Today's announcement by Major Wright (Jr. Safety) to forgo his last year, brings the total to five University of Florida players opting to leave school early and enter into the NFL draft.
Gator players leaving early (so far) include:
Major Wright (Jr. Safety) — Big hitting safety who racked up seven interceptions over the past two years. Wright is projected to be a middle to late round draft selection.
Carlos Dunlap (Jr. DE) — Once projected to be a top five first round draft selection, Dunlap saw his status drop after being arrested for a DUI just prior to this year's SEC Championship Game. Dunlap somewhat redeemed himself with his stellar play in Florida's Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati and was named the Defensive MVP in the game. An excellent pass rushing end, Dunlap should still be a first round selection who could become an impact NFL player.
Joe Haden (Jr. CB) — Haden was a consensus first team All-American and first team All-SEC player. He was also a 2009 Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He finished his UF career with eight interceptions and over 200 tackles. He was considered one of the top defensive players in the country this year and is regarded as a "shut-down" type corner. He is projected to be a first round NFL draft pick and will be missed in Gainesville.
Aaron Hernandez (Jr. TE) — Like Haden, Hernandez was also a first team All-American and All-SEC player who led the nation at his position with 68 receptions (school record) for 850 yards. Hernandez was also selected as the SEC's first recipient of the John Mackey Award (Most Outstanding Tight End). He finished his career at UF with 111 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hernandez established himself this year as a dual pass and run threat, utilized on many occasions in Florida's trademark "shuffle pass" option package. He is also projected to be an early draft choice.
Markice Pouncey (Jr. OL) — One half of the Pouncey twin offensive line tandem at Florida, Markice was this year's recipient of the Rimington Trophy awarded to the nation's top center. He was also a unanimous All-SEC selection. Markice is projected to be a first or second round NFL draft selection. His brother, Mike, will return to Florida next year and is expected to move into the center position left open by his brother's early departure.
One final note:
With the early departures of Haden and Wright, the 2010 Florida defensive backfield starters should be Will Hill (Jr. S), Ahmad Black (Sr. S), Janoris Jenkins (Jr. CB), and Adrian Bushell (So. CB).
Of course, with the influx of big-time recruits at the defensive back position, this could change.