Mitchell makes it official


Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2003 at 10:17 p.m.
Junior Florida defensive end Clint Mitchell finally made his decision official Wednesday, announcing he's forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL Draft.
Mitchell had been leaning toward leaving since the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl and told many of his teammates last weekend that his mind was made up to enter the draft. He made his decision two days after meeting with UF coach Ron Zook.
"After many hours of discussion with my parents and brother, I have decided to forgo my senior year and enter the draft," Mitchell said in a statement released by the UF sports information office. "I want to thank my parents and brother (former UF All-SEC center Jeff Mitchell) for their support the last several years. I would also like to thank Coach Zook and coach Red Anderson for their support this past season. I will be forever grateful to them for helping me get back on the field.
"This was a very difficult decision for me because I loved being a Florida Gator and playing for Gator fans. It's great to be a Florida Gator."
The announcement brings to a close a brief but tumultuous UF career for Mitchell. Numerous off-the-field problems resulted in him being suspended for most of the 2001 season and put his career in permanent jeopardy.
Mitchell played the entire 2002 season basically on probation, meaning one more misstep and he would have been dismissed from the team. He would have remained on probation had he returned for his senior season.
Despite a strong junior season, Mitchell is not expected to be taken in the first three rounds of the draft. At 245 pounds, he is considered somewhat undersized for a defensive end by NFL standards.
Mitchell started 20 games at UF, recording 121 tackles, 60.8 big plays and 5.8 sacks.
He is the third UF underclassman to declare for the draft, joining quarterback Rex Grossman and defensive tackle Ian Scott.
u can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com or by calling (352) 374-5022.
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