Tebow. Wuerffel. Spurrier. These names scream legend.
Bring them up in a conversation with a lifelong gator fan and you’re sure to hear the story of when Steve Spurrier, quarterback of the 1966 Gators, kicked a 40-yard game winning field-goal against Auburn and went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Or maybe you’ll hear about Danny Wuerffel’s game-winning touchdown pass to Chris Doering in the closing seconds the Kentucky game in 1993. And who could forget when the Tim Tebow jump-pass was born against LSU in 2006?
But there’s another name worth mentioning among these legends, and he never played quarterback for the Florida Gators. In fact, he never touched the field on offense or defense.
The Gator great goes by the name of Caleb Sturgis (simply ‘Sturg’ to many), and he was no question one of the greatest kickers to ever wear the orange and blue.
If for some reason you don’t remember (and perhaps you were too distracted by his teammates Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin to notice), Sturgis had a certain essence about him every time he was called onto the field. He was calm, cool, and collected to say the least, and he never seemed to feel the pressure of the tens of thousand of eyes that fell on him from the stands. He would line up his kick with a sense of confidence that was comforting to Gator fans all over the country.
Sturgis was part of two National Championship teams while playing for the Gators and set school kicking records across the board. He set season records for field goals attempted (30) and field goals made (24), and even broke the school record for field goals made in a career with 68. He was a repeat Lou Groza Award finalist in 2011 and 2012, and qualified for the SEC Honor Roll three times during his time at Florida.
After graduating in 2012, Sturgis entered the NFL Draft and became a fifth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins where he quickly earned the starting kicking job. He made 76.5% of his field goals as a rookie in 2013 and is 21-for-25 through ten games this season.
Despite his success as an NFL kicker, Sturgis hasn’t forgotten his roots as a Gator.
“I miss the Swamp,” says Sturgis, “[I miss] running through that tunnel.”
The Gator nation should be missing Sturgis right back. Florida’s field-goal percentage has lingered around 66.6% since his departure, a total nightmare compared to Sturgis’ 79.5%.
Sturgis attributes the University of Florida for his success both on and off the field.
“It’s set me up really well with my education and [with me] now continuing football for the Dolphins,” says Sturgis.
He plans on using his studies to pursue a career in finance after football, but for now he’s focused on staying in the league for as long as possible. Based on his accomplishments as a Gator, as well as his early success in the NFL, it’s safe to say that could be a while.