The Food Network’s fifth season of “BBQ Brawl” kicked off Monday night with a little bit of “Gator” flavor.

University of Florida great and former NFL player turned Sonny’s BBQ pitmaster Shannon Snell is one of 12 competitors from across the country on the show that looks to crown the “Master of the Cue.”

Snell, a Tampa native, started working for Sonny’s in 2007 and now serves as pitmaster for more than 80 of the restaurant’s locations. He played on the offensive line for the Gators from 2000-2003, and in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Barbecue was in my blood just as much as football is,” he said during the show. “My competition may view me as a football player with a hobby, but that would be a mistake.”

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Monday’s episode, the first of 10, began with the competitors each creating a slider in an effort to entice the judges — Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson and Michael Voltaggio — into selecting them for their respective teams.

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