Florida's Kyle Pitts to forego bowl game, senior season to prepare for NFL draft

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Florida junior tight end Kyle Pitts announced Sunday he was forgoing his senior season and a bowl game to concentrate on preparing for the NFL.

With his 10-yard reception at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter of Saturday's 52-46 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Pitts broke the school record for career receiving yards by a tight end previously set by a 2007-09 Gators tight end (1,382 yards). Pitts’ 22-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter was his 12th of the season and tied him with Carlos Alvarez (1969) for seventh on the school’s single-season record list.

He finished the game with seven catches for 129 yards and the score.

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Pitts was scratched from Florida's home finale against LSU last Saturday as a precaution. UF lost that game 37-34.

Pitts was dinged up in the Tennessee game, and Florida's medical staff thought it was best to give him an extra week to recover. The Gators did not specify his injury. 

Pitts finishes his season with 43 catches for 770 yards and a team-leading 12 touchdowns. For his career at UF, he had 100 catches for 1,492 yards and 18 scores.

He missed 2 1/2 games because of a concussion and a broken nose, injuries stemming from a hard hit against Georgia in early November.

The projected first-round NFL draft pick, Pitts is definitely more receiver than complete tight end, but he's a matchup nightmare either way. He was recently named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award (nation's best receiver), the Mackey Award (nation's top tight end) and the Maxwell Award.

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Veterans Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer are expected to fill the void. Pitts will be one of many significant losses on Florida's high-scoring offense. Quarterback Kyle Trask, receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes, and offensive linemen Brett Heggie, Stone Forsythe, Stewart Reese and Jean Delance are all seniors expected to move on.

Junior defensive back Marco Wilson is also expected to jump to the NFL draft, as he participated in Senior Day festivities. 

Pitts wrote on his social media account:

“First I would like to thank God for the opportunity to play football and get an education from the University of Florida,” Pitts’ said in his statement. “I’ve always wanted to play in the SEC and the University of Florida has allowed me to have the best experience both in the classroom as a top-10 public institution and on the field. I want to thank coach Mullen for believing in me and my potential and helping me prepare for the next step in my life. Also, I would like to personally thank coach Scott and coach Brewster for molding me into the player I am today. Most importantly, I would like to thank my parents Theresa and Kelly because they sacrificed a lot in order for me to get where I am today. Finally, I would like to thank Greg Garrett, who has been a mentor and someone who has believed in me since day one. In addition, I would like to thank the support staff of the athletic trainers, equipment managers and everyone in the football facility. The people I interact with every day are what makes coming to the university of Florida to play football so special. I have many great memories during my three years at Florida and I will always be a Gator. I hope to continue to make Gator Nation proud through my career. I will forever miss running out the tunnel on Saturdays with my brothers in front of 90,000 fans. I know it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.

“After much prayer and consideration and speaking with my family, I will forego my senior season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft and will not be playing in the bowl game. I am eager to pursue my dreams of playing football in the NFL but I will always be a Gator. 84 out!”