Over the weekend in Gainesville, thousands of Gators graduated from the University of Florida in ceremonies that happened in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium while the O'Connell Center's rapid renovation is taking place. Carlos Dunlap could have strolled across a stage in the stadium he once roamed as a defensive end, too — but, instead, he decided to celebrate his graduation at the 2016 NFL Draft by wearing his cap and gown to announce one of his Cincinnati Bengals' draft picks.
Dunlap left Florida after the 2009 season and was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but told his mother, an elementary school principal, he would eventually get his degree. He returned to Gainesville to finish up work on a family, youth, and community sciences, and was one of six Florida football players to earn degrees over the weekend -- doing so in the same graduating class as Jelani Jenkins, who also returned to finish his degree in applied physiology and kinesiology.
Dunlap may be forever remembered by some Florida fans for one dumb mistake made during his time in Gainesville, but he's made sure to make that mistake a blip in his life, becoming a key contributor to the Bengals and doing enough off the field to be named the team's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award last fall.
Surely, he's more than his mistake. (I wouldn't call him Shirley, though.)