The Will Muschamp era was one that most Florida football fans would prefer to forget. Beyond the 11-2 campaign of 2012, the era was marked up by unremarkable play and is probably most remembered by Florida’s loss to Georgia Southern in 2013.
But one player from that era recently brought up on a list from resident Gator hater Big Game Boomer to serve as a reminder that not every player from that time was terrible.
Florida Football: Andre the giant
Normally on Twitter, Big Game Boomer outs out lists that feel like they are an intentional troll job of Florida.
But this week, he put one out with the top 100 kick returners of the 21st century, and Andre Debose came in at number 34.
Brandon James also made this list, but we’ll save him for another article.
A highly-touted recruit from Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, Debose joined the Gators in the class of 2009. The five-star prospect was ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com and was often compared to Percy Harvin due to their similar styles of play.
Debose’s career, however, would take a different trajectory as he became a special teams star.
Debose redshirted his freshman year due to a hamstring injury, but he quickly made his presence felt in 2010. He welcomed himself to Gator Nation against LSU, where he returned a kickoff for 88 yards and a touchdown.
He followed up the feat when he returned the opening kickoff against South Carolina for a 99-yard touchdown
While Debose spent most of his time as a returner, he showed the ability to be explosive as a wide receiver. In 2011, he recorded 432 receiving yards and four touchdowns on just 16 receptions, averaging a staggering 27 yards per catch. Debose’s highlight-reel plays included a 65-yard touchdown reception against Alabama and a 64-yard score against Furman.
He finished off his 2011 campaign with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.
In 2012 he missed some time due to injury but did finish with his career-best 28.3 yards per return on 18 kickoff returns, including a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville.
Unfortunately, injuries would plague Debose throughout his college career. He missed the entire 2013 season due to a torn ACL and applied for a medical redshirt, granting him an additional year of eligibility.
He returned for the 2014 season and began to return punts more frequently. He was fifth in the nation in total punt return yards in 2014, including a return against Eastern Michigan that was straight out of a video game.
Despite his setbacks, he finished his career with Florida football with a total of 4,100 all-purpose yards, including 2,111 kickoff return yards and five touchdowns off kickoffs and punts.
He was drafted by the then Oakland Raiders in 2015 but didn’t stick around for long. By 2017 he was in Canada, but he retired from professional football that year.
Andre Debose isn’t a player that will get a statue or a place in the Ring of Honor, but history books should note he was one of the few bright spots for the Florida Gators during a time when there were few bright spots.