Two of the finest players on the field for Florida in the Gators' 33-23 loss to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday were playing their last game for the Gators despite having eligibility remaining. Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam both announced their intentions to go pro and enter the 2013 NFL Draft to reporters after the game.
Gators junior DT Sharrif Floyd turning pro. Says his coaches "felt it was best for me to go."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) January 3, 2013
Gators S Matt Elam: "I'm entering the draft. I had 3 great yrs, did all I could. Time to take care of the family."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) January 3, 2013
Both Floyd, expected to be a first- or second-round pick, and Elam, who is a likely second-round pick that could sneak into the first round, were expected to declare for the draft, with a report earlier this week suggesting both were NFL-bound.
Floyd leaves a bigger hole for Florida to fill in 2013, as there is no tackle on Florida's roster or its recruiting board likely to approximate the ursine defensive tackle's performance and production as a do-everything player on the line. But Elam and senior Josh Evans leave the two safety spots wide open for Florida, as Elam has started for Florida in every game since 2011, and Evans has started in 21 of 26.
As with every departing Gator, I wish Floyd and Elam the best of luck in their careers and hope they make Gator Nation proud in their life beyond Gainesville. Neither of these two guys should have much difficulty with doing that.