There are almost no Gators on the preseason All-SEC teams, but that certainly could change on the postseason all-conference teams. In fact, if some of UF’s talented juniors have breakout seasons in 2012 (which certainly would not surprise me or the coaching staff), not only will they get serious all-star consideration, they likely will have an opportunity to leave early for the NFL.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, defensive end Dominique Easley, safety Matt Elam, outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins and offensive tackle Matt Patchan all are potential candidates to emerge as stars in 2012 — and then bolt for the NFL.
If it does come down to that decision for the juniors, UF coach Will Muschamp said they will get excellent guidance from a coaching staff with strong NFL connections.
“At the end of the day, (the NFL) is going to go back and watch the film. You need to play well. I tell all our players every year,” Muschamp said. “We’ll discuss that at the end of the year.
“There is no better staff in the country that is equipped to talk to you about going to the National Football League than our staff because of our experience in the National Football League.
“You look at (offensive line coach) Tim Davis, myself, (defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn, (defensive line coach) Bryant Young, as a player, and the connection we have with every general manager and a lot of owners. There is nobody that can give you better advice on what you should do.”
Muschamp said he would support any underclassmen who decides to leave early for pro football.
“If the young man want to test the waters, then I’m going to support him 100 percent regardless what my advice is,” he said. “This is a family decision and what he wants to do.
“At the end of the day, guys have to play well. I send that message all the time. It’s not what you’re going to do at the Combine and it’s not what some agent thinks. It’s how you play. They’re going to watch the tape and see how you play.
“If you’re worrying about the wrong stuff (during the season), then it will get addressed immediately within our building. But there is no staff that can help you better in the country than what our staff can do for you.”