- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Florida-Florida State game used to be one of the premier matchups in the nation - - for fans and NFL scouts.
When the in-state rivals met back in the mid 1990s, it was a showcase of NFL talent. Both teams were populated with players who would go on to be drafted. In addition to playing a role in the national championship race, the game was essentially an all-star game.
“The amount of talent on both sides of the field [was amazing],” said former Florida receiver Jacquez Green. “Any time out you could see 20, 30 guys that played in the NFL. Not just on rosters, but guys who actually played.”
Take the 1996 games, for example. FSU won the meeting in Tallahassee 24-21. Florida won the rematch - - and the national title - - in the Sugar Bowl 52-20. Forty-nine of the players on the team’s rosters in 1996 would go on to be drafted, including 14 in the first round.
Florida State had 29 players on its 1996 roster drafted, including nine in the first round. Florida had 20 drafted, including five in the first round.
Green played in those 1996 games. So did another former UF receiver, Reidel Anthony. Green was a second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 1998. The Bucs took Anthony in the first round in 1997.
“It’s hard to remember all of them [players he played with or against in the series that were drafted],” Anthony said. “There’s so many guys that played that went on to have NFL careers.
“Guys knew if they had a good game in that rivalry they were headed for the next level.”
FSU had players taken in the next five NFL Drafts (1997-2001) while Florida had players taken in the next four (1997-2000).
This year’s meeting doesn’t have the same kind of star power. According to a survey of several NFL Draft rankings and projections, there are nine players who could be drafted in the 2012 draft. None of those, however, are first-round projections.
1dSam Khan Jr.