Florida Gators redshirt junior defensive end Alex McCalister‘s decision to enter the 2016 NFL Draft has been known for quite some time. Still, McCalister chose Wednesday night to make his choice to leave school official and did so by sending a letter out to Gators fans via his Twitter account.
After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to forego my last year of eligibility at Florida to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. This was a very difficult decision because I have loved every minute of my time as a Gator. I want to thank Coach McElwain for his support and guidance over the last year – he has our team headed in the right direction and I am very excited to see what the future holds for our program. I owe a big thank you to Coach Shannon, Coach Rumph, Coach Kent, George Wynn, the entire coaching staff, as well as the training and support staff. Also, I would like to thank Coach Muschamp, Coach Quinn and Coach Durkin for giving me the life-changing opportunity to be a Gator. Finally, I would like to thank my teammates. I wouldn’t be in a position to chase my dream if not for the friendships and brotherhood in the locker room.
Although the next step in my football career takes me away from the classroom for a short time, I will be returning to campus at my first opportunity in order to complete my degree and walk across the stage at the O-Dome. I will be a GatorGrad very soon!
GatorNation: it was an honor to wear the Orange & Blue. I am forever grateful to have played in The Swamp in front of the best fans in the country. I’ll be a Gator for life. Thank you! Go Gators! #Chomp
Florida Forever ⭐️🙏🏾🐊 pic.twitter.com/gGE6IsDyzQ
— A. McCalister (@ChampagneCali) January 14, 2016
McCalister was reportedly dismissed from the team one month ago due to a violation of team rules, though Florida never confirmed his status as such. Even so, McCalister was expected to declare for the draft before that decision after totaling 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in nine games and missing a number of contests at the end of the year due to a lingering foot injury. He was also suspended for the first game of the 2015 season due to a violation of team rules.
“He’s going to go on into the NFL,” McElwain said on Dec. 21, noting that injury kept McCalister out of the team’s 2015 SEC Championship Game. “He was injured. At times, I really don’t quite get it, but that’s [the media’s] choice to say what you want [that he was dismissed]. He’s not going to play [in the Citurs Bowl]. But if you choose to throw something out there, that is hearsay or whatever, that’s your choice. I’d never do that to a guy. I’m here to support these guys in every way, shape or form.”
McCalister is the fourth Gators player to officially declare for the draft, joining juniors cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, safety Keanu Neal and running back Kelvin Taylor. Florida is still waiting to hear official decisions from redshirt junior defensive back Marcus Maye and junior linebacker Jarrad Davis, though Davis had previously indicated that he planned to stay at UF.