Report: Florida RB Matt Jones to enter NFL Draft

By Adam Silverstein
December 1, 2014

Florida Gators junior running back Matt Jones will forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft, according to a report from Nick de la Torre of Gator Country.

“Always Bleed Orange And Blue!!,” Jones wrote Monday via his Twitter account.

Jones is the third Gators underclassman to declare for the draft, joining junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (a potential first-round pick) and redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyler Moore. Other players with a year of eligibility remaining may follow the trio, namely junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and left tackle D.J. Humphries.

Jones, a two-year starter who suffered from a serious viral infection and devastating knee injury that cut his 2013 campaign short, was Florida’s leading rusher this season with 817 yards and six touchdowns on 166 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 65 yards and added a receiving score. In five games last season, Jones gained 339 yards on 79 carries, scoring just twice.


A bruising rusher with a varied enough skill set to make him an intriguing prospect, Jones could certainly be selected in the draft, though it would likely be as a late-round pick due to his collegiate production and concerns about his surgically-repaired knee. With the running back position no longer valued with as much as it once was in the draft – and with plenty of big names ahead of Jones – it may be tough sledding for him come early May.

Former Gators head coach Will Muschamp was adamant throughout his tenure that he would advise his players to stay in school unless they were projected to be first-round picks in the draft. A number of former Florida players, including linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Ronald Powell (injury concerns) and cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, chose to ignore Muschamp’s advice and saw vastly different outcomes. Jenkins and Powell were both drafted, with Jenkins now starting in the league, while Purifoy and Roberson signed undrafted free agent deals after going through the seven-round draft without being picked.

Like Jenkins and Powell – and unlike Purifoy and Roberson – there are no question about Jones’s character. In fact, he has been praised extensively by Muschamp and the Gators’ coaching staff for his work ethic and mindset, even as he was dealing with severe ailments and injuries.

Jones also has a three-year-old daughter to support and leaving early will give him the opportunity to do just that.

Sophomore RB Kelvin Taylor, who gained 565 yards on 112 carries and matched Jones with six rushing touchdowns this season, will step in as Florida’s starter in 2015. Taylor was also the Gators’ second-leading rusher during his freshman campaign in 2013, carrying the ball 111 times for 508 yards with four scores.

OnlyGators.com reached out to the Gators for confirmation of Jones’s decision to leave school but the program could not confirm one way or another as of press time.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

12 Comments

  1. Michael Jones says:

    I appreciate Matt’s contributions and I wish him the best of luck, but he is either delusional or somebody is giving him bad advice.

    The bright side is that hopefully Adam Lane will finally get some carries. He might be the best back we have.

    It will also help us in recruiting. Too many stud RB’s–going back to the likes of Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, and more–have gotten away. We need to start keeping them at U.F.

    • senuod says:

      It seems like his main concern is taking care of his daughter. Given his injury history, seems like he thought it through. Who knows how the new coach would want to use him. Also, a running back hasn’t been taken in the first round in years regardless of talent.

      • Michael Jones says:

        You’re right, there haven’t been many RB’s taken in the 1st round for awhile. Last year three were 3 in the 2nd and 5 in the 3rd. The year before that there were 5 in the 2nd. Matt is nowhere near the caliber of any of those backs. He seems to be a good kid, but he is an average SEC back who needed at least another year to have any hopes of getting drafted or making an NFL team.

        I don’t question the young man’s motives, I question his judgment. If he wants to take care of his daughter, then he needs to get a degree and get a job. That’s how most of us take care of our children.

        But I hope that you’re right and I’m wrong.

        • gatorboi352 says:

          “If he wants to take care of his daughter, then he needs to get a degree and get a job. That’s how most of us take care of our children.”

          LOL…. jealous much? I mean seriously what a silly thing to say. Even if he goes like 4th, 5th, 6th round he could be signed for more money than you and I will ever see in our life.

          • Michael Jones says:

            Are you sure about that, Gatorboi? I’ll bet that if you put all of that money you’ve made mowing lawns your whole life into a jar (which is probably where it is), it would come to a lot.

            • gatorboi352 says:

              Cute.

              I actually work in IT if it helps you sleep any worse at night.

              • Michael Jones says:

                And a mid-to-late round draft pick–which is where Matt will get drafted if he’s lucky–gets a signing bonus that is way under $100,000 . . . closer to $50,000. Unless he wants to move into the trailer next to you, that’s not a lot of money. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your nonsensical comments, Gatorboi.

                IT, huh? Hmm. . . I thought IT guys were supposed to be smart? Do they drug test where you work?. Anyway, if you’re really in IT, then you should be able to put some kind of restrictor plate on your mouse that forces you to actually read and think about your comments before you hit the submit button.

                It would break your heart for me to tell you what I do for a living. . and I can’t have that on my conscience.

        • He can finish his degree in one or two NFL offseasons as long as he’s on track, that’s what most players do that leave early, especially at Florida.

          • Michael Jones says:

            Good deal. I hope he does. He seems like a quality young man and it’ll be good to know he has that and all of the contacts of Gator Nation to fall back on if the NFL thing doesn’t work out or when it’s over.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          you realize that if he makes a team, the minimum salary is 420K/yr? And a running back on average only lasts 3-4 years in the NFL. An extra year in school could significantly downsize his earning potential, especially if he has a serious injury.

          With a new offense, new coach, probably a new system, what he I doing actually makes some sense. It isn’t likely he is going to have some super-phenomenal breakout year so he might as well take what he can while he can

  2. W2 says:

    Wish the young man the best. I remember during his recruitment when the other backs were wavering he stayed committed. Why risk another knee injury in college, get drafted come back get your degree. Go Gators

  3. 305Gator says:

    Not that I want to get in the middle of a good fight between MJ and Boi but I don’t think Jones will get drafted although he probably will latch on somewhere as a FA and make the team. He will get some cash out of it and if he sticks then it will get better. Whatever he gets as a FA will probably be more than the average college grad will get while landing their first job right out of school. He can then go back and finish his degree and have a plan B in place.

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