[Update: 12-20] In anticipation of place-kicker Eddy Pineiro’s possibly leaving early for the NFL, Florida coach Dan Mullen and his staff went hard after prep All-American kicker Evan McPherson and gained his commitment last week.
Because Pineiro is going to forgo his senior season to enter the draft, The Sun has learned.
Pineiro made his decision official on Twitter on Tuesday night. He Tweeted the following: “I will not be returning for my senior year and will be declaring early for the 2018 NFL draft. Thank you Gator Nation and the University of Florida for a great 2 years from me and my family!”
Pineiro, one of the most popular players on the team the past two seasons, was the nation’s most accurate field goal kicker in 2017, making 17 of 18 attempts, including his last 16 in a row. He was second-team All-SEC and third-team All-American.
As a sophomore in 2016, Pineiro was good on 21 of 25 attempts and was three-for-three on attempts from 50 yards or longer.
When Pineiro learned late in the season that he would be eligible for the draft, he said he would strongly consider it because it would give him a chance to help his family in Miami financially.
Pineiro is the third Gator underclassman leaving early for the draft, joining junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan and junior wide receiver Antonio Callaway.
McPherson, rated the nation’s No. 2 place-kicker coming out of high school, likely is the leading candidate to replace Pineiro in 2018. McPherson, who is from Fort Payne, Ala., made a 60-yard field goal in a game for Fort Payne High back in October.