We got the news yesterday that DE Jarvis Moss and CB Ryan Smith were leaving the University of Florida to pursue the option of the NFL draft. Today, we get news of two more Gators headed to the pros, per Joe Schad of ESPN.com.
Reggie Nelson, who had not made an announcement of his intentions going into today, made it known that he was choosing to skip his Senior season of college and make himself available in the draft. As one of the most valuable players on the Gators defense this season, it seemed like a sure thing that he was going to make this choice.
Following Moss, Smith and Nelson to the pros will be linebacker Brandon Siler, who also made his decision official today. Siler was a vocal leader for the Gators defense, as well as the team's second-leading tackler.
Smith, Moss, Nelson and Siler were all vital keys to the National Championship run for the Gators in 2006. Looking at several of the statistical categories, it's easy to see the importance of these 4 players who will be foregoing their senior seasons for the NFL.
In fact, here is what these 4 guys brought to the table, stats-wise:
31% of the team's tackles (238 of 767 total)
32% of the team's tackles for loss (25.5 of 79 total)
31% of the team's sacks (10.5 out of 34 total)
66% of the team's interceptions (14 of 21 total)
75% of the team's blocked kicks (6 of 8 total)
And this is only counting the juniors leaving early. These numbers do not take into account the seniors who are graduating as well.
So, there you have it. This defense is going to have to replace several key players at several different positions. As of right now this is who will not be back for 2007 of defense, starters-wise: Moss, Joe Cohen, Ray McDonald, Earl Everett, Siler, Brian Crum, Smith, Reggie Lewis & Nelson. And there are of course several others who made contributions to the defense.
Reggie Nelson lays out someone who doubts the coaching staff's ability to have the 2007 defense ready (Gatorzone Photo)
That's 9 guys. Out of 11. Youch. Thank goodness for some great defensive depth and even more incoming talent in this recruiting class.