Gene Ellenson

Alfred McKethan funded his third endowment in recognition of Gene Ellenson, former defensive coach and executive secretary of Gator Boosters.

A native of Miami, Fla., Ellenson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1943 with a degree in journalism. As an undergraduate, he was a three-year defensive lineman for the Georgia Bulldogs and played in the 1942 Orange Bowl and the 1943 Rose Bowl. He began his coaching career at Miami High School where he had earned his diploma. Hired as an assistant coach at the University of Miami in 1950, Ellenson helped his defensive units rank among the nation’s top 10 from 1952-58.

Ellenson came to UF in 1960 and served as Ray Graves’ assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for nine years. Optimistic and determined, Ellenson had a gift for motivating and vitalizing his players. He was credited as a key influence in many UF victories including big wins over Florida Sate and Alabama. As a substitute for UF golf coach Buster Bishop who was ill, Ellenson took the golf team to New Mexico in 1968 for the NCAA Tournament. With his pep talk using a “positive molecules” metaphor, Ellenson invigorated the team who went on to win the tournament and the national championship.

Ellenson passed away in 1995 at the age of 74. Heisman winner and UF coach Steve Spurrier said, “He was extremely influential in my coaching career. His message was one I’ve tried to repeat many times through my coaching… He certainly has a prominent place in the University of Florida football history.”

Ellenson was also a World War II veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his bravery while fighting in Europ

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