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Gators in the NFL: Trio of former Florida football players earn a Super Bowl ring



On Super Bowl Sunday, everyone tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the San Francisco 49ers. If you were like me, this was a game to watch for football, but not necessarily one to watch for the intrigue. This was a rematch of a Super Bowl from only 4 seasons ago, and the two teams have appeared in at least three Super Bowls in the last 11 seasons. However, one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl is rooting for players from my colleges to win a Super Bowl ring. Fortunately for Florida football, there were a trio of players, including two starters, playing in the Super Bowl. Better yet, all played for the winning Kansas City Chiefs.

A Trio of Gators now have their first or second ring

Tommy Townsend, Punter

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports

Tommy Townsend took an unconventional route to be a part of Florida football, starting his career at Tennessee. After sitting out the 2016 season following a transfer, and not seeing the field in 2017, Townsend was a two-year starter for the Gators. Considering he was a two-time Ray Guy Award Finalist and was named second team All-SEC, I would say he had an effective career.

Townsend took his efficient career at Florida and turned it into a successful NFL career. Despite his accolades, Townsend went undrafted. He was picked up by the Chiefs following the draft, and has been their starter since. In fact, he was named to the PWFA All-Rookie team his first season. He was named a First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl last season, but did not get to play in the Pro Bowl as he was part of the Chiefs’ roster that would win the Super Bowl. While Townsend did not get any individual accolades this year, he earned his second ring. In the Super Bowl, Townsend had 5 punts for 254 yards, with 2 of those punts being downed inside the 20. His main highlight was a booming punt, totaling 62 yards. Additionally, he was the holder for Harrison Butker’s game-tying field goal that sent the contest to overtime.

Jawaan Taylor, Offensive Tackle

Jawaan Taylor was a born-and-raised Gator. Originally from Cocoa High School, he was first team All-State his senior year of high school, and signed with Florida football. He was the only freshman to play for the offensive line in 2016, and he started 12 of his 13 games. Taylor was named a freshman All-American by ESPN, among others, and was named Freshman All-SEC by the coaches. He started all but one of his final 24 games in the next two seasons, and was named second team All-SEC as a junior in 2018. Naturally, he declared for the NFL Draft a year early, and was taken in the early second round.

Taylor was drafted no. 35 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars and started every game for his four seasons. The Jags let him walk last offseason, and he was signed to a four-year, $80 million deal with KC. Despite a controversial start to the season, where Taylor’s alignment and holding were under severe scrutiny, Taylor started every game for the Chiefs this season. This includes the playoffs, where Taylor started at right tackle last night. With Taylor and the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, I think it is safe to say they got the last laugh.

Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver

This one is a controversial one, I know. Toney has had a tumultuous career in the NFL up to this point. For Florida football, however, Toney was a star. In 38 games, Toney had over 2,600 all-purpose yards. He was an AP All-American his senior season, in addition to being a first team All-SEC honoree by the coaches and media for all purpose. Toney put up 984 yards and 10 touchdowns as a receiver his final season, along with another 161 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Additionally, he housed a punt return against Kentucky. This breakout came after two seasons of battling through injury in 2017 and 2019. Toney was an explosive athlete, and his showing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl made the New York Giants fall in love.

Despite only one season with a high production output, the Giants took Toney at No. 20 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Much like his time at Florida, Toney has battled through injuries most of his career. Additionally, he has struggled with drops. He placed second on the Giants in receiving yards as a rookie, with 429 yards in only 10 games that season. Unfortunately, that has been his best season thus far. He was traded to Kansas City amidst his second season after not recording a catch for the Giants during his two contests. He scored his first two touchdowns in the NFL with the Chiefs. Additionally, Toney added a receiving touchdown against Philadelphia as he won his first Super Bowl ring in 2023. Toney remained healthy for most of the year this season, but only started two games and contributed 169 yards and a touchdown during his 13 total contests. He has struggled with injuries again this season, and the Chiefs elected to have Toney as a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl last night. Regardless, he was part of the team to win a ring, and Toney now has two rings for his three-year career.

Who will be the next Gator to win a Super Bowl ring? We will find out over the course of next season. August cannot come soon enough.