The first current member of the Florida Gators to officially but unsurprisingly forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility, junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy confirmed Monday that he has decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I have had a great three years at the University of Florida, but at this time I think it’s best for me and my family to pursue a career in the NFL,’’ said Purifoy in a release from the school. “Coach [Will] Muschamp and Coach [Travaris] Robinson have put me in a position to take the next step.
“I know there is still a lot of work for me ahead, but I appreciate what everyone at Florida did to get me to this point. As much as I look forward to playing in the NFL, I will miss my teammates and coaches and look forward to watching them play next year.”
Purifoy was projected as a first-round selection in this year’s draft prior to the start of the season. After being suspended for the season opener for a violation of team rules, he had an up-and-down 2013 campaign with most of his game-changing plays occurring in three contests against Arkansas, Georgia and Florida State.
Having never intercepted a pass in his first two years, Purifoy picked off two this season, returning one for a touchdown. He also broke up seven passes, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, blocked a kick and registered two sacks. Of his 24 total tackles, 3.5 were for a total loss of 17 yards.
“There are a lot of factors that go into making these individual and personal decisions and I’m 100 percent supportive of Loucheiz’s choice to enter into the NFL Draft,” Muschamp said. “Loucheiz has come a long way from when I sat in his living room with his family during the recruiting process and he also knows his work is not done.
“We wish him nothing but the best of luck and watching him on Sundays. As we have with other former Gators, we encourage him to return to Florida and finish his degree.”
Purifoy (6-foot-0, 185-pounds) earns high marks from scouts for his athleticism, toughness and versatility. He needs to improve in coverage and tackling but has four months to work on showcasing those abilities in the time leading up to May’s draft.
He initially announced his intent to leave immediately after Florida’s 37-7 loss to Florida State on Saturday in Gainesville, FL.
Purifoy is currently ranked No. 24 on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.’s Big Board and No. 26 on Scouts Inc. analyst Todd McShay’s Top 32.