area, especially Payne’s Prairie and the shoreline and marshes of Orange and Lochloosa Lakes in Alachua County.  The father of Florida folk, the late Will McLean (1919-1990), was inspired by the “dancing and prancing” of the cranes and penned the song called, “The Courtship Dance of the Florida Sandhill Cranes.” McLean is accompanied in this 1985 live recording by Kate Kennedy on bowed psaltry and David Beede on hammered dulcimer.

 

Florida's Black Hat Troubadour
Cover photo of CD recorded in 1985 at the historic Thomas Center of Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour Will Mclean

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prance and dance 1

 

 

Sandhill cranes flying over Watson Prairie near Cross Creek, FL.
Sandhill cranes flying over Watson Prairie near Cross Creek, FL.

In the news video below produced by Donna Green-Townsend on nesting ecology of Sandhill Cranes in Florida, you will hear the melody of McLean’s song performed by Melrose singer-songwriter David Beede and Kate Bostrum. The nesting ecology research was a cooperative effort between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Wildlife and Range Sciences Department at the University of Florida. (this report originally aired statewide on the IFAS program Florida File in 1990)

 

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Audio Archive Feature: Danny Wuerffel Heisman Profile on NPR’s Morning Edition

Aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on December 13th, 1996

1361998173DW-w-trophy-in-uniform- - Copy(Original Intro) In New York tomorrow (Dec.14th,1996) the Heisman Trophy will be awarded to the nation’s top college football player.  One of the top finalists is Danny Wuerffel, the quarterback from the University of Florida who’s helped the Gators win four consecutive Southeastern conference titles and a place in this year’s Sugar Bowl.  But in his home state of Florida, Danny Wuerffel is known for being much more than just a great football player.  From member station WUFT in Gainesville, Donna Green-Townsend has this profile.

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Danny Wuerffel 1993 to 1996On December 10th, 2013 Danny Wuerffel was named to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Induction Class.   Voters said he had one of the most impressive records ever compiled.   Wuerffel was the only player in college football history to start at quarterback for a conference champion four straight years — plus win a national title and the 1996 Heisman.  In addition, Wuerffel, a two-time first-team academic All-American, was awarded the Draddy Trophy (also called the “academic Heisman”) presented annually by the College Football Hall of Fame, to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete.

And then there were his statistics.  In Wuerffel’s career at UF he completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 10,875 yards, 114 touchdowns and 42 interceptions in starting 36 of his 46 games.

During Wuerffel’s four seasons, Florida won four-consecutive SEC title games.  As a senior, Wuerffel’s 3,625 yards passing yards were an SEC record.  He also set a national record for his 39 touchdowns.   In his final two games in a Gator uniform, Wuerffel threw for 401 yards and 6 touchdowns to beat Alabama (which at the time was the No. 1-ranked pass defense) for that fourth-straight league crown.   In the Sugar Bowl national championship rematch over rival Florida State, Wuerffel  threw for more than 300 yards and 3 touchdowns (also rushing for a TD) in a 52-20 victory against the top-ranked defense in the country

Danny Wuerffel on his Christmas CD Project to Benefit Desire Street Ministries

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Cover of Danny Wuerffel’s Christmas CD

Aside from football, Danny Wuerffel has dedicated his time to the work of Desire Street Ministries.  Danny produced “Heaven & Nature Sings” Christmas CD to help with the goals of the ministry which is transforming impoverished urban neighborhoods into flourishing, healthy communities.

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Former UF QB Danny Wuerffel honored at UF-TN game

Gator fans gave a warm welcome to former University of Florida Quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel during the UF-TN game on Saturday.  Wuerffel, a member of the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Induction Class, sauntered onto the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as the guest celebrity to lead the Orange and Blue in the cheer made famous by “Mr. Two-Bits.”

 

 

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Danny Wuerffel surrounded by Gator fans and friends on the sidelines of the UF-TN game on Saturday

Afterwards, Wuerffel greeted fans on the sidelines before making a second appearance on the field to receive a special award from the University of Florida for being voted into the College Football Hall of Fame for all of his outstanding achievements while playing for the Gator Football Team.

(Listen below  to the original story about Danny Wuerffel as a Heisman contender.  The story aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on December 13th, 1996.)

