Florida junior DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson declares for 2019 NFL Draft

By Adam Silverstein
November 26, 2018
Florida junior DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson declares for 2019 NFL Draft

Image Credit: Tim Casey, UAA Communications

After a stellar season in which he finally lived up to the lofty expectations set forth when he joined the program as a four-star prospect, defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson announced Monday night that he has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility with the Florida Gators and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

In a lengthy letter posted on Twitter, Gardner-Johnson made it clear that he is “100 PERCENT COMMITTED” to remain with the Gators through their bowl game before turning his focus to his NFL future.

“The opportunity to be a part of this program and play inside The Swamp for the past three seasons has been incredible. Since my arrival on campus in 2016, I have matured and become the man and player you all know today,” Gardner-Johnson began. “On the field, I now understand what football really is and the small details that help someone like myself become a force to be reckoned with. Off the field, I have grown mentally and physically as I understand that my body is everything. …

“With that in mind, I write to you today to say that I’m ready to achieve my next goal and move on to the next chapter in my life. I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the NFL Draft. Along with this decision, I want Gator Nation to know that I am 100 PERCENT COMMITTED to my team and this program as we look to finish the season strong at our bowl game next month.”

Gardner-Johnson than thanked his family, his teammates and his coaches at Florida before concluding his letter.

“It’s an exciting time for me. I’ve decided to do what’s best for me and my family by continuing to pursue my dreams. Hopefully I’ll make everyone proud and show how my passion for this game continues to shine through.”

Gardner played sparingly as a freshman and struggled during his sophomore season, primarily at the beginning of the year as he dealt with a nagging shoulder injury. He appeared to consistently miss tackles and be out of position to make plays, but as the season hit the halfway point, Gardner got healthier and completely turned his play around.

He stood out in a major way during his junior campaign for Florida with two interceptions, two pass defenses, three sacks and tow quarterback hurries to go along with 66 tackles (nine for loss). One of the highlight plays of his career came two weeks ago when he scored on an interception returned for a touchdown in the first play from scrimmage against Idaho.

Gardner-Johnson is widely considered one of the top safeties available in the 2019 NFL Draft, though he is not expected to be a first-round selection. However, he should not last past the second day of the draft and should have an opportunity to start or play significant snaps as a rookie.

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