Florida junior K Evan McPherson declares early for 2021 NFL Draft

By Adam Silverstein
January 5, 2021
Florida junior K Evan McPherson declares early for 2021 NFL Draft

Image Credit: @GatorsFB / Twitter

Florida Gators junior kicker Evan McPherson on Tuesday declared early for the 2021 NFL Draft. In a rare move for a specialist, McPherson will forgo his final year of eligibility with the Gators and instead turn pro.

“Thank you Coach [Dan] Mullen for believing in me from the beginning and giving me the chance to play for Florida & become a Gator for life,” McPherson wrote. “… The memories I have from playing in The Swamp I will forever cherish. I have played with the best teammates in the world. I’m proud to call each and everyone of them my brothers. … It has been a lifelong dream of mine to play football at the highest level in the NFL. I have decided to [forgo] my senior year at Florida and enter the 2021 NFL Draft.”

It is unusual for a specialist to leave college early due to the relatively low injury risk at their position; however, McPherson may be on track to graduate already at Florida.

McPherson converted 17 of 22 field goal attempts this season (77.3%), the lowest mark in his three-year career as a starter after booting with an 89.5% mark over his first two seasons. He was on his way to being the most-accurate kicker in program history but instead finished third. For his career, McPherson is 51 of 60 on field goals (85%) with a long of 55 yards and 149 of 150 on extra points.

It was expected that McPherson would compete to be among the best kickers in college football this season, but despite Florida’s strong offense, he finished 45th nationally in accuracy.

He is just the second Gators player to declare for the NFL Draft early, joining a fellow junior in tight end Kyle Pitts. Redshirt junior cornerback Marco Wilson also declared for the draft, though he was in his fourth season after missing one due to injury.

Technically, all college football players were granted an additional year of eligibility this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Redshirt junior Chris Howard was listed as Florida’s backup kicker behind McPherson this season. He is 2 of 2 on field goals and 10 of 10 on extra points for his career. The Gators do not have another scholarship kicker either on the roster or committed in the Class of 2021, though they will likely try to add a prospect ahead of next season.

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