 

Bronze statue of #7 Danny Wuerffel in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
(Original story and intro aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on Dec.13th, 1996)

In New York tomorrow the Heisman Trophy will be awarded to the nation’s top college football player.  One of the top finalists is Danny Wuerffel, the quarterback from the University of Florida who’s helped the Gators win four consecutive Southeastern conference titles and a place in this year’s Sugar Bowl.  But in his home state of Florida, Danny Wuerffel is known for being much more than just a great football player.  From member station WUFT in Gainesville, Donna Green-Townsend has this profile.

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Danny Wuerffel 1993 to 1996
Danny Wuerffel – played for the Gators from 1993 to 1996

On December 10th, 2013 Danny Wuerffel was named to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Induction Class.   Voters said he had one of the most impressive records ever compiled.   Wuerffel was the only player in college football history to start at quarterback for a conference champion four straight years — plus win a national title and the 1996 Heisman.  In addition, Wuerffel, a two-time first-team academic All-American, was awarded the Draddy Trophy (also called the “academic Heisman”) presented annually by the College Football Hall of Fame, to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete.

And then there were his statistics.  In Wuerffel’s career at UF he completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 10,875 yards, 114 touchdowns and 42 interceptions in starting 36 of his 46 games.

During Wuerffel’s four seasons, Florida won four-consecutive SEC title games.  As a senior, Wuerffel’s 3,625 yards passing yards were an SEC record.  He also set a national record for his 39 touchdowns.   In his final two games in a Gator uniform, Wuerffel threw for 401 yards and 6 touchdowns to beat Alabama (which at the time was the No. 1-ranked pass defense) for that fourth-straight league crown.   In the Sugar Bowl national championship rematch over rival Florida State, Wuerffel  threw for more than 300 yards and 3 touchdowns (also rushing for a TD) in a 52-20 victory against the top-ranked defense in the country

Danny Wuerffel on his Christmas CD Project to Benefit Desire Street Ministries

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Aside from football, Danny Wuerffel has dedicated his time to the work of Desire Street Ministries.  Danny produced “Heaven & Nature Sings” Christmas CD to help with the goals of the ministry which is transforming impoverished urban neighborhoods into flourishing, healthy communities.

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Mike Miller- NBA Rookie of the Year

Mike Miller sign0001
Following the 2000 college national championship game thousands of Gator fans held up this sign at a celebration in the Odome on campus to encourage Mike Miller to stay at Florida another year.

Mike Miller sign0002

In March of 2000, University of Florida Sophomore forward Mike Miller sank the final shot in the 69-68 buzzer beater against Butler to take the Gator Basketball Team from the Final Four to the National Championship game.  The dramatic win led to a celebratory pile-up on the basketball court.   The Gators lost to Michigan State in the championship game.  Despite the loss the city of Gainesville held a celebration for the team in the Odome.  Despite the pleas from Gator fans to play one more year at UF, Mike Miller went pro with the Orlando Magic.  He was the 5th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft in 2000.  As Donna Green-Townsend reports, after another successful year on the hard court, Miller became the NBA rookie of the year.  From my audio archives from the summer of 2001

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Miller currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA.   He has also played for the Minnesota TimberwolvesWashington Wizards, and Miami Heat. Not only was he named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2001, but also the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2006. Miller won back to back NBA titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.

 

UF awarded $5.4 million for biomass research and development (05/05/2011)

Aired on WUFT on May 5th, 2011

In an effort to reduce America’s reliance on imported oil, the University of Florida has been awarded $5.4 million from the USDA and Department of Energy for Biomass Research and Development Projects. According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the funding is designated to help develop sustainable, renewable biofuels in the U.S. and is considered part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to address rising gas prices.

The University of Florida’s share of the funds will go towards research on ways to improve the production and sustainability of sweet sorghum as an energy crop. Seven other organizations and institutions have received part of the overall $47 million dollars available for the production of biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products from a variety of biomass sources. The projects are funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and will help increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products to diversify the nation’s energy resources. Funding is provided through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and DOE’s Biomass Program. Each award was made through a competitive selection process.

Grant recipients are required to contribute a minimum of 20 percent of matching funds for research and development projects and 50 percent of matching funds for demonstration projects. Awardees must pursue projects that integrate science and engineering research in three areas: feedstocks development, biofuels and biobased products development, and biofuels development analysis.

Here is the list of funded projects around the country:

• Cellana LLC, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, $5,521,173. Cellana will work to develop a protein supplement from algae as a byproduct of algal biofuels production, by demonstrating its nutritional and economic value in livestock feeds. The project will characterize types of algae, assess the nutritional values of algal proteins, assess the potential for algal proteins to replace soybean meal, and develop algal protein supplements.

• Domtar Paper Company, LLC, Fort Mill, SC, $7,000,000. This three-year project will work to build a demonstration plant using two technologies to convert low-value byproducts and wastes from paper mills into higher-value sugar, oil, and lignin products.

• Exelus Inc., Livingston, N.J., $5,185,004. Exelus will work to develop energy crops with improved tolerance to drought and salt stress to enhance yields on marginal lands. The project will also redesign a process to make hydrocarbon fuels using new catalysts and chemistry that avoids the high temperatures and large energy inputs required by current processes.

• Metabolix, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., $6,000,001. Metabolix will enhance the yield of bio-based products, biopower, or fuels made from switchgrass. The project will use high temperature conversion to produce denser biomass and other products that can be further processed to make fuels such as butanol, chemicals such as propylene and other materials to improve the economic competitiveness of future biorefineries.

• University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $5,430,439. The purpose of this project is to improve the production and sustainability of sweet sorghum as an energy crop. The University will identify genetic traits in sorghum associated with drought tolerance through genetic mapping and will select strains that produce high biomass yields and can be easily converted to fermentable sugars.

• University of Kansas Center for Research, Lawrence, Kan., $5,635,858. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate a novel, sustainable technology at a pilot scale that produces diverse products, including advanced fuels, industrial chemicals and chemical intermediates.

• University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $6,932,786. The purpose of this project is to improve the economics for biorefineries by using on-farm processing to convert biomass to a mixture of butanol, ethanol, acetone and organic acids. The product can then be easily transported to a biorefinery for further processing. The project will integrate input from experts in a variety of disciplines, including plant and soil scientists, horticulturists, chemical engineers, and economists.

• U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, Mont., $5,309,320. This project will develop an integrated approach to investigate biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion, distribution and end use centered on using advanced conversion technologies at existing forest industry facilities.

More information is available at the Biomass Program website at www.eere.energy.gov/biomass

12 UF students studying abroad in Japan are okay (03/11/2011)

Aired on WUFT on March 11th, 2011

A dozen University of Florida students are currently studying abroad in Japan. The Executive Director of the International Center at UF, Susanne Hill immediately tried to communicate with the students following the 8-point-nine-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s coast. Hill spoke with WUFT’s Donna Green-Townsend:

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UF earthquake researcher describes Japan’s quake as one of the strongest in recorded history (03/11/2011)

Aired on WUFT on March 11th, 2011

One researcher who’s closely monitoring the situation in Japan is Assistant Professor of Geological Science at the University of Florida, Mark Panning. Panning specializes in earthquake research. He spoke with WUFT’s Donna Green-Townsend.

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Shark researchers concerned about effects of BP oil spill on the total food chain in the Gulf (07/22/2010)

Aired on WUFT on July 22nd, 2010

Shark experts from around the globe recently met in Providence Road Island. Among them was George Burgess from the University of Florida. Burgess wears many hats including work as the Curator of the International Shark Attack File and as the Coordinator for Museum Operations at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Though the BP oil spill was not on the official agenda for the conference, Burgess says it was a hot topic amongst all the shark researchers. In part two of her interview, Donna Green-Townsend talked with Burgess about how the BP oil spill will virtually take a toll on the entire food chain in the Gulf of Mexico.

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UF Officials Hope New Biomedical Sciences Building Will Lead To Unique Research Collaborations (05/11/2010)

Aired on WUFT on May 11th, 2010

The University of Florida held a dedication ceremony on Tuesday (May 11th) afternoon for the new Biomedical Sciences Building on campus. Donna Green-Townsend has more on what this new medical facility is expected to offer to researchers.

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