Florida DL Bullard to return for senior season

By Adam Silverstein
January 5, 2015

Florida Gators junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard announced Monday that he will not join four teammates who chose to forgo their final season of eligibility and declare early for the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead, Bullard will return to the Gators for his senior campaign despite the coaching staff being completely overhauled.

“I wasn’t projected to go where I want to go,” Bullard said in a statement released by the school. “I want to leave a bigger mark on the Florida program than what I have.”

Bullard promised to keep a level head when making his decision, noting that he would consult former Florida head coach Will Muschamp after receiving his evaluation back from the NFL. Muschamp has long held that he would only recommend players to declare early if they are projected to be first-round selections.


“I got to do what’s best for me, at the end of the day,” he said on Nov. 23. “I’m going to take into consideration whatever he says. That’s who’s going to be who helps me decide what I’m going to do. I know he’s not going to edge me to go just because he’s leaving.”

Bullard came on in a major way for the Gators over the latter half of the 2014 campaign, finishing the season as Florida’s sixth-leading tackler with 52 takedowns. A defensive end, he saw significant action inside at defensive tackle yet still finished second on the team in tackles for loss (8.5) and quarterback hurries (12). Bullard also registered 2.5 sacks and two pass defenses.

Related: Bullard’s sacrifices, team-first mindset paying off for himself, Gators

With 36 games played in his career, he is the most experienced player returning next season for the Gators.

“As a veteran player coming back, I want be a leader on this team as the program enters a new era with a new coaching staff,” Bullard said. “I want to be a role model for the younger players and help them to buy into the future of the program.”

Florida is still waiting to hear from junior linebacker Antonio Morrison, who was also considering turning pro but appeared to seriously injure his knee in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.

Junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the first Gators player to declare for the draft, is expected to be a first-round pick. Junior running back Matt Jones and redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyler Moore have also declared their intent to turn pro.

UF has not announced the futures of Fowler, Jones and Moore as of press time.

9 Comments

  1. Tractorr says:

    Well that is some good news.

  2. swampem says:

    A very wise decision Mr. Bullard. A win,win win all around. I predict he will be all SEC next year!

  3. Gator79 says:

    Smart move getting a year to spend with an NFL DL Coach. Shows great maturity which will be remember come April 2016.

  4. 305Gator says:

    Great to hear Bullard is coming back. Any idea if he will be moved back to his natural position of DE next year?
    Also any news on the Morrison injury?

  5. Michael J. says:

    It’s nice to hear that an UF player has made a smart move. As far as Bullard moving back to defensive end, that makes no sense. He was moved because he was a bad defensive end who rarely even touched a quarterback. He was much better playing inside and needs to stay there, especially since that’s a position of little depth. McCallister and Bryan Cox weren’t anything to write home about at end, but neither was Bullard. To have a good defense, it starts with being strong up the middle, and Bullard is, by far, UF’s best returning inside player.

  6. g8ter27 says:

    If he has a good year next year he might end up playing with his coach’s old team.

  7. like rm says:

    Very good, very good.

  8. rayjay says:

    Jones and Moore should also return for their senior years!

    • swampem says:

      Most all players ought to stay for their senior year with the exceptions of the top flight stars. Maybe make an exception for “hardship cases” if the player can make a pro team & really needs the money for family, etc..

      I guess egos, bad advice and maybe bad grades in some cases cause these guys to jump early.

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