GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Records are meant to be broken.
Some have lasted longer than others at Florida, and some — especially on offense — seem almost impossible to break in the near future considering the Gators’ struggles on that side of the ball over the last decade.
But here are five offense or scoring-related Florida records that could fall in 2017.
1. Career return touchdowns
Florida’s school record for most kickoff or punt returns taken for a touchdown is four, set by Andre Debose (all kickoff returns), Brandon James (all punt returns) and Jacquez Green (all punt returns). Through his first two seasons, wide receiver Antonio Callaway already has three such touchdowns — two punt returns, one kickoff return — putting him one return away from tying the school record.
Callaway’s top-end speed and shifty footwork makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. He might have struggled with punt returns last season (8.4 yards/return) but Callaway has proven he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
2. Consecutive made field goals
The school record for most consecutive makes is 17, set by Bobby Raymond in 1984. Eddy Pineiro, the fan-favorite kicker who never attempted a field goal in a live game before stepping onto Florida’s campus last year, closed out the 2016 season making his final 12 field goals and is 21-for-25 overall (84 percent) after his first season. Of those last 12 makes, five were longer than 40 yards. The former high school soccer standout found the accuracy needed to complement his powerful right leg as the season progressed and he will surely get his share of field goal opportunities in 2017.
Pineiro also has a chance to crack a slew of other kicking records, including but not limited to longest field goal (60 yards — Chris Perkins, 1984) and career field goal percentage (87.8 percent — Raymond, 1981-82).
3. Rushing TDs in a season by a running back
Florida’s overall rushing touchdowns in a season record — 23 by Tim Tebow in 2007 — looks to be in good shape, but the record for most rushing touchdowns by a running back could be in jeopardy.Emmitt Smith (1989) and Buford Smith (1952) hold the record at 14. Jordan Scarlett might be Florida’s best chance in a while to crack that record.
Scarlett, a junior, burst onto the scene in 2016, separating himself from the four-person backfield committee that coach Jim McElwain originally planned to use. He finished the year with 889 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in six consecutive games during one stretch of the season. Scarlett has a nose for the end zone and a knack for making defenders miss. Plus, with Florida likely starting a new quarterback this season in either Feleipe Franks or Malik Zaire, Scarlett and the rest of the running backs should be leaned on heavily to ease the pressure.
And as a reminder, Kelvin Taylor had 13 rushing touchdowns in 2015 before being held out of the end zone in the final three games of the season.
4. Most single-game catches by a tight end
The school record is 9, most recently accomplished by Aaron Hernandez in 2009 against Cincinnati and was almost matched last season. Tight end DeAndre Goolsby caught a career-high 8 passes in Florida’s 13-6 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. He was targeted 10 times during the game.
Goolsby is an athletic tight end who can create separation at the line of scrimmage. He became a security blanket at times during 2016 for both Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby and can likely continue that role as a senior this season.
5. Most 100-yard receivers in a game
Florida has had 22 games in which two players each had 100 receiving yards, but 2017 could prove to be the first time ever that the Gators have three players reach the milestone in the same game. The potential is there, considering Florida has potentially its best wide receiver group since the Tim Tebow era. Just look at the depth:
- Callaway and sophomore Tyrie Cleveland will line up on the outside.
- Speedy redshirt junior Dre Massey and catch-and-go senior Brandon Powell are battling for the top slot receiver spot.
- Sophomores Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain, along with top-tier freshmen Daquon Green and James Robinson, are also in the mix for playing time.
That’s eight receivers with the potential for a big game each time they take the field. And with Florida playing two games against Northern Colorado of the FCS and UAB — a team fielding its first football team since 2014 — the Gators have a chance to do some damage if the offense can get into a rhythm.