Even if we did see this coming, the sting is still real. Florida Gators’ junior safety Matt Elam and junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd have both announced they will forgo their senior seasons and enter the 2013 NFL Draft.
Eventually, there will be many things to smile about when looking back at the Florida Gators’ season. For the immediate future, we’ll only remember the Sugar Bowl loss, but when we come around and are ready to celebrate the 2012 season for it’s high points, Elam and Floyd will be among them.
Both came to Florida with great expectations and both left fulfilling them, using the hire of head coach Will Muschamp to springboard their success. Elam was an All-American as a junior and Floyd collected All-SEC honors. They both would have surely liked to have ended their Gator careers better, but neither can be blamed for testing the NFL waters either. Both are potential first-round draft picks and it’s hard to imagine either falling past the second round.
Elam was the spark to the defense in both 2012 and 2011. When there was little to celebrate during the 7-6 2011 season, Elam played like he was on fire. He was a vocal leader on the field and, although frustration could be seen rising from time to time, he played as an example to others. Elam’s reckless style earned him some unwanted penalties on occasion, but it also made him the player he was. Just take a look at the 2012 victory over the LSU Tigers as an example.
Floyd could be described as a little bit of a slow starter, but most defensive linemen are (ignore that Jadeveon Clowney character at South Carolina). Playing at one of the most difficult adjustment positions when it comes to learning the game at the college level, Floyd was moved from inside to outside and back again. He improved tremendously over the course of his career and was a dominate player wherever he lined up. We should be watching Floyd for years to come at the next level.
As Elam and Floyd make the next step in their football careers, we wish them the best of luck. Once a Gator…