Gators’ legendary QB John Reaves dead at age 67

UF record-setting quarterback John Reaves was found dead at his home Tuesday in Tampa. He was 67.

Reaves, wide receiver Carlos Alvarez and running back Tommy Durrance formed the corps of the so-called “Super Sophs” that finished 9-1-1 during the 1969 season.

Reaves’ first game for the Gators that set the tone for his record-setting career. During a 59-34 win against Houston, Reaves passed for a school-record 342 yards and five touchdowns, breaking the marks of 1966 Heisman Trophy-winning QB Steve Spurrier.

“He was an all-time special Gator,” Spurrier told the Orlando Sentinel. “I hate to see it happen. I feel for his family, but when it’s over and done, let’s all celebrate his life and some of the fond memories he brought us.”

When Reaves finished his career, he was the NCAA’s all-time leader with 7,581 passing yards and an SEC-record 54 touchdown passes.

Reaves’ NCAA mark came with some controversy.

The Gators executed the “Florida Flop” in 1971 against Miami so Reaves could break the NCAA passing record.

Reaves was born in 1950 in Anniston, Ala., but his family moved to Tampa when he was a child. Reaves would lead T.R. Robinson High School to the Class 2A state championship game in 1967 and earn player of the year honors in Florida.

Reaves’ success in high school and college did not carry over to his professional career.

A first-round pick in 1972, Reaves played eight NFL seasons with three different teams, beginning with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reaves, who battled substance-abuse issues throughout his career, later played for Spurrier for the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL, beginning in 1983.

Reaves was the first quarterback coached by Spurrier, who later hired Reaves to be on his coaching staff at UF.

In 1984, Reaves passed for 4,092 yards, 28 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Reaves later would play two games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987 as a 37-year-old replacement player during the NFL strike.

Reaves was 4-13 as a starter with 17 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

After his football career ended, Reaves sold real estate in Tampa. But he also struggled with dependency issues.

Reaves was arrested on gun and drug possession charges in 2008. In May of 2009, he entered an Atlanta area substance abuse rehabilitation program.

Follow our Gators coverage on Twitter at @osgators and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/osgators.

Edgar can be reached at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com