Bubba on Top

Andre Caldwell

With time winding down in the first half of the Gators' 59-20 victory over Florida Atlantic, Andre "Bubba" Caldwell stared down the screen pass that would be his ninth of the game. It would be a momentous catch that would break Carlos Alvarez's record for career receptions at the University of Florida, but all Caldwell could think about was one thing.

"I wanted to score," Andre Caldwell said with a grin. "I tried to get in the end zone as much as I could ‘cause I wanted to do something stupid – probably throw it in the stands."

Penalty flag aside, it would've been a fitting tribute to Alvarez, who threw the last pass he caught into the stands of The Swamp. But after the game, it was Alvarez that got a chance to do the honors.

"We had a very special guest in our locker room named Carlos Alvarez who presented Bubba with the game ball," coach Urban Meyer said. "That was a little overwhelming when you think of all the great football players that played here and to have your name as No. 1 on the list as far as receptions at a school that has a great history of throwing the ball."

Caldwell got a chance to talk with the former All-American after the game. Alvarez was more than gracious about having his record broken to a player like Caldwell.

"He's proud of me," Caldwell said. "He's happy a guy like me who went through so much adversity throughout my time here could break his record."

Caldwell has had to overcome a lot in his five years at UF, from a coaching change to a broken femur that would keep him from playing most of what would have been his junior season.

It didn't seem like it was going to get any easier in Caldwell's final year when he spent most of the first half of the season sidelined with a knee sprain. But now that he's fully-recovered he's been a huge part of the Gator offense, especially with the absence of fellow receiver Percy Harvin.

"Since he's been healthy he's been doing real good," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "Obviously he's put up big numbers two weeks in a row now. He got open underneath and that's where he can do the most damage."

Caldwell has been on a torrid pace with 430 yards and three touchdowns in his past three games. It's an incredible accomplishment when considering just how many All-SEC and All-American pass-catchers have come through the program.

"It means a lot to me," Caldwell said. "There have been a lot of great receivers that have played throughout Florida history. This isn't like West Virginia or some school that doesn't throw the ball. This is the University of Florida. We throw the ball up and down the field. To be on top of that list, that's a big achievement."

Yet with all the accolades that Caldwell received for the accomplishment, he made sure to acknowledge the others that made it possible.

"They know I couldn't have done it without them," Caldwell said. "My name might be on top of the list but without all my teammates it couldn't be accomplished."

Caldwell said he plans to give the ball to his mother to be framed and put in the family trophy room. But if he catches a touchdown against rival Florida State next weekend, don't be surprised if that ball winds up twenty rows deep in the bleachers.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack

